1993 BMW K1100LT
Log Page 2

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The maintenance log for the K1100LT starting in 2003

May 14, 2003  Km: 103011

The tail light burned out, for the second time since I have owned the bike.  You can tell because if any of the back lights do not work, the central warning light stays on even after you test the brakes.   It tells you either the front or rear brake switch did not light up the brake light with either a faulty switch or light filament, or the tail light is burned out.  I got two 4 candlepower bulbs for $1.98 from the auto parts store.  They apparently don't use watts any more to indicate the bulb brightness.  The tail light housing has specs stamped on it, the tail light should be 6 cp. 

I noticed the base of the bulbs is exposed to the elements when installed, so I put on some grease to prevent corrosion.

I took the bike to Ottawa for a short vacation with Mary Ann.  I did not top up the oil before leaving, the oil level was in the center.  I put in about 2/3 of a liter in Ottawa bringing it up to 3/4 of the sight glass level.  During the trip I noticed the turn signal manual cancel button did not work for a while, but then it started working again before I got home.  Almost the whole trip was in either fog, rain, wet roads or cold weather, and the bike ran fine with all of it.

I need to get new spark plug boots and test the compression.  I felt a couple of misfires on the 1100 km trip, and apparently there is a puff of smoke from the exhaust when I accelerate.

May 23, 2003  Km: 103101

I finally washed the bike yesterday, after going for a short ride.  The side stand now is getting very stiff, and also has over one inch of free play at the end.  That prompted me to take it apart and see what the problem was.  There seem to be springs and multiple parts, so I didn't want to take it apart until I had to.  Actually it was not that bad once I could look at all the pieces, to figure out how to put it back together.  But if you forget to reinstall the side stand cutout switch or its spring, the bike will not start.

The retracting springs came off easily with needle nose Vise Grips.  The main bolt appears to be a  16 mm head, and I don't have a socket in that size, so I used a non metric equivalent. Everything came apart easily, except that I almost lost the spring loaded side stand cutout switch. I tried hammering the side stand fork to close up the gap, and also shaved a little off the height of central bushing.  I cleaned and chipped all the old petrified grease off and applied new grease.  When the stand was all together (needed some more filing to make everything fit), it worked smoothly and the free play was only about 1/4".  The BMW leans on the side stand just like it did when it was new (In my opinion BMW made the stand a little too short).  And I am still not sure exactly how I made the stand tighter.  And for the next few months I should keep checking the main bolt because I forgot to use Loctite on it.

My grease gun was not getting grease into the side stand  bushing.  Maybe I waited too long before the first shot of grease (9 years).  But the gun is finally working. I could see grease squirting out the side of the bushing as I applied the grease gun. I did the same on the center stand, and also put some drops of oil on the side stand cut out switch pivot, and the lower end of the clutch cable while I was there.

It was strange that after I shot grease into the center stand's two grease fittings, the center stand was even more stiff than before.  So I just worked the stand up and down by hand until it gradually freed up.

June 5, 2003  Km: 103500

Heated Grips Problems

The right heated grip is not as warm as the left, or maybe just stone cold. I looked under the tank at the connectors.  There are three connectors, one from the switch, one from the handlebars, and one from the wiring harness. The switch itself seems OK, but the connector to the handlebars shows that there is intermittent current  going through the left side.

To make a long story short - I disconnected the wires, released and dropped the handlebars and pulled off the left grip to test the heater element.  The price of a new heated grip (left only, including the rubber grip, heater element and wires, is $125 Canadian.).  The grip itself is OK.  I traced the problem to two breaks in the wires.  The brown wire was broken at the terminal under the tank, although the insulation was holding it together.  There is also a also break in the black wire somewhere  near the steering head.  I might have broken that as I was moving things around, because when I first started testing at least the black wire was OK.

I decided to splice in new wires, but to do that right you need to be able to use a soldering iron.  It is an art I have tried but not yet mastered. The soldering iron kit I bought last year (the high powered 100 watt pistol type) simply did not work for me. Today I bought a small 30 watt soldering iron, and some small wire just a little thicker than the wires to the heated grips, and some heat shrink tubing. The new 30 watt iron seems to work perfectly on this type of job.

Even though I remembered to leave a string through the handlebar end, it is still difficult to pull the terminals out though the middle hole.  Some duct tape around them helped them get through.  Then I realized that I had not measured the new wire lengths very carefully.  Both are too long, and one is longer then the other.  I don't really care, it's under the tank anyway.  And one final worry.  I should have wrapped the pair of wires in a protective  sheath, like BMW did.  Now I'm worried that the insulation will wear through and possibly short out.  Apparently if it happens, it takes out the number one fuse which prevents you from starting the bike.

A road test confirmed that both grips were heating up on the normal setting, but now the high setting does not work.  Gas tank off again.  There are three wires in the plug going to the switch for the heated grips. The green/black wire is the power wire to the switch.  The orange is the low heat and the black is high heat.  My 12 volt test probe shows confusing results with the switch connected on the bike. It shows power on all three wires when the switch is turned on (either high or low setting) and  working properly. I can use the continuity tester when the switch is disconnected, which gives a better idea of how the switch works. When the switch works properly, the continuity tester shows that the connection runs to the orange only on low heat and black only on high heat. When I tested it, there was no continuity to the black wire.  So I sprayed some contact cleaner inside the switch and tried it again.  That cleared up the problem.

Spark Plug Caps

Considering how corroded the inside of the spark plug caps are, I started to think about replacing them.  I was in the mood for a good laugh this morning so I called for a price.  First, the caps are not available separately, they are permanently molded to the wires.  In Canadian dollars the first three are $88 (each, lucky I thought to ask) and the fourth is $75.  I assume the shorter length of the fourth wire makes it less expensive.   There is a rumor that you might screw up the ignition system completely if you change to after market plug caps and wires.  More investigation needed.......

June 8, 2003  Km: 104000

Tom has a "Vampire" oil sampling pump that he uses for bleeding brakes, so we gave it a try on the LT. I only changed the brake fluid last year, but already it's turning to the color of  Scotch whiskey. I was over at his house and tried to use my BMW toolkit but found out that there is no 11 mm wrench in it, which is required for the bleed fittings.  With a borrowed wrench, it all worked out pretty well.  We also managed to siphon out the specks of black dirt in the rear reservoir.

The way it works is to hook up a tube to the bleed fitting on the caliper, build up a vacuum on the pump, then open the fitting until the flow slows.  Repeat about 6 times.  This was much faster than bleeding using the brake lever pumping, and also caused less spillage.

FRIDAY June13, 2003  Km: 104150

Today is Friday 13th so I went to Port Dover for the biker get together with Barry and one of his friends, Bob.  Dover was like a smaller version of Sturgis,  so I was surprised to get a couple of comments about my squeaking back brake.  If my brakes can be heard over all the Harleys in Port Dover, something is wrong.  Bob suggested a bit of cardboard between the pad and the cylinder.  I actually used a square of paper cut from the front cover of a Harley Davidson brochure.  Now I have a good answer for the question "Are you riding a Harley?".  The answer is: it is part Harley.

The result was good for the first round the block test, but a little of the squealing came back on my next out of town trip.  Can't tell yet if the Harley paper dropped out or just wore through.

June23, 2003  Km: 106186

Trip to Mont Tremblant, Quebec

I did a 2000 km trip, and.  I added 300 cc of oil after the first 500 km, and I just added another 500 cc at home to bring it back up to the middle of the sight glass.

The first maintenance item after coming home was to remove and clean all the spark plug wires and use dielectric grease to prevent further corrosion.  The inside of the caps were not as corroded as I remembered, and now they seem to snap on positively to all the spark plugs, even the number 4 which was the most corroded.  I also tested them for end to end resistance, which was OK at about 5 or 6 k ohms each.

I put on a new back tire, another Michelin Macadam 50, costing $253 Cdn installed (I think it was $20 installation).

At the same time, I took off the rear brake caliper, removed the pads, and cleaned everything in soap and water.  I threw away the useless Harley papers (they were still in place!), because they did not stop the squealing.  This time I used anti-seize compound.  I put some on the back of the pads, the three pins, and the forward edge of the pad back plates, where they apparently touch the caliper. I can see some wear marks, so it could be a source of the squeaking.  A quick test drive revealed a slight squeak after about 5 stops, then the noise went away again. 

July 16, 2003  Km: 106566

Several trips later, the rear brake squeals a bit, but less than before.  Checking the engine, I managed an indicated 200 kph, and with a longer road I could have gone faster.  The throttle response is very good and the engine runs smoothly. I have not yet checked the rear tire pressure since getting it replaced.  I went 270 km before the fuel light came on, 325 km until I filled up and needed only 16.5 liters.  I could have gone another 50 km. on the remaining 2.5 litres.  Tom did not see any smoke out the back when I cracked the throttle.  Basically it is running and feeling very good right now.

July 28, 2003  Km: 108009

Trip to Trenton, Ontario BMW Rally

Everything worked perfectly on the trip which included strong headwinds and rain, two up with camping equipment.  One tank of gas barely lasted me 220 km.  Tom, who was riding with me, managed to go a lot further on the R1100RS.  We used to get the same gas mileage, but that was when when he always ran in fourth gear. My manual says 48 mpg (imperial) at 120 km/hr.  Tom's R1100RS manual states 54 mpg at 120 km/hr.

When I got home I needed 800 ml of oil to bring the level back up to the center mark. The last time I brought the oil level up to the center mark was at 106,186 km. That is about one liter for 2300 km.

August 11, 2003  Km: 108600

A useful  handlebar vibration tip.  Removing the handlebar end weights makes a very noticeable change to the type of vibration and the speeds at which it is worst.   My own impression is that up to about 135 kph (Indicated speeds, not real speeds), it's better with no weights.  From about 135 up, it is better *with* the weights. I have the stock handlebars, and I use a "Throttle Rocker".  My hands often suffer from a bit of numbness from vibration, but I didn't feel it today with a 300 km ride and no weights.  I also stayed under 135 most of the time.

August 22, 2003  Km: 108780

I was reading through a book called "Motorcycling for the Compleat Idiot".  It is endorsed on the front by Jay Leno who writes "As an idiot and a motorcyclist, I find this book very helpful".   I wondered what was in it.  On one page I saw a list of things to never do, and one of them was "Never use automotive coolant in a bike".  So that made me think of the BMW where I put some generic green goo April 2002  to replace the coolant that had been there for 7 years with no problems.

I decided to change the coolant.  All the local BMW bike dealers use regular automotive coolant "compatible with aluminum block engines".  So I decided to buy 3.78 liters of orange colored Prestone Longlife, which says "GM Dex-cool approved". Also claims to be silicate and phosphate free, and lasts 5 years or 240,000 km or your money back.  It says guaranteed compatible with aluminum radiators.  Cost $14.99 Cdn plus tax.  So if my BMW is destroyed with this coolant, I will at least have the satisfaction of getting my $14.99 plus tax back. (NOTE: A month from now I will come across a website supporting a class action lawsuit against GM for cars with engines destroyed by Dex Cool. There's always something to worry about!!!!)

August 25, 2003  Km: 108780

Changing the Coolant

This is my second coolant change, and I described the first in the log from last year.  This year I did it in a similar way, but a little better (I think).  If you want to see the full description, first go to read the log entry for April 19, 2002.  

One thing I did different is I changed the coolant from green to orange, so I thought it best to do a complete flush. I emptied all the old coolant by detaching the lower hose as I did last year. 

To drain the old stuff completely, I put a garden hose into the lower engine attachment and blasted water in there.  Then I reattached the radiator hose loosely, put in a couple of liters of distilled water and removed the hose again to let it out.  After that, I attached the hose properly, and added 1.5 liters of Dex Cool.  Then I added about .5 liters of distilled water and no more would fit in.  So I assume there was a liter of water in the bottom of the system that didn't drain, as the capacity is supposed to be about 3.5 liters.  If I am right, I have about a 50/50 mix.

I drained the overflow reservoir with a turkey baster.  Then added more water and drained again, as much as I could with the baster.  Then I added about .25 liters of Dex Cool, and that brought it up to half way between the marks.

This year, I knew that the radiator filler does not take coolant fast, (with the bottom hose connected) so I avoided spillage like last year.  I learned that the top filler pipe connects almost directly to the rubber hose at the bottom, so if it is disconnected and you put water in the top, it drains out the hose directly without going into the radiator or block.  That's why I flushed the block directly with the garden hose.

The entire job took me about 2.5 hours, mostly flushing and refilling.  When I was finished I was thinking "What will I do with the container of new green coolant that I won't be needing any more?".  The answer: "Put it in the Honda Civic, it's been about 5 years since it was changed."  The point I want to make is that it took me only 20 minutes to accomplish the coolant change on the Honda Civic.  There is a plastic tap at the bottom of the radiator, turn it by hand and you drain the coolant.  The filler is even more accessible.  I skipped draining the overflow tank and the block, because I was using the same type of coolant as before.  

September 1, 2003  Km: 109999

Trip to Finger Lakes, N.Y.  BMW Rally

I have a $29.95 (US)  front fender extender to protect the engine from rocks and dirt.  It is the "Extenda Fenda" from Pyramid Plastics, for the K1100LT.  The vendor at the rally explained to me that I need to drill holes for the four screws in the package.   I went out to mount it tonight, I should have waited till tomorrow because I'm mentally exhausted from the rally and riding in rain today.  

It was tricky sticking the extender to the fender in exactly the right position. Then I scratched up my extender.JPG (36424 bytes) fender while drilling the pilot holes (ouch!).  Finally, I was not able to mount the actual BMW fender straight. 

September 2, 2003  Km: 109999

The fender was crooked because some time ago,  I lost a washer on a bolt that holds the fender in place. (click on the picture and you will see the alleged bolt in the top left corner.)  Each bolt needs two washers to hold the fender, one on each side of the plastic, and if one is missing, the fender will distort and bend out of alignment. I tried to bend the plastic back into shape. With both washers, it seems to be straight and holding, but the velcro comes apart while riding. 

barendandrocker.JPG (21044 bytes)Barry has a lathe and made me a couple of light weight aluminum bar ends. Click on the picture to see a close up with the knurled finish, which looks even better in real life than on my digital picture.  The vibration in the bars seems to be about the same as without any weights (that's good).  These weights are just to keep rain out of the bars and to hide the mounting tabs.  Last winter, Barry also made me a valve spring remover for my 1970 Honda 175s, which you can see along with his lathe by clicking here and going to the log entry for December 10, 2002.

September 4, 2003  Km: 110250

The Oil Change From Hell Part I

I did a major oil change today: 20w-50, new oil filter and synthetic 75w-90 for the gearbox and rear drive unit.  It was messy and tiring - especially when I spilled half the old gearbox oil on the driveway bricks.  This time, instead of pouring straight down from the drain hole into the pan,  the stream of oil ran down the leg of the center stand, and onto the driveway.  Next time I will rest the bike on the side stand first, then lean it by hand to drain the rest of the oil.

The drain plugs were both cleaner than the last oil change. There were just a few metal filings on the transmission drain plug, around the edge.  And also just a little gray sludge on the drive unit drain plug.  The oil in both looked clean, as it did last time.

A problem came up with the front fender.  The offending bolt (see yesterday)  came loose and the fender was flapping in the breeze.  Now I am going to put a self tapping screw through the velcro, that should hold it.  But it's not for today because I will mess it up for sure being tired.

September 5, 2003  Km: 110320

I am just about ready to leave for Wawa, Northern Ontario in two days.  My philosophy has always been to not tinker with the bike just before a trip.  So here I am, just two days before the trip, messing with fender extenders, bar end weights, oil changes, filter changes, taking out and putting in the spark plugs.  Now I will find out on the way to Wawa  if I have done everything exactly right, or if I have screwed up.  I suppose I do not need to add there is no BMW dealer in Wawa.

I added air to the tires for 2 up driving, topped up the oil to about 3/4 of the sight glass, checked the coolant (it is just under 1/2 of the upper and lower limit).  After a test drive, the new self tapping screws are holding the front fender at high speed and over bumpy roads.  I have a 500 cc plastic oil  container of 20w-50 in the fairing pocket, as I may need some before the trip is over.

I purchased, but did not install new NGK spark plugs. My gas mileage seems to be dropping lately (could also be the huge duffel bag I was carrying on the back) and the BMW never seems to start on the first push of the electric start button - maybe I should push for more than a second each time. Because I'm cheap, I got NGK DR8EA (*not* the right plug) from an auto parts store instead of the Bosch.  I used NGK once before, for 30,000 km.   This time, I noticed there were no terminal nuts on the ends of the NGK plugs.  (Note a week later, Tom got me four off some old spark plugs at his local garage, and they fit.)   So I took out my Bosch plugs, regapped them, put anti seize on the threads, and reinstalled.  The gaps had gone up to about .030 - .032", and I tapped them down to between .025 and .028".  The front plug (#1) was almost loose, and the insulator was black, and there were yellow stains under the spark plug cap. 

The DR7EA is the correct plug, the NGK DR8EA is a colder plug, best for high speed touring, and not so good in stop and go driving. I have not found any DR7EA's yet.  But the NGK's are copper core plugs, reputed to have a wide heat range.

My throttle control has been getting stiffer over the last year I guess.  I didn't notice it because of the Throttle Rocker.  But it is no longer snapping shut like it used to.  So I removed the bar end weight and  sprayed Silicone lube between the throttle tube and the handlebar from the outer end.  I also worked hard to slide the rubber grip back about 1 mm because it was rubbing on the switch housing.  Now it snaps shut by itself again.

I also oiled both ends of the clutch cable.

September 10, 2003  Km: 112238

Trip to Wawa Ontario Canada

Just got back with another 2000 km motel trip on the BMW, two up, and traveling with another couple on a GoldWing.. I did screw up something in my pre trip maintenance.  The oil filter cover leaked.  Tightening the screws did not help.  Since it was just a little puddle at each stop, and did not appear to be impacting the overall oil level, I continued on.  

At home, I drained the oil and cleaned off the filter cover and mating surfaces. By examining the O-ring with binoculars, I could see a rough finish, but I could also feel a lot of grit on the O-ring and the cover surfaces. Finally I decided to put in my previous O-ring, but after cleaning everything completely and putting a bead of Permatex 2 on the bottom side of the ring.  I also wiped off the mating surface on the engine block around the filter and put it back together. With new 20W-50 oil, and a 40 km ride, it seems tight.

And I will be more careful after an oil change to check for leaks, which I was supposed to do anyway.

I added about 300 cc of oil during the trip, and it seemed to be at about 1/4 of the sight glass by the time I got home.  But sometimes when I checked oil during the trip, it seemed there was more oil than the last time I checked. Apparently very little difference in the level of the ground could dramatically change the level in the glass.  

On one gas stop, the GoldWing took on 19 liters, and my LT took only 16.5.  On this motel trip I did not have an army surplus duffel bag adding to wind drag.  I was also mostly using premium gas, but the Wing was on regular.

The BMW performed well on the trip, not even a hiccup. After we parted company at Wawa, I turned onto a remote paved back road. I picked up the speed, being all alone on the road. At one point, the road surface became very rough for about 30 km, combined with twisties and roller coaster hills.  I did not have the suspension set up to compensate for the load.  But the BMW still cornered as if on rails, didn't scrape anything, and only bottomed the suspension on one bump.  Mary Ann said she enjoyed the exciting ride over the roller coaster hills, and if she can see the bump coming and brace her self for it, it's OK.

Once on the trip I caught a false neutral, between second and third.  That is the first time I recall that happening on my BMW.

September 13, 2003  Km: 112500

Oil Change From Hell: Final Chapter (I Hope)

So much for my resolution to be more careful about oil leaks. I had one more unfortunate incident to add to my oil change from Hell.  After overfilling the oil, I tried to remove it with a turkey baster, but no luck.  However I then forgot to put the filler cap back on and took off for a blast down the freeway.  My right pant leg was soaked in oil, my boot, the right saddlebag and right side of the engine.  So add that to a puddle of oil on my interlocking brick driveway and little puddles  from here to Wawa and back. And even after leaving off the filler cap today, my level was still over the full mark.

September 18, 2003  Km: 112665

My (original) clutch cable snapped today, right at the lever end.  I was about 4 traffic lights from home, and luckily only had to stop once.  Shifting was possible, easier up than down.  And the motor pulls from such low speed that I could get the bike moving with my feet then shift into first and have it keep going.  I drove my Honda 175 to Wolf BMW where they had a cable in stock for $45 Cdn., which I consider reasonable for a BMW part. Annoyingly, the removable barrel at the lever end was not included with the cable - and my old barrel fell out before I got the bike home.  Luckily I found the old barrel and it's safe in the garage, because I would not want to make another 3 hour trip to the dealer for the barrel that I think should have been included with the cable.

There are not too many instructions other than remove seat, side panels, gas tank, install with no sharp kinks, etc.    It was hard getting the bottom end of the cable out of its hole, so I ended up pulling the broken inner out the bottom, and the outer then slid up and out easily.  Getting the new one in was trickier, because the rubber boot has to get through the small and cramped hole.  I pushed and pulled carefully with a smooth stick, and finally it came through.  Then I tied a long shoelace to the old cable and pulled it out, and pulled the new cable through using the shoelace to make sure I went the right way through the maze of cables and wires under there.  Finally, I used my old barrel which I greased with synthetic grease mixed with graphite powder. At the bottom end, I just used the grease. Lots of tie wraps had to be cut, and I confess that I didn't put back as many as I took off.

Next time I replace the clutch cable should be around 220,000 km, in 2015 A.D. or so.  There are warning signs to pay attention to, such as the clutch starts to feel notchy. Instead of pulling smoothly, like the new cable, it pulls in a series of tiny 'steps', which I started noticing over a year ago.  Once the clutch lever feels notchy, I guess you get about a year before it fails.  Next time if it breaks while I am driving, I had better make sure I find the barrel before it falls out, or at least make sure I get a new barrel with the new cable.  And one more thing, I will follow the advice to not lube the cable.

I looked more closely at the old clutch cable and saw a worn spot in the outer sheath, with a bit of rusty coil showing through.  Also the inner cable was sheared off where it entered the top end slug, and was unwound about 5 cm down the cable.  At the bottom everything looked good except the rubber boot was split.  I went out to the bike and made sure to seat the rubber boot on the bottom end of the cable, which I forgot to do.

I discovered that my gas tank was not installed correctly from my last coolant flush.  The rubber bushings at the front had also come off, and were lying there loose.  Also there was a deep pit in the tank at the front where something had contacted it hard.  Not too much of a worry cosmetically, but I might worry about a potential leak.

I also got a new helmet today, HJC CL12 S-III, because my Symax was giving me some problems.  The flip up mechanism broke a couple of months ago, and I discovered a couple of missing screws and a broken plastic piece under the hinge cover.  I screwed it back together minus the two missing screws, and it seems to work OK but it does not inspire confidence.  Secondly, I started getting annoying wind whistles from the helmet on the last trip.

Wind sometimes gets inside the face shield and dries my eyes.  After some hours they start to water as a reaction.  I noticed the top gasket has about a 2 mm gap all the way across, and bigger where the flip up seam is on each side.  This gap exists on both my shields, and even the new helmets in the showroom have a bit of a gap (maybe 1 mm).  Mary Ann's Arai helmet, that does have a tight seal, cures the problem for me.  I also cured the eye problem on my Symax by folding a paper towel and trapping it in the top sealing edge.  So I am pretty sure it has something to do with the top seal area.

The CL12S-III uses the same shield, and it has flashy yellow/gray/red graphic shell.  There is virtually no gap with the shield, however some air flows inside the helmet from the chin up.  This helmet has some anti fog vents that are inside the helmet. You have to remove the helmet to open and close them.  The other vents can be opened/closed while riding.  I found the helmet at Zdeno's for only $177 Cdn, a good value, I think.

September 24, 2003  Km: 112815

While I was at Zdeno's I bought the correct NGK spark plugs for the K1100LT, the DR7ES (same as DR7EA except for firing tip material). They also and also found four terminal adapters to put on the top.  Zdeno has K&N oil filters for the K1100LT, ($20, about $2 more than the BMW filter) and it has a shape that allows you to put an ordinary socket wrench on it.  It also looks the same as the BMW filter  internally, while the Fram filter was empty except for a rubber flapper. 

I also picked up a silvered face shield for my HJC helmet.  Price? $60 Cdn. which is $20 more than a plain or smoked shield.  I'll try it out anyway.  I hope it helps when driving into the sun and for blocking UV rays.  It is only a little bit darker than the clear shield.  (July 2006 update: I was using Windex with ammonia to clean this face shield, which dissolved most of the silvering - bummer.  Apparently ammonia is bad for tinted windows.)

I installed the NGK spark plugs with anti seize and dielectric grease.  The firing tip on the NGK is shorter than the Bosch.  I installed them with almost 3/4 turn to compress the new gaskets.  The Clymer manual says 1/4 turn but it really did not feel like enough to me.  The NGK web site says 7-10 ft lb for the 10 mm thread in an aluminum head (with dry threads.). Maybe I did it too tight, I'll wait and see.

October 7, 2003  Km: 114119 km

I put on quite a few miles lately.  Today I found that the engine coughed and sputtered once or twice soon after overfilling the gas tank.  I removed the fuel filler neck obstruction many years ago, so that I could get more gas into the tank. Maybe I am filling it more than it was designed for.  It might have something to do with blocking the vent tube.

October 23, 2003  Km: 115300 km

Temperature is 3c today.  While the bike was warming up I thought I heard a knocking sound when I blipped the throttle.  Went away when it was warm.

I got a Joe Rocket jacket and pants that are warm in the cold weather, and still comfortable over a wide temperature range.  Water resistance has yet to be tested.

November 1, 2003  Km: 116056 km

The same knocking is still there with a cold engine. 

Gear Shifting

Sometimes the lever slips the gears from one to another very easily.  Other times there is definite resistance, and I need almost to stomp on the lever.  Now I see a pattern to it.  If I was decelerating, using the engine to slow the bike just before I pulled in the clutch, the gear lever will be stiff.  If I was accelerating before pulling in the clutch, the lever snicks the gears into place with no effort.  Usually I don't shift at all while decelerating, which means it rarely sticks.  For example I may decelerate all the way down to 20 kph while staying in fifth gear.  Then if I need to select a lower gear to accelerate, I usually accelerate a little in fifth (freeing up the transmission incidentally), before I realize I'm going too slow for that gear.  By the time I decide to shift down a gear or two, everything moves smoothly.  By the way, this is true of both upshifts and downshifts.

December 21, 2003  Km: 116126 km

It's sunny and 0c today.  I cleared a bit of ice from the driveway and took the LT for an 80 km ride.  I had some trouble cold starting it.  I figured out how to do it a couple of years ago then forgot. I hooked up the battery charger for about 20 minutes while I looked for the starting procedure on my website, and couldn't find it. So I'm going to put it here for next time.

Tip: Cold Starting the K1100LT

This is just if the normal procedure does not work to start the bike. Try the starter button with the throttle wide open. Also, the fast idle lever on, and heated grips off - along with the usual things like side stand up, kill switch in run position, in neutral with the clutch in.

The clutch in helps because the gearbox, even in neutral, drags on the engine.  This is especially true in cold temperatures.

Now for a few other observations.  I left some old earplugs on top of the fairing pocket, and they were partly eaten.  That's bad, it means mice have gotten into the garage and are looking for food.  They could eat a lot more expensive stuff than earplugs.  My other bikes are at risk, too.

When I finally did open the throttle it started, but made a few scary noises like backfiring maybe, then settled into a smooth fast idle. The K1100LT ran just great out on the road, I filled with gas first and I stayed on the freeway most of the time.  The only ice and snow I met was in my driveway.  The new Joe Rocket jacket and pants work well in the cold. 

I noticed again the stickiness in the gears that I wrote about last month. According the the Internet BMW Riders site, this can be eased by blipping the throttle even when the clutch is pulled in.  (Update from July 2006: Soon after this, I developed a misfire under some conditions, which I finally cured after adding fuel injector cleaner to the gas tank.  Ever since then I have not had to open the throttle on startup.  Could be a coincidence or...?)

December 28, 2003  Km: 116230 km

Today was sunny and 6c, roads were clear and dry, just a bit of gravel in some places. I went for a ride with Barry and Bob on the Kawasaki ZX1100R he bought last month. 

The trick for starting the LT works, open throttle, clutch pulled in but it took several attempts  at 0c early this morning before it started.  I topped up the oil and nearly forgot the filler cap again.  REMINDER: PUT THE CAP ON THE SEAT WHILE TOPPING UP THE OIL.  (A tip sent in by a reader of this web site -  the cap wedges nicely into the front foot peg.  That's where I put it now, and it has saved me at least once.  No mess on the seat.)

I had a 15 minute ride on the ZX1100R, my first sport bike ride in quite a while.  The engine was smooth and powerful, and had a pleasant, and inspiring howl a bit like my old 6 cylinder CBX. By comparison my LT was rough and clattery with a diesel like sound.  But the difference is something that you get used to fast and don't notice unless you are swapping bikes.

The BMW's sticky shifting is cured if you blip the throttle in neutral.  Next I will try adjusting the clutch to see if it helps.

January 12, 2004  Km: 116330 km

I have decided to take a long trip on the BMW.  It was either that or trade it in for a new bike.  Last summer I didn't really take any long trips with it, just put on miles inside the province of Ontario, with two short excursions into Quebec.  I miss the long trips that suit the K1100LT so much.  I have never been to Mexico, so Baja came to mind as a worth while destination.

In preparation, today I got two new tires mounted, but I asked them to not throw out the old rear tire because there is about 5000 km left on it.   I went with the Michelin Macadam 50's again, this time it cost $484.96 Cdn to mount and balance the tires.  I saved about $40 by taking the wheels in instead of the whole bike.  I prefer that, because I have a few extra screws in the front fender, and I don't want the wheels over tightened.

Now, I'm waiting for normal temperatures and clean roads before I start riding..

March 13, 2004  Km: 128,898 km

Trip to Baja, Mexico

I did the solo trip to Baja from February 23 to March 12.  I had to delay the departure about 6 weeks because of the worst winter in 40 years.  To get there I used mostly the interstate highways, crossing into the USA at Detroit, and into Mexico at Mexicali from California. Thanks to the weather channel each night in the motel room, I avoided rain all but two days.  In the rain, the Joe Rocket (Ballistic 3.0) jacket  with Nikwax waterproofing remained dry inside.

Occasional misfiring was the worst problem I had with the bike. I noticed it on my test runs even before I started out on the trip, but continued with my trip anyway, thinking it would run better if I was in warmer weather.  That was true, it did mostly go away.  But I still have the occasional bucking and misfiring.  It usually happens after the engine warms up in the morning, when I'm driving on the freeway at about 110 kph,  with light throttle.  It goes away after wide open throttle for a few seconds at a time.

My BMW K1100LT ran fine on Mexican gasoline.  I bought mostly premium, but sometimes regular gas, and once gas from a drum.  I did not count the quarts of oil, but probably 3 quarts on the entire 12,000 km.

A few other minor concerns, the tail light burned out on my last day in Mexico, and I replaced it in Arizona when I found a bulb at a truck stop. Last time it happened was just last year, May 14, 2003.  I need to get a more heavy duty bulb than the usual auto parts store variety. Also, the trunk hinge screws came loose and I tightened them. And they were loose again when I got home. One saddlebag hinge started cracking, but I didn't bother to change it and I carry a spare anyway.  Also, I think I detected a vibration from the tires which started about half way through the trip.  And a rattling sound on bumpy roads.

March 27, 2004  Km: 129,000 km

I changed the oil, 20W-50, but not the filter.  Both are actually overdue if you go by 15,000 km per change.

In Baja, I noticed a clunking sound in the front end while going over bumpy roads a low speed.  The sound disappeared if I dragged the front brake a little.  I thought the steering bearing might have been causing this, and it was a bit loose, as I was able to turn the adjuster nut about 25 degrees. There is just a slight drag to the steering now.  But there is still some clunking from the front. (Note from the future: It's the floating brake disks at the front that are rattling, and overtightening the bearings will develop a notch in the steering within another 20,000 km.)

I have again reinforced the front fender velcro tabs, the screws I added last time came loose during the trip.  This time I got some 3/4 " car trim screws from the auto parts store, and some 'foldover' quick lock tabs. 

May 23, 2004  Km: 131,500 km

I took the BMW to the ABC Rally near St. Thomas Ontario.  The bike sat out in rain for two nights.  Then the windshield refused to go up.  I had to take the windshield switch apart, and scrape the contacts, then reassemble it. There was a lot of dirt inside the switch, and now the windshield works.  So it was just the switch, failing after days of sitting in heavy rain. NB almost lost the spring attached to the switch rocker as I popped the rocker out in preparation for cleaning.  The rest was OK, just remove the handlebar cover, push the clips underneath together and push the switch UP through the handlebar cover, then use a small screwdriver to pop off the top and bottom.  Clean and reassemble (remembering where everything goes.  I was lucky, it's easier said than done.

June 24, 2004  Km: 132,200 km

Floating Disk Maintenance

I purchased a complete set of floating disk rollers, flat washers and lock rings, for $116.32 Canadian, plus tax from "Open Roads BMW".  Bavarian Motors does not exist any more.  All their people have moved to this new facility, which is now a combined car and bike place, and is an hour and a half away from here.

With 132,000 km, the floating disks are loose enough that they make an annoying rattling sound on rough roads at low speed .  The right disk is much worse than the left.  There is about 3 mm of up and down slack on the right disk.  The solution is to replace all 12 of the rollers that hold each disk in place, there are 9 plain rollers and 3 anti-rattle rollers with spring clips around them.

Apparently worn out rollers could be dangerous, although I don't think there is any case of someone actually having an accident because the disks were too loose.  But I was wondering if it could be difficult to balance the wheel precisely with the disks flopping up and down.

I installed all the new rollers in about 2 hours.  I managed to do it without losing or breaking any clips or washers. I did the job with the wheel on the bike, changing one roller at a time. All the springs on the 6 old anti rattle rollers were broken and came out in pieces.  Now the right disk is tighter than the left.  And after a test drive, I am sure the rattling sound that bothered me since Baja has gone away. (Note: I missed this tip, which I will try next time if I ever need to change the bobbins again.  Move the anti rattle bobbins around to a different location so they fit tighter.)

July 25, 2004  Km: 135,077 km

In the last month I have ridden almost 3000 km locally, with no problems.  Right now I have some Quaker State fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank, and I believe the engine pulls stronger, but  I have no scientific measurement, just a seat of the pants feel. (Update from May 2006 - There has been no misfiring since this day.  That's scientific enough for me.)

August 11, 2004  Km: 136,191 km

The rear tire is worn out, so I swapped it for the tire I took off before the Baja trip at 116330 km.  So the rear tire got 20,000 km. The tire I have on now has already done 10,000 km, so hopefully I'll get another 10,000 out of it for the $43.00 it cost me to have it swapped and balanced.  I tried to do it myself, and I got as far as breaking loose the bead on one side, but couldn't lever the bead over the rim.  I was afraid of bending the rim or the tire levers.


February 6, 2005 Km. 138,426

This morning it was -3c and we went down to Port Dover, the first time this year. No precipitation for a week, but still big snowbanks. It was sunny and up to 7c this afternoon.

Before starting out, I charged the battery on the 2 amp trickle charger connected through the electric vest plug for an hour. I also took a sandwich out of the trunk that was there since last summer. What kind of sandwich was it and how did I find it? A) I don't know B) I opened the trunk and my nose did the rest. When I started the bike it fired up and continued to run on the first push of the button – about 2 seconds I guess. That's pretty good for the first start this year. I also had the choke on, in neutral, clutch in, throttle closed, and (mistake) heated grips on. I put some Techron fuel injector cleaner in the gas last July because of the engine stumbling problems that started in cold weather just before my trip to Baja. I have not had any stumbling since then, and this is a good test because the stumbling started in the winter weather last year.

Mary Ann and I both wore our cold weather stuff and went for chili at Tim Hortons in Port Dover, a 90 minute ride each way. Then after lunch, we walked out onto Lake Erie to climb the ice ridge that had formed just offshore in the collision between an incoming ice floe and the shore ice. The floating ice mountain was like a miniature version of the Rockies. The ridge was up to about 30-40 feet high, made of jagged blocks of blue-green ice that were lit up by the warm sun. Unfortunately people were crawling over it, and leaving their Tim Horton's cups all over the place. It was pretty weird standing out where normally only boats go, watching the people back on the pier.

I will note that the bike ran fine all day not even the slightest hiccup. Mary Ann was warm with the electric vest and warm mitts. A woman in the restaurant said to her “You're probably about 3 sizes smaller under all that stuff”. She always enjoys showing people her electric vest, waving the electric umbilical cord at them as they react in shock and horror. No wonder most Canadians never heard of electric vests, they are too squeamish.

April 9, 2005 Km. 138,606

 Sunday, +17c and sunny. Washed the bike this morning, filled up with mid-grade Sunoco gas,  and rode to Port Dover with Barry (VFR750) and Bob (Kawasaki Vulcan 1500).  Mary Ann came as passenger.  When I first took the BMW out of the garage, I was shocked by the rust that had formed after the last ride, because of salt on the bike.  The front disks were rusty, the side stand and center stand also.  A few dots of rust on the right crash bar.  I washed the bike with "One step wash and wax".  It started up on the first push of the button, 2 seconds at most.

The throttle grip is very stiff, I lubricated it when I got back home. To get the grip off,  I would have to disconnect the heated grip wires first, and at least partially pull the wires out of the bars while I withdraw the grip.  I didn't do that, instead  I removed the bar end weight, tipped the handlebar up, and poured oil in between the bar and the throttle sleeve.  But in the end the throttle was still stiff.  Actually all the stiffness was caused by contact between the inside end of the rubber grip and the control housing.  I pulled the rubber back one millimeter along the grip until it was not rubbing any more.  Then I inserted a washer to keep the bar end weight from pressing against the rubber and pushing it in again.

May 13, 2005  Km. 138,606

My K1100LT is not getting much time on the road this year while I have three motorcycles running.  But I am still receiving emails from people reading my web pages, which is fun.  Recently one of my readers set up his own web page and set up a link to mine. Click here to see his page:  http://www.geocities.com/chatt17/The_flying_swede.html

June 29, 2005 139,616 km.

The Honda CL450 is getting most of the riding time, about 5000 km this year compared to about 1000 for the BMW. I hope to go on a trip to Baie Comeau, Quebec, this summer with the BMW. In preparation, I am doing a little maintenance. The BMW dealer to the west of here has moved from the country to the city, so this morning I went to London to find his new location, get an air filter, an oil filter and oil filter o-ring. About $75 with tax. They did not have a fuel filters in stock. I went with Mary Ann on the BMW, it was over 25c and sunny in the morning. We are in a heat wave with 5 consecutive days over 30c.

Oil change with Oil Filter
Once back home from the 3 hour shopping trip, I found a brand new oil filter in my garage, which I bought September 30, 2003. I forgot I had it. I was extremely careful about cleaning the oil filter cover and putting in the new o-ring, but then accidentally overfilled the crank case with 20W-50 because I didn't see the clean oil in the sight glass. Hoping to lower the oil, I started the engine for about 30 seconds, but the oil level stayed high. Then I unscrewed the drain plug to lower the oil level, and the oil that came out was black! I lowered it a bit too much, then I filled it to the center of the sight glass with new oil.

While looking over the bike, I noticed that my custom rear braided brake line's clear plastic cover has been slightly damaged in the middle, but I don't know how that might happen, as it is not touching anything. (Flash from the future: It was rubbing on a dummy bolt I put in the now useless ABS pump bracket.)

The side stand and center stand are both stiff (and a bit rusty) so I used the grease pistol on all three fittings.

Air Filter
It was only about 8:30 AM, and 22c so I started removing the left fairing lower to change the old air filter with 57,000 km. It was a bitch to get out, and now I think it's because I put it in backwards last time. (I was reading in my old maintenance log about the lip on the left side, that's the clue that I put it in backwards.) “UP” is marked on the filter, but not right or left sides. The side with the lip goes on the right (starboard in boats), and there is no lip on the left side, so that makes it easy to slide all the way in and out. (15 minutes to get out the wrong way, 15 seconds to get it in the right way) The old filter was not too dirty, probably could have got another 20,000 km from it. I had the fairing put back together by 10:15 AM. This must be about the 5th time I have removed the right fairing, and I get faster each time. This time I left out a little clip at the top front corner, hope I don't need it.

Gear Oil
I got some synthetic gear lube, 75w-90, same as last time which was September 4, 2003 at 110250 km., so there are about 30,000 km on this gear oil. It looked clean, and there were a few metal filings on the drain plug, like last time. This time I did not spill any gear oil while draining it. The bike has to be on the center stand, because the drain bolt is not very accessible when on the side stand. This time I made a chute for the oil out of aluminum foil. The chute directed the oil into the pan instead of down the leg of the center stand, then onto the driveway.

Rear Drive Oil
The old oil came out black, and even turned my hands black. There was the usual blob of sludge on the drain bolt. Should have changed it earlier, it's easy to do and only takes a bit of oil.

Tire Pressure
Checking all the motorcycles and bicycles now: The K1100LT rear was down to 25, pumped top 40 psi. Front was 25, pumped to 36 psi. I have been neglecting air pressure lately, will check more often.

Thursday July 14, 2005  Km. 142,570

Trip to Baie Comeau
For at least three years I have been wanting to go to to Baie Comeau, Quebec on the BMW.  It is about 1300 km one way from here (Kitchener, Ontario), including 400 km of mountain roads on the other side of Quebec City.  Click here to look at my picture of a section of rt. 138 just past Baie Comeau.  You want to be careful you don't flip over that guardrail at 140 kph.

On Monday at 12:00 PM I decided to go, and by 1:00 PM I was gone.   I looked at the tire pressures and topped up the oil level before leaving,  I should have also checked the rear brake fluid and coolant level.  With the BMW K1100LT I find it easy to neglect the steps such as visual inspections, because I am an optimist.  Only a pessimist would think that the brake fluid would disappear for no reason.

My biggest problem on the entire trip was because of the rear brake fluid.  In Baie Comeau, I could feel that the rear brake wasn't working.  That was just before I started back.  About 100 km later, I saw there was no brake fluid in the rear reservoir.  At the next gas stop in Les Escoumins, I asked for DOT 4 brake fluid and the clerk said they only had DOT 3.  I was wondering what to do next, and when I went back out to my motorcycle I found someone looking at it.  I think I mentioned before that people do not usually stop and look at my K1100LT.  This person introduced himself as Phil, and he had a BMW K1 at home.  We talked for a bit and I explained my problem with the brake fluid so he invited me over to top up with some DOT4, as he lived just a few houses down the street.  Then he showed me his K1 front tire that had been sliced down the center by the front fender.  I didn't ask him how fast you needed to go to bend the front fender onto the tire.

Luckily the coolant level never became a problem. There was a lot of heat involved in the trip, air temperature over 30c most of the way from here to Quebec City. I topped up the coolant at home.  I also added 500 cc of 20w-50 engine oil at the last gas stop.  Other than the brake fluid, I needed to fix my rear brake line which was beginning to rub on a bracket.  One horn was also not working, the wire terminal had popped off again.  I didn't actually have any use the horn on this trip, or any other of my trips for that matter.

My suspension setup was fine for roads in Ontario, but in Baie Comeau I decided to turn up the rear damping from zero to one half turn.  That made it feel harder, but softer at the same time.  What I mean is in the parking lot the rear shock felt harder, but out on the highway at high speed going over bumps the seat does not kick me into the air as much.  It felt more like it was floating, and yet the tire remained planted firmly on the road.  I think I also should have reduced the tire pressure a little, it was 40 psi, and for a solo run 36 would have been enough.   This was the kind of hard riding that demands a proper setup before starting out.

Many motorcyclists ride fast in Quebec, and especially in the mountains.  I know that from following a few of them.  One FJR1300 was so fast I almost could not keep up, and finally lost him when I stopped for gas (and brake fluid).  I also followed a couple on a Suzuki Burgman  scooter doing 130 on the freeway around Quebec City.  This part of Quebec is one of the few areas I can go to ride a motorcycle where I feel the true freedom of the open road.  Consequently I have a few suggestions for the province of Ontario (where I live now) to make it as much fun to drive as Quebec, especially on the North Shore.

1. Set the radar cut off to 190 kph, don't bother ticketing under that in the open country.
2. Make it a crime to read books, maps, or BBQ assembly instructions while driving.  And enforce that law at least as much as you enforce mandatory helmet laws.
3. Have mandatory training sessions on how to merge without stopping the car completely in the middle of two lanes.
4. Put some bends in the roads that are way too straight.  And might as well put in some hills too.
5. Insist that all drivers spend 2 years driving a motorcycle before they qualify to drive a car.

If you can think of any more changes, email me the suggestion and I will consider adding it. Or if you are from Ontario, and think this is bullshit, let me add your opinion to my web site. I feel I must add an explanation here, to avoid confusion. These are not actually the rules in Quebec, even if everyone drives as though they were.  But my point is that if these rules were adopted by Ontario, within 5 years it would be just as much fun to drive in Ontario as in Quebec, or Mexico even.  And if it became fun to drive here, sales of BMW motorcycles would surely increase.

Tuesday July 26, 2005  Km. 143,000
Mary Ann is visiting Newfoundland with a friend and has taken our car, so now the motorcycle is my main transportation for 3 weeks.

Last night, I was riding with no earplugs. The engine noise is shocking when accelerating at around 3,000 rpm.  There is a diesel like clatter to the engine, sounded like maybe one or more exhaust pipes have come loose.  Today after the bike cooled off, I tried to loosen then tighten all 8 exhaust  nuts.  I have never touched these nuts before, and  I was surprised that all were easily accessible with a 12 mm socket and 5" extension, and that they all could turn.  Actually, the nuts were rusted to the studs, but the studs could turn. I did need a trouble light to see what I was doing. There is always one that is hardest to get at. On this job it was the second cylinder from the front, inside stud, but with some thinking I got the extension past the engine guard without removing it.  I took out the studs for the number one cylinder, put some anti seize on the threads and put them back in with one washers each, just to see if that would tighten it a bit more.

But the real concern is cracking on the pipes where the four are welded into one. I tried to remove the heat shield under the gear lever to see more closely.  Two of the screws came out, but the third was hidden under the engine so I left that one in place and pushed the heat shield aside to look under it.  On the top exhaust pipe (no. 1 cylinder) I could see a round hole 2mm diameter near the welded joint.  There was also a crack running diagonally forward and down from it about 5 mm long.  Also, it seemed like there was a crack running around the number 2 pipe near the welded bead.  I didn't see a lot of black carbon around the cracks, so probably not much exhaust gas getting out.

Then I started up the engine to listen more closely to the sounds.  Hard to tell where the sound comes from, but it does sound like a clatter coming from the area of the heat shield. 

I still get worried about the drive train spline failures I keep reading about.  However I have not yet heard that the failures applied to a 1993 K1100LT.  Usually the conversation goes: "I have trouble downshifting on my K1100LT"  Reply: "Oh yeah, I had that too, then 2000 miles later the clutch splines let go and I was stranded"  Question: "Was it a K1100LT?" Reply "Nah it was a BMW K75, but it's the same thing."  I don't think so.

I have not yet lubed the clutch splines.  Even if I take off the driveshaft and transmission and clutch, dab a little lube on the splines, will it last?  If there is too much of the wrong kind of grease it gets on the clutch, the clutch slips and now you have to take everything off again to replace the clutch.  On the other hand, if I don't lube the splines what's the worst that could happen?  Abandon the bike and hitch hike home?  At least it's not a dangerous failure, unless I'm stopped in the middle of a turn with a truck coming at me.

Thursday September 29, 2005  Km. 145,400
I just returned from a 3 day, 1300 km. round trip plus scenic rides to Denbigh, Ontario.  Denbigh is in a hilly area, which in Ontario means there are a lot of Alpine themes.  So of course we stayed at the Swiss Inn in Denbigh. Near to Denbigh is Foymount, the highest inhabited place in Ontario (500 m. elevation, apparently that is funny to people from Switzerland).  And it is also near the downhill ski resort at Calabogie. It was mostly a chance to ride some nice curvy roads with little traffic.

On the way home we met cold and rain.  It made me glad to be on the K1100LT, which protects well against the weather while going fast.  The motorcycle performed flawlessly, as it usually does. But I will have to remember from now on that there is no 20W-50 oil near Denbigh, and so to take 500  ml with me.  I added some 15W-40 which was the best I could find.  My old tire tread is worn flat, and the bike weaves a bit in the bumpy corners.  The K1100LT handles much better on corners with a new tire. 

The other bikes on the run? A BMW R1100RS, a Kawasaki Concours, and a Ducati 749.  Of the three, the Concours is closest to the K1100LT, but it has no electric windshield, no heated grips, no trunk.  The Concours does have a bigger gas tank, about 28 liters I think, and it is also heavier at over 600 lb.  All the bikes were very fast, especially the Ducati (although it is not really a touring bike), but I don't think we ever pushed the bikes to the limit.

Thursday April 13, 2006  Km. 145,700
First day out, partly cloudy, 10c to 19c.  The battery was not able to start the bike without using the charger for 45 minutes.  Because I have been riding the Honda 450, I forgot a few things about the BMW.  First one is put on the fast idle before attempting to start!  If I had done that, it might have started on the first try. 

As usual for the first startup of the year, the K1100LT was blowing nice round smoke rings for the first 5 minutes of running.  I took it out and went to gas up with mid grade.  Almost got in an accident on the way to the gas station, wow are people ever stupid.  An oncoming woman driver made a left in front of me, while at the very same time a Ferrari (!) tried passing me on the right just after I passed a parked bus. I also could not remember where the right turn signal button was, still strange after all these years and miles on this bike.  I'm starting to feel more nervous than usual about driving because I had my first car accident last month, and last night I almost lost control of my newly repaired Toyota  Matrix on a wet road in a curve.  I think I need to practice more to be safe.

On the 200 km. trip, with a passenger, the bike did behave well.  But I noticed several times my left hand went numb (I guess from the vibration).  And it is hard to shift sometimes, and always tricky to shift smoothly so that the passenger's head does not bump into mine.  That's something else I have never really gotten used to.  First time with the BMW plus first time with a passenger this year, I should have known it would feel heavy and off balance compared to my Honda CL450.

I need to give this bike more TLC.  It was kind of dirty when I got it out of the garage, and it looks like I will need new tires as well.  It is due for major maintenance again, and the exhaust pipe is cracked.  For some reason the bike just seemed to feel old and tired even though it still accelerates and corners as well as ever.

Tuesday April 18, 2006  Km. 146,146
I changed the oil.  Unfortunately I did not have enough 20W-50, so I put all I had then topped up with some 10W-40.  Using the same filter.  Also washed the bike, so it looks cleaner, but there is some permanent pitting on the front disks, very tiny like pinholes.  Went for a 150 km solo ride, and the bike worked perfectly as usual.  It was also comfortable and I didn't get numb hands.  Funny how this numb feeling mainly happens when I ride two up.

Wednesday May 3, 2006  Km. 146,300 riding sunny 19c.
I discovered the rear brake fluid level was low again.  Actually the reservoir was almost empty.  I topped it up with DOT4.  This is the second time in less than a year that I found it empty, obviously there is a leak somewhere, but I never see the drops of brake fluid.  I was lucky to find and correct it before my trip this weekend to Bancroft.

Monday May 8, 2006  Km. 147,205
Trip review for Bancroft. I went with three other riders, one Kawasaki 1999 KLR650, a Kawasaki 750 Zephyr, and a BMW 1982 R80G/S Paris-Dakar.  There is a web site for Stephen's  R80G/S at http://www.stephenbottcher.net/BMW/dakar.htm#9nov05

Just before I left, I remembered to check the rear drive gear oil.  The level was OK, but the filler cap was loose(!), another lucky find.  Speaking of which, out of three things I checked, two were critical. Does that mean I should check more stuff on the bike?  The gear oil was a bit dirty, so when I got back home I changed the rear drive oil.  The engine oil was still at the center dot. I didn't add any engine oil on this trip. At the beginning of the ride it was just below the center dot.  So why is it higher now than when I started?  I guess the bike is not perfectly level.

Now I see  where the oil is leaking out of the rear brake cylinder. There are some oil marks on the center stand spring, and oil spatters on the rear drive housing.  I think it's coming from the brake master cylinder.  According to Stephen, it looks like worn o-rings around the master piston which shouldn't cost more than $30. (Update from July, yes it is more than $30.  How about $103?)

The rear tire is almost finished, although it did not cause any problems on this trip which was all dry roads at reasonable speed. This tire has now done 21,000 km. which for me is more than average.  The front tire doesn't look too bad and the wear is still even. It was installed at 116330, giving me 41,000 km. so far with probably another 7,000 left to go. 

The only funny noise I noticed was the knocking or rapping noise I always get when the bike is cold and idling slowly, except that this time I thought I could hear it even on the road during the first 5 minutes, at about 3500 rpm.  I hope that's just my imagination. 

With the cold weather (starting out at +3c!) I got a chance to test the heated hand grips, which are still working.  It never got really warm all weekend, so I'm glad I took the K1100LT instead of my Honda CL450.  I  am surprised that the other three didn't mind the weather in spite of their very tiny fairings.  They must all be younger than me, and so unaffected by cold. It seems that the older you get the better you prepare for cold with thicker clothing and wind protection. 

Thursday May 25, 2006  Km. 147,329
I have only done 125 km since Bancroft.  I washed the oil spatters off the rear drive housing and generally cleaned around the area of the rear master cylinder.  The brake fluid is still near the top mark, and incidentally so is the coolant tank.  The boot around the rear master cylinder plunger has come loose now, so I pushed it back on as well as I could.

Last week I was helping Tom put a new piston in his front master cylinder on his 1994 R1100RS, which was also leaking brake fluid.  It took about 2.5 hours, but we work real slow and sit down a lot.  The job was apparently successful, as there have been no more drips of brake fluid, and the brakes work as well as ever, according to Tom.  The kit cost him over $120, and included the master piston with two rubber rings, a new set screw and washer, and two new crush washers for the banjo bolts.  We more or less went by the instructions in his Haynes manual, and that is very important as it is a critical job and everything must be clean as well.  Dripped a lot of brake fluid. But the old piston popped out on its own when the set screw was undone, saving us the hassle of getting it out by some other unspecified method.

Monday May 29, 2006  Km. 147,624
Another Annual Malt Run completed. It's a 300 km total ride with an overnight to a cottage.  I have not taken the BMW for a couple of years now, but I wanted to bring extra stuff this year, like my tent.  And I want to see how fast the rear brake cylinder is leaking.

The bike felt very good this weekend.  No tingling vibration in the handlebars, no numbness at all.  The weather was very warm - 17c-27c

So the rear brake is not leaking very fast, I don't see any drops of brake fluid around the rear drive.  But I do see brake fluid around the reservoir on the front lever.  I took off the plastic cover and there is a bit of a pool of liquid in there too.  I cleaned off everything and tightened the four screws on the reservoir, hoping that was the source of the leak.

I have been hearing a knocking sound from the engine when cold.  This started a couple of years ago.  At the time I checked to see if it was the normal clutch rattling, by squeezing the clutch lever.  But the sound was not the clutch.  The knocking seems to be getting worse now, and I was getting worried.  But this weekend, I dicovered that now I do have a clutch rattle.  So I have two knocking noises on the bike - one is the clutch rattle that started recently, and the other is the mystery noise from the last few years.  They both sound about the same to me, it's going to be tricky to monitor both noises as they mask and amplify each other.  But apparently both are fairly normal sounds for an older bike, so I will try to not worry about them, as they both go away in normal riding.

Sunday June 4, 2006 148088 km.
I went for a family ride Saturday, Michael on the CL450, Jon on his Suzuki GS400.

Sunday I went for a longer ride, and started seeing a lot of brake fluid leaking from the front master cylinder.  At first it looked like it was coming from the sight glass, but some research on the internet and I could not find any reference to the sight glass as being a problem.  Now I see the piston is leaking. It looks like the fluid was running uphill from the piston to the sight glass - probably air currents while driving.  Anyhow, there has been no further leaking from the sight glass since I parked the bike. 

Tuesday June 13, 2006 148088 km.
I received the new parts from the BMW dealer, one rear master cylinder repair kit, and one front repair kit.  About $105 each. 

The Front Master Cylinder
I was familiar with the process for the front having done it with Tom's R1100RS.   And so it went easily at first with the K1100LT.  I decided to skip unscrewing the brake light switch, to save time.  The piston came out fairly easily, I just pushed it in and let the spring push it out - several times until it popped out.  The cylinder did not feel smooth like Tom's, it seemed like corrosion or scoring made it feel rough.  I decided to smooth it up the safest way, by using the old piston.  I turned it and pushed in and out several times and hoped that would help.  Then I lubed the new piston in brake fluid and inserted it.  It was much harder to get it in than the old one, proving that the old one was worn, I supposed.  Then I tried to reassemble the brake lever, but found that after I had it together the brake switch was tangled in the boot.  So I removed the brake switch, but lost one of the two tiny screws into the fairing somewhere.  I reassembled with the remaining screw.  Then added brake fluid, and squeezed the lever slowly until I saw no more bubbles in the reservoir.  I notice the lever does not return all the way like it used to, maybe the new piston is stiff.

Then I noticed brake fluid is leaking from the sight glass again.  So I was right about that the first time!!!!  I lowered the brake fluid below the level of the sight glass with a turkey baster, and cleaned off the outside with "Spray Kleen".  I am going to use some sealant on the outside to see if it helps.

Checking the front brake light switch, the brake light was always on, but a slight bend in the blade fixed it.  I don't see any other way to adjust it, but it's easy to bend the blade with needle nose pliers.  Part of the problem is that now the brake lever no longer returns all the way out like it used to.  Maybe the piston is too tight?

On the positive side, the parts I ordered were correct, and the brake lever does make the bike stop.

Caution: If the front brake lever does not come out all the way, pressure may build up in the front brake line, resulting in unwanted brake application. I got this by reading the K1100 owners form, not by experience.

The Back Master Cylinder

I started by looking at the Clymer manual, but did not follow it step by step.  I drained the brake fluid out the caliper, as much as I could and poured the rest out of the reservoir directly. I  removed the footrest plate.   Three 6mm allen bolts, plus the little bolts for the saddlebag rack, and it all comes off.  Note: There is a 7mm allen screw like the 6mm's, but it does not have to come off, and it is the brake pivot bolt.  Lucky that I do not have a 7mm allen key, because that was the first screw I tried to remove!  After the plate comes off, two more screws are removed to free the master cylinder.

The repair kit has a new boot for the back, but not the front.  And it seemed like the new boot was a much tighter fit than the old.

I had to be very careful with some parts.  One collar fell off when I took out one of the cylinder retaining screws.  And when replacing the footrest plate, you have to be careful where the electric wires and hoses go, so as to not trap them.

Anyhow it all seemed to go back together well, but the brake pedal feels very spongy and I am still getting bubbles in the reservoir.  It looks like I will have to bleed the whole rear system.

Wednesday June 14, 2006 148088 km.
I was not really satisfied with the job I did yesterday, so I fooled around with it more today with some success.  The brake lever was not returning all the way, so I took it off again and I found that the problem is the lever, not the piston.  I lubricated the lever pivot thoroughly, including the rotating bushing on the pivot screw.  At first, the bushing didn't move without pliers, but with some oil I managed to free it up so that I could rotate it by hand.  Then some grease on all the moving contact areas, and now the lever returns all by itself.

I found that I do not have to remove the switch to remove and replace the lever. (Wish I had figured that out before losing the screw!!)  To install the lever, first take the rubber boot off the lever and place it  squarely on the end of the cylinder (and I also put a little grease in there).  Then holding the brake switch blade out of the way, push the lever in place, with the rod going through the hole in the boot.  Push in the pivot screw and tighten.  Oh yes! Removing the fairing pocket cover makes it easier to get at the pivot screw.

The Sight Glass

I called BMW about the sight glass, to see if is a separate part.  While on the phone to the parts guy, I was surprised to learn that they have a parts catalog on the internet that I can look at any time I want!  I learned the importance of a parts manual when restoring old Hondas. Here is the url for the BMW parts catalog.   I'm sure it will come in handy in the future.


In the catalog,  Canadian bikes are under "European", not "American". I didn't see the sight glass a separate part, but I found the screw I lost from the brake light switch yesterday (in steering->handlebar stuff), and ordered it from Germany.  Should be here in 12 days or so, because it's back ordered.  Shipping should be cheap because it can come in an envelope.  The screw costs $1.50.

The parts guy had never heard of the brake sight glass leaking and suggested it might be the gasket on the reservoir lid, called a "rubber boot" in the parts catalog.

I went back outside to the motorcycle to confirm it was actually the sight glass that was leaking.  It was broken.  When I pressed it with my finger from the outside, it moved a little.  This simply would not happen if the sight glass was in one piece.  It moved much more when I pressed from the inside.  So I then tried to push it out from the inside, and it popped off.  It had broken in two parts, one circular part in my hand was the part you look through, and the rest was a collar and rubber o-ring that was still firmly glued in to the reservoir.  I am not surprised that this has never happened to anyone else, because I cannot imagine how mine could have broken.

I have some "Seal-All" made by Eclectic, which is supposed to resist all kinds of solvents. (It does not mention specifically brake fluid, and I have never seen any glue or sealant that does.)  I washed off the surface to be sealed with soap and water, then I put a ring of Seal-All, which was very messy and stuck to everything except what I wanted it to stick to. 

Finally I screwed on an external metal bracket to hold the glass in.  This will not help stop a slow leak, but it will prevent the glass from falling out.  It looks very tacky, but looks are always second (or third) after cheapness and function. 

In case it continues to leak, I have two choices.  Barry says he can make a new glass with his lathe out of plexiglass, so we found a scrap piece of 1" thick plexiglass for $12 at a surplus store.  But if it continues to leak around the new piston, I will likely have to buy a complete new master cylinder and reservoir, including the built in sight glass.

Thursday June 15, 2006. 148123 km.

Bleeding the brakes, changing the brake fluid.  Unfortunately I now have two almost full cans of unsealed DOT4 brake fluid.  I first opened them two years ago.  I know you're supposed to get the brake fluid out of a sealed container, but I can't bear to throw the stuff away, so I used it.  I got a few tiny bubbles out of the right front caliper, and many large bubbles out of the rear.  The front pads look like they have lots of material left, but you have to remove the rear caliper to see the pads (= remove the rear wheel also).  I found that one pad at the rear was too thin, and one was ok.  I switched them around.  Then they both fell out and I'm not really sure which side was too thin.  I think it was the outside (right), so I put the thin one back on the inside, to even up the wear a little.  I will get new pads and rear tire before my next trip, but I don't have time to do it before this weekend.

After the brake bleeding, the front reservoir is back to normal level, and so far (5 hours) has not started leaking.

I also took out all the brake caliper bolts, wire brushed and put antisieze on the threads.  Now I realize that I didn't need to do that for all of them, as there are only two bolts per caliper that need to be removed foir maintenance.  Well, it can't hurt, I hope.  Also, the rear wheel was almost seized onto the hub so I cleaned and painted it with antiseize.

I decided to check the steering head bearings again, as I am starting to get a slight 'wandering' feeling in the steering.  There is a firm notch in the steering now, so I'll do that job this summer too.  Also, the oil is at 1/4 of the sight glass. 

Now everything is back together and ready for another test drive.

Friday June 16, 2006. 148200 km.
Still no leaking from the sight glass window on my first test drive, and no leaking felt in either master brake cylinder.  I topped up the engine oil - too much again - why do I have so much trouble getting that level where I want it???   

Even though the steering bearings are notched, the bike still feels good on the road.  I'm ready for the camping trip tomorrow.

Monday June 19, 2006. 148800 km.
It was hot this weekend for camping, and no rain.  All went well, so I'm planning the next trip.  Maybe Labrador with Phil on his KLR650.  I will order new tires and rear brake pads from the local KTM dealer.

Tuesday June 27, 2006 148800 km.
My new tires and the rear brake pads (EBC FA18, $39) arrived yesterday, and I took the wheels to the local KTM shop to have the tires put on. 

One of Those Days
Today I was not in the right mood to tackle the steering head bearing, but I went ahead anyway. The signs were there that I was going to screw up. I tried to rush the job while the wheels were out being fitted with tires.  I tried to do it from memory instead of looking it up in the manual. I remembered wrong!  For example, I remembered to not undo the middle bolt on the top of the stem, I only removed the outer (32 mm) bolt. Like I said, wrong.

Then I tried to undo the knurled nut that adjusts the bearing tension.  It wouldn't move!!! Instead of checking to make sure I had loosened the right nuts, I assumed that it was stripped. That was my second mistake, which led directly to the third.  I decided to force it off with vise grip pliers, and order a new one nut.

I called the BMW dealer, to see if I can get a new adjuster (knurled) nut. He said they cost $85 and have to come from Germany - none in Canada.  At least 2 weeks.  Too late for the trip.  So I didn't order it.  But that got me rethinking the problem.  If the BMW dealer does not have the part in Canada, that is because this problem usually does not occur. 

Later the answer came to me.  That middle nut may need to be loosened!  Finally I went back to the CD manual, I found the section about disassembling the fork.  The center nut is called "locking tube".  That should be a clue.  By that time, I already had put the wheels back on. I hope I have not damaged the knurled nut too much.  I will replace the bearings some other time when my mind is working normally.  (and I will install some fork boots at the same time)

Wednesday June 28, 2006 148800 km.
The new tires cost $170 rear, $137 front, $45 mounting and balancing off the bike, put the motorcycle back into running condition with the new tires and rear brake pads.  The total cost including brake pads and tax was $454.79. The steering adjuster nut is backed off about 20 degrees, any looser and I would get some play in the bearing.  According to the book, I think there is supposed to be preload on the steering bearing, but I feel that it just feels too notchy like that.  I like it better with no preload, and since I have the new bearings waiting in my parts box I don't mind experimenting.

Front wheel bearings Having changed 5 sets of wheel bearings in the last couple of years, on my Honda CL450 and two trailers, I know what to look for.  For the first time I examined the front wheel bearings on the BMW.  They turn smoothly, so they stay in there for now, I don't know how long they are supposed to last.  It's a very easy check to make at the same time the wheel comes off for a tire change.

Friday June 30, 2006 148808 km.
New fuel filter. I decided on using the genuine BMW filter, I am not at all confident about equivalent aftermarket car filters even if they look like they fit.  The BMW filters have lasted for over 70,000 km with no ill effects, so I'm willing to drive a long way and pay $35. Too bad the car filters are not the same as the motorcycle filters - at least that's what it says in the parts catalog cross reference online.  The job was much easier to do this time, because I drained the tank with my siphon hose first.  The filler cap assembly was easy to remove and I am now careful to not tighten the screws too much, besides tightening them does not improve the seal.  Some dirt (maybe old paint chips) fell in the tank as I was removing the filler cap assembly, so I tried to get the dirt specks out.  I wonder if there is a way of doing the job cleanly.

There is a hole in the left front turn signal lens, probably from a rock.  It is about4 mm across, so I put some transparent "Scotch" tape across it to prevent water getting in.  The tape is  invisible from 10 feet away, which is the ideal minimum distance to view this bike now.

Thursday July 6, 2006 148808 km.
Fork Oil.  The last time I did this was at 83,000 km., I guess I'm overdue again.  This time I'm going with 10W Spectro fork oil instead of automatic transmission fluid.  On the left I have drained out exactly 350cc, and on the right 400cc exactly the amount I put in.   So this time the fork held the oil properly.  The last time (4 years ago already?) only 250 cc came out on the left.  Considering it's the same fork seal, I wonder if it was not filled with the right amount.  That's another reason I prefer to do these jobs myself.

Tonight I will be helping Phil prepare his Kawasaki KLR650 for the trip to Labrador we are going on next week.  I tried riding the KLR on the highway and it seems unstable at over 110 kph.  The bars wiggle back and forth about a centimeter at the grips, at a speed of about twice per second.  After reading on Thane Silliker's web site about his crash on the 401 with a tank slapper on his KLR650 in May 2006, I decided that something needed to be done to Phil's KLR before the trip, which will involve some speeds over 100 kph. In Quebec even scooters do 130.  We double checked the steering head bearings on his bike, there didn't seem to be any play at all.  But the front tire was only 18 psi while the back was 30.  So we pumped the front up to 25 and went for a ride.  This time the bars did not move on their own, although they took a while to settle down if I pushed them out of line.  I also went up to over 120 kph with no worse effects.  Phil tried the CL450 in the same conditions, and didn't find much difference. So maybe that's as good as the KLR gets on the OEM tires without changing to a more street oriented tire like Avon Distanzia's.  The BMW K1100LT is much more stable than those two smaller bikes at any speed on the highway.

Summary: With  a total this year of $700 of parts, and mostly my own work, the BMW doesn't feel old and tired like it did back in April.  Last year I put on a new air filter, and changed the gear oil, and tightened the exhaust pipes.  So far this summer I have changed the front and rear master cylinder brake pistons, "new" brake fluid, sealed the front brake reservoir, got two new tires, new oil filter, changed the motor oil, rear drive oil, fork oil, new fuel filter, adjusted the steering head bearings, new rear brake pads.  The coolant level is OK. Front brake pads and bearings are OK  I would like to do something to protect the exposed forks and maybe check the battery level before going to Labrador.  The valve clearance check will wait until later.  I am now at 148897 km.

Monday July 10, 2006 149,333 km.
On the way to Cape Croker on Saturday, I discovered the electric windshield would not come up.  Today I found out it was the middle (green - center) wire that had broken off its soldered terminal at the back of the switch.  A new switch assembly is $77 and must be ordered from Germany, at least 10 days.  Since I am leaving for Labrador on July 16th, I don't have the time to wait, so I tried to fix it myself.  Maybe I was lucky but I did manage to solder the wire back on to the terminal with my small pencil type soldering iron. My soldering attempts are not always successful.  Then I tested it on the bike and it worked, so I applied some "Goop" around the repair to insulate and protect it.  I suspect that it broke when I was adjusting the steering head bearing last week.

Monday July 24, 2006 153,321 km.
Completed the 4000 km. trip to north east Quebec with Phil on the Kawasaki KLR650.  We did not get into Labrador, as the road was freshly graded and we turned back after the first 50 km of gravel.  There are about 300 km of gravel before Labrador City.  Phil could have made it, but the BMW K1100LT could not get over 40 km in many places, and was threatening to go down.  In 1994 when I went with the K1100LT, the road was mostly hard packed and speeds of 80 kph were possible much of the way.  I also noticed more traffic than in 1994.

Instead we returned to Manic 5 for gas then went on to visit Sept-Iles, which turned out to be more fun, but less of an adventure.

My windshield failed again.  On the way back home I tried to raise it and it stuck half way.  Then I lowered it, which worked, but it did not want to go back up at all after that.  The switch, which has failed before, was suspected. It was not my soldering job, as I tested the switch today and it is good.  Once today I actually managed to get it to raise again about 2 cm.  before it stopped.  Again it lowered under power with no problem, but would not go up again.

I decided to remove and inspect the whole windshield assembly.  I removed the inner fairing cover and the outer fairing part held on by screws.  One stubborn electrical connector with 5 wires must be undone before separating the assembly from the bike.

The motor came off next with three screws.  The motor is has an automatic switch that turns off the motor when the windshield reaches the top or the bottom.  It is at the bottom now.

I began by testing the resistance in the 5 wires, where  1=brown, 2=yellow black, 3=yellow brown, 4=blue, 5=purple.  1 and 3 have 1 ohm.  4 and 5 have 2.5 ohms.  Even after 14 years I cannot remember that pushing the picture symbol on the button makes the windshield go down, the plain black side of the button makes it go up.  Before putting the motor back on the windshield, the windshield and motor should both be in the same position (in this case, down), or else it's going to get ugly.

My earlier steering head bearing adjustment didn't cause any problems on the trip, unlike Phil's KLR650.  On his bike, the steering head nut came loose and we had to buy an adjustable wrench to tighten it, as neither of our toolkits had a 27 mm (I think) wrench in them.  The KLR also has a head shake or wobble at high speed that limited our cruising speeds to 120 kph.

NOTE The home made wires from the heated handgrips are rubbing off their insulation, I need some electrical tape to protect them.

Tuesday September 12, 2006. 154,445 km.
Apparently I put on 1100 km without a log update, I was just reminded by email that I stopped in the middle of my windshield repair.  So now the rest of the story.  I cleaned off the five prongs in the electrrical connectors, and the corresponding plugs, and I added a little dielectric grease, reassembled and it worked.  So problem solved, for now.  While I was in there, I put silicone spray lube on the windshield slider shafts, which is supposedly annual maintenance, but I have not done for three years, since I last had the upper fairing apart.

Tuesday March 27, 2007. 154,802 km.
It was the first ride of the year today on the K1100LT.  The sun was out, and we had a high temperature of 22c.  Almost all the snow is gone, the roads were dry.  Barry came over with his Harley, and we topped up the oil in the BMW. Then the BMW wouldn't start, because the battery was run down.  So I put it on a 2 amp charger for 15 minutes and that was enough to start it.  We drove to Cambridge, I parked it for five minutes and the battery was flat again and it wouldn't start.  Barry gave me a push start, and that was enough to get going.  When I reached home, I put it back on the charger.

This afternoon, Mary Ann took her Suzuki Burgman 400 out for her first road ride ever, after getting her learner's permit last week.  I was planning to follow her on the BMW, however it would not start after another hour on the charger.  So I followed with the car instead.  I have to give my opinion about the Burgman here, it is very easy to drive.  Mary Ann can drive a car, and can ride a bicycle.  If you can do those two, the Burgman has almost nothing new for you to learn.  Mary Ann was able to drive the K1100LT around a parking lot 15 years ago, so she may be better than the average novice at riding a motorcycle.  Maybe some people might have difficulties with the Burgman.  Anyhow, Mary Ann and the Burgman together made it look easy.

When I got back home, I removed the battery from the K1100LT.  I topped it up with distilled water (actually rain water, hope there is not too much acid in it.).  It took about 10 cc of water per cylinder (I'm guessing, I was using the mini hydrometer to squirt it in, and it took about 20 squirts per cell).  Then I put the battery back in, and on the charger again overnight.  The entire process took about 90 minutes.  Not too bad, but I still think the battery is hard to get in and out, considering you should be adding water about once a year.  I don't, and it's partly because of the difficult access.

Friday March 30, 2007. 154,870 km.
Yesterday I tried to start the K1100 and the battery was dead, even after all the work I did.  So I bought a new battery from a BMW dealer for $225 plus 15% sales tax.  It is an Exide maintenance free  gel battery, made for BMW.  The instructions say to charge it only with battery chargers limited to 14.4v.  Hopefully I will never have to charge this battery even though the intructions say to charge every 2 months if the battery is not disconnected.  I don't always follow directions.  There is no vent tube on this battery, that is a good thing to not have.

Wednesday May  2, 2007. 154,900 km.
The bike started easily today, and I went for a Ride with Mary Ann and Jane to Elora.  Mary Ann was riding her Burgman 400 with a learners permit.  Jane was a passenger on my K1100LT.   We stopped for a picnic at the Covered Bridge, and then went for a coffee at Elora. We finished with some bird watching, and I took a few pictures of Blue Herons that didn't turn out.

I started by cleaning the bike, and also cleaning out the trunk, which has not been cleaned ... well, since new I guess.  Jane noticed the bottom of the trunk was dirty last year, and if she needs to put a sweater in the trunk, will carefully put the sweater in a plastic bag first.  That should not be necessary any more, at least for a year.

Wednesday May  22, 2007. 155,170 km.
Mary Ann and I went to visit my Mother on the K1100LT.  That ride is perfect for the BMW, as it is mostly freeway as 130 kph.  The temperature going there was 26c and sunny, and we returned at night with the temperature dropping from 18c to 10c by the time we got home.  For the driver on the BMW that range of temperatures can be comfortable without changing any clothing, but Mary Ann put some overpants on for the ride back.

The BMW's inline 4 cylinder vibration can put my hands to sleep especially when I have a passenger. And mostly the left hand.  After only 15 years, I am starting to think it may not be vibration alone, but also my arm position.  I found that I could get the feeling back to my left hand by circling my elbow without even taking my hand off the bar.  Wish I had thought of that about 12 years ago.

I keep checking the internet for other peoples experiences of K1100LT failure.  This one, which include pictures, got my attention:


It was a '93 K1100LT that had a clutch hub failure at 55,000 miles, or about 80,000 km.  The owner noticed "200 miles ago the transmission seemed to shift smoother during down shift when blipping the throttle a little with the clutch in before the shift. "  Unfortunately, the maintenance history was not known for this bike.

On my own K1100LT, I have also noticed the difficult downshifting, but that was 40,000 km ago, and it has not really gotten any worse.  However, it seems to be well known that greasing the clutch hub splines makes the downshifting easier, and avoids major failures.

July 6, 2007. 155789 km.
Planning to go out west this summer with the BMW, and Mary Ann on her Burgman 400.  I am worried about the clutch letting go suddenly on the BMW.  My choices are:
1. Lube the clutch splines & replace clutch as necessary.
2. Trade in the BMW for another newer bike
3. Go with the bike as is, hope for the best.

With a complicated decision, I needed more data, so I visited two dealers.  First a Kawasaki dealer selling a Versys for $8200.  Then a BMW dealer.  The BMW dealer said my bike was basically not worth trading or even doing a $1000 repair on the clutch, and then it was not a foregone conclusion that the hard shifting was even caused by the clutch.  So I left the BMW dealer thinking I might just take the LT all the way out west, and just then the left fork seal blew.  Hmmmm. 

The shifting seems to be getting stiffer, sometimes I can't get it into neutral at a traffic light.  I am starting to hear a click or a clunk each time I roll off the throttle, like there is some slack in the driveline.  I hear the same noise rotating the back wheel back and forth in gear by hand.

Slow Riding Technique
I was riding behind Mary Ann, and she goes a bit slower than I do.  With the BMW this creates a problem because the throttle response is kind of sudden when it is almost closed.  Even trying real hard, and using that Throttle Rocker (blessed be its name), I still cannot drive smoothly at low speeds.  I find it difficult to engage each gear smoothly too, rarely can I get the throttle  just right to let the clutch out without a bit of a jerk.  And now the gear shift is also getting stiffer.  So while riding behind her, I got the idea of putting on the choke (fast idle lever), which really helped the situation.  First, it eliminates the fierce deceleration when I reduce the throttle  little too much.  Second, it allows me to smoothly engage each gear using this method.  I upshift at 3000 rpm, using the clutch and shutting the throttle, then engage the clutch with no throttle.  Perfect shift every time with the fast idle.  And, finally, the fast idle seems to eliminate the stiff shifting!

A New Motorcycle?
I am considering replacing the BMW with another bike, I would like something newer, lighter, but still comfortable and protected on long trips. And it would be a bonus if it looked good and sounded right. But most other bikes turn me off one way or another. Typically, the seat is hard and the seating position is awkward, the weather protection is not there, luggage capacity is a joke, These days many bikes don't include centerstand. And why do you still need to adjust valves in A.D. 2007? BMW now has a replacement for the K1100LT, and it is the K1200GT. Not too much heavier, no top box, no radio, much more horsepower and a lot of desireable extras that the 1992 K1100LT does not have, such as electric suspension adjustment, real cruise control, vertically adjustable handlebars, heated seat, engine counterbalancer, probably many more. But with the cost, and the distance to the BMW dealer, I will consider my other options. Some of the closest contenders are below.

- Kawasaki Versys: Funny looking headlight, almost no fenders front or rear, muffler is not stainless, but good seating position.
- Kawasaki KLR 650 (2008?) Hope they fixed the wobble at 110 kph with the bigger forks and front wheel spokes. This bike is quite a bargain if the high speed handling is acceptable
- BMW F800ST. This is really close to what I want, in theory. But $17,000 if you add bags, centerstand. The BMW dealer is still far away
- 2002 BMW R1150R. Used model with bags, windshield, hand protectors. Why o why did BMW create that powder blue colour? And the front fender is an abomination.
- BMW F650GS. Not a bad bike really. A bit pricey for what you get (compare to Kawasaki KLR650 or Versys 650), I don't have any real problems with the looks etc.
- Triumph Scrambler: Same problem as the BMW, not too many dealers around.
- Honda Shadow: Feet sticking way forward, seat too low, handlebars cannot be adjusted, and why did Honda get rid of hydraulic valves that don't need adjusting? Shadows used to have them, so are we now going backwards in progress?
- Honda ST1300: Expensive, even bigger and heavier than my K1100LT, and actually I want something smaller to replace my BMW, if Mary Ann has her own bike now.
- Suzuki Burgman 650: This machine makes a lot of sense, and if we didn't already have a Burgman 400, I might go for it (Or the Honda Silver Wing.) But I am a bit of a traditionalist, and I would still like to have a "real" motorcycle. i.e. a smaller BMW K1100LT.

Thursday July 5, 2007 155879 Km.
Sad day for my BMW K1100LT. Just as I have been anticipating since May, something let go inside the engine/transmission. After I changed the oil in the transmission to Castrol Syntec and went for a test ride. Just up the street from my house I shifted into third gear and let out the clutch, only to hear the engine rev up, the bike slow down, and an unusual sound from the area of the transmission. I think the clutch splines let go, as I could not find a gear that worked. I pushed the K1100LT home. My neighbour saw me pushing and said "That's not very good advertising for BMW." I replied "It is an old bike." She countered "Still not good advertising."

My new Vulcan 900 LT

Saturday July 7, 2007 (or 7/7/07)
Yesterday I put a deposit on a new Kawasaki Vulcan VN900 LT. I still have the Beemer in the corner of the garage, and don't know what to do with it. I'm not sure I have the ability or desire to repair the clutch/output shaft. Also, the left fork seal needs replacing, and it needs a valve inspection. The licence plates are off and I am transferring the insurance on Monday.

Monday, September 24, 2007
There is only one place that I consider to be a true test of a new motorcycle. After doing a 5 day 4,000 km ride on the Vulcan to Sept-Iles Quebec, and back, I decided that the Kawasaki earned a passing grade. Reluctantly, I loaded up the BMW on a trailer and it is now history. I'm going to start a new blog on my Kawasaki Vulcan 900, but it'll be a while before the Vulcan really takes the place of the BMW.

First time on a trailerFirst time on a trailer