BMW K1200rs Maintenance – dealer not required
As an avid 2 wheel fan, be it bicycling, mt biking, riding dirt bikes, or my big Beemer, maintenance can never be overlooked. I just completed the yearly service on my BMW K1200rs and have started doing the same on a friends. The most intimidating part of the job is stripping the bodywork. It is basically a puzzle in that the pieces interlock over each other and have hidden tabs and holders you must understand before you begin.
Youtube is your friend and a great resource. Amazingly, you will find you are not the first person who wishes to save some money and have the satisfaction in knowing that they understand and can service their own machine.
If you own this fine motorcycle, you are in luck, as it has many detailed videos covering pretty much everything you need to service and maintain your ride properly. Kudo’s to Pete for his many superb and detailed Youtube videos. They helped me know ahead of time exactly what to expect and how to attack the job with total confidence.
Before you start, get all the parts you will need as it will take 45 minutes to an hour to remove/re-install the body panels. I would suggest new plugs, air filter, and o-rings for the quick release gas connections. The viton gas quick release o rings cost $3 for a pack of 6. Basically check and replace all the consumables and fluids. Some are yearly, others such as ABS every 2 years. Everything is all very simple once the bike stripped down. Make sure to check your brake pads for wear and replace if needed. Brake pads are not expensive, rotors on the other hand; ouch! Don’t go there.
The air filter is below the gas tank, but only the 2 screws on the seat side of the gas tank need to be removed. My filter was filthy and it had a small amount of debris in the air box. My bike sounds better and is noticeably running stronger after servicing. Do Not skip your air filter after you did the tedious part of removing the body panels. Over the years I have found all sorts of crap sucked into the air boxes of the many vehicles I have owned.
In addition to plugs, air filter, brakes and tires, I changed my oil, transmission, and rear end fluids at the same time. A single quart of gear oil takes care of both the transmission and rear end. Don’t overlook them. They both are quick and very simple to do yourself. I would highly suggest not buying the BMW oil filter and instead go with the K&N as it has a 17mm nut on the bottom which makes life MUCH easier since the filter is actually located inside of the motor. You have been warned.
Bleeding the clutch is also simple. You will need a speed bleeder to attach to the clutch bleed tube zip tied to the right side of the bike. Bet you always wondered what that was for didn’t you?
I have yet to bleed my ABS, but it appears very straight forward as long as you follow the exact order in the 9 bleed points used in flushing and bleeding the ABS unit. Bleeding the ABS requires a special $200 BMW proprietary tool; however Pete’s detailed ABS bleeding video includes how to fabricate the tool using a wrench you probably already own. You will need is a vise, a grinder, and a torch; basics in most home shops.
At 38,700 miles my rear brakes were at their limit and my fronts not far off. Changing all 3 sets of pads and flushing/replacing the fluid took about an hour and a half and I had never done it before on this bike. The front pads take just a couple of minutes as they just lift out with out removing the front tire. On the rear, I removed the rear tire, but that is just 5 lugs just like a car … Sweet! The brake servo motor makes flushing your brake fluid a breeze as the motor does all the work for you. You must have the special funnel sold online that screws into you brake reservoir so you have enough fluid not to reintroduce air into the system. The front and rear brake reservoirs for the wheel circuits are the tiny split reservoir under the seat. The ABS reservoir is on the right handle bar where you would normally find the front brake reservoir. Be aware, the Servo motor can push out all of the old fluid in less than 5 seconds, truly an amazing rate and speed bleeders are not needed on your wheel circuits. You will need a speed bleeder for the ABS and Clutch bleeding. Just watch your fluid level in the funnel so it does not run low. After I pushed the old fluid out, I swapped to a clean jar and recycled new fluid through each circuit a few more times until I was completely happy. My Beemer’s brakes have always felt good, they feel amazing now.
I personally don’t trust most places to do a proper brake job. Changing pads is what most shops consider a brake job, but brake fluid breaks down faster than the pads. Once you have seen what comes out of a brake system, I promise, you will understand why it is recommended to flush your brake system yearly. Stopping distances and pedal feel come directly from the fluid, not than the pads. Make sure to get at least a good Dot 4 synthetic for the increased temperature ratings. Dot 5.1 if you do track days or are very aggressive. Remember dot 3, 4, and 5.1 are compatible, Dot 5 is not compatible with standard brake systems as it is silicone based.
I have always chewed through tires and brakes on all my vehicles. Early on, finances forced me to learn how to maintain my own brakes. I had a 1st generation 1985 RX-7. It was a great car with an amazing balance once I had done a bit of suspension work. However the car had undersized brakes discs on front and crappy drums on the rear. I could boil the brakes and the pedal would just fade away, unfortunately, that was before todays much better brake fluids. I changed pads a dozen times and rebuilts the caliphers a couple of times over the years on that car. I did enjoy that car, it was made to be powerslide. It taught me that servicing brakes is pretty much the same on all vehicles. On a car, I spend as much time getting my tools ready, the car on stands and the tires removed than I do on the brake job itself quite often.
My 2004 BMW K1200rs looks like a strange alien without the body work.