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Old 04-23-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
Toby OP
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Location: New Smyrna Beach, FL
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R1150GS : Final Drive Wheel Bearing Failure

This past weekend, my final drive wheel bearing failed on a 500 mile, first leg of a weekend mountain trip. It started with a mild rearend vibration about 400 miles out and it got progressively worse, but made it to my final destination. The next morning, I pulled the rearend apart and found it was extremely loose and I guessed it was the bearing. With the rear chunck in hand, plus $353, Blue Moon Cycles in Norcross helped me get it back on the road the next day.
My bike is well maintained and has 55,000 miles. The oil level was spot on and it looked fine, short of the metal pieces. After looking at the bearing, it appears the keeper (the metal piece that holds the ball bearings in place) failed.

Any ideas why it would have failed?

I ride the bike very hard once or twice a year in the mountains and I run a good pace (80-95MPH for 4 - 6 hours) once or twice a year on the same trip. Almost always one rider and not more than 30 to 40 lbs. in the boxes.

Why, why, why,

Toby
2000 R1150GS
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:12 PM   #2
def
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Depending on the year, your FD may have missed the change in the crown wheel bearing BMW specifies for this application. BMW changed from 19 balls to 17 balls (I'm not sure if these numbers are correct) in the crown wheel bearing in an attempt to eliminate failures. The failure mode is the bearing retainer cage fails allowing the balls to go where they want to go (wad up is the term used).

I do not know why or how the retainer fails since I have not seen one first hand but I suspect that the retainer is under high stress and eventually fails due to high localized heat or possible failure of the rivets securring the retainer. BMW's change to a different bearing design did seem to fix the problem. In order to reduce friction and therefore reduce localized heat at the bearing retainer, I run 10% moly in my FD oil. To date, no leaks and no failure at 36,000 miles. But, this proves little or nothing...maybe I have just been lucky!!

This ball bearing design is inappropriate for the loads and forces placed on the FD crown wheel bearing. This should be a roller bearing design, not a ball bearing design.

If you have not fully replaced the bearing, I would look for an upgraded bearing design to fit the OE bearing currently used. There are better bearing grades available for this application. Good luck.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:16 PM   #3
def
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby
This past weekend, my final drive wheel bearing failed on a 500 mile, first leg of a weekend mountain trip. It started with a mild rearend vibration about 400 miles out and it got progressively worse, but made it to my final destination. The next morning, I pulled the rearend apart and found it was extremely loose and I guessed it was the bearing. With the rear chunck in hand, plus $353, Blue Moon Cycles in Norcross helped me get it back on the road the next day.
My bike is well maintained and has 55,000 miles. The oil level was spot on and it looked fine, short of the metal pieces. After looking at the bearing, it appears the keeper (the metal piece that holds the ball bearings in place) failed.

Any ideas why it would have failed?

I ride the bike very hard once or twice a year in the mountains and I run a good pace (80-95MPH for 4 - 6 hours) once or twice a year on the same trip. Almost always one rider and not more than 30 to 40 lbs. in the boxes.

Why, why, why,

Toby
2000 R1150GS
Did you carry away the failed bearing? If so, some detailed photos would be helpful in determining the failure mode for the OE bearing. BTW, did the replacement bearing have fewer balls than the OE piece?
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:18 PM   #4
BOUNTY HUNTER
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby
This past weekend, my final drive wheel bearing failed on a 500 mile, first leg of a weekend mountain trip. It started with a mild rearend vibration about 400 miles out and it got progressively worse, but made it to my final destination. The next morning, I pulled the rearend apart and found it was extremely loose and I guessed it was the bearing. With the rear chunck in hand, plus $353, Blue Moon Cycles in Norcross helped me get it back on the road the next day.
My bike is well maintained and has 55,000 miles. The oil level was spot on and it looked fine, short of the metal pieces. After looking at the bearing, it appears the keeper (the metal piece that holds the ball bearings in place) failed.

Any ideas why it would have failed?

I ride the bike very hard once or twice a year in the mountains and I run a good pace (80-95MPH for 4 - 6 hours) once or twice a year on the same trip. Almost always one rider and not more than 30 to 40 lbs. in the boxes.

Why, why, why,

Toby
2000 R1150GS
Your rear drive was not shimmed correctly @ the factory...like 98% of the rest of them.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:22 PM   #5
Toby OP
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Thanks for the explaination. I have the failed bearing and I'll do a ball count tomorrow. Thankfully and sadly, the dealer had one in stock. It could have been old or new stock and I didn't ask the specifics, nor did I know to ask. I'll check the receipt too, it might give me a clue.

The retainer was all but gone. A few bits at best.
From this point further, I'm going to change the final drive oil every other oil change. I'm also going to spot check it the temperature with an infared thermometer, especially on trips.

This bearing is a show stopper, special tools, multiple o-rings and $134 bearing.

Toby
R1150GS
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:27 PM   #6
Toby OP
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Good points. I'll try to add the photos of the bearing tomorrow. I'll also check the receipt and add the part number and the number on the bearing too.

By the way, mine isn't shimmed correct now either. I brought the piece to the shop and I really should take it back to a local (Daytona) shop and have it re-shimmed. The Mechanic at Blue Moon mentioned it too.

By the way, I'm headed out tomorrow for another three day trip and another 1500 mile road trip.

Toby
R1150GS
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:50 PM   #7
def
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If you can get the mfg number off the bearing, likely located on your failed piece, it would be wise to cross reference it to a more robust bearing. A bearing house can help...bring them the failed bearing and let them tell you what is available...the BMW piece is expensive (I believe it may be made by FAG) and alternatives can be had at lower cost with equal or better quality and an upgrade in tolerance from a domestic supplier like NTN or Timken.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:53 PM   #8
def
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Pissed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toby
Good points. I'll try to add the photos of the bearing tomorrow. I'll also check the receipt and add the part number and the number on the bearing too.

By the way, mine isn't shimmed correct now either. I brought the piece to the shop and I really should take it back to a local (Daytona) shop and have it re-shimmed. The Mechanic at Blue Moon mentioned it too.

By the way, I'm headed out tomorrow for another three day trip and another 1500 mile road trip.

Toby
R1150GS
Don't ride until your FD is properly shimmed and the backlash adjusted correctly otherwise you may end up with gear failure.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:10 PM   #9
Toby OP
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I rode it about 500 miles in the twisties and another 500 home on Sunday. No issues or vibrations.

At this moment, I'm packing the bags and loading the bike for another 1500 miles. It's not a bike trip, but I was hoping to take the bike, due to nice weather. If needed, I can take the car.

Are you sure?

The mechanic that switched on the bearing said this kind of failure isn't that common, but he too, recommended having the backlash checked.

Toby
R1150GS
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:37 PM   #10
Bob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by def
Depending on the year, your FD may have missed the change in the crown wheel bearing BMW specifies for this application. BMW changed from 19 balls to 17 balls (I'm not sure if these numbers are correct) in the crown wheel bearing in an attempt to eliminate failures. The failure mode is the bearing retainer cage fails allowing the balls to go where they want to go (wad up is the term used).

I do not know why or how the retainer fails since I have not seen one first hand but I suspect that the retainer is under high stress and eventually fails due to high localized heat or possible failure of the rivets securring the retainer. BMW's change to a different bearing design did seem to fix the problem. In order to reduce friction and therefore reduce localized heat at the bearing retainer, I run 10% moly in my FD oil. To date, no leaks and no failure at 36,000 miles. But, this proves little or nothing...maybe I have just been lucky!!

This ball bearing design is inappropriate for the loads and forces placed on the FD crown wheel bearing. This should be a roller bearing design, not a ball bearing design.

If you have not fully replaced the bearing, I would look for an upgraded bearing design to fit the OE bearing currently used. There are better bearing grades available for this application. Good luck.
I just got a new crown bearing and it has 19 balls, a different dealer actually had one in stock and it also has 19. They said this is what BMW is back to using???????????? Is there any kind of cryptic date on the package?
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Old 04-24-2008, 02:32 AM   #11
Steptoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by def
This ball bearing design is inappropriate for the loads and forces placed on the FD crown wheel bearing. This should be a roller bearing design, not a ball bearing design.

If you have not fully replaced the bearing, I would look for an upgraded bearing design to fit the OE bearing currently used. There are better bearing grades available for this application. Good luck.
This is the same bearing used in hundreds of thousands of K series final drives without any problems.

There is no upgrade bearing available. I tried a japanese made, very ,very expensive alternative a three years ago in a customers bike (despatch rider). It lasted 80k+ miles of extremely hard use, which is about the same as the BMW (30) bearing used to last on his hard used bikes.
I carry a spare bearing and seal with me on trips. it can be changed at the side of the road in an emergency ( i've posted pictures here in a "how to"), so you don't get stranded.
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Old 04-24-2008, 06:13 AM   #12
onesaintsfan
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Eh? 2004 GS non-adv

Is their any way for a non-mechanicly inclined person to check which bearing he may have? Mine is a 2004 non-adv R1150GS
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Old 04-24-2008, 07:58 AM   #13
Tbone
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All you can get is the 19 ball bearing model now. Basically, there is no way to tell ahead of time if it's going to go. Short of the vibration that has been mentioned earlier, they all vary in mileage as to when they fail. I carry a bearing and seal with me on big trips, and realize that if it goes bad, I need to find a dealer to do the labor. I'm at 60k on my 1150 with no failure, but the rear wheel has wiggled around more than I thought it should for the last 30k, so I quit worrying about it.

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Old 04-24-2008, 09:11 AM   #14
Steptoe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onesaintsfan
Is their any way for a non-mechanicly inclined person to check which bearing he may have? Mine is a 2004 non-adv R1150GS
yes, but it means removing the wheel flange seal. Take the seal off and count the balls.
While your doing that you can also check the roller cage for missing rivets. So you can get it replaced instead of it failing while on the road.

Then replace the seal with a new one . I've actually re-used the seal on my own bike without any problems ( all in the name of research ).
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Old 04-24-2008, 09:38 AM   #15
scooteraug02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOUNTY HUNTER
Your rear drive was not shimmed correctly @ the factory...like 98% of the rest of them.
BOUNTY HUNTER got any pictures or description of how to shim the rear drive?

There is another thread here about the 19 vs 17 ball bearings and where to get them. I think it came down to BMW being the lowest priced.
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