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BMW K 1200 RS endurance test

Heavy hum

Happy ending for the BMW K 1200 RS: after engine failure, the high-torque four-cylinder reeled off the 100,000-kilometer distance without any problems on the second attempt. The record of the marathon: almost flawless.

The first attempt to subject the Bavarian sports touring flagship BMW K 1200 RS to a long-distance test (see MOTORRAD 21/1997) was anything but happy.

Engine damage at mileage 18100 in September 1997, because the connecting rod of the first cylinder had eroded the crank pin and then destroyed the piston, crankcase, valves and some other small parts. The connecting rod bearing of the third cylinder also showed scuff marks. A very clear case, stated BMW, insufficient lubrication, caused by the MOTORRAD editorial team due to a lack of oil level control.
Waldemar Schwarz, Technical Manager at MOTORRAD, had a completely different opinion, as he was able to document the oil level check and the refilling of the lubricant with the logbook. My colleague Schwarz saw the cause of the engine damage "with high probability" in a brief clogging of the main oil duct, which damaged the connecting rod bearings and more or less programmed the later engine damage. BMW did not want to recognize the whole thing as a warranty case: it was your own fault, you paid yourself. So did the editorial team. But not the repair of the first K 1200 RS, but the purchase of a second. Unique for the long-distance test procedure: This time it should be a used machine, definitely from the first series, if possible with a few kilometers.
Resumption of the endurance test after a thorough inspection of the "new" K 1200 RS in mid-June 1998, odometer reading almost 15,000 kilometers, target 50000. "The fat", as it was called by many drivers, was quickly on the clock (see MOTORRAD 13/1999): After almost a year, the target was met. But then the brooding began. The result: keep going, after all, K drivers are out and about a lot (see also box on page 44). The BMW was also very popular in the editorial team when it came to covering long distances quickly. And as comfortably as possible.
Which is why the K 1200 RS was given a comfort seat and raised handlebars from the BMW accessories range right at the start of its test. A worthwhile investment, because as standard, smaller riders in particular have to stretch too far over the tank to reach the handlebars. When converted, the K received mostly good marks for the comfort it offered. Harry Biehl, guest tester and frequent driver, can rave about: »RS stands for racing sofa. Driving effortlessly fast works great, after 2000 kilometers there was kudos from the pillion rider. “Biehl mentioned the adjustable windshield positively, but complained in the elevated position of turbulence on the helmet and the background noise, a point of criticism that is often found in the logbook.
Opinions on driving behavior are divided. Many believe that they are removed from the road and miss the right feeling for the front, which is mainly due to the Telelever front wheel guidance. And you like it? or not. In addition, it is often criticized that the weighty BMW would like to drive further distances in curves than is actually right for the driver. Many drivers were amazed at the maneuverability of the Bavarian giant, but 290 kilograms of live weight cannot be ignored. And at slow speeds, the K 1200 moves a little around the longitudinal axis. "If you want to experience self-driving, you should drive up the editorial garage with this thing." At the time of this logbook entry, the 1200 was equipped with the Metzeler ME Z4. Especially with this front wheel, she shows strange driving behavior at low speed, almost as if she had a flat tire.
MOTORRAD tire expert Werner Koch got to the bottom of the matter and advised: "Increase the air pressure from 2.5 to 2.9 bar at the front, then it will drive around the corner more easily." But something else is really good. As it turned out at the latest when Metzeler brought a tire with the special specification "B" onto the market. Because of its stiffer carcass, the K drives much better, but still not particularly handy. That is just not one of the strengths of the ME Z4, the ride comfort and mileage ?? on average over 10,000 kilometers per set ?? Collects plus points. If you want to take it a bit sportier, you choose the Bridgestone pairing BT 56/57, but you have to cut back on the service life. The Dunlop D 205 is a good compromise between sportiness and mileage.
Mileage 60,000: The complaints about a slipping clutch have been increasing for a long time; it must be replaced as part of the regular inspection. An expensive, because time-consuming, fun. Otherwise, the K is almost like a good red wine: the older, the better. An advantage for long-distance travelers: the 10,000 inspection intervals. The BMW 5000 and more kilometers are often on tour.
A sufficient supply of oil must not be missing in the luggage, checking the oil level is a top priority for K drivers. On average, she allows herself half a liter of lubricant per 1000 kilometers. More than usual, says BMW, normally it needs 0.2 to 0.3 liters (see also box on page 48). Important point when refilling: Place the motorcycle on the main stand ?? is easy? and then wait long enough for all of the engine oil to collect in the oil pan. Otherwise you run the risk of adding more oil than is actually necessary. Another peculiarity of the K: if it stands on the side stand for a long time, it emits unsightly clouds of smoke after take-off, known in technical jargon as blue smoke.
With odometer reading 61592, the long-haul machine needs two new wheels, the old ones have a powerful impact. Colleague Lengwenus had taken a massive carriageway under the wheels on a Belgian motorway at brisk pace and with a full load, causing permanent damage to the rims and, far worse, the front mudguard caught in the front spoiler. So the steering was no longer free. A phenomenon that was repeated a little later after driving through a pothole in the Alps.
Then it is about 25,000 kilometers to drive, refuel, drive, the marathon runner unwinds her kilometers without any problems, consuming a good seven liters of super on average. In view of the extremely confident driving performance, an absolutely acceptable value. Thanks to the tank capacity of 21 liters, ranges of just under 300 kilometers are possible.
Mileage 86770 ?? a moment of shock. The first cylinder no longer builds up compression. No wonder, the second exhaust valve broke out and damaged the spark plug, but otherwise, thank God, it didn’t cause any further damage. Repair costs: 1,248.82 marks. If you disregard a defective oil pressure switch, the remaining kilometers are absolutely problem-free until the end of the test.
Whether a premonition of the good result or not, test boss Lindner noted at 90,000 kilometers: "For this mileage the thing drives fantastic, nothing wobbles, nothing rattles". Apart from the noises that were characteristic of the sports tourer from the start. From the depths of the voluminous cladding, the high-torque four-cylinder actually always speaks. And the metallic noises from the drive train, audible especially when driving over the edges of the road, are also always audible.
However, without consequences for the entire cardan drive, as it turned out after the K was dismantled into its individual parts. In general, it was an extremely pleasing picture that the technicians were able to see when measuring. Biggest point of criticism: connecting rod number four, the bearing of which is badly worn. Errors during assembly, the bearing was installed with an offset, attested the BMW engineers at the inspection appointment in the editorial office. Another flaw: the clutch is already worn again after 40,000 kilometers. Overuse during the final determination of the driving performance, argues BMW, in normal cases the mileage of the clutch would be around 100,000 kilometers.
D.that’s it then. What initially seemed to be under an unfortunate star has found a happy ending. Welcome to the 100,000 club, K 1200 RS.

Reading experiences

That’s how they are, the K 1200 RS owners: on the road a lot and mostly satisfied. They appreciate the chassis, comfort and the high-torque drive of the BMW.

After 17,000 kilometers with the K 1200 RS, I can only report positive things. What do I particularly like about her compared to other sports tourers? The smoothness and elasticity of the engine, the very comfortable chassis, the ergonomics, because thanks to the adjustment options and accessories you can virtually build a motorcycle “around you”. The pillion suitability is also very good. Most important point: the ABS. It certainly saved me from falling in an extreme situation. Peter via e-mail After about 3000 kilometers, the rocker switch on the K no longer worked. My dealer said the problem was with my incorrect shifting. I got the same opinion from BMW in Munich. I had a new gearbox installed at my expense, sold the K a little later, but the problem reappeared with the new owner. The story of this motorcycle ended after three new gearboxes and a new clutch. It’s now at BMW. I am cured of the BMW myth and drive (very satisfied) a reliable Honda CBR 1100 XX. Klaus Bär, Buttenheim We can do everything with the RS: Cruising, driving sportily and ?? Naturally ?? travel. After 8100 kilometers from Friesland to southern Spain, our trust in the 1200s has increased even further. Even when fully loaded (see photo), it can be driven easily and confidently. We haven’t had any problems on 20,000 kilometers so far and are already looking forward to the next tour. Karl Emde and Hartmuth Matthiesen, Insel FöhrWith my six-foot-five and stomach, I feel very comfortable on the K thanks to the comfort seat and handlebars, even on long stretches of the motorway. The engine (open version) inspires in every situation. Total mileage up to now 39,000 kilometers, oil consumption around 0.6 liters per 1,000 kilometers. The only thing to complain about is the slight oil mist on the rear sleeve of the cardan. Conclusion: A super moped that I will only swap for a new RS. Jörg Niegengerd by e-mail I have been driving a K 1200 RS with 98 hp since June 1999. I am very satisfied with the machine. It is very well made, well thought out and so far very reliable and pleasant to drive. In short: an almost perfect touring motorcycle. The chassis cannot be shaken, the standard ABS calms you down, and the engine is extremely powerful. I had Hayabusa despite & Co. never have the feeling of not having enough power. Instead of the matt brushed aluminum muffler cover, I received the chrome-plated stainless steel cover on request and under guarantee. As far as I know, BMW dealers have been instructed not to make this guarantee option public. Peter Müller by e-mail


Cylinder head: camshafts, bearing points and bucket tappets with minimal tracks. Lightly knocked-in seats of the inlet valves, valve seats should be milled, the old valves can still be used after revision. Cylinders, pistons, crankshaft drive: Cylinders and pistons without visible tracks, the bearing of the fourth connecting rod is out of round, has heavy tracks and must be replaced, the other connecting rod bearings are true to size. Crankshaft and bearings in very good condition. Gearbox: perfect condition, gears without pitting. Driving claws and bearings in order. Clutch: clearly visible shielding of the driving plate, wear on the friction plate after 40,000 kilometers also clearly visible. Although the function has not yet been impaired while driving, an exchange is recommended.

BMW comments

Regarding the condition of the fourth connecting rod bearing The marks on the back of the bearing shell and on the connecting rod indicate that the bearing shell was mounted slightly twisted. In the area of ​​the bearing nose, this led to a partial exposure of the copper layer during operation. However, the running pattern of the bearing is flawless in the direction of load and would have run another 100,000 kilometers. The high oil consumption The oil consumption determined by MOTORRAD is at the upper limit and is strongly influenced by the driving style. Typical values ​​are 0.2 to 0.3 liters / 1000 kilometers and have been further reduced as part of the facelift through the use of a new piston with a modified ring assembly. On the subject of blue smoke development Blue smoke can appear on the side stand after the machine with a hot engine has been switched off. With the use of the new piston, this point has also been improved. On the scorch marks on the valve seats The good compression shows that the marks are harmless. After dismantling, however, the valves will be re-ground or a new set will be installed for around 380 marks. The clutch wear The performance measurements carried out briefly overheated the clutch and thus increased wear. In the customer’s hands, the running time is usually over 100,000 kilometers. Attempts at BMW have only been able to cause this damage pattern in connection with simultaneous damage to the rim. Nevertheless, a more precise positioning of the mudguard has been incorporated into the series in order to avoid getting stuck even with extreme potholes.

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