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View Results: Have you had any of these failures with your BMW Oilhead or Hexhead??
Spline Failure 8 2.11%
Final Drive Failure 99 26.12%
Other Major Failure 15 3.96%
No Major Failures 257 67.81%
Voters: 379. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-24-2003, 05:42 AM   #1
hogmolly OP
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Final Drive Failure Survey

We are over 350 samples. Here is a picture of the results:

http://home.texoma.net/~rknipe/bikes/survey.jpg

For the life of the bike, the data says there is a 1 in 7 chance of a final drive failure. The chance in the first 50k miles is 1 in 8, the chance for your next 50k miles is 1 in 12, and finally if you make it past 100k miles the odds are 1 in 25 of a problem.

This decreasing failure rate is indicative of some form of weedout going on but the trend is not strong. I stand by my earlier comment that rebuilding the drive every 30-50k miles may not provide additional assurance against failure.

I want to thank everyone for inputing their data. As long as it keeps coming, I will update the chart.

Lastly, several folks have emailed me stating they believe BMW's number of 3% and not this survey. Their rationale is that people with problems tend to use the internet to voice those concerns and those who don't have problems, don't. I can't offer any kind of rebuttal but please remember that is intuition and not data or fact. I can only offer the data we have created together and this last comment. If the failure rate was really 3% over the life of the product and 70% of the bikes never get over 50k miles (look at our data), then only 1.5% of the bikes on the road would have problems.

I chose to believe the data we created together.

Thanks & keep on riding!
RLK

hogmolly screwed with this post 11-24-2003 at 07:39 AM
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Old 11-25-2003, 08:17 AM   #2
Aurelius
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Re: Final Drive Failure Survey

Quote:
[i]Said ssls6:
We are over 350 samples. Here is a picture of the results:

http://home.texoma.net/~rknipe/bikes/survey.jpg

For the life of the bike, the data says there is a 1 in 7 chance of a final drive failure. The chance in the first 50k miles is 1 in 8, the chance for your next 50k miles is 1 in 12, and finally if you make it past 100k miles the odds are 1 in 25 of a problem.

This decreasing failure rate is indicative of some form of weedout going on but the trend is not strong. I stand by my earlier comment that rebuilding the drive every 30-50k miles may not provide additional assurance against failure.
For what its worth, I spoke to Joseph Katz, the former owner of BMW of Daytona about this very thing about a week ago. Following a recent cross country trip, Mr. Katz now has over 110,000 trouble free miles on his BMW R1100ST. When asked why there seem to be so many reported final drive failures, he replied that the problem isn't poor mechanical design, but sloppy assembly. Apparently what's been happening is that a few Beemers have been assembled with improperly sized shims, which pinch the wheel bearings, leading to premature failure. Unfortunately the problem is often repeated during warranty repairs because rather than taking the time to carefully measure the replacement shims, dealerships simply reinstall improperly sized shims when making the repairs, ensuring that the problem will repeat itself given sufficient time.

Mr. Katz' analysis may explain why there seem to be fewer reports of failure from owners with high mileage bikes. Since their bikes were apparently assembled with properly sized shims in the first place, there's no reason these bikes should give their owners any problems down the line. Those assembled with overly tight shims, on the other hand, will cause accelerated bearing wear, the results of which will become evident long before these bikes accumulate serious mileage.
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Old 11-25-2003, 09:22 AM   #3
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FWIW, RLK, I didn't take the poll because I only have 21K miles. Not enough to be a helpful contributor. Perhaps others feel the same way, and also did not take the poll.
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Old 11-25-2003, 09:49 AM   #4
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yeah but those are 21,000 hard miles sweet cheeks.
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Old 11-25-2003, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Said wxwax:
FWIW, RLK, I didn't take the poll because I only have 21K miles. Not enough to be a helpful contributor. Perhaps others feel the same way, and also did not take the poll.
You miss the point. Your data is perfect for our survey. I picked several buckets to establish the probability slope and nothing more. Your bike fell in the first bucket and putting it there would have made the data set better.

I'm not tring to prove a point with the survey. I would be happy to prove BMW's 3% claim even though 3% felt low to me. As it turns out, the data says otherwise.

PS...MCN has several final drive fail letters this month. ON magazine has a final drive failure letter in it. BMW says they are actively researching the problem with the fatherland and will handle out-of-warranty fails on a case by case basis if absuse is not suspected. These action are inconsistent with a 3% problem in my experience?

...RLK

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Old 11-25-2003, 10:18 AM   #6
TOHC
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Thanks SSLS6 for gathering the numbers. No doubt there will be some who question the validity of these results. For me, they are certainly good enough to solidify my opinion of the whole "final drive issue". The problem is sufficiently significant and quite real. Considering that there have been voluntary recalls prompted from much lower failure rates and smaller actual number of failures, I hope that BMW will officially recognize the problem and provide a solution.

1 out of 7 chance of failure within the first 50,000mi; if a failure occurs then you are 100% stuck... no matter what. That is not good. Especially for those of us who bought the bike to venture far and usually alone.
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Old 11-25-2003, 01:01 PM   #7
f650gs
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Re: Re: Final Drive Failure Survey

Quote:
[i]
Mr. Katz' analysis may explain why there seem to be fewer reports of failure from owners with high mileage bikes. Since their bikes were apparently assembled with properly sized shims in the first place, there's no reason these bikes should give their owners any problems down the line. Those assembled with overly tight shims, on the other hand, will cause accelerated bearing wear, the results of which will become evident long before these bikes accumulate serious mileage.
It would be very obvious on inspection of the bearing, IF they were shimmed too tight on assembly and then run until failure.
Naturally, dealers are on a time schedule and there is not enough care given to why the failure occurred and correcting the problem at repair time. People who do their own work can spend all day getting the preload correct with the right shims.......its only their personal time, not a chargeable hourly labour rate like a dealer.
maybe its something to consider the statistics of reoccurring failures between dealer repaired bikes, and those who have done their own repair work. The catch is......the mechanical ability of either group to be able to do the work with sound mechanical knowledge and achieve a proper repair.
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Old 11-25-2003, 03:53 PM   #8
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Re: Re: Final Drive Failure Survey

Quote:
Said Aurelius:
the problem isn't poor mechanical design, but sloppy assembly. Apparently what's been happening is that a few Beemers have been assembled with improperly sized shims, which pinch the wheel bearings, leading to premature failure.
I have expressed this same theory for long time.

The measurement required to properly shim the drive is tedious and easily short cut. Once the bolts are torqued there is no way to check the result. This also explains why a fair number of the failures occur during or followiing long road trips. The heat build-up only stresses the bearing to fail after prolonged operation. The bottom line is that whether its design or assembly, its still a manufacturing defect in those units that fail. Japanese shafties don't have the problem, at least that I'm aware of.


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Old 11-25-2003, 05:01 PM   #9
Aurelius
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Re: Re: Re: Final Drive Failure Survey

Quote:
Said R-dubb:
I have expressed this same theory for long time.

The measurement required to properly shim the drive is tedious and easily short cut. Once the bolts are torqued there is no way to check the result. This also explains why a fair number of the failures occur during or followiing long road trips. The heat build-up only stresses the bearing to fail after prolonged operation. The bottom line is that whether its design or assembly, its still a manufacturing defect in those units that fail.
I guess it just makes me feel better to learn that these problems aren't the result of shoddy engineering, just shoddy assembly. I doubt that distinction will matter much to me when I'm left stranded by the side of the road, though.

Quote:
Japanese shafties don't have the problem, at least that I'm aware of.
True. I had a '75 Honda GL1000 that I bought as a restoration project a few years ago. As far as I know, the seal and bearings were original, yet there was no sign of leakage. I've never heard of Japanese shaft driven bikes being particularly problematic in the way BMW's are.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:26 AM   #10
Scott Leier
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Final Drive Failure

Just purchased 2002 K1200 LT 30,000 miles on it, in Ottawa Ontario Canada. Was planning to drive it home to Nova Scotia 700 miles. Had just gone 250 miles when all hell broke loose. At the time I was in Quebec and I do not speak French and they speak limited Enghish. Met owner of local Bike shop who saved my skin and help arrange a rental truck. Got the bike to BMW dealership in Moncton New Brunswick and advised it is a final drive failure. Having driven yamahas for 20 years I was not familar with this problem. Cost for parts $2,200 plus labour. I have a call into BMW's customer relations but haven't heard from them yet. Do you know of any leverage I can use or threaten them with?
Scott
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:41 AM   #11
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Forget the percentages; it should not even be a topic we should have to address.

With today's technology I'm at a loss to understand why the rear drives fail at all. I know lots of Honda owners with ST's and Wings and I doubt I could find one who ever experienced a rear drive failure. I should be able to say the same about the BMW riders I know; unfortunately, I can’t.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
With today's technology I'm at a loss to understand why the rear drives fail at all. I know lots of Honda owners with ST's and Wings and I doubt I could find one who ever experienced a rear drive failure. I should be able to say the same about the BMW riders I know; unfortunately, I can’t.

Even the bikes built 30 years ago with shaft drives never experienced trouble with there designs. It's not about using today's technology at all. The problem is BMW's substandard engineering and manufacturing quality. If this isn't bad enough we all have paid a serious premium for such garbage. When a consumer pays a great premium for a product it goes without saying that the product should have a higher quality build. Can anyone in this forum really say with a straight face that BMW has delivered? Only the kool aid brain dead blind would try to stand up and come to there defense.

I talked to the owners of a large BMW dealership about the quality and reliable issues related with this brand and even they admitted the Mothership has fallen way short of the mark. Oh and they put the final drive failure rate at someway between 4 to 8 percent. This is based on theire experiences and the experices of another shop they are closely related to. Unacceptable gentleman for the pemium we paid.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:44 PM   #13
Aurelius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james996
Even the bikes built 30 years ago with shaft drives never experienced trouble with there designs. It's not about using today's technology at all. The problem is BMW's substandard engineering and manufacturing quality. If this isn't bad enough we all have paid a serious premium for such garbage. When a consumer pays a great premium for a product it goes without saying that the product should have a higher quality build. Can anyone in this forum really say with a straight face that BMW has delivered? Only the kool aid brain dead blind would try to stand up and come to there defense.
I expect they'll be along shortly.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:53 PM   #14
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Final Drive Replacement Under Extended Warranty

Do any of you have experience with an extended warranty covering FD replacement, or not? Positive or negative?
Thanks
The issued has come up for me with my '04 GSAdv.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:57 PM   #15
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FD failure? ANY safety issues with that? If you think so contact the (USA) federal highway & safety administration & file a complaint. I'm doing that with my 06' servo ABS brakes. I googled ''BMW R1200GS recalls & safety problems ". Interesting. That agency has the power to force recalls as I understand it. I think they just need enough complaints & legit reasons. I see someone mentioned issues with the rear ends of the Kawasaki Concourse. Hope Kaw didn't hire German design & industrial engineers. Had lots of Jap bikes & near zero problems with them. We need a Yamaha GS...BADD.
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