BMW K1100LT 1993
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This web page has my opinions and maintenance notes on my 1993 BMW K1100LT. It has the flat, inline water cooled engine introduced in 1984, rather than the earlier horizontal twin that BMW used for many years.
October 7, 2001 My Opinions on the BMW K1100LT At 9 years and 75,000 km.
The first few years I felt out of place on my new BMW K1100LT. As an ex- Japanese bike owner, German motorcycle ownership was new to me. Even at BMW rallies I felt like a round peg in a square hole. Those were the days when the BMW owners club were split between the traditional 2 cylinders and the new fours. Apparently some traditional BMW owners resented these upstart water cooled machines.
The BMW K1100LT is a great bike for going far and fast, especially contrasted to Harley Davidsons and other cruisers which are intended for short distances, driven slowly. The BMW is made of high quality components, which costs money. Also, it is not produced in enough quantities sell for a bargain price. I also think that some of the detailed design has been skipped over, for example designing a bike where you can get to the battery without removing the ABS and fuel injection computers. There are a few other teething problems which BMW takes care of by offering a comprehensive, unlimited mileage 3 year warranty. If you get all the problems fixed in the first three years, the bike should be reliable until it is about ten years old. Then you will start to get some normal age related problems.
My K1100LT still steers, accelerates, and rides much like it did when it was new. It has not needed much maintenance, which is good since BMW abandoned my local dealer 6 years ago.
The K1100LT is a bike for experienced
riders. It is top heavy with a tall saddle and it's expensive to
drop. OK, so what do you expect from a 100 hp fuel injected touring
bike? Not a lot of women or beginners will be getting this bike but
there are lots of other bikes out there for everyone. Beginners
should be buying smaller used bikes anyway.
So that's my opinion after 9 years and 75,000 km. Check back to see what I think of it in 2002!!
November 12, 2002 Opinion Update BMW K1100LT At 10 years and 101,000 km.
Someone recently commented to me that my opinion of the BMW had improved this year. A lot happened in the last 12 months. I went on a 5000 km trip and a 10,000 km trip with Mary Ann since last year. There were some simple things that completely transformed the feel of the bike. Greasing the steering head bearings made a spectacular difference in the feel. Another simple trick helped with the handlebar vibration that had been numbing my hand for so long. Mary Ann has stopped complaining about the passenger comfort and in fact we did a one day ride that was over 1100 km. I eliminated the ABS system myself with a couple of hundred dollars of parts. I took out the remains of the stereo that I never really liked, and got a full sized fairing pocket in return. And a salesman at a local motorcycle dealer commented to me that the BMW looked pretty good for a bike with 100,000 km. on it. But best of all, among the things that don't suck too bad on the K1100LT now is that I did all the required maintenance myself without taking to the shop, and it wasn't even that difficult or expensive. I should not have been so intimidated about tearing it apart.
Apparently the BMW is the kind of bike that the more you ride, the more you like.
November 2, 2003 Annual Opinion Update BMW K1100LT At 11 years and 116,000 km.
My opinion updates are now an annual thing, apparently. This summer I put on another modest 15,000 km, with no really long trips, mostly within the province of Ontario. I only changed the coolant and brake fluid, in addition to the usual oil changes. There was nothing much that went wrong that was not my own fault. The only modification was a couple of new aluminum bar end weights that further helped with the handlebar vibration.
I have to confess that I was tempted by several other bikes this year. My BMW is at a critical stage now where I have had it for a long time, I have extra cash, and there are so many attractive bikes out there calling my name. At various times I have lusted after a R1150GS, a broken down 1984 Kawasaki 1000 police bike, a BMW F650GS, A Ural sidecar with 2 wheel drive, a Suzuki Burgman scooter, a Moto Guzzi Californian, a Triumph T100, and a Kawasaki W650. Whew! Feels like I should say a couple of Hail Marys or something.
Significantly, none of the above bikes claimed to be faster or more functional than the BMW. It's all about style and image now (Burgman excepted – it is not faster but still very functional.). Finally the sheer practicality of the BMW won out and I spent my money on a new Joe Rocket 2 piece armored riding suit to replace my 30 year old snowmobile suit.
With over 100,000 km staring me in the face during my rides, I am starting to worry that one day the engine or drive shaft will fail, leaving me stranded. But then I see another BMW with over 200,000 km still running with no major failures, and after a short talk to the owner I am reassured and continue riding my K1100LT as if it was just broken in.
October 11, 2004 Annual Opinion Update BMW K1100LT At 12 years and 137,000 km.
I have got to admit, not a lot has changed in my opinion since last year. But because some new bikes in the BMW's class have appeared in dealers' showrooms, there may be a slight shift in my perception of the LT. And with my K1100LT, I did manage to extend my personal longest bike ownership to 12 years and a record for me of 137,000 km., while also completing my longest ever motorcycle trip of 12,000 km. So I think it is worth writing an update for my annual opinion.
With the Honda ST1300 and the Yamaha FJR1300 on the market, the K1100LT is now one generation behind the latest long distance sport touring machinery. Actually, after 12 years, it was about time somebody figured out how to make a better bike. I liked the BMW 1150RT when it came out over a decade ago, but it is actually a step backwards from the older K1100's technology.
Here is something I never noticed on the K1100 before this year. The passenger seat is too short and the foot pegs too close together. I was taking a new passenger for a ride, and that made the problem quite obvious. If you do carry a passenger on the LT, it's much better if they are experienced and pay attention, like Mary Ann (most of the time). Riding as passenger on a K1100LT is not a sit back and fall asleep affair like it is on a Gold Wing.
The conclusion? I will be keeping the K1100LT, but hold off on any more 12,000 km. Baja trips until I do another full inspection and maintenance.
25, 2005 Annual Opinion
Update BMW K1100LT At 13 years and 145,500 km.
The K1100LT dodged the bullet last year. I bought another bike, a 1972 Honda CL450 in October 2005. But the K1100LT stayed on, because of its reliability, high speed long distance capability, weather protection, and passenger/luggage carrying. Now I have three licensed bikes, including my vintage Honda CD175.
On the CL450, any further than 300 km. from home, I start to get nervous about breakdowns. I have counted 54 separate problems with the 450 since I started riding it last fall. I have come close but never actually been stranded yet. I like the light weight, breeziness, and the sound of the CL450 better than the K1100LT.
The K1100LT gets used for longer trips, trips with a passenger, and trips involving more than 30 km of freeway driving. I used the BMW for only two big trips this year, and other runs just to keep the battery charged. That could be because the K1100 has cracked it's exhaust headers, but regardless, the CL450 sounds better to me. The CL450 is cooler than the fully faired LT, and this was a long hot summer. The big disappointment was only putting 200 miles on my old Honda CD175. I guess three bikes is getting to be more than I can keep up with, but I'll give it another year to see which bikes get used before selling anything.
I didn't do a much needed overhaul of the K1100LT this year, partly because my time was spent fixing the many glitches with the CL450. Even though I am retired, I can't spend my entire summer working on bikes. After all I have a life. (I think).
August, 2006 Annual Opinion Update BMW K1100LT At 14 years and 154,000+ km.
I'm a little early this year with my opinion, but now it's getting to be more like a summary, with nothing really new to report.
Unlike a professional motorcycle journalist, it takes me many years to evaluate a motorcycle. I always miss stuff when taking a bike on a test drive. In 1992, before deciding to buy this bike, the local BMW dealer let me take out a K1100LT for an all day drive - on my own, and anywhere I wanted to go. I thought for sure I would get a good feel for the bike. Two big items I missed - the windshield buffeting, both up and down, and the vibration in the hands. I could not evaluate the backrest, as it was not installed. I'm not sure what I did notice, other than the power, smoothness and ease of cornering. I do remember going over a railway level crossing at 130 kph, with Mary Ann on the back and no noticeable ill effects.
This year I put some more time into overhauling the BMW, and it paid off with an almost trouble free ride, nearly to Labrador and back. It was a little frustrating to have to repair the electric windshield twice this year, it was just a coincidence as both were unrelated problems. And I also had to deal with three leaks on the hydraulic brakes, which was another coincidence as all three were also unrelated. Then I found that the steering bearings were getting notchy again. Everything else was normal maintenance. Lucky nothing else went wrong, and all the repairs went well. The K1100LT is still looking good and I would still trust it on a long tour.
2007 Annual Opinion Update BMW K1100LT At 15 years and
This year was the first serious failure with the K1100LT. The shifting was getting much worse, just before the end I was having trouble shifting into neutral at stop lights. I suspected the clutch splines were getting worn, but according to the BMW shop it would cost $1000 just to take a look. The next day I had the breakdown which has not been diagnosed yet, but has all the signs of being the clutch splines.
There should not be any need for the clutch splines to fail, I have had cars that lasted longer than 200,000 km with no clutch failure. It is not easy to fix, and I have not yet got up the nerve to take the bike apart for a look. No one wanted to take the K1100LT in trade, and I wanted a reliable bike for the summer, so I bought a new bike but not a BMW as there is no local dealer.
After looking around for a while I bought a new Kawasaki Vulcan 900LT (another LT!). The K1100LT sat in the corner of the garage until I went on a long trip with the Vulcan. And as the Vulcan trip went well, I let the BMW go to a new home. I have been told it has been repaired and is back on the road again.
June 2013 On Seeing the K1100LT Again at 21 Years
On June 15th, for the first time in five years, I saw the old BMW. It was parked at the Paris Vintage Motorcycle Show. Looked like 182,000 km on it. Nice to see it's still going. I was not able to meet the new owner, however, a few years back I did get confirmation that the problem really was the stripped clutch splines on the output shaft.
K1100LT Log from the Beginning
What went wrong under warranty 1992 to 1995
accidentally punched in fairing by dealer before I took possession
(repaired under warranty)
* Tank kneepads put on backwards at factory? (Removed by me, and I left them off)
* Scuffed saddlebag before delivery (Repaired under warranty)
* There was paint overspray from the fairing repair on various parts of the bike (Not reported, I tried to clean up myself)
* Radio not hooked up right, loses memory when ignition turned off (Repaired under Warranty)
* Battery went flat (radio left on overnight, my fault I guess)
* Sidestand ignition cutout switch stuck, preventing engine from starting (fixed myself with WD40)
* Trunk fell off twice (Replaced under Warranty)
* Left fork seal blew (Replaced under Warranty)
* Horn switch intermittent (Repaired under Warranty)
* A velcro attachment for backrest pad fell off the trunk (Dealer offered to glue it back on, I declined)
* Clock failed (Gaining 2 hours a day) (Replaced under Warranty)
* Passenger accessory power outlet never worked. (Did not report the defect)
* Starter clutch failed (Replaced under Warranty)
* Lost the rear hubcap. (I never touched it, bike had just been in for a new rear tire, replaced under warranty)
End of Warranty 1995
Until 1995 (45,000 km) all work was done at the dealers, at a total cost of $2320 (Canadian) including 5 tire replacements and all scheduled inspections.
On My Own from 1995 to 2002
The dealer lost his BMW franchise in 1996,
which I don't think had anything to do with me. After that, I did all
the work myself, and the next closest BMW motorcycle shop is 1 hour
away, but there are three at about that distance. The warranty is
expired now. I only go there to buy parts and sometimes get a bit of
advice, too. For seven years, I did not do
regular maintenance except engine oil and oil filter changes. I got a
local shop to change and balance the tires for me when needed.
On my own I handled these problems up to December 2001.
burned out (Auto parts store)
* Taillight burned out (Auto parts store)
* Bike refused to start after service center refueling stop. (Pulled plugs, reinstalled, and it started)
* New NGK plugs, to try to fix starting glitch and occasional engine cut-out (Auto parts store)
* ABS failure (I measured the sensor gaps, and made a shim for the front sensor to increase the gap. Did not solve the problem.)
* Battery replaced by me ($150 part purchased at a BMW dealer, ABS problem continues even with the new battery)
* Engine intermittently cut out while riding (This went on for three years until I found out that it was a dirty kill switch)
To Do List, summer 2002
I want to learn how to do my own complete maintenance this year. Here is the to do list:
* Oil filter change (Last done May 31, 2001 at 67,000 km.)
* Battery Electrolyte, grease terminals
* Air Filter change (last done in 1993 at 30,000 km)
* Fuel Filter Change (last done in 1993 at 30,000 km. Recommended every 25,000 km.)
* Change transmission oil GL5 80W 90 .8 liter (last done in 1993 at 30,000 km)
* Change Rear Drive oil GL5 80W 90 .25 liter (last done in 1993 at 30,000 km)
* Flush and replace engine coolant (last one 1994 46,000 km)
* Change fork oil (last done in 1993 at 30,000 km)
* Measure valve clearances (Last done at 30,000 km. Valves have never been adjusted since new.)
* New spark plugs
* Lubricate choke lever
* Drain and refill brake fluid (probably the original brake fluid.)
* New brake pads (rear pads were last done at 46,000 km, 1994)
* Do a compression test
Summer of 2002 Backyard Overhaul Web Log
I have never owned a motorcycle for longer than ten years. Quite soon, the LT will break that barrier. I think it is still as good or better than any other motorcycle on the road. My only real problem with the LT is that I have been afraid to do any serious home maintenance on it. If you have read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig, you will know why I need to work on it myself. I always did my own backyard maintenance on my Hondas, but not the BMW. Similar to the book, actually. By the way, some BMW owners do not like this book too much, so I don't wear my "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" T-shirt to BMW rallies.
The "art" of motorcycle maintenance assumes there are a million different ways to do anything, and the factory way is only one of those. On that philosophical note, which will explain a lot about my methods, it's time inspect the damage from 9 years of riding.
April 9, 2002 81767
There is no Haynes manual available for the K1100LT. I have the 1987 Clymer K bike manual, but it does not include the K1100's (the 16 valve models). The new Clymer has an addendum of 150 pages to cover the K1100s up to 1995, but I think I need to buy the whole manual again to get that update. Bavarian Motors sells it for $60, but I didn't buy it.
This is probably the record for the longest delayed maintenance interval in K1100 history. The brake fluid has not (to my knowledge) been replaced since new. In the last six years, I have not checked the valves, replaced the coolant, fork oil, gear oil or rear drive oil. It has been 8 years or 50,000 km since I changed the air filter or fuel filter. If it wasn't that the bike is actually running, this would be almost like a restoration project.
Trip to Daytona Beach, Florida
Before I started doing my maintenance, I got an early start to the year by riding the K1100LT from Ontario to Daytona for Bike Week 2002 with Mary Ann. That put another 5000 km on the clock. (Note: clicking on words underlined in blue on my web pages, will take you to my other pages, and clicking on pictures will almost always give you a big detailed view.). I usually at least check tire pressure and engine oil level frequently, but for some reason I didn't do it much during the Florida trip.
I got around to checking the engine oil
level today now that I'm back home. The oil was not visible in the
sight glass, and I don't know exactly how much 20W-50 I added, maybe
half a liter? I just realized by looking through my old records that
the dealer was using 10W-40 oil in the engine right from the start,
and I did too, for a while. But this is only recommended if the
outside temperature is minus -30 to plus +5 deg. C. That might be .1
percent of my driving. Almost all my driving is in the -10 to +40
deg. C. range, and the proper weight is 20W-50! That is one possible
explanation of the starter clutch failure, as the clutch is made of
rollers, and I think they operate in the engine oil. (Late Update
December 2002) I stumbled across this oil related issue on the
internet. It seems BMW does not approve the use of SJ and higher
engine oil. SE or SF is all they recommend. But almost all the oil in
the cheap auto parts store is now SJ to SL rated. The stuff I use now
is rated API service SL. Well, so far it seems to work OK, and I
wonder if this is maybe just a scare tactic by the BMW lawyers and
marketing people, or if it is a concern from an engineering
I also checked the tire pressure for the first time since starting off to Florida. It was 29 rear and 29 front. Should be 40 rear and 36 front for 2 up, and 36 rear, 31 front one up. I added air for one up driving. I honestly felt no difference in handling, during the trip and probably still won't tomorrow.
I checked the transmission oil and the rear drive oil. It's supposed to be GL5 80W-90, so I bought one liter at Canadian Tire for about $4. The owners manual says to check the transmission oil level by inserting the dipstick, but there is no dipstick in my tool kit. So I just measured the existing level at 4.5 inches down from the top of the threads and left it alone. The oil in there looks clean and like a red gooey substance (It's about 12 deg C outside). I read that gear oil thickens with age, I don't know if it's true, but this is old and it's thick. The rear drive is supposed to be filled to the bottom of the threads, and it looked right. Same red stuff, also clean. I will keep my oil for next time. Both the inspection caps were dirty on the inside where they touch the oil.
April 12, 2002 82007 km
Is the transmission oil dipstick actually the rear shock tool? I do not have a tool like the picture in the Owner's manual. There are two scribe marks on my rear shock adjusting tool, about 1 cm apart. And about 2 inches down from the bend, so the transmission might be almost empty, because I measured my transmission oil at 4.5 inches down! I had better drain it and refill to be sure of the level.
Next puzzle is the fork oil drain plug. The Clymer manual points an arrow at the end of the axle and says this is the oil drain plug. Oh yes, I see now in the owners manual. It's a tiny 4 mm WAF hex key plug at the rear side of the fork near the bottom. And I saw it when I was in the garage a few minutes ago. NOTE: from the owners' manual. Amounts specified in each fork leg is 350 cc left, 400 cc right. Also a warning ENSURE EQUAL QUANTITY OF OIL IN BOTH FORKS. I assume the warning is a leftover warning from the K100's, which did have the same amount in each leg.
Tom said he saw my BMW blowing gray smoke out the exhaust when I accelerated. He thinks it might be a throttle body sync problem, but it sounds to me more like burning oil, especially from the gray smoke color and the evidence of disappearing oil. Also, Mary Ann was commenting on the stream of smoke coming out of the exhaust when I started it up from cold the other day. It could have been vapor, or maybe normal BMW K bike startup smoke, but maybe something else too.
April 14, 2002 82007 km
The ABS that has been non functional for four years with both lights flashing together. I asked one dealer to do a diagnostic for me while I was there to pick up some parts, but he told me I had to leave the bike there for several days to get that done. Now I will remove the computer and take it in to a different the dealer for testing. I have no dealer closer than one hour's drive away. If it's too expensive to replace, (likely over $1000Cdn for either the computer or a pump unit) I will remove all the ABS stuff (Computer, long brake lines and pump units). Part of the reason for removing them is the expense of repair, partly the weight and the long brake lines, and difficulties bleeding the brakes. But another part is that the ABS I is an early system that cycles so slowly you can feel big jerks in the forks. Some riders claim they can do better just pumping the brakes for themselves, especially on ice or gravel, and that in these conditions the ABS should actually be turned off. Other inherent limitations of the ABS are that it is also not supposed to work while leaned over, and it stops working under 5-8 kph.
The ABS computer unit behind the battery comes out easily with two bolts. I removed the top connector plug by undoing the clip with my hand. I noticed the brake lines in and out of the pump units are banjo type for the rear, but screw in type for the front. And the lines are steel tubing on the front ABS unit, but rubber on the rear. I will probably need new brake lines to replace them. I have the ABS type one, which apparently is notorious for being difficult to reset once there is a fault. One other internet contributor suspects that faults may be caused by charging the battery while still in the bike, and so he disconnects the ABS before charging the battery. I already tried a new battery, and resetting the ABS by shorting one wire according to another tip on the internet. The lights are still flashing together.
April 14, 2002 82019 km
There is another surprise with the gearbox oil. I drained the existing oil, which is red, and looks like about a liter. I then added .8 liters as specified. The level of the oil is still 4.5 inches below the top of the filler hole. The owners manual shows a single purpose dipstick for the transmission, both in the picture for checking the level, and in the picture of the complete tool kit. I am missing this tool, and I will assume the comment in the owners manual about using the rear shock tool is a misprint (The older K100's used the rear shock tool for a dipstick)
Some observations: There was a lot of metal fuzz on the drain plug magnet. The old oil has some sludge in it too. I re-used the same washer on the drain plug. And the oil drains straight down, so it's best to set a catch bucket up against the center stand leg. And to drain the last bit out, tilt the bike to the right.
Now for the ABS. On my test ride, the center light started flashing in sync as soon as I tested the brakes. So reseating the connector plug did nothing. Then I took off the plug. Now the ABS light glows steady and the center light goes off as soon as I test the brakes. That means the brake lights are operating normally. Now I will remove the ABS computer and wrap the plug to protect it.
April 15, 2002 82019 km
I called Bavarian Motors today, and I can leave my ABS computer there tomorrow and they will try it in another 93 K1100LT (1993 was the only year with the ABS type 1) when they get the chance. I was looking on the internet for some tips, and found that with ABS, it is especially important to change the brake fluid every year, or corrosion could damage the ABS units (!!!!).
April 16, 2002
Went down to Bavarian Motors today with Tom, Bill and Wayne. I picked up stock BMW front brake pads ($152), aftermarket EBC rear brake pads ($34.95), and washers for the oil drain plugs and a key blank for $3.64. They had the updated version of my Clymer manual for $60, but I didn't buy it.
A note on pricing: I could have ordered EBC front brake pads on the internet (Motorcycle Accessory Warehouse) for the front (#FA246) for about half the price the BMW dealer charged for the stock pads. WWW.MAWONLINE.COM also has the rotors. The rear rotor, EBC #MD661 is $174.94 US. But this same website lists the wrong part number for the rear brake pad, and it is pretty annoying returning parts over the border. The rear pads are #FA18, not #FA246. (Apparently it would be easier to grind them down to fit than it is to return them) I don't know if they have the right number for the front pads.
The owner of Bavarian Motors came out with a portable diagnostic computer to check the ABS computer on my bike, it took about 10 minutes. The readout was "Cannot establish communication with the ABS computer". So I left my ABS computer there to see if they could figure it out with more time, and maybe another K1100LT.
Tom said he saw smoke only when I changed the first two gears. But I felt a big hesitation in the motor as I twisted the throttle to test the acceleration. It cleared itself in about half a second. I filled up on super premium at Petro Canada today for the ride.
I noticed that there was a bit of seeping around the cap of the front brake fluid reservoir. I think I did not tighten the screws enough yesterday. Apparently you really have to be careful of brake fluid corroding the paint, it's like paint remover.
April 19, 2002 82286 km
Changing Coolant and Air Filter
The gear oil was done a couple of days ago.
Today I began by pulling off the right fairing lower, raising the gas
tank, and changing the air filter and the coolant. I found a website
from South Africa called "BMW Motorrad" that had the David
C. Hall workshop of the coolant change without the need to remove and
depressurise the fuel system. According to the Clymer manual, the
fuel tank removal should not be attempted without a standby gas fire
extinguisher. I was not keen on their method. David Hall also had
color pictures of his short cut process.
Lifting of my gas tank did not involve 'clips' as David said, but is was just a pull out affair with a rubber grommet on each side. Maybe the clips were just lost during a dealer maintenance. Both my grommets were messed up, but I can probably get the parts at Bavarian next time I go to check on my ABS computer. The gas tank has long enough lines that it can be moved back about 30 cm.
Removing the fairing lower was not described but I only needed to do the right side, and the main trick is to get the engine guard off by pulling the top rubber cap and inserting a 13 mm socket on an extension. Once the guard is off, and the fairing pocket is out, it's just lots of screws and one clip, but all fairly easy to find.
The 6 year old coolant drained reasonably well. I flushed it first with tap water, but then with distilled water. I managed to siphon the coolant out of the overflow bottle with a long tube. Then flushed it again with distilled. The bottom water pump hose outlet (where I pulled off the hose to drain the radiator) had some corrosion on it which I cleaned off with a wire brush and sandpaper. (NOTE: April 28th I found in reading the BMW shop manual that there is a drain plug for the coolant on the left side of the water pump. Maybe next time I'll use it if it isn't covered by the fairing.)
My coolant is not the correct type. It is green, made of Ethylene Glycol, good for "All engine metal protection". Apparently Phosphates are OK according to Prestone if you use distilled water with it. But apparently very bad if mixed with German tap water. Prestone does not say anything about nitrites.
I added 1.5 liters of my undiluted coolant down the radiator, spilling some because I didn't realize how slowly it accepts the coolant. The hose traps air, and the bubbles partly block the flow. I topped it up with about a liter of distilled water. I accidentally put too much water in the overflow tank, but hopefully I can change that later. It's now at the top mark, not the bottom as was recommended in my instructions.
I hosed off all the spillage, and it took a lot of hosing. Some got on top of the engine where it does not drain well. And a little coolant also got into the air box! It ran down the outside of the snorkel and then leaked in though the crack where the snorkel meets the air box. Luckily, it just sits at the bottom of the box. I tried to use a paper towel to get it out.
Next I located
and removed the old air filter. This is quite a trick, because it is
so hard to lift the top part of the air box. So I finally got it out
by first pushing from the left side of the bike with a screwdriver,
and at the same time using another screwdriver to lever the lip of
the filter over the edge of the bottom part of the air box. Once that
was free, I could walk around to the right side of the bike and
pull/slide it out.
I needed another person to help getting the new filter back in, because now I had to lever the lip on the left side of the bike while the other person pushed from the right side of the bike. (Note from the future: if you don't put it in backwards, it can be done with one person, and it will be easier to get out!)
The 9 years and 50,000 km old filter let almost no sunlight through compared to the new one.
April 20, 2002 82286 km
Now the new EBC rear brake pads are installed. The last ones were SBS 506ALF with 36,000 km on them. EBC new pad thickness is 6 mm. The right SBS was down to 3 mm, the left SBS only down to 3.5 mm. Minimum specified is 1.5 mm. I removed the rear wheel to do the job, but apparently you can do it without taking off the caliper at all. But I think the rear shock would have to be moved. I used a small punch to get the pins out and in. I cleaned them off, and I put some white lithium grease on the aft pin (I put the forward pin in dry) The Clymer manual described the job quite well, but didn't mention having to move the rear shock. (Note from the future: Shock does not have to be moved if you have the right ball end hex key.)
The rear rotor shows some signs of wear. I can feel a ridge near the outer edge. The old SBS pads were non sintered LF (Low Friction for the rear) My EBC pads are Kevlar, not sintered either, and the package claims they eliminate rotor galling and are suitable for big sport bikes and tourers. I assume sintered pads wear the disks faster than Kevlar. So if the pads are not wearing down the rotor, what is? The rear rotor may be worn just because of more dirt or heat at the back. I just measured the rear rotor thickness at 4.9 mm on the edge (where the pad does not touch. 4.1 mm just inside the edge where the top of the pad touches, and 4.03 to 4.05 where the lower part of the pad touches. The front rotors look fine.
The front rotors do not look worn. The thickness by caliper measurements are Left edge (outer rim): 4.95, Left swept area 4.77 to 4.79. Right edge 4.88, right swept area 4.77 to 4.8.
The front pads look OK for thickness, but I did not remove them to measure. They have a different pin and clip arrangement from the rear ones. There is one pin and two spring clips on either side of the pads. I don't have instructions about how to do it, and of course it does not look intuitive. (This is a BMW after all). So with 82,000 km on them, the front pads look like they might have another 70,000 km left to go unless I start using the front brakes more and the rear less.
The last test ride for the day: No smoking on engine startup. The rear brake sank quite a bit at first, then pumped up to normal. It feels about the same as before. No squeal, and would need more foot pressure than I have to lock it up (on dry pavement without the front brake being used.)
April 22, 2002 82286 km
I pulled out all the remaining radio kit, including the speakers and antenna. The one wire I had trouble with was the antenna wire, but finally figured out that it also has a pull-apart connection. All that stuff makes the fairing heavier, and when it's out, there is a good fairing pocket on the left, just as big as the one on the right, but with a bigger lid. What I left on the bike was the radio wiring harness and the handlebar control. That may come off later. With the radio gone, it is much easier to remove the left fairing lower and the top inner part of the fairing. (The part that used to hold the speakers).
April 23, 2002 Km: 82504
After a longer ride today, I found the smoke on startup is less visible (I had to get off the bike to see it). No hesitation on accelerating.
I borrowed the K1100LT shop manual, and found a few more maintenance items. Apparently the power windshield guide posts inside the fairing need a shot of silicone spray every year or so. (Silicone spray has high heat resistance without attracting dust. Good for lubricating non-metal sliding parts. The silicone spray I picked up at Cdn Tire contains petroleum distillates and Heptane?) And there is an inductor pickup on the rear drive that needs annual cleaning too. And according to the shop manual, 4.5 mm is the minimum rear disk thickness. Guess I have to make a decision on that, too, because it's already down to about 4.1. I'll keep running it like that for the time being, and watch for more wear. Right now the rotor is not warped, but if it does warp or crack, a new one will cost over $300 Cdn.
There is a discrepancy between the shop manual and the owner's manual concerning the gearbox oil quantity. Owner's manual says 800 ml. Shop manual says 850ml. I don't have the dipstick for a third measurement. Also the drain/filler plugs are tightened to 23 Nm in the owner's manual and 20 Nm. in the shop manual. Too close to call for someone without a torque wrench anyway.
April 28, 2002 Km: 82504
I put the front fender (back part) back on this afternoon. I see now that I did not need to remove the two lower nuts completely, because, the fender will slip off when they are loose. Only the top middle nut needs to be taken out completely. Then I put the right engine guard back on (A. K. A. crash bar). The top bolt is completely rubber isolated, and I think the bottom two are as well. The question is why? And then why is there an electric ground strap running to each crash bar? The crash bars are in the Clymer, but not the BMW shop manual.
Next I removed the upper inner fairing cover so I could spray silicone lube on the windshield guide shafts. Those shafts were a little dirty, so I cleaned them up first. Then I rerouted the upper fairing drain hoses in the proper place, using the clips I saw in the shop manual. I have no idea why they were not already in the right place, because I never moved them. I managed to get this fairing part in and out without removing all the fairing inner pieces, I just loosened the pockets.
I am experimenting with more applications for this silicone spray. I tried it on one saddlebag latch that was getting hard to open, and now it's fine. Then I sprayed the windshield power switch, because it was sticking, and that freed it up. I also sprayed the rubber mounting grommets for the plastic body side panels. It was getting hard to remove those panels, but now they pop on more easily. One other idea I saw on the internet, is to spray the fork tubes. Helps the bug guts to slide off instead of sticking and ruining the seals. When I get a chance, I'll give it a try.
At various places throughout the BMW shop manual, the following note appears. "These bolts are micro-encapsulated and therefore cannot be re-used." I am planning to use red Loc-Tite on them and re-use them if I ever have to. Apparently micro encapsulation is a method of putting an adhesive on the bolt at the factory (I guess) and then the capsules burst when screwed in, thus bonding the bolt to the thread like loc-tite.
April 30, 2002 Km: 82504
I'm leaving for Pennsylvania on Thursday, so even though it's cold outside I want to do a few things. First the fork oil. I bought a 500 cc measuring cup and a set of small kitchen funnels. The left fork leg drained only 260 ml (I drained it into the measuring cup.) That's where I had the fork seal blow years ago after my trip to Labrador. The fork oil was black and there was sludge at the bottom. The right leg drained the correct 400 ml. It looked a little cleaner, but also had some sludge. I replaced it with Dexron II Type H automatic transmission fluid. (Because I had a couple of sealed containers available from many years ago). Even the smallest funnel from my new kitchen set did not fit in the hole but it was close enough. It looks like I am missing the washer from the right side filler cap, but probably doesn't matter anyway.
Then I did the right thing and changed the rear drive oil. I messed it up last week by mixing GL5 with straight 90 gear lube. Now it's got Synthetic 75W-90 GL5. The 'old' oil came out looking almost clean, no steel filings or sludge on the magnet.
And last thing today is to change the engine oil for new 20W-50. I did not do the oil filter, it was late in the day and I'll do it next time. The oil looked dirty. Then I went for a test ride, and parked it with 82520 km. I thought the front suspension was stiffer, but I can't be sure.
May 6, 2002 Km: 84275
Trip to Pennsylvania Honda Sport Touring Rally
I got back from a rally in Pennsylvania yesterday. The oil level is just above the center of the sight glass. I think I started the trip at about at the top of the glass. That oil consumption is for 1755 Km. The horns don't work, I found that out when a car tried to merge into me yesterday. At one time during the trip, I noticed the tachometer reading too low, then the next time I looked it was back to normal. And while cleaning the bike this afternoon, I saw a screw was missing from the bottom of the lower right fairing. I might have forgotten to put it in after the coolant change. I did have a mystery screw left over from that job and the threads match, but it's too long. I found another short one from my collection. (PREDICTION: Three weeks from now I will find the missing short screw. It was accidentally put in the lower fairing right above where it should have gone. Actually, it's about the only place to get the fairing screws mixed up. All the rest are obvious, except that you should put the brass colored ones at the top where they are covered by the fairing pocket.)
During the trip there were some rough twisty roads where I could test the front forks with the Dexron fluid. I kept up with the others and didn't crash. I guess the forks are OK.
May 7, 2002 Km: 84275
The plan for today was to fix the horns. With the ignition on, I heard a clicking sound from the relay under the tank. I looked at the left horn to see if it was getting power. One lead had fallen off. By coincidence, the same thing had happened on the right horn. Now both horn are working. Total time, about 5 minutes, including putting away the test probe.
Checking the Battery is a Pain
For the 1993 K1100LT, the Motronic computer is jammed in a place where it is difficult to remove, and also unfortunately blocks access to the battery My goal was to take out the battery to check the electrolyte level, and put vaseline on the terminals. I got the Motronic and the battery out in only 15 minutes. I found that removing the seat made the job easier to do. (Just a couple of clips to get the seat off). There was some crud around the two filler caps nearest the negative terminal. The terminals themselves were very clean. Then I cleaned off the battery, and filled the cells with distilled water. No cells were below the low level line. The two end cells seemed lowest. Even with a light behind the battery, I had to keep tipping the battery to see where the level was. All together it took about 200 cc of water. This battery (my second one) has been untouched since newly installed on April 2, 2000. Putting it back in was quite a job. You must align the top bracket exactly right (the part that holds the battery down and the same part that the Motronic computer is screwed onto.). If you don't get it right, you will not be able to reconnect the Motronic computer's plug. It is also difficult to fit the two tabs at the bottom of the attached ABS computer bracket into their two slots. Next you have to move the top crosspiece of the bracket as far forward as possible above the battery, and make sure you push the coolant reservoir with it, because of the bump that fits into it. The forward edge of the bracket cross piece should almost completely go over the filler caps on the battery. That should be about as far forward as you can push everything. Then tighten the long bracket screws in place to hold it there. The reason you need to push it so far is that if you don't, the plug is impossible to fit back into the Motronic computer, and then the Motronic has to come out again for a second attempt. The plug has a long stiff piece sticking out toward the back that is jammed up against the frame. When finished, I had taken another hour, including filling the battery, putting vaseline on the terminals, and remembering to put the vent hose back on. I have done this job before, but this is the first time that I was really trying to understand instead of just getting frustrated. Maybe this description will help someone else tackle this job more successfully. (Late update: A great tool for this job is a ball end hex wrench)
The last job for the day, to clean the inductive pulse generator (IPG) on the rear drive. I was not too happy with the outcome of this job. But first, it seems to me that there should be no need to clean it and the IPG did look clean when I took it out. But some sand that collected around the IPG on the outside managed to fall in when I pulled it out. You need a couple of screwdrivers to lever out the IPG, because it doesn't just pop off by itself. You probably need to be careful not to bend it as it is drawn out. And if you were thinking ahead, you would stop before you got it completely out and blow away any dirt around the back. I didn't and some grit fell in to the rear drive. I tried to clean the dirt out by dipping the end of a paper towel in there. I did the best I could then cleaned up everything and put it back in, wishing I had not started the job.
May 8, 2002 Km: 84275
First job today is the clutch cable. It does not attach at the handlebar with the slotted knurled adjuster screws like any other bike I have seen. I found something like it in a Magura accessory catalog. It looks like an "unslotted adjuster screw" combined with a removable "solder nipple barrel" on the end of the cable
First I removed the left rear saddle bag. By squeezing the hand clutch lever, I can see the lower end of the cable moving the transmission lever end. It is just above the exhaust system hidden by the left ABS pump. Stick the handle of a brush between the muffler and the clutch lever to give slack to the cable. Then at the handlebar end, push the barrel out of the lever. Without the barrel, the nipple is small enough to pass through the unslotted adjuster screw, but you will need to move the plastic handlebar cover to give a little room for the operation. To remove the handlebar cover, undo two screws near the gas tank, and then take out the ignition key and lift the cover over the ignition switch. Now you can pull the clutch nipple through the unslotted adjuster. There is also a felt oil seal wrapped around the inner cable which you can remove temporarily.
On my bike it looked like the barrel was well greased already. Apparently, if this barrel does not pivot easily, the cable can snap off from constant flexing. The nipple on the lower end (engine end) was dry and sandy. The cable inside the sheath looks like it has never been lubricated.
I also noticed the outlet of the battery vent was near to the rear wheel, and looked like the rear wheel had rubbed against it. I wonder where the acid goes when it drips from the vent? I could imagine that wind might even throw it onto the stainless steel muffler, which actually looks a bit rusty. (This is the part of the muffler under the battery, not the muffler that you usually see under the left saddlebag.) Maybe the hose needs a shorter routing so it sticks down further toward the road.
I decided to lubricate the inner cable even though there was no requirement in the maintenance schedule, so I dribbled some engine oil down the inside of the sheath. Apparently all modern cables have nylon or teflon liners and do not need oiling.
(A few days from now, I will, I see the comment below on a website)
The cables used by BMW are of high quality. A cable developed by a Brit. named Bowden, called "Bowden cable" in German parts books, consists of an outer sheath, or jacket, in black, made of some plastic. Next is a metal spiral that is the outside part of the "working part" of the cable. Being made as a spiral, it can flex easily. The spiral must not be "compressible." Next is the inner "wire" which is the pulling part. It must not be "stretchable." I understand that today's clutch, front brake and throttle cables have a Teflon liner between the wire and spiral to reduce friction. These newer cables must not be lubricated
When I cleaned off the barrel I could see some wear marks. This part is easy to oil regularly just by pulling the lever and squirting oil onto it, so I will do that more often now. I put lithium grease on it. I also removed the lever and greased the pivot with lithium. It is has a nylon bushing in it which did not look worn. There is also a wavy washer on top of it, that I had to remember to put back in. I don't know what purpose it serves. I cleaned off the lower cable nipple and squirted some oil on it. Then I reconnected both ends of the cable (reversing the order of disassembly) and turned the unslotted adjuster screw on the handlebar to leave a little slack. I didn't measure it precisely, I just did it to feel right to me.
When it was all together, I tested the feel of the clutch pull. It has just a very slight ratchety feel to it, as it did before I did all this lubrication. I can actually pull in the lever with one finger, so it is probably about as good as I can expect. (And it's going to snap soon. - a word from the future)
Next job is to lubricate the throttle, even though it does not feel like it needs lubricating. Caution, this bike has heated handgrips. Wires run through the middle of the handlebar to the outer end of the handgrip. These wires run through the middle of the anchor plug that holds the bar-end weight. You can't just yank off the grips or you will break the wires, which are quite delicate. This may be another case of better - left - alone. I unscrewed the bar-end weight anyway. After I detached the throttle cable, which is easy from instructions in the manual, I unscrewed the metal plate next to the throttle grip. The throttle grip should pull right off, but it didn't. Maybe the heater wires are holding it in?
I found a clamping screw that can be loosened to slide off the entire throttle/switch/brake lever assembly. I slid the whole thing inward, separating it from the throttle grip. So I conclude that the heater wires are preventing the throttle grip from sliding off. I am not willing to pull the wires out, so I will end my attempt to grease the throttle grip before I do any (more?) damage.
May 10, 2002 Km: 84275
I put everything back together this morning, even the body side panels and seat. I left the prop stand off the seat (It's the part that holds up the seat), because it seemed useless. I didn't lube the throttle cable, but it is very easy to remove the cable at the grip end with one screw. Lubing the cable would be easier if I also had access to the other end of the cable. So that job can wait until I take off the left lower fairing panel. Same with the choke cable.
I popped the cover off the 'choke' adjuster lever, and put some grease in there. It is actually quite dirty inside, but I didn't try to clean it out yet. And watch out for a suspicious looking ball that looks like it want to fall out when you unscrew the choke knob. Mine didn't but I might have been just lucky.
This afternoon, I drove down to Bavarian Motors. I picked up my ABS computer, they had not had a chance to do further testing. They were nice to not charge for the previous diagnostic hookup. I also got a fuel filter for $27, tank grommets for $3.22 and two tank clips for $0.36.
May 11, 2002 Km: 84481
Fuel Filter Replacement
I removed the gas tank cap assembly to look at the fuel filter. The four screws came out easily but the cap assembly was stuck and went flying when I finally got it off. Here's a tip: Think of gas cap assembly as a piston that slides into a 2 cm. deep cylinder. It needs to be drawn straight up before it comes free. It does not just sit on top of the tank held by screws.
There is some corrosion apparent on the gasket and around the aluminum rim of the gas tank opening. Also, around the rim, some strips of green paint and black paint are peeling off, and I carefully disposed of the bits of paint. I didn't want them in the fuel tank.
I probably need to run the bike another 70 km to get the fuel level below the fuel filter, but I could also siphon it off, or just work in gasoline. I decided to go after the filter with rubber gloves instead of draining the tank. The first rubber glove had a leak. The new filter looks a little different from the old one. I used a flashlight to see the screw, it needs a straight edge screwdriver, or a nut driver. After I loosened it, I had to pry it off the injector pipe with a screwdriver. Not elegant, but it came off finally and I could pull the filter out of the tank still attached on the end of the flexible hose from the fuel pump. I drained the old filter back into the tank and put the new one in with the arrow pointing to the injector pipe Then I pushed it back on to the injector pipe as far as I could and tightened the screw. Hope it's on far enough and tight enough, because if it falls off, the bike stops working.
I noticed after the Florida trip that the gas cap is not sealing perfectly, but I can't figure out why just by looking at it. Some gas leaks out onto the top of the tank. There are two gaskets to stop the gas getting out. The fixed gasket seals off the entire assembly, and is a large gasket with several ridges. Then there is a smaller gasket on the hinged portion of the lid. My best guess now is the gasket on the hinged cap is not sealing right, and there is a bit of corrosion on it.
I tried to clean the corrosion off all the gasket mating surfaces so that the gas cap assembly would seal better. I tried to stop any dirt from getting into the tank by holding a shop towel to catch the dust. I used a small artist paintbrush to brush the corrosion dust that I scraped off onto the cloth. Lots more flakes of paint came off, and finally it was just about clean. The cap assembly itself needed cleaning too, but I could take it inside and use a brass wire brush. I sprayed some silicone lube on the surfaces and reassembled. One more problem. One of the 4 tiny screws was slightly stripped. So I got out my new .75 mm pitch thread file and used it for the first time. It is hard working on such a tiny screw, but with my bench vise to hold the screw it seemed to work OK. The screw is better, but not perfect yet, but it goes in without binding, and even better with some oil on the threads. Unfortunately, I was scared to really tighten any of the screws, so I suppose water will still be getting in from the top.
Changing the filter is a job that I never tried before. I was disturbed to find out that the fuel filter is inside the gas tank. But it actually was not that hard to do. This job, more than any other, has changed my mind about do-it-yourself maintenance on my BMW. I can actually do it better than the BMW shop, because they would not have the time to clean up the corrosion, or even to worry about bits of dirt falling into the tank. It's one possible reason some BMW's develop problems with the pump sucking up dirt and getting their screens clogged. I would also add that the inside of the tank looked like a grotto of aluminum and steel tubing shining from the light of my lamp. Quite a beautiful sight, and very clean and corrosion free after nine years. I do like an aluminum gas tank, even if magnetic tank bags won't stick to it.
May 12, 2002 Km: 84481
Eliminating the ABS Part I
A rough measurement of the rear brake lines shows that the brake line from the master cylinder to the pressure modulator unit is long enough to reach the rear caliper, (PREDICTION: A few days from now, I will do a proper check and find out it is about an inch short if the rear shock is fully compressed.) and has the same banjo fitting that the caliper needs. I can remove the rear pressure pulse unit and the wires can be disconnected up by the rear reservoir. The shop manual shows a diagram for removing the rear pressure modulator, and it says both are done the same way.
For the front brake, I will need to buy a single brake line with two banjo fittings to run from the handlebar to the three-way connector on the fork brace, replacing two rubber brake lines, two steel lines, several couplings and the modulator. This line would need to be 31 inches, not including the banjos. (but going right to the edge of the round part).
May 14, 2002 Km: 84481
I removed the rear ABS pressure modulator. It weighs in at about 10 lb. I did it according to my previous plan, using just the brake line that was there. (ANOTHER NOTE: I have not yet discovered the line is too short.) I did end up spilling brake fluid, and tried to clean it up by hosing it off with water and Simple Green cleaner. That was expected. But there were unexpected thrills.
The electric connector was too big to slide out of the space between the frame and the coolant overflow reservoir. I had to raise the reservoir, which means remove battery cover (and Motronic engine computer).
I accidentally punctured the coolant overflow line from the radiator to the bottom of the overflow container. I used a turkey baster to lower the level of the overflow tank to stop the leaking, and some cleanup was also needed. The bottom clamp on this hose is a crimp-on type, which I had to hacksaw off, which meant cut off the line and pull the coolant reservoir off the bike, then get a hacksaw and finally it was off. I rinsed out the tank and took it to the auto parts store to fit a new tube (Needs to be at least 2 feet long. The old tube was too short after I cut one inch off to eliminate the leak.) I got 60 inches of 9/32 inside diameter tubing, marked as "windshield washer tubing" (SAE J200 t AA807, hope that means something.) And I got two of the smallest hose clamps they had. This tubing was actually quite a bit thicker walled than the BMW stuff, which I take as a good thing. Actually, it's possible BMW had to reduce their tube thickness just to allow the ABS wiring to share the space. I also notice that the coolant tube was not correctly routed under the tank. It was tie-wrapped to a rubber piece under the tank, I had to cut off the tie to push it into it's proper place so that the tank would not crush it. On the ends of the hose, I re-used the top clamp (with the BMW logo on it) and put my new clamp on the bottom. I had just enough leftover new coolant to bring the level up to past the low mark. One more point, I found a reference on Ted Verrill's 1988 K75S web site about replacing the coolant overflow tube after 8 years because it was cracking.
Finally, I bled the rear brakes again, spilling some more brake fluid. Lots of bubbles came out.
I reinstalled the seat, the tank, the Motronic computer, battery cover, and took it out for a 2 minute ride. The rear brake works fine. I think maybe better than before, but I don't have any way to measure the effectiveness. I still need to remove the sensor, the toothed ring, and do something about the brackets. Total time so far, 2 hours 30 minutes.
May 15, 2002 Km: 84548
By removing some factory add-ons, I have shaved about 40 lb off the total weight of the bike. Ten for the rear ABS modulator (the front will be another ten). Radio and carrier, 7 lb., and ABS computer 2 lb., Speakers 2 lb. (one each). The BMW windshield and the backrest have been off the bike for a while now, probably 8 lb. together. Later I will be removing the heavy steel toothed rings from the wheels that were used for the ABS. Saving 40 lb is like adding 6 hp. on acceleration. For another comparison, the army duffel bag I took to Daytona on my luggage rack was about 25 lb.
My K1100LT is getting to be a lean machine compared to other sport touring bikes. The dry weight according to the manual is 550 lb. The 1997 R1100RT is 563 lb. and the sporty 1998 R1100RS is 506 lb. So even from the factory, my BMW was already lighter than the R1100RT. With the weight reduction I made to it, and by also taking off the rear trunk, I am pretty close to a dry weight of 485 lb. which is 20 lb. lighter than the R1100RS. The Honda ST1100, another sport tourer has a dry weight of 635 lb.
ABS Removal Part II: New Stainless Steel Lines
From Cycle Improvements in Waterloo, I ordered a 31 inch braided stainless steel brake line with clear vinyl covering, with a straight banjo on one end and a 30 degree banjo on the other, offset at 90 degrees. All their brake lines and fittings are Earl's.
Possible disaster averted. I should have checked if my new rear brake line setup was long enough before this. I removed the rear shock absorber and raised the rear wheel as far as it would normally go. By doing this test, I discovered that the brake line gets too tight at the top of the travel. I will play it safe and get a 14 inch line instead of the 12 inch one I am using.
To determine the correct rear master cylinder fitting, I had to remove my brake line and take it to Cycle Improvements. The thread itself is the same as the bolts that go through the banjo fittings, but there are several possible angles for the seating surface. The BMW line has a fitting on the end that does not look exactly like any fitting they had on the shelf. I decided to chance it on a 45 degree cone fitting that had the same threads, the only difference is the very end of the fitting is kind of flat on the BMW part, but conical on the Earl's fitting (which was the closest thing they had at the shop).
Later, I did find my rear master cylinder in the Magura catalog on the internet. K1100 (up to 1996) uses a "Magura HB-Zylinder 700.14", part number (order code) 0231406. The catalog says the tubing fitting is a M10x1 to the brake caliper. Magura also makes master brake cylinders for KTM, and luckily, Cycle Improvements is a KTM dealer. I took a look inside the master cylinder hose fitting, and it actually does have a conical seating surface that exactly matches the Earl's fitting on my brake line.
The total cost was $226 (Cdn), even though I did a lot of the work myself. Here is the approximate breakdown. The 3 banjo bolts are about $23 each, the swivel hose end is $17, the adapter for the swivel is $12 (AN to 10mm f). The Speedflex line itself is $50 for a total of 4 feet. Then six copper washers for $7.50. Labour for cutting the line and adding the connectors was $43. Plus tax of $30.
I have already fitted the rear 14 inch line, and it is holding the pressure after a few hard stops. Although I made it only two inches longer, it almost looks too long. The braided steel line feels the same at the foot pedal as the rubber line, but both were better than with the ABS setup.
You can click on this thumbnail to see the rear line. It is Earl's Speedflex clear vinyl coated. In the same picture, you can also see the wear on the saddlebag bracket.
The front line needs two banjo fittings. But they do not swivel unless I loosen the brake line itself (don't want to do that). It's hard to predict the angle they should be to each other. I chose 90 degrees, hoping that I could force it if it wasn't right. With this type of line, if you hold it straight and tight, it does not twist, and the fittings stay at 90 degrees to each other. But if the line is curved and free, you can twist the fitting and the line will take a slightly different bend. So the routing of the line can help keep it stress free.
May 20, 2002 Km: 84856
Last weekend, I took a 300 km overnight trip. The only problem I saw was the tachometer reading low for a few minutes. And the snow. This is my third overnight motorcycle trip this year starting back in March, and I've run into more snow each time. I am not looking forward to June.
I discovered a website from Germany (translated to English)
This page tells the history of the development and introduction of the 'flying brick'. It mentions the use of a Peugeot 104 engine in an initial prototype, and explains some of the reasons for using the inline flat four design. And some comments on why BMW thought their design would make it the world's most accessible motorcycle for maintenance. (Note from me: Battery and fuel filter excepted)
May 21, 2002 Km: 84859
ABS Removal Part III: The Front
I removed the front ABS plumbing in the driveway this morning in about 4 hours. In its place I put the new stainless steel braided line. I had to gain access by removing the fender, fork brace cover, side panels, seat, fairing knee section and storage bins. After that, the tank could be pulled back to see the maze of wires. Then I took off the front ABS sensor. By snipping many, many tie wraps, I could move things around a bit and get it out. The sensor plug was small enough to come through the hole in the fork brace. All the ABS plugs (2 sensors, 2 pressure modulating units) are the same shape and blue color, but the sensors only use two pins, while the modulators use all five. Next I pulled the plug for the front pressure modulator, so that I could quickly remove the modulator once I had the brake lines off it. I removed the brake lines and unbolted the modulator and rushed it outside, so it could drip on the driveway. I tried to catch the drips from the brake lines in a jar, and I tried to mop up all the spilled brake fluid as best I could. I wish I knew some way to do it cleanly. (NOTE from May 28, 2002: The Clymer manual says empty all the brake fluid out by the bleed hole first! Too bad I didn't see that before I started removing the ABS.)
The hardest part was removing the two steel tube brake lines that run front to back under the tank. The first thing was to undo three clips that hold the two lines together. I started with the line that goes to the fork brace. It is bent near to the steering head, and has a coupler in the middle. After I undid the rubber hose from the end of it, the steel line emptied pretty fast out the bottom. I tried bending the line and pulling it out in one piece first, but no good. Then I undid the coupler in the middle, and pulled the forward part out the front and the back part out the back. It was actually quite easy, and there was little or no brake fluid leaking out in the middle. The next line was almost as easy. To minimize the mess, I immediately attached the new stainless braided brake line to the handlebar master cylinder, and put the end up high so nothing would drip out.
Next job was routing the new stainless braided line. I decided to go between the fork tubes above the lower triple clamp. I let the line curve (kind of a half spiral curve) down to the banjo fitting on the three way splitter on the fork brace. The one problem with going in front of the triple clamp, is that the main center fairing support also goes through there. When the handlebars are turned all the way to the left, the brake line is slightly pinched between the fork tube and the fairing support bracket. To make sure nothing worse happens, I put a tie wrap to hold the brake line tight against the fork tube just above the lower triple clamp.
To bleed the brakes, I put an old raincoat over the gas tank. I started by just squeezing the lever and watching bubbles come out of the tiny hole and float to the top of the reservoir. It just takes a short squeeze to get bubbles to come out. I had to be patient and finally got to solid fluid and some back pressure in the brake lever. Then I bled the calipers.
I sprayed soap and water where brake fluid might have landed on the bike, then tried to wipe it off a bit, and took it for a test drive. The brakes might feel a little better without the ABS. I read in the Clymer manual that BMW uses special rubber lines on bikes with ABS systems, that are just as good as steel braided lines for resisting swelling under pressure. But I have at least removed some heavy parts, and reduced the congestion under the tank, and now the ABS no longer draws on the battery.
May 22, 2002 Km: 84860
ABS Removal Part IV: The Warning Light
The ABS light on the instrument panel is still on all the time. To remove the ABS light, I first need to remove the instrument cluster. The K100LT up to 1992 does not require you to remove the fairing to access the instrument lights. Unfortunately, for the K1100LT, step 1 is "Remove upper fairing". The rest is simpler, but my solution for now is going to be black tape over the light until it burns out.
I put the bike back together, and tried two more applications for silicone spray. The plastic headlight adjuster knob, and the fork tubes.
I removed the rear sensor, and had to remove the battery bracket again to get the wire out from under the coolant reservoir. I had the Torx #25 screwdriver, so I could remove the sensor body, but I can't remove the sensor's bracket without a bigger Torx (not sure what size). Speaking of tools, I bought a set of LONG metric "Ball Point" hex keys. The 4 mm size is perfect for removing the Motronic computer, an annoying part of checking the battery.
The rear pulse wheel does not come off the brake rotor, according to the BMW manual. But I will try to remove the front one next time I take the wheel off.
This is how I routed the front line. Later, I will decide it would be better to run the line outside the forks to avoid being pinched by the fairing bracket.
May 24, 2002 Km: 85018
ABS Removal: Mission Accomplished
I also removed the remote handlebar switch for the radio. I found a way to fill the empty spot on the handlebar where the radio remote went. I found a cheap compass/thermometer at Canadian Tire that mounted easily and fit pretty well with a couple of tie wraps, and looks OK too.
I also found an easy way to turn off the ABS light without waiting for it to burn out. I removed the ABS relay from inside the central relay box under the tank. It is a little blue box about 1 inch square, and it is now stored in the garage with the ABS computer.
Next I tried troubleshooting the BMW accessory plug near my knee that has never worked. I removed the plug from the back and found that the hot wire was broken off just at the base of the clip. It is hot all the time, and I don't want it shorting out, so I wrapped it in electrical tape, and I shoved it in a piece of rubber hose (actually from the ripped coolant overflow pipe) and tie wrapped the hose to the frame. I may fix it one day, but I also have a problem with the placement next to my knee. I might just rig up something home-made. Right now, I have a loose 2-prong pigtail plug tucked under the left panel for attaching Mary Ann's electric vest. It would be nice if she could plug in while riding, which means finding a solid mounting place in a spot she can reach. I have one other problem with the standard BMW accessory plugs. One of the two plugs I bought from the dealer fell apart in my hands as I was connecting it to my electric vest. (It was replaced at no charge, but still... they are too fragile for my liking, not to mention bulky and expensive.)
Calibrating the Fuel Gauge
Now that the ABS light is turned off, I would like to remove all the black electricians tape I use to block the warning lights on the instrument cluster. I also had a piece of tape on the fuel warning light because it comes on too early and it is too bright. So I decided to remove all the tape and bend the fuel level float rod to make the light come on later. It is hard to bend, because you need to get two things on it, like two pliers to bend it. Because the opening is restricted, I used a long wrench and pliers. I bent the float down first, then I had to bend it sideways (to the right) to realign it with the right tank well. Then I held it to the bottom to see where that read on the fuel gauge. It reads half way into the red (one mark from the bottom). So now I need a piece of tape to cover the bottom of the fuel gauge, to remind me where the new empty mark on the gauge is.
After bending the fuel float rod, I drove until the light came on and about 6 km further on I siphoned 4.7 liters out, so it looked almost empty. Then I drove to a gas station about 500 meters from my house and filled it with 19 liters (I have the top flapper removed). This is the same number of liters that David C. Hall reports from dry to full on his workshop on installing the "Fuel Plus" fuel computer. This tank is supposed to hold 22 litres, so I suppose there may be another 3 liters in there, with space at the top, gas in the fuel pump and fuel filter, and sloshing at the bottom of the tank. The motor ran for the 500 meters to the gas station, with just one hesitation and I shut off the engine myself at the pump. If I normally get about 17 km per liter, that means I can run 80 km after the light comes on. And I should go about 243 km. before the light comes on now. (instead of 200). The empty mark on the fuel gauge is now in the middle of the red, so I will leave a tape there to mark it. It will never read any lower than that because at that point, the float is touching the bottom of the tank.
One other problem happens with the tank full. The big top lid assembly gasket seems to be leaking. I think I might need a new gasket. Some of the paint has come off, leaving a shiny aluminum rim where it can be seen even with the lid down. The paint that came off looked really thick, like there was a rubber backing on it. No paint has come off the main tank yet.
My side stand leans the bike over too far for my liking. Actually, there is about an inch of play in the end of the stand. Lately I have been using a wooden block cut from a 2 by 4, which I put on the ground under the stand to hold the bike reasonably level on a flat surface. I also have two other blocks of varying thicknesses, for different situations. It is annoying to have to get a block out every time I use the side stand. I wanted to screw one block permanently to the bottom of the stand, but it's impossible because then you would not be able to retract the stand, and the block will interfere with the center stand when both stands are retracted. I think there is a problem with the stand pivot bushing being worn, but even when new, I thought it leaned too far. To prevent further wear, last year I got a pistol type grease gun for the grease nipples (one on the side stand, two on the center stand.)
May 30, 2002 Km: 85270
Checking Valve Clearances
I may be able to do the valve gap measurement with no special tools. But if any of the valves need adjustment, I will need shims and at least one special tool. I may be able to do without the rest. The special tool I need is to hold the cam chain tensioner in place while the camshafts are removed. Apparently, (Note: I am not sure of this and even less sure after I did the job) this tensioner has a one-way ratchet. If it takes up the slack in the chain while the cam shafts are out, it will not release the slack to normal (even to let you get the chain back on, I suppose). The other special tools may be not critical, there is some information on the IBMWR website.
My feeler gauge is thousandths of an inch. So I set up a card for the YES/NO measurements. I marked the valve OK if it was intake and 6 fit (YES) and 8 did not go in ( NO). The exhaust was OK if 10 YES and 12 NO. If any valve was not OK, I noted the sizes that would go or not go.
After the fairing is off (easy with no stereo), the valve area is easily accessible. There was a some oil spillage, even after I leaned the bike over to the right before removing the cover. (NOTE: make sure the drain pan is longer than the valve cover) The inside of the valve area looks clean, except for a few globs of sealant that I broke off and put in the garbage. The main cover screws don't come out of the cover by themselves, but a little force from the inside got them out after the cover was off. I left the spark plugs in as recommended by BMW, and turned the rear wheel by hand with the transmission in fifth gear. (I think it was fifth, and it was very hard to turn with the spark plugs in.) Because I will need to adjust the valves, I ordered the special tool "Eccentric Tensioner" part number 11-2-640 from Wolf BMW for $52 Cdn. Bavarian wanted $63 for the same tool. Both are about the same distance from my house, and both need about 1 day to order the part in. I will drive down to Wolf, where I bought my battery less than two years ago.
I put the valve cover back on because I want to keep the inside of the engine clean. Also, I would also like to ride the LT down to Wolf to get the tool. I didn't clean the mating surfaces with solvent, I just wiped it off with a paper towel, and I also did not use any gasket sealer in the corners where it says to use sealer. It looks like it is leaking already in less than two hours at the rear lower crescent. I have not even started up the bike yet.
About 6 hours later, and after mopping with a paper towel a few times, the leaking seems to have stopped. Maybe it was just oil that I missed on the cleanup that was already outside the cover, and slowly dripped down onto that corner. I re-read the BMW manual and it requires three special tools (that I don't have) just to align the cover and put it on. They also specify 3-Bond 1209 from 3-M on the two places where the gasket has to cross a crack (the cam chain cover joint). I could not find that stuff at Canadian Tire so I got Permatex 2 "Form a Gasket". There were many different variants of gasket makers there, but most of those are intended to create the entire gasket out of a bead of the material. The Permatex 2 is heat resistant to 400 deg F., and is intended for compensating for uneven surfaces. As a bonus, it is gas resistant, so I can use it on the gas cap assembly. Some other gasket makers were heat resistant to 450-650 deg F. I hope it does not get that hot on the valve cover gasket.
May 31, 2002 Km: 85270
Wolf BMW called, and my special tool is in, I will go get it with the LT tomorrow.
This afternoon, I did a strictly cosmetic modification, which of course did not go as planned. I wanted a polished aluminum gas tank lid instead of the crinkle black. I took off the assembly and removed the lock barrel too. Unfortunately there is a spring inside. Anyhow the black finish is so tough (I think it's tougher than the aluminum, actually) it took about an hour of grinding and buffing to get it off. Then I had to eliminate the scratches from the grinding, then polish and wax the lid. I managed to get the lock back in the barrel but now the key is facing the opposite direction from usual. I applied my Permatex 2 to both sides of the big gasket and reinstalled. Other than the key being upside down, it also feels harder to turn, and the key does not return to center any more with the spring. But at least it opens and closes. There is a practical advantage to a polished lid. When I wax the tank, I can wax the lid too, and I don't need to worry about getting waxy white paste on the black lid. I didn't get all the scratches out, and I didn't even get all the paint off, but here it is.
About an hour later, I took the gas cap lock out again while the lid was still on the bike, and managed to reinstall it with spring tension, the right way round, and now the cap works the way it used to. It is very tricky when you do it without reading the manual, like me. I figured out that you need to use the key to set the tension while installing it. After I was done, I checked the manuals. The BMW manual has diagrams but still leaves about 75% of the solution to your imagination. Even though the Clymer manual includes 6 photographs of removing the lock gasket, it leaves about 98% for you to figure out.
June 1, 2002 Km: 85481
I rode the LT to Wolf's BMW and got my special tool for the valves.
Before I left this morning, I did a quick valve adjustment on my 1992 Honda Civic VX. Like with the BMW, I had not adjusted the valves on the Honda for 6 years and about 80,000 km. Even though the Honda valves are screw type adjusters, only four valves out of sixteen needed adjusting, and nothing was too far off. The job only took about 90 minutes, no special tools required. I would expect that the shim adjustment design would hold it's adjustment for a lot longer than a screw adjuster. Some of the wear in the BMW valve train could be due to using the wrong grade of engine oil for the first 30,000 km. If that is the case, the next valve adjustment should hold for longer than 80,000 km. On the other hand, the Civic turns at 2500 rpm at highway speeds, and the LT turns over at 4000 rpm.
The newly calibrated fuel gauge works just as I wanted it to. I went 260 km (162 miles) before the light came on, and at the same gas mileage, I could have gone a total distance of 355 km. (221 miles). But I refilled it right to the top immediately with 13.9 liters. I may be getting better gas mileage because I took off the saddlebags, which stick out wider than the fairing. I didn't see any leaking at the fuel tank lid when I filled it right to the top, so the Permatex 2 may be working. Also the valve covers seem to be holding without leaking, and without any gasket sealer on them.
I had a chance to test some heavy braking. I managed to get the front tire howling, which I don't remember ever doing before. Maybe this is the result of the new brake line and no ABS.
June 3, 2002 Km: 85481
Adjusting the Valves Continued
With the special cam chain tool, pulling the camshafts was easy enough, following the instructions in the BMW manual. Except that I didn't have the special tool to hold the camshafts, so I used an 18mm open end wrench. Also I didn't remove the Hall cover, I put the bike in fifth and moved the rear wheel to set cylinder one to TDC. Maybe the valve adjustment seems easy for me because I did a valve adjustment on my 24 valve Honda CBX many years ago. But this is the first time I have ever pulled a camshaft. I made a tray out of aluminum foil to catch the drips, another one to hold the valve cover, and another to put the valve buckets in. I used a couple of wire ties to attach the cam chain to the sprockets (Someone suggested that on a newsgroup)
The buckets on the exhaust side wanted to slide out when I removed the camshaft, so I took them all out and looked at the sizes. I didn't measure, or look at all the buckets, but the ones I did look at and check were right on with my caliper measurement.
Bavarian BMW says on the phone they have buckets in stock for $27. Because Wolf claims to have none in stock (?), I drive to Bavarian and they do have them for the same price, but the bags are open, the old labels ripped off, and I see what I think are wear marks on the sides of the buckets. The person at the counter says they never sell used buckets, or re-use them. Seems like this is not a good time to ask about exchanging my old buckets! True enough, the official BMW manual says you cannot re-use buckets except the ones taken out at the first inspection. But contrary to BMW's statement, I am planning to switch around some of my existing ones to save money. The new ones are the correct size by my micrometer, so I take them. At home I look more carefully, and notice some tiny scratch marks and pits on the cam surface of one of the new buckets (2.9). I decide that I will use it anyway, it does not look that bad. The scratch marks are all the same direction, and off center, which is unusual in a bucket that is designed to rotate during normal running. Also by looking closer at my old buckets, I can see clear wear marks around the outside of the bucket near the top and bottom. The new buckets don't have marks like that
Now the camshafts are installed, but I have not yet turned the engine over so I just checked the new clearance on the number one cylinder. The only valve on cylinder number 1 that is not within specs is Intake #1B. It is still a bit tight even with the new 2.7 shim. I still can't get a .006 inch feeler gauge in, but now the .005 fits easily. Maybe it will settle after I turn the engine over. If it gets any tighter, I should get a 2.65 bucket for that valve.
June 4, 2002 Km: 85577
I took out the cam chain holder tool and rotated the engine in fifth gear with the rear wheel. That is very hard to do, even with the spark plugs all out. In fact it seems to make no difference if they are out. After rotating the engine, I measured the various gaps that I changed. This time I was able to get the .006 inch feeler into Intake #1B, so I think that's got enough clearance now. And the other intake valves with changed shims also allow a .006, but some are a tight fit with it.
I cleaned up the gasket seating area for the valve cover, and pulled more old sealer off the rubber gasket and the head. Then I put dabs of Permatex 2 on the sharp corners of the semi-circles, and where the gasket crosses the joints, and reinstalled.
Click on the thumbnail for a bigger picture. These nuts must not be over tightened. They are circled in the picture. Actually, I also circled a couple of slide rail bolts here, and there are other cam bolts off the edge of the picture. They should all be tightened to 9 Nm.
What you can see is steel nut on a steel threaded stud, but at the other end the stud is threaded into soft aluminum. Without thinking, I snugged up the nuts with a firm grip on a small ratchet and then after I did them all, realized they felt like they were already starting to strip their threads. I checked the torque specification, and it is only 9 Nm. I backed them off and tightened them more gently. If you over tighten the cam retainer bolts, they might have to be repaired with Helicoil inserts. I am hoping that I didn't overdo it, but only time will tell now.
I put in my new Bosch spark plugs, XR5DC. I measured and all the gaps were correct at .025 inches. The NGK DR8EA plugs I took out have now lasted me 30,000 km and are almost at the maximum service limit of .035 inches. They were "cold" meaning their firing tips were more recessed, and they don't clean themselves as easily on short trips (not that I ever noticed, this bike does not foul plugs much). I wanted to get warmer DR7EA which I think are equivalent to the factory plugs, but DR8EA was all they had at the Auto Parts store.
Apparently, BMW is not the only motorcycle company that charges high prices on spark plugs. My plugs cost me $60 Cdn plus tax. According to my sources, it seems that Kawasaki wants $135 for four NGK plugs for the ZX12R. At least for the BMW, I can get equivalent NGK plugs at an auto parts store for about $18.
I put some silicone spark plug boot sealer/lubricant on the inside of the boots and put them back on. You have to be careful there, because the length of the wire has nothing to do with which plug it goes to. There is a 1-2-3-4 marked on each wire, and cylinder 1 is at the front. I usually also put engine oil on the spark plug threads, and I've never had a problem doing it that way, but I am going to use anti seize compound in the future.
Finished the Valve Adjustment: Firing the Engine
Finally I fired up the engine just to see that it idles. And I got the fairing back on. Before reinstalling the radiator grill, I picked bugs out of the radiator fins. It's really hard to get a hose behind the radiator to blow them out.
Summer Overhaul Completed Successfully?
With that successful run, I have basically completed my summer 2002 long-delayed maintenance. While I have been working on the bike for the last two months, I also managed to put another 4000 km on it. I know a lot more about my BMW than I did before. I bought a few special tools. I know sources of BMW parts, and I know a few substitutes that I can get at an auto parts store. The bike is 30 pounds lighter, doesn't smoke and stops better. The fuel warning light is more useful, the gas tank lid does not leak, the radiator has most of the bugs out of it, I have more storage space, the fairing is easier to get off, and the battery is easier to check. Also I have done all the regular maintenance items without taking it in to a shop. This year, the LT will be breaking two personal records for me. It will be the motorcycle that I have owned the longest and the one I have ridden the farthest.
June 7, 2002 Km: 85900
Late update: The motorcycle developed a stumbling problem yesterday. Only when warmed up, and only at low throttle. Also a very rough idle. I thought those were the symptoms of plugged injectors. But it turned out to be two spark plug boots that worked loose. The two plugs with loose boots had brown or tan deposits on the insulator around the firing gap. The other two plugs were almost clean. I looked inside the boots and a couple of them have corroded connectors, and white powder falls out of the boot when I turn it. Several years ago, I removed the ring around the outside of the boot because it was just too hard to get them off. I guess with the clips corroded, there is not much holding them on any more. Also, I had put boot lubricant on when I changed the plugs a few days ago. So I wiped as much off as I could.
And it looks like I'm getting 20 km / liter, or 48 mpg (US) or 56 mpg (Imperial)
June 29, 2002 Km: 87000
I boosted the tire pressures back up for two up driving.
After a long ride on a hot day the bottom of the rear drive gear housing is almost too hot to touch. This may be normal, because I never checked it before.
My non ABS (human controlled) emergency braking has passed an unexpected test in traffic today. I had to stop in less than half the distance I was planning to, on a paved surface with sand on it. The front wheel skidded slightly but I did get stopped and did not fall down. It may have locked up a bit, because the bike was leaning to the side when I got stopped. I am not sure I could have stopped as fast with ABS.
July 2, 2002 Km: 87578
Oil change today, the last change was at 82504 km. I used cheap 20w-50 oil. I tried to put in the Quaker State filter, but decided to go with my old (used) BMW oil filter instead. The main reason was the oil filter wrench. The Quaker State filter does not fit the special BMW filter wrench (BMW uses 14 sided filters while Quaker State uses 18 sided. I have a "FLOTOOL" plastic "space age material" filter wrench that I bought to fit the Quaker State filter, but it will not fit into the 3.25 inch hole in the engine case. The Flotool socket is actually about 3.5 inches outside diameter. So I would have to find a thin walled socket, or grind down the Flotool socket to fit. I tried the BMW socket on the Quaker State filter, but it slips and scratches the paint off the outside of the filter.
Even though my current oil filter is 20,000 km old, I put it back in to the engine. The Quaker State filter began to worry me. It was painted, and I didn't know if the paint would stay on the filter instead of flaking off into the oil system. The BMW filter has a complicated mechanical looking thing in the middle that may be the pressure relief system. The Quaker State filter looked like it had only a rubber collar, the rest of the inside was empty. And finally, since the research I did so far did not mention the problem of the filter wrench, I started wondering just how much I could trust the source of my information in other areas of filter suitability. And finally, it is not that hard for me to get a BMW oil filter, because I often find myself going to the dealer, and they are usually in stock even at the car/motorcycle dealer. Actually, Tom's R1100RS uses the same filter. And they are not outrageously expensive either ($19 Cdn compared to $6 to $12 for the Quaker State automobile oil filter). And I already have the correct oil filter socket for it, and it has a good positive fit to the filter. (And the filter might be available at the local BMW car only dealer right in town where I live. I need to check that next summer.)
I replaced the O ring on the filter cover, but the old one still looked OK after 10 years. I did not replace the aluminum crush washer on the drain bolt. Then I accidentally overfilled the new oil, but the oil level will go down to the middle of the sight glass when I run the engine and it fills the empty oil filter.
The motorcycle had an unusual ticking sound when I backed out of the garage in neutral with the engine off. After a few days I figured out it was the battery overflow tube rubbing against the rear tire treads. I rerouted the overflow tube completely. I extended it by sliding it into the discarded radiator overflow tube to make it longer, and I tied it to the now unused ABS bracket on the right hand side of the bike. It now hangs down to about 6 inches off the pavement, where I think it should be, instead of rubbing on the rear tire.
July 4, 2002 Km: 87956
It's too bad that you can't change the filter only, but it seems that if you take off the filter cover, almost all the oil drains out. I got the new filter at a different place, Budd's BMW, which is also one hour away, but of my three closest dealers it is actually a little easier to get to, and it's near a lakeside park. What I don't like is that Budd's is mainly a BMW car dealer.
July 5, 2002 Km: 87956
I changed the transmission and rear drive oil again, after only about 6,000 km. This time synthetic lube in both, and changed the drain plug washers too. The gear box drain plug had steel whiskers on it again, and the rear drive plug had sludge. This should clear out the dirt I got in the rear drive when I cleaned the induction pickup earlier this summer.
I am starting to change one of my opinions about the K1100LT just a little. I used to think the LT was top heavy. Although most BMW riders generally believe the LT means "Light Truck", the LT is actually lighter than the R1150RT according to BMW's own specs. And because the inline four engine is narrower, it can sit lower and still have cornering clearance. The LT's engine will have the advantage either in cornering clearance or lower center of gravity or maybe both. Mary Ann, with absolutely no motorcycling experience drove the K1100LT around a parking lot, shifting gears, stopping and starting, and making a big loop. She did not drop it. Granted she is tall at 5' 10", and drives a stick shift car. I still can't recommend it as a beginner's bike, though.
July 10, 2002 Km: 88035
While wiping off the windshield I could feel it was loose. I took off the inner windshield cover and saw a missing screw on the right hand side. It is the screw that holds the bushing that runs up and down the shaft. (the shaft you are supposed to put silicone lube on once a year). It is a Torx head that threads right through a bracket, then appears to thread a second time into the bushing. There is also a locknut between the bracket and the bushing. The locknut and torx screw were missing, maybe for a long time, because it actually works OK like that. Anyhow I found a replacement. I could thread it into the bracket, but I couldn't thread it into the bushing - it didn't not line up exactly. So I just tightened it a little against the bushing then tightened the new locknut to hold it.
July 14, 2002 Km: 88840
Just got back from the International BMWMOA rally. We went with Tom and Marion. No problems with the motorcycle at all (or any other problems for that matter). I did hit some part of the underside of the bike on the curb when I climbed over it fully loaded at the campsite, but no bad after effects, like no oil pool under the bike. Update: There was an article in the Toronto Star July 20, 2002 that had a picture of Tom and Marion and his R1100RS setting up their tent. I was not in the picture, and that was the only picture in the article. The author, (I think it was the young woman who took our pictures and interviewed us), must have spoken to a lot of the riders at the rally and understood what they were saying, too. I know Tom said a few things to her about how good BMWs are while he was changing into his shorts. She did say "Go on doing what you usually do while I take a few pictures." The article highlighted some of the differences between the BMW riders and Harley Davidson riders. Harley riders were not specifically mentioned, but who else is so well known for beer, tattoos, naked women, and loud pipes.
I have started using the lowest octane fuel at or above 89. That mean mid grade in many cases. I went 300 km. on 14.67 liters. Tom's R1100S needed 16 liters. We were both two up, and did some back road driving mixed with some freeway flying with the windshield up and the big duffel bag spoiling the steamlining. (At least for me)
The back brake has started squeaking again.
July 21, 2002 Km: 89235
I need to decide when to replace the tires, 110/80 - 18 front and 140/80 - 17 rear. I have used Michelin Macadam 50 front and rear since odometer reading 46,539. The rear Macadam 50 has been on for about 13,000 km. It looks like about 2 or 3 mm of tread left at the center. On my previous rear tire I recorded a remaining tread depth of 4 mm at the time I replaced it, but I'm not sure how I measured it.
July 24, 2002 Km: 89512
If it was not for going out west next week, I would leave the tires on until the wear bar touches the road. There may be another 4,000 km on the rear tire and even more on the front.
I took off the wheels and I will take the wheels in to get the tires changed and balanced. The front axle has a bit of rust developing, and it needed a couple of taps from a hammer to push it out. I cleaned the axle with steel wool, and I will grease it before I put it back. The front bearings feel ok, I turned them with my finger.
I tried to remove the now unused ABS tooth ring off the front. But no way. The hex screws are on really tight. The end of my 3 mm hex key that was inserted in the screw started to deform. The screw looks fine though, it must be harder metal than the hex key. I will leave the ring on for now.
Tom noticed that my throttle was harder to turn than his R1100RS. I think he is right. Part of the problem appears to be the friction between the rubber flare on the inside end of the grip and the switch housing. So I put some silicone lubricant on it.
I have installed a $15 "Throttle Rocker". With so much riding this year my right hand is developing some pain and it gets worse with extended trips. I tested the rocker yesterday, and I am really impressed. It is cheaper and easier to install than a throttle lock. It is also easy to remove, so hope nobody steals it. While riding, I do not have to hold the throttle as tight, and small adjustments of speed are easier. And because the end of the rocker does not vibrate (at least I don't feel anything), I can isolate my hand from buzzing while I am riding. I just loosen my grip or even remove my fingers from the grip. I can test it more on the trip out west.
Funny thing about an accessory is that it is a must-have for some people and a dud for others. For example, I used a home made throttle rocker many years ago on my Yamaha 250, and didn't like it. But there were different circumstances. On that bike the vibration never caused my hand to go numb. But the throttle was really hard to turn, much worse than any other bike I've had. And I was a lot younger. I can't remember what I didn't like about my home made rocker, but it didn't help so it came off. And that was part of the reason why I never considered it as a possible accessory for the LT until I got desperate.
One of the front brake pads was worn down to about 2 mm on one end at one side. So since I have the wheels off and new pads in my parts box, I am going to change them right now. I think these are the original front brake pads. The strange looking clip around the pin is actually not a problem. You can ignore it when driving the pin out, as there is no groove in the pin, and the new pads have new clips riveted on. I drove out the pin with a small hammer. Then I opened up the clips a bit on the new pad to allow the pin to start in more easily and drove the pin in with the new pads. It was all so easy, nothing was frozen by rust. I consider that to be good design. One surprising discovery. My two packets of new pads are not the same. I mean the left pair pair has a different part number from the right pair, even though they are interchangeable and I bought them at the same time. The only obvious difference is that one pair has three vertical grooves in the pad material, and the other has none. The stock pad does not have these grooves. But there are a lot of non matching digits in the two parts numbers. The new pads all have a copper-colored metallic finish.
I put a drop of oil on bottom and top end of the clutch cable while the wheel and saddlebag were off.
July 25, 2002 Km: 89512
I picked up the tires at Cycle Improvements. Total bill was $424.35 including balancing.
The wheels, saddlebag and fender took me about 30 minutes to put on. There is a complicated sequence recommended in the manual for tightening the front axle pinch bolts. It involves pumping the forks before tightening one side. I never did it before, but I thought it would be nice to try it this time. One thing I forgot, I didn't grease the axle before I put it in. I'll check it again when I get back from British Columbia to see if any rust is forming.
Pressure is 36 front and 39 rear, not exactly the right balance, but I tested it with those pressures. I went for a ride on a smooth section of freeway, and there was no vibration from the tires that I could detect. The front brake lever feels like it engages sooner, it must be the effect of the new brake pads. Too bad this lever is non adjustable.
The rear hubcap came off much too easily yesterday. There is a metal clip inside it which as far as I can tell does not engage anything at all. The cap is only held on by the plastic edge and I am leaving it off until I figure out how to keep it on securely.
July 25, 2002 Km: 89554
The engine oil was showing in about 30% of the sight glass. I topped it up to 100%, I can't see the line any more, hope I didn't overdo it.
I pumped the rear tire up to 41 lb/in as recommended for two up travel. I noticed all the old wheel balancing weights were removed, and there were no new weights on the rear tire, and only one small one on the front. I usually feel better seeing some new weights when the new tire is mounted, but maybe I just worry too much when I can't see the actual balancing work being done. I guess that's why I like doing the work myself whenever I can.
The coolant level in the overflow tank was far below the minimum level, this must have happened in the 3 months since I flushed it. I had to add about 200 cc of mixed 50/50 coolant. It is now at the maximum level, if not a little over.
July 26, 2002 Km: 89686
Took a ride for brunch this morning. No vibration from the wheels. Rear pressure 44, which I let down to 42. Front was 33 and I left it there. The coolant level has not moved. The oil level is not visible above the top of the glass. When it is on the side stand, the level is in the middle of sight glass.
My new face shield is amazingly clear, it makes me think it's open when its actually closed.
August 15, 2002 Km: 99429
Trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, and British Columbia Canada
It is now 20 days later, and I put just under 10,000 km on the bike. Click here for pictures Sturgis
There were only three 'problems' with the LT. Every once in a while it missed a beat like it had some bad gas or plugged injectors, but I never found the cause. One day it stumbled about three times about 30 seconds apart. Days later, it skipped just one beat. For the rest of the trip the motor ran regularly.
The tachometer sticks sometimes. Both low and high, but usually low and after parking for a while. Then it gradually returns and performs fine. I guess I noticed it about 5 times during the trip and it never lasted more than a few minutes. I saw a comment on the BMW K11OG owners site from Andy Bauer, he thinks it is caused by direct sunlight on the center of the tach needle. I will try shading it next time to see if that's what clears it up.
Finally and very rare, we had just gone through a major construction zone with rocks, gravel, and sand. Soon after, I shifted gears and the clutch lever would not spring out after squeezing it. At first, I thought it was a broken cable, but it turned out to be some stones that found their way on top of the muffler just where it is indented for the clutch lever arm. When I pulled in the clutch, the stones rolled under the arm, preventing it from returning to the normal engaged position. The bike coasted to a stop. Even though this happened in the remotest area of Montana, a pickup truck driver stopped immediately to lend a hand, but I declined. Then minutes later, a couple on a Harley doubled back to help us. By then I had an idea what was wrong, and he scooped the rocks out while I held up the clutch lever on the other side of the bike. Then he followed for a while to make sure everything was OK. Mary Ann said she felt a shower of rocks on her left leg thrown up by a passing truck in the construction area, so that may be when it happened.
Just a soapbox note here, and that is if I did not work on the clutch lever myself months ago, it would have taken much more time to figure out what was wrong while standing beside the road. In my opinion, it is another reason to work on the motorcycle yourself instead of sending it in to the shop all the time. Also, removing the ABS units made it easier to see the clutch lever arm, but on the other hand if I left them in place maybe the rocks would have bounced off them. Anyway they would be very heavy rock guards if that's all they were good for.
And before I get off the soapbox, can we agree corporate loyalties and name brands are less important than helping a fellow rider? No exceptions to the rule.
Half way through the trip I added half a liter of 20W-50. Now back home the oil is below the level of the sight glass. Looks like it took more oil to get home than to go out west.
I found a small crack in one of the saddlebag hinges on the third day out, so I picked up a couple of spares at Moon Cycle in Monticello Minnesota. I installed them (with a lot of help from a BMW rider from Michigan) at the Sturgis BMW campground. They are easy to install, but tough to remove the old one if you want to keep it as a spare.
I had a few problems with the non BMW gear too. The Max Lite earplugs caused pain in my right ear after a couple of days wearing them. It was very uncomfortable with the earplug in, (no pain when I took it out), but even worse without them because of severe wind noise out west. (cross winds in South Dakota). The ear condition gradually went away and now my right ear is just about back to normal. Then I found the HJC Symax helmet leaked air at the top face shield gasket. The leaks are just above my eyes and cause some eye watering after driving like that into the wind for a few days. I borrowed Mary Ann's Arai full face, and it was much better until the wind let up and my eyes were back to normal. Also the Symax face shield flips open by itself in very strong cross gusts, while the Arai does not.
I also thought there was a little vibration from the tires at 90 mph or 150 kph, but I did not often reach those speeds long enough to notice. And the tires needed air to be added after a few days, but then seemed OK at the half way mark of the trip. By the time I got home and checked again, they were down to 31 front and 36 rear.
I kept the throttle rocker on for the entire trip, but did not get a chance to test it with the heated grips on high to see if it would melt. If it does not melt, I think I will be keeping the throttle rocker as a permanent part of the bike.
The left fork seems to weep a little oil at the seal on the fork tube, and also at the top filler bolt. Funny, because it's the right filler bolt that is missing the gasket. But I am thinking that it is because the two forks have different functions, apparently one is for compression and the other for rebound. Maybe it is normal for the oil to weep more from one than it does from the other in that case.
August 23, 2002 Km: 99429
I have not yet gone for a ride on the LT since arriving at home, but I did wash it and move it around a bit. The center stand seemed to not be retracting freely. So I got out my mini lube pistol and gave each grease fitting a shot. I had trouble getting grease into the left side the last time I tried it, many months ago, At that time, no matter how hard I squeezed the pistol lever, it would not move past a certain point. This time there was a bit of resistance at first, then it broke free and shot grease into the joint. Now the stand swings up and down freely. I did notice just a bit of play in the center stand pivot, so I hope that does not develop any further. The side stand has so much play in it that I will probably need to replace something.
The coolant overflow tank was down to the minimum mark, so I topped it up.
August 25, 2002 Km: 99702
I topped up with 20W-50 oil, pumped up the tires to 36/41 and went for a three hour ride today, the first time since I got back. My shoulder pain seems to have gone, at least while riding with the windshield down. My shoulder was the worst problem I had on the trip out west, and the pain or uncomfortable feeling has lasted for several days after I got back.
I noticed before the trip and before I replaced the tires that the bike has a very slight tendency to wander at low speed, like it wants to fall over. I can feel it again. When it acts this way, I need to make constant small steering inputs to keep it on track. This morning I checked the steering bearings by jacking the front of the bike up and moving the handlebars back and forth. There is a slight notch in the center position, enough that if I move the end of the bar about 5 mm from center, it swing by itself back to center. I think that would be enough to cause the condition I noticed. The steering has just enough of a notch to prevent it from self balancing at low speeds on worn tires.
The Shop manual does not describe replacing the steering head bearings, but the Clymer manual does cover it. The pictures show tapered roller bearings. I have not read it all through yet, but I saw 'hydraulic press ' in there, and freezing and heating, and tapping with blocks of wood. It's probably like most standard motorcycles, and it's not an easy job. I called Wolf BMW and they have the bearings for $58 each (you need two sets) and a dust cap (didn't check the price - hey it's a dust cap how much can it be?).
If I do take apart the front end, I should also look at:
Grease the axle to prevent rust
Check the rim for leaks
Check fork cap leak
I cleaned off the side stand to have a look at it and decide why it's so loose, and maybe fix it. It has two retractor springs that I don't have a tool to remove, and there is also a spring loaded switch on the pivot. I may not be quite ready for this job yet, and the stand still works about as well as it did when new. (Still needs a block under it, just a thicker block). All the looseness seems to be around the pivot hole. Hopefully a new part (like an inexpensive bushing) could tighten it up.
September 15, 2002 Km: 100354
I passed the 100,000 km mark on Friday 13th. That reminds me I didn't change the oil after the trip, so I changed the oil this afternoon with new 20W-50.
I can see more oil leaking around the left fork seal. I'm not really tempted to replace the seal even though the fork must be removed in order to change the steering head bearings.
I happened to be in the neighborhood, so I bought new steering head bearings from Bavarian. Unfortunately they will have to send them by mail as they were temporarily out of stock when I was there.
I think found the answer to the stuck tachometer needle. It stuck again while riding, and according to a post on the internet it was because of sunlight directly on the instrument face. At the time I was riding with the sun shining over my shoulder directly on the face of the tach, so I shaded it with my hand for about 10 seconds and the needle came unstuck.
September 20, 2002 Km: 100554
Now that all the 2002 servicing is done, I am going to set up an ongoing service schedule to remind me of when I need to take care of things. There are some discrepancies in what the recommended schedules are. The service schedule I got with the bike says every 15,000 km. for most items. But the BMW Shop Manual says 20,000 km. for the same items. My feeling is that I would change the engine oil more frequently and stick with 20,000 for the rest, and in some cases even more.
While reviewing all this information I found another service item, the cam chain guide surface should be replaced every 60K.
September 26, 2002 Km: 100647
Steering Head Bearings
I received the steering head bearings and I have the two dust caps. I also have a fork seal from Wolf for $27 Cdn.
On August 25, I discovered a very slight notch in the steering in the straight ahead position. Even though BMW uses high quality roller bearings, a difficulty with these old telescopic forks is the stress on the steering head bearings. Because the bearings spend almost all their time in the same exact position, a flattening of the rollers or grooves in the races can begin to form in one precise location, while the rest of the surfaces get no wear at all. What could make it worse is antilock brake chatter and ten year old grease. I think the new BMW Telelever front end takes some stress off its steering bearings.
This morning I started taking out the steering head. There was no description in the shop manual, other than a diagram of how to adjust the bearings with a special collar available from BMW. My Clymer manual covers only up to 1989, and starts by removing the gas tank and fairing. I decided to see what I could do without removing those items. I covered the gas tank with cloth and started removing the front wheel and forks first. The forks came out pretty easily even though the fairing got in the way a little. But then I had to put them back in because the steering stem nut was too tight, and I need the forks to provide something to twist against. I loosened it with a 32 mm socket, breaker bar and extension. The handlebars are being held up by ropes tied to the windscreen, and I have a couple of two by fours stuck under the steering bridge to hold it up.
Now I have the steering stem out. Clymer says to get the inner race off (the one on the steering stem), you should use a hydraulic press to remove the steering stem from the lower fork bridge! Also you need to remove the fairing, handlebars and use a propane torch and freezing. On the other hand, I have read about people splitting the inner race with a chisel and then popping it off. The outer races (in the steering head on the bike) will need a long drift and a big hammer to get out.
I have decided to try a backyard method that may not work, but will be much easier, cost nothing, and do no harm. I am going to keep the same bearings in there, but just rotate them to a new position. I can't rotate the races, but the rollers can change position and rotate too. I would guess that by randomly moving all the rollers around, I would have a 99% chance of getting fresh surfaces at the dead center position. The reason I think this could work is that the roller bearings appear to be good, I checked the races and they are smooth to the touch all around. I think I caught the bearing wear in the early stages.
Before I reassemble, I will clean the bearings and repack them. I bought some "Synthetic Extreme Pressure Grease" with the Motomaster brand (The Canadian Tire store house brand.) It claims to conform to the National Lubricating Grease Institute GC-LB requirements, whatever that is. And it was more expensive than most of the other greases, $5.49 Cdn for 400 g. Too bad I had to buy so much, I probably only need about 100 g for the rest of my life.
If the notch does not go away or I have further problems, then I will know for sure the bearings need replacing. And so far it has not been too difficult because I didn't actually remove the handlebars, gas tank, or fairing. But if I can rotate the bearings every 100,000 km to keep the steering smooth, then I guess I won't be needing my new bearings any time soon.
September 26, 2002 Km: 100647
Steering Head Bearings (Continued)
I decided to clean off the old grease using a solvent to remove the old stuff. It's hard to do because the roller bearings do not come apart. It took a couple of hours with a brush and paper towels. I put the top bearing in the head race and turned it and even without grease it feels smooth.
I took a look at the new bearings, but because I may not be using them, and they are so expensive, I didn't take them out of their sealed clear wrapper. I could only see they were about the same as the old ones except they had some writing, where the old inner race has nothing. I can't see the outer race on the bike without removing it. The new inner race says "Germany 00 327X". The new outer race says "Germany - s 0 00 325X SKF 320/28 IXQ"
I spent about an hour working grease into the rollers. It's hard to get grease in there because of the cages. I tried to make sure I rotated all the rollers completely around in the grease, and then spread a heavy layer of grease on the exposed part of the rollers just before reinstalling on the bike.
Then I got it back together and tightened the bearing adjuster. I don't have the special tool or a torque wrench, so I tapped the adjuster ring with a hammer and screwdriver until it felt tight. (Be glad it's not your bike.) First I made it too tight, I could feel that it was hard to turn and notchy. So I loosened it just so the notchy feel disappeared. With everything back together, the forks do not fall by themselves to the side from center. I think there are just too many wires attached to the handlebars for them to turn freely. But it moves very smoothly with a light touch and I don't feel a groove in the middle more. So I may check the torque after a thousand kilometers after I get the special tool from BMW and a torque wrench.
September 27, 2002 Km: 100647
I used the new extreme pressure synthetic grease on the lever end of the clutch cable. Russell, at Bavarian warned me that 100,000 km is a long way for a clutch cable to go, and the ends need grease, not oil. He broke his clutch cable on the way to work a few weeks ago. (Note from the future: Next year, when my cable breaks, Russell's advice will prove to be almost spot on.)
I rerouted my custom front stainless steel brake line down the outside of the right fork tube to avoid pinching it. I put some grease on the axle, which was showing a spot of rust. But I forgot to try balancing the front wheel.
One concern I have is that the two forks do not come up to the same height in the triple clamp. I even tried to release the clamp screws on the left and slide it up and down to relieve the stress, but though it does move up and down a bit, even at the highest, it is still lower in the clamp than the right fork. I can't see anything in the manual that explains how to set this. (Prediction: I am going to solve this problem in a few days and feel pretty stupid at the same time.)
October 1, 2002 Km: 101100
A longer ride today, with my greased steering head bearings, and it feels like I have a new bike.
So what next? I am still convinced that the K1100LT has more power than any sane intelligent person can use. I have never felt the need to modify this bike for increased the performance. Do not click on the link below if your sales resistance is weak, and if you have even a remote desire for a little more power. OK you were warned.
October 8, 2002 Km: 101250
Another ride today with Tom and Bill. Before the ride I went over the bike and noticed a few things I might need before I get the RB Racing turbo kit. First, when pushing the LT into the garage there is a noise seems to be the front disks chattering. It could be the bobbins holding the floating disk need replacing. Also, the front tire is worn more on the left side (it has over 10,000 km now). I took off the left fork tube wiper (dust seal). It's just above the fork seal, and it's job is to try to keep the fork clean above the seal. Actually, I just pushed the wiper up the tube a little so I could look at the fork seal. There was a pool of fork oil above the fork seal, so I mopped it out with a paper towel and pushed the wiper back into the seat.
After talking to Bill during our ride about my fork alignment, I decided to take another look at why the right fork sticks up 2 mm out of the top triple clamp, while the left fork is level with the top. I think that it might be the top triple clamp that is on crooked. I measured distances on both sides of the bike. From the bottom triple clamp to the axle is the same on both sides so that's just as it should be. But the top triple clamp is 2 mm closer to the axle, and 2 mm closer to the bottom triple clamp on the right side compared to the left.
I can't figure out what is holding the top triple clamp in that alignment. If I loosen all the pinch bolts and the center steering nut and locknut, the triple clamp will move if I tap it. But if I tap the right side up, the left side moves up all by itself. If I tap the left side down, the right also moves down. So it must be precisely fitted on the stem, and if it is, then I don't know how the top triple clamp could be out of alignment. So the puzzle is not solved yet.
Right now, the fork falls all the way to the left very freely, but not to the right. But I think the slowness on the right side is mostly because of the resistance of the wiring harness. I used a torque wrench Tom gave me to tighten the steering nut to 50 ft-lb. And I put new grommets on the rear tank posts.
I inspected the windshield mechanism because I feel a little bit of free play on the right where I lost the bolt and replaced it with a fix of my own. But I can't tell where the looseness is. My replacement bolt is just as tight as ever, so I left it alone. While I had the panel off, I took out most of the wiring harness for the radio that is no longer needed.
October 10, 2002 Km: 101250
I solved the mystery of the fork tubes. Clue number one: BMW triple clamps cannot get out of alignment. They are just too strong and precisely machined for that to happen without crashing the entire bike.
"It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Sherlock Holmes
So why did I measure a 2 mm difference between the top and bottom triple clamp? I measured again this morning and actually it is the same on both sides.
So then I decided to lower the right fork tube to be even with the top of the triple clamp and stop thinking about it. When I jacked up the bike and released the right fork tube and twisted it a little, it dropped all by itself to almost the correct height. I just tightened it and now my problem is solved.
I got the price for a new rear brake rotor from Bavarian: $415 with the ABS ring, $272 without. Tom's '94 R1100RS is more expensive at $509 and $333 without. Makes me feel like it's a bargain. Almost.
Now that 2002 is coming to an end, I realize there has been a dramatic change in my opinion of the K1100LT. I am seriously thinking that I may never need to buy another bike. It only has to last probably another 20 years for me.
I have added a web page on my windshield custom design, click here.
To continue the log into 2003, click here
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