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Old 01-17-2013, 11:41 PM   #1
m_p_w OP
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Mexico City
Oddometer: 37
'12 R1200GSA Dead in Mexico

Today while riding from Mexico City to Oaxaca, I stopped to take some photos and turned off my bike (2012 R1200GSA, 10,000 miles, 10 months old). When I went to restart it, I got the usual dash lights, the normal symphony of servos and a click that sounded like the starter solenoid. I had already ridden ~200 miles or so this morning and had stopped several times with my bike starting without hesitation after each stop. This time, as with each earlier stop, my bike had been parked for about 10 minutes and the ignition had been switched off.

Kickstand was up, trans was in neutral and the clutch lever was in. At one point in trying to get the bike started, the display did show the EWS warning, but it disappeared after a few more attempts to start the bike. When the EWS light clicked on, I tried starting it with my spare key, no luck. I disconnected the battery for a few minutes in the hope that this might reset well, whatever can be reset by disconnecting the battery, still nothing.

While I was trying various things to get my bike started, I noticed that the the electrical system (or at least the battery charge) seemed to be failing. Sometimes it wouldn't run through the self-checks, sometimes it would cycle the accessory port (I eventually plugged my iPhone in through the accessory port and a USB charger), and sometimes it wouldn't even turn the dash on (i.e., totally dead). These problems seemed to come and go. If important, the only non-factory electrical component, save for the aforementioned iPhone charger which was plugged in after the problem appeared, is my Garmin Montana hardwired into the factory plug.

With the sun starting to fall lower, some frantic text messages to my Spanish-speaking wife resulted eleventh-hour heroics: a number of calls between New York and Mexico, some confusion around the existence of a BMW Motorrad dealer in Oaxaca (confirmed) and the dispatch of a tow truck. The bike is now at the dealer but was dropped off after hours, so I won't be able to speak with anyone until the morning.

It seems that the battery simply and suddenly died, but the circumstances are suspect. The bike has performed flawlessly over the last two months and 8,000 miles since I left New York and I can't think of anything that would have caused the battery to fail so suddenly.

Are there things I should suggest the dealer look for/at, even if a new battery gets my bike running again? I'm planning on traveling south to Cape Horn and I'm now a little nervous about continuing the trip with a mystery electrical problem. If this were to happen again in somewhere more remote, it could be very unpleasant.

Many thanks for any thoughts.

m_p_w screwed with this post 01-17-2013 at 11:44 PM Reason: f'ed up spelling
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:25 AM   #2
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Sounds like a loose battery connection. Did you check the positive lead and ground at the battery?
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:22 AM   #3
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Could be a loose connection to the battery as mentioned, or the battery itself. Had the battery on my k1200s die suddenly when it was only about 3 months old, and from past experience in auto repair have seen the same thing. Even a new battery can die, but I would think its more common with OEM than aftermarket.

Did you use bmw roadside assistance? I did when the k12 battery died and was wondering how the service worked in ME. In my case they responded in a fairly timely way, and towed me home first because it was a monday, then to the FLD the following day.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:52 AM   #4
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I have a Montana connected to my GSA as well. Even with the unit out of the cradle it drew the battery down and made my start up sporadic. Even a few minute stop caused issues since the battery was always on the low side. I had a disconnect switch installed between the wiring and the cradle and the problem was eliminated. I also reconnected the direct to battery wiring with soldered connectors instead of the customary crimp clamp to ensure cleaner draw. Solved my problem. Before this, I experienced your problem on quite a few excursions.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:59 AM   #5
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I've had several batteries do this over the years. Not only on bikes but also cages and equipment. A cell opens and there is just enough resistance to run low current draw electronics but not the starter.

If connections are tight, I would go with the battery went titts-up.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:43 AM   #7
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What a fantastic place to break down.
Spent a week in Oaxaca last March.
Hopejully you won't get it fixed for a week or so.
Hotel Maela is recommended.
Ask at the hotel for the Van tour-guide service.
They pick you up at the hotels and do 1/2 and full day tours.
Have you read Tricepiolt's Oaxaca report?
See post 101 for map of area.

Here is Steve May's RR. He is ahead of you and already in SA.
He seems to find great things to see and has great descriptions of border crossings and places to eat and stay

Hope it's just the battery.
Good luck and safe travels
Doug Holck
Lodi, CA
3 Continents - 7 Countries - 50 States

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holckster screwed with this post 01-19-2013 at 12:52 AM
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:04 AM   #8
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+1 On Battery

I have had two OEM BMW batteries on my 07 GSA run great one minute then stop and nothing. . . . Went to another after market brand and have no issues. Batteries like these just go out in my experience, if a new battery starts it right up then just have them run their diagnostic and continue your trip. Good luck, don't over think it. . . .

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Old 01-19-2013, 09:25 AM   #9
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I had the same thing on my 2012 GSA and ended up being a loose connection at the starter.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:14 AM   #10
m_p_w OP
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It turned out to indeed be the battery. It was only holding 9.8 volts vs. the required 12.4. I'm the process if replacing it now. They ran diagnostics on the bike and everything came back normal.

On BMW Roadside, not so helpful here. My wife (native Spanish speaker) called BMW MX Roadside and after 30 minutes they realized I had a US bike and they wouldn't cover it. We then tried BMW NA Roadside and they wouldn't cover a bike in MX. I ended up shelling out 1,400 MXN for a flatbed. Expensive for MX, but the driver listened to me be an obsessive freak about how the bike was tied down, so it's all good. BMW NA suggested I keep the receipt for possible reimbursement; I'll try.

The bike certainly could have broken down in a worse place, as Oaxaca is beautiful and I can't say enough good things about the dealer here (Vesca Motors).

On to Puerto Escondido!

Thanks again for all the help,

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