Known Problems


Like on my
Transalp page, I'll try to sample some "known bugs", cropping up on any bike. Not too much for the Beemer, currently ...

Engine start problems
Stalling and surging engine, vol. I
Stalling and surging engine, vol. II; bad throttle response
Consuming much fuel
Tail cover
Tank cover
Strange behaviour of dashboard lights
Starter keeps on running
Squealing front brake
Leaking radiator
Installing the BMW bord computer
Possibly faulting rear brake
Odometer / tripcounter malfunction
Clutch
Dripping oil
Flapping mirrors


Engine start problems

Many people I heard complaining about bad engine start. This also was spread by different motorcycle magazines. To be honest, I can't understand that. Like many other bikes, also the F650GS likes to be followed a certain start procedure. Here it is:

  1. After turning ignition on, wait some 2 or 3 seconds before hitting the starter button, until the electronic has woke up and the fuel pump has finished it's initial work. During this time, you may pull on your gloves, f.e.
  2. Put the throttle in roughly quarter position. Hit the starter button, and keep it hit, until the engine is safely running. This will be the case after max. 5 revolutions normally, even if the engine is cold. Remember - it's a thumper ... Don't worry about keeping hit it, it won't harm neither the engine nor the starter.
  3. If starting failed, most likely because you didn't hit the button long enough, wait 5 seconds before next trial. In case of start failure, the electronic assumes a severe fault, and has to check and to re-sort itself.
  4. Proceed with step 2.
Once you follow these steps, your F650GS will always start reliably. What the engine really doesn't like (at least mine), is the following: Switch it off, and restart after 1 minute or so. Then, and only then, you have to hit the starter button a bit longer.

BTW, there's no light-off-switch. However, there's no real need to worry about starting with a weak battery, since lights are shut off as long as the starter button is hit.

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Stalling engine

Sometimes it may happen, that your engine stalls, f.e. after a stop at a traffic light. This mostly happens on bikes of the first series. Concerning this problem, BMW says, "This in individual problem. If it happens on your bike, ask your local dealer to update the motor management software. From our point of view, a general updating action is not necessary."

Another possible reason for stalling is a defective lambda sonde, as reported in the German F650GS forum.

Also, the engines may surge in rev area 3,000-4,000. Concerning this, BMW announced the Motronic software update version 9.3. This update requires the installation of new injector nozzles on certain production runs. All works should be under warranty. See your dealer for further information.

Concerning this, Kevin Wallace from Australia wrote:
One thing I would like to differ on is the stalling problem, my bike did have this fault and I had the injector changed and the computer reconfigured. This fixed the problem and it is a more fuel efficient and smoother running bike.
More importantly I work for an oil company and just out of interest took an oil sample when changing the oil. This report came back normal apart from saying the engine was overfuelling badly and fuel dilution was 6%. I have no doubt this was caused by the injector problem and if this is not attended to will cause engine damage in the future, my sample was taken with 3500 ks on the oil.
I feel it is not good advice to tell people to not have this attended to.
Kind regards
Kelvin Wallace

My experiences: My Dakar did this stalling and surging, too. Now it's completely gone. What I did? Nothing, except for modifying my starting procedure. I do now:

  1. Switch on ignition
  2. Pull on helmet
  3. Pull on gloves
  4. Get on
  5. Start the engine
Funny, eh? This seems to give the electronic a certain time to check itself. This was a hint by BMW, and even if I tend to not believe any vehicle manufacturer's words, I thought, it was worth a try.

Also, somewhere I read, that, after having disconnected, and then having connected again the battery, you should move the throttle to far open position 2 or 3 times, with inginiton switched on, but engine not running. The reason for this should be, that the Motronic calibration will get lost after disconnecting the battery, and that it will re-calibrate itself by moving the throttle. Sounds a bit like an urban legend, eh? I'm not sure, if this will work, but since it won't do harm to the bike, I guess, you could give it a try.

Considering to purchase a new F650GS, you should know, that this 9.3 version incl. new injector nozzle (actually, this is the one of the R1200C) are mounted stock since after 4th week, 2001. See the date stamped on a plate on the steering head.

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Stalling engine, bad throttle resonse

The other day you may notice, that you're engine is stalling, and that throttle response is very bad, especially between 3,000 and 4,000 RPM, when the engine still is cold, and when air temperature is remarkably lower than 20 deg. Most probably this has to do with a thermo sensor, being located in the air duct just in front of the air filter. You may try to clean it with some cleaning spray. If this doesn't help, remove the plug and have a test ride. If nothing changed, you can be quite sure, that the thermo sensor is defective. Changing it is not a big deal, I made a step-by-step advice for you. Also you may look that document for some further information.

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Consuming much fuel

The F650GS normally doesn't consume very much fuel, it should be between 4.0 and 5.2 or so l/100 km, depending on your driving style. It can be more (up to 6.0 l/100 km) when riding with full throttle on the autobahn. However, riding on normal streets, fuel consumption should not exceed 5.2-5.3 l/100 km. If your baby GS consumes remarkably more, let's say, as mine did, 5.8 l/100 km, during not too fast rides on normal streets, something is wrong. However, there's not too much you can do.

Check if

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Tail cover

I heard of people having lost the tail cover, that plastic thing above the tail light, pompously called "luggage carrier". After closing it, check thoroughly, if it's sitting firmly. See a possibility to prevent this.
BTW, why this whole stuff, including the pillion grips, is made of plastic and not of aluminum, I probably never will understand ...
BTW2, I also heard of a R1100GS rider, having lost his pillion seat and some other things on the autobahn ... :-D (Greetings to Schwerte!)

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Tank cover

Once it happened to me, that I found in the evening, that I've been ridden with open tank cover all the day. Be sure to push it firmly into it's seat, and to check, that it's really closed.

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Strange behaviour of dashboard lights

I don't know, if anyone out there might have experienced the same, or if it just happened to me. The other day, the blue highbeam control light began to burn. Just so, without switching to highbeam. When switching to highbeam, the control went out. Nice, eh? Additionally, after some days, the oil control began to burn. Of course, you guess it, there was enough oil in the tank. Even nicer, eh? My mechanic told me, that that was caused by headlamp connector not sitting tight. Hm, maybe. Anyway, it's ok now.

Some days later. Being happy too early - it burns again. After complaining about again at my dealer's, they began searching hardly. After two hours, they found the bug: it was a bad ground connection of a connector inside the dashboard.

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Starter keeps on running

This seems to be a real bug, since I heard of this from some other GS owners. Also a BMW service manager, I talked to, confessed it a known problem.
Symptoms: After starting your engine, you hear a grinding sound behind the sound of your engine. Probably you will switch off ignition, and then you hear the starter running! There's nothing you can do - pull off ignition key, throw it away, try to kill the engine - nothing helps, the starter keeps on running.
The problem: The magnetic starter switch hangs, and therefor there's a closed circuit to the starter.
Solution: You have to do something now, since a starter is not designed for continous load, and possibly might be damaged. You'll find the relais under the tank dummy cover, in front of the battery. To get access to it, you have to remove the cover. Once you have removed it, hit the relais with a screwdriver or something similar, then there should be silence. If not, remove the battery's ground connector and call
BMW service. In any case, you should make your dealer order and mount a new relais. It's a case of warranty, and it should cost you nothing.

By end of August, there was a call back in Germany. They fixed the problem, it didn't have to do with the magnetic switch itself, but with a diode relais. The colour of this relais, whitch you will find inside the electronic box near the steering stem, should be of a light orange. In case of dought, ask your local dealer for an upgrade. Newer models shouldn't be affected anymore, I'll try to find out the corresponding frame numbers.

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Squealing front brake

Especially when wet, the front brake makes a terrible and loud squealing noise when braking. I recently talked to a BMW service manager, and he told me, that this is a known problem and that BMW is working on a solution. The reason for this angry, but not dangerous effect are brakepads being a little bit too hard, they say. Most probably, there will be a call back in September or October 2000. Most dealers might not know about this currently (August 2000), so you may inform your dealer in advance.
To avoid that squealing, BMW mounts special washers between rotor and hub, and the rotor is fastened with higher torque. Additionally, there must be mounted a sleeve, in order to prevent the rotor from touching the caliper.

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Leaking radiator

Another common problem with early F650GS models: a leaking radiator. On my Dakar, it happened after 3 months, equalling 10,000 km. I ordered a new radiator at my dealer's on September 13th, 2000. Currently, on September 30th, 2000, I'm still waiting for the radiator. I can't believe this ... Ok, has been fixed under warranty on October 3rd, 2000.

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BMW bord computer

When I received my bord computer (in fact, it's similar to a Sigma bicycle computer, with some more functions, and light), I thought it would be an easy job to install it. Shipped with it, there's a detailed installation manual. However, reality on the bike is different to the manual, and currently I'm stuck with it. The problem is a single black plug with a blue mark on it, sitting at the "top" of the shipped cable harness. This plug is said to be connected to a free socket at the bike's cable harness, in the near of the so called "electronic box" behind the stearing stem. However, I couldn't find that socket on my bike. I'm in contact with BMW in Munich, and they are searching for a solution. Check back later to "Howtos".

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Possibly faulting rear brake

When braking hardly, the F650GS rear caliper possibly may bend, causing the brake line becoming leaky. Due to this, rear brake may fault. BMW strongly suggest to contact your local BMW dealer. He will install an enhancement to the swingarm. This action is for free. There should be a callback due to this. Further info.

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Odometer / tripcounter malfunction

Jürgen from Vienna/.at reported this strange fault:

After switching the tripcounter to zero, in following the odometer and the tripcounter values differed more and more. For example:
Odokm ridden
(odo)
km ridden
(trip)
291700
29281114.1
3041124138.4
3052135151.4
3064147161.1

Speedo has been changed by BMW under warranty

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Clutch

There are two problems with the first series F650GS clutch:

  1. very hard to operate
  2. clutch cable broke after a short time. Mine broke after 25,800 km ...
Reg. pt.1: With model year 2001 BMW modified the clutch, but according to them it should not be possible, to update the older models. Hm ...

Reg. pt.2: BMW mounts a modified clutch cable (since frame# ZE39742, or ZF12679, resp.)

Well, and now, having replaced the cable, clutch operation is remarkably easy ... Without updating the clutch itself, just by mounting a cable. Funny, huh?

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Dripping oil

Oops, you found an oil spot on the garage floor, on the left side of the bike, on front part level of the engine? For a first diagnosis, have a short look on the engine and the oil tank. For this, remove the left part of the fairing. If you see some oil on or below the tank, the problem is with the oil tank. Two reasons are reported:

  1. The bad one: Oil tanks's airing hose is fissured. This is a thin hose, with a diameter of roughly 1 cm, leading from front lower part of the oil tank to cylinder head (pic will follow). If your bike is still under warranty, make your dealer fix the problem. If your bike isn't (like mine), you still can go to your dealer. Most likely, it's a fair dealing ...
  2. The even worth: A fissure in the oil tank itself. I read about this somewhere on the 'net. This is for sure a case of warranty.
If the oil tank is dry (what is more unlikely, however), the problem is somewhere else, valve cover gasket for example.

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Flapping mirrors

I'm sure, you experienced that too: You're riding with - let me say - 130 km/h, will have a look into the mirrors, and all you see is your arms ... You re-adjust the mirrors, but some time later it's the same mess. The reason: The connection between the mirror rod and the mirror housing is too slack, and there's no screw to adjust it. What to do? Simple: Pull off the protection rubber from the connection, and add a drop of not too agressive super glue to the connection (I used Uhu Sekundenalleskleber (Yoo-hoo)). Don't re-install the rubber now! Allow the glue to dry overnight, then re-install the rubber. The connection is firmer now, the mirrors don't flap, and you still are able to adjust them ...

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To be continued? Hopefully not .... ;-)


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