Endurance test final balance: BMW K 1300 GT

BMW’s travel steamer with problems in the engine room

When it ran, the BMW K 1300 GT was a fantastic travel steamer. But sometimes she just didn’t want to, went on strike or even spectacularly quit work. The final balance of the endurance test becomes breakdown statistics.

Whoever has the damage need not worry about the mockery. For example, some colleagues teased that the endurance test BMW would have covered twice the test distance – half on its own axis, the other half in the van. A gross exaggeration, but unfortunately with a real core. Because after two engine failures and many electrical problems, the GT had to be picked up several times on the roadside and return home in a Mercedes Sprinter.

AT.The length of the endurance test also gave rise to serious discussions. When can the test actually be declared over? When the speedometer hits 50,000? When the engine has covered that distance? Or is it about its heart, the crankshaft? In the end, the decision was made in favor of the clear and simple solution, namely the odometer reading, even if the exchange engine of the K is only 25,000 kilometers under its belt.

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Endurance test final balance: BMW K 1300 GT
BMW’s travel steamer with problems in the engine room


At 250 km / h, the inside of the clutch basket spread out on the motorway.

Big cause, gigantic effect – that’s how you would have to major engine failure how that overtook the GT at 25,000 kilometers. At a speed of 250 the clutch basket burst on the autobahn, test driver Georg Jelicic was able to steer the K with presence of mind through the traffic on the hard shoulder. The basket had one right next to his right foot Hole punched in the engine cover. The sprinter had to move out again to recover the wreck.

The engine was a scrap case, it was replaced by a new one in the factory. The many small chunks of the clutch had spread throughout the inner workings in the last few seconds of its short life. Despite a detailed analysis at BMW, the reason for the broken clutch basket could never be determined. It is noticeable, however, that new friction disks had been installed in the BMW branch in Stuttgart shortly before. Did something go wrong during installation? Or already during assembly in the factory? In any case, a general constructive problem must be excluded. Neither MOTORRAD nor BMW could find a similar case. Complaints about the function of the clutch – and the gearshift – can occasionally be heard, though not to the same extent as with the 1200 models. BMW had heavily modified the clutch when changing the model. Nonetheless, the clutch of the long-term test K plucked during brisk starts, and sometimes squeaked a little. The engagement of first gear was usually accompanied by a crashing blow. These reasons led to the mentioned replacement of the friction disks. It remains unclear whether this would bring about a lasting improvement, because shortly afterwards the four-cylinder was exhausted.

It’s a shame, because the GT was by far the most popular machine in the test fleet. The luxury travel steamer was often fully booked and colleagues had to put themselves on the waiting list. When it comes to getting from A to B quickly and comfortably, possibly with luggage, the GT is unbeatable. Incidentally, this was probably one of the reasons why some editors demanded that the test distance be extended to 75,000 kilometers after the engine failure.

Around Christmas time, top tester Karsten Schwers noticed a strange noise in the partial load range at low engine speeds during winter test drives in southern France. Back in Germany, the ticker quickly got louder, so that the BMW – this time on its own wheels – rolled into the workshop. There they first looked in the periphery, but finally removed the engine and completely dismantled it. After that, the source of the noise was easy to identify. The lower bearing of the outer right connecting rod had completely leaked. The bearing shells were already so crushed that they had turned with them. At least no consequential damage could be seen. After replacing the crankshaft, a connecting rod and – as a precaution – the two camshafts, the GT was ready to drive again.

mps photo studio

The second engine failure was announced by a slight knocking noise, after which the engine was removed and completely dismantled.

In this case, too, the cause remained mysterious. At least it cannot be completely ruled out that there was a connection to the first engine failure. Because back then the oil hoses, coolers and tanks of the dry sump lubrication were not replaced. It is quite possible that contamination led to a lack of lubricant and thus caused the damage. The right connecting rod bearing is the last in the oil supply and therefore usually the first to be damaged if there is a loss of pressure. Incidentally, after the long-term test, MOTORRAD found tough, abrasive contamination in the oil tank. Perhaps it should have been replaced the first time the engine failed…

If the first damage caused the second, it would have been extremely stupid. But here, too, the following applies: It is certainly not a general, constructive problem with the K models. A significant accumulation of mechanical damage in the area of ​​the crank drive – in contrast to electrical damage – cannot be seen on the market.

After all, the K was able to unwind the remaining 17,000 kilometers without serious incidents – apart from the aforementioned defect on the starter switch on the home straight. According to BMW, the fact that the entire rear-axle drive was replaced shortly before the gate closed was a purely precautionary measure for the Stuttgart branch. Perhaps, under the impression of the large amount of damage, one got down to business a little too eagerly. Less than half a millimeter of play on the rim flange is well below the tolerance limit.

With 50,000 on the speedometer and a motor that had mostly 25,000, in parts only 17,000 kilometers on the clock, the K 1300 GT rolled across the finish line – at least on its own wheels and not in the Sprinter. And leaves a somewhat confused editorial team. On the one hand, there has hardly been a machine with such serious mechanical damage in the entire history of the endurance test. On the other hand, no motorcycle was so popular. The popularity of the luxury liner is also unreserved. In the letters to the readers there is not a single person who can report on similarly negative experiences. Most drivers generously forgive their machines for the electrical problems caused by faulty handlebar switches.

In the MOTORRAD endurance test rating, the GT is passed far behind. The penultimate place in the Ducati sandwich is a reflection of the series of breakdowns on the long-term test machine. Above all, the four failures on the way, which forced transport, are punished with painful point deductions. There are also eleven unscheduled workshop visits. And of course there can be hardly any points for the state of wear if first a complete engine and then essential parts had to be replaced. Without the breakdown series, the GT could have taken a place in the top group thanks to surprisingly low maintenance costs, moderate consumption and low depreciation. Had, would, if – a little luck is also part of it. Obviously that was missing from the MOTORRAD test machine. And then there was probably a lot of bad luck.



The performance diagram of the BMW K 1300 GT.

Initial / final measurement   24,812 km 50,330 km
0-100 km / h dry 3.1 3.1
0-140 km / h dry 4.8 4.9
0-200 km / h dry 9.0 9.2
60-100 km / h dry 3.4 3.4
100-140 km / h dry 3.4 3.5
140-180 km / h dry 3.6 3.6
Average fuel consumption over 50,000 km
Fuel (super) l / 100 km 6.3
Engine oil l / 1000 km 0.1

The damage in detail

Engine and electrics, those were the construction sites on the long-term test K 1300 GT. While the errors on the handlebar switches affected many machines on the market, there was obviously no serious damage to the engine. In this respect, the MOTORRAD machine is probably an unfortunate individual case. The cause of the two major engine failures could not be clarified. It cannot be completely ruled out that the broken clutch is due to an assembly error and that the second engine damage was a late consequence of the first.

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The clutch basket of the BMW K 1300 GT.

After 25,000 kilometers the clutch basket burst and punched a hole in the right engine cover. The entire engine had to be replaced.

mps photo studio

The crankshaft of the BMW K 1300 GT.

The second engine failure was announced by a slight knocking noise, after which the engine was removed and completely dismantled.

The lower connecting rod bearing of the cylinder on the right in the direction of travel was completely worn out, badly damaged by tracks and chipping on the crankshaft.

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The connecting rod and the damaged bearing shells of the BMW K 1300 GT.

The sliding layer of the two bearing shells of the connecting rod concerned is completely planed down to the bronze-colored base material.

mps photo studio

The switching unit of the GT.

The shift unit on the right end of the handlebar had to be replaced twice because the GT could no longer be started.

In addition, the cruise control button broke off while driving.

mps photo studio

The rear axle drive of the BMW.

Because slight tilting play was found on the rear wheel, BMW changed the entire rear axle drive as a precaution.

Balance after 50,000 kilometers

Drawing: archive

The wear and tear after 50,000 kilometers.

Cylinder head: Slight traces of burn can be seen on the exhaust valves, three of which are slightly leaking, the valve seats are hardly widened. Valve guides and stems are also fine. Minimal traces of pitting can be seen on some rocker arms.

Cylinder / piston: The cylinders show some harmless running marks, the pistons have a uniform contact pattern and only minor deposits, the piston rings are hardly worn.

Crank drive: The crankshaft main bearings show an uneven contact pattern, but the radial bearing play is still okay. The first connecting rod bearing shows a deep groove as well as embedding caused by foreign bodies. Here, too, the radial clearances are okay. No abnormalities in the area of ​​the piston pin bearing.

Power transmission:
The clutch unit as well as the gearbox show hardly any signs of wear according to the mileage. The same applies to the cardan shaft and the final drive.

Frame / chassis: The paintwork, chassis components and other attachments are in good condition according to the mileage.

Costs and maintenance


The mixture of sportiness and travel comfort makes the GT so unique.

Operating costs over 50,000 kilometers

17.5 liters of oil at 18.5 euros at 323.75 euros
5 oil filters at 13.62 euros each 68.10 euros
1 air filter at 31.98 euros 31.98 euros
2 sets of rear brake pads at € 72.35 each € 144.70
4 sets of front brake pads at 72.35 euros at 289.40 euros
Transmission oil 3.68 euros
Brake fluid 4.74 euros
Small parts, lubricants 33.85 euros
Seals 2.35 euros
Inspections and repairs 791.33 euros
Tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) 2532.00 euros
Fuel 4328.96 euros

total cost 8554.84 euros
Acquisition costs 20,331.00 euros
Loss of value 8531.00 euros
Estimate (dealer selling price) 11,800.00 euros

Cost per kilometer (without depreciation) 17 cents
Cost per kilometer (with depreciation) 34 cents
Cost per kilometer (without gasoline) 8.5 cents

Maintenance and repair costs            (Mileage)

The engine cannot be started temporarily (5000)
Motorcycle does not start, left and right controls replaced (warranty) (7275)
Front and rear tires renewed: Bridgestone BT 020 "UU" (10678)
Front and rear tires renewed: Metzeler Roadtec Z6 (16115)
Clutch linings, cruise control switch and case lock renewed (guarantee) (19850)
Clutch basket burst, new engine installed and rear brake disc and caliper renewed (guarantee) (24766)
Front and rear tires renewed: Bridgestone BT 020 "UU" (27765)
Front and rear tires renewed: Bridgestone BT 020 "UU" (34070)
Driver seat due to def. Seat heating renewed (guarantee) (36012)
Crankshaft, main and connecting rod bearings replaced after connecting rod bearing damage (guarantee) (36730)
Front and rear tires renewed: Bridgestone BT 020 "UU" (37990)
Speed ​​fluctuations when idling, ok again after erasing the fault memory (39400)
Front and rear brake pads renewed (39542)
Left case lock defective (41892)
Front and rear tires renewed: Bridgestone BT 020 "UU" (44953)
Starter switch and rear-wheel drive renewed (guarantee) (46336)

BMW comments


Markus Poschner (center), Head of the K and S series at BMW, inspects the dismantled engine of the endurance test machine together with colleagues and MOTORRAD employees.

…to breakdowns and defects on switches
A new type of manufacturing technology was used for the new generation of switches. Unfortunately, the 3D conductor tracks did not meet the requirements at the beginning of series production. We have made changes to the supplier and, as part of a technical campaign, equipped all customer motorcycles with the new, significantly improved generation of switches.

…to the burst clutch basket
We came to the conclusion that the clutch basket must have been damaged, for example during manufacture or during transport. We also cannot completely rule out that the previous damage occurred as part of the clutch replacement. Although this is an isolated case, we have optimized the manufacturing and delivery process and introduced a new special tool for clutch replacement in the service area.

…for connecting rod bearing damage

The damage pattern shows that there was increased friction on the bearing shells. This can be recognized by the recognizable temper colors on the inside of the connecting rod eye and the condition of the bearing shells. The cause of the inadequate lubrication may be contamination that reached the connecting rod bearing via the engine oil and damaged the bearing.

…to problems with suitcase locks
The unlocking flap of the case lid could only be opened with force after a certain number of actuations due to wear. We have therefore improved the locks. Our BMW partners ask customers of affected motorcycles to leave the cases on the vehicle during the next service so that the new locks can be installed.

…to replace the rear axle drive
shortly before the end of the endurance test. On the occasion of our visit to the workshop, we were informed of a tilting clearance of 0.36 mm on the rear wheel. We have arranged for the rear axle drive to be replaced preventively. However, the exchange would not have been necessary, as the tilting clearance found was still well within the permissible tolerance of one millimeter.

…to running tracks on the connecting rod bearing at the end
of the endurance test Both the contact pattern and the wear pattern on the bearing shells are completely normal. The small dirt puller on the fourth connecting rod bearing has no further effects on the engine.

…Signs of wear on the running rail
of the oil pump chain drive The traces of wear on the running rails are somewhat unusual, but unproblematic and do not lead to any functional impairment.

Reading experience


The BMW K 1300 GT on its trip to Ukraine.

The photo shows me and mine "Elsa", Of course, properly secured (security guards and two locks) in Ukraine. I bought the GT in April 2010. You have to get used to mastering the high performance. Pushing the weight around the bends takes strength. To the "Strolling" you sometimes have to force yourself, the motorcycle is too fast outside the permissible speed. Overtaking on country roads is pure cream. The GT is ideal for long distances. I’m in Ukraine and it’s my friend’s birthday in Regensburg? So "without further teen" on the moped and from Broshniv-Osada via Krakov, Görlitz, Dresden, Nuremberg to Regensburg. 1317 kilometers in one go. Just stopped to smoke and have breakfast in Bischofswerda. The bottom hurts, but it works.
My ESA didn’t work in Germany. Switching to different loads or comfort settings – none of them. In Ukraine, the roads have potholes and bumps as far as the eye can see. I tried the ESA switch in Lviv – and it has worked flawlessly since then. Shake everything up and off you go. Anyone who thinks that the K 1300 GT is a motorcycle that they can work on is wrong. The technology is complicated and maintenance is expensive.
Hubert Schönherr

In June 2009, after six years of FJR, I switched to a new, fully equipped K 1300 GT. Since then I have covered 16,500 impressive kilometers without any problems worth mentioning – mostly with passengers and luggage in the Alps and the Mediterranean region. In three days the fourth set of tires will be added (for the second time BT 023), which makes it clear that the motorcycle is driven and challenged in a sporty way. As part of swap campaigns on the part of BMW in 2009, the right switch unit and the case locks were swapped. The only defect so far during our holiday trip this year was a leak in the final drive with an oil leak at around 15,000 kilometers, which the really friendly people from the Freiburg motorcycle center fixed spontaneously and immediately by replacing the sealing ring.
Michael Breda, Kiel

Current mileage of my GT: 37,500. Repairs to date: For 25,700 kilometers, front wheel bearings, for 20,920 kilometers, handle fittings and case locks replaced preventively (recall). I am aware of sustained problems over a total of 117,000 kilometers (including the previous model K 1200 GT): – Front wheel bearings, service life around 15 to 30,000 kilometers, four sets used in four years – The shock absorber rocker arm oxidizes in the rear bearing and finally breaks. – It is not possible to operate the direction indicator during coupling (thumb too short) – The upper buttons on the handle fittings can only be operated when the handlebars are released.
My conclusion: when redesigning their handle fittings, BMW paid too much attention to Japanese customers than to properly appreciate the advantage of their old system in terms of road safety and usability. The vehicle commutes every 15-20,000 kilometers at both high and very low speeds. This problem can always be solved by replacing the front wheel bearings. I had no technical problems and would buy this model again.
Eberhard Stanger, Alfdorf

I am probably one of those satisfied customers who use a BMW K 1300 GT. Received in November 2009 (2010 model) and ridden 12,000 kilometers on the bike without any problems. The longest day tour was 735 kilometers and led us back home via Hahntennjoch, Samnaun, Norberthöhe, Stiflserjoch, Umbrail, Flüelapass. 3000 kilometers are still planned for tours this year, which I am going on with the "Thick" happy. No unscheduled workshop visit, nothing out of the ordinary. Warm regards from a satisfied K 1300 GT driver.
Holger Kukla

I have been driving a BMW K 1300 GT since the end of March with almost 30,000 kilometers on the clock. Defects so far: switch units left and right, as well as final drive (at approx. 23,000 kilometers), each exchanged on guarantee. It is annoying that the battery drains when stationary. Since then, the battery has always been on a charger. Originally the Metzeler Z 6 were mounted. Conversion to Dunlop Roadsmart brought a significant improvement. However, they only lasted 3500 to 4500 kilometers in the rear. Then conversion to Bridgestone BT 023 "GT". This means that the GT drives perfectly, and the mileage is around 1000 kilometers higher. As for the GT, all I can say is that I’ve never driven such a great motorcycle that is so much fun. For me it is the ultimate to move quickly, comfortably when traveling, loads of cargo space.
Klaus spreng

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