Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT

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Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT


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Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT

Endurance test interim balance of the BMW K 1300 GT
Urgent procedure

The idea was basically good: the BMW K 1300 GT touring steamer was supposed to unwind the 50,000 kilometers in rapid transit. But exactly at half time, this plan was thwarted suddenly.

Gert Thole


In this article:

  • The previous test procedure for the BMW K 1300 GT
  • BMW takes a stand
  • Engine damage in endurance tests
  • Endurance test motorcycles with engine damage
  • BMW statement
  • Defects in the test
  • Tire tips

It doesn’t happen every day that employees voluntarily offer double work in half the time. That pleases the boss and fits in perfectly with today’s times. But in this case the offer of the test editors was calculated quite soberly: Instead of unwinding 50,000 kilometers in two years in the endurance test, the BMW should K 1300 GT cover the distance in just one season, i.e. just over six months. A realistic project, because no other machine can cover long distances as quickly and comfortably as with the Bavarian power tourer. The 50,000 kilometers targeted by the end of 2009 should be a piece of cake, right??

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Urgent procedure

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No sooner said than done: from day one, the GT was busy scrubbing kilometers. Everything went according to plan, after a good three weeks there were already 5000 kilometers on the clock. The pilots celebrated the long-haul qualities of the touring steamer. “Great for BAB from A to B.”, writes Uwe Reitmeier from the action team in the logbook. Service man Jorg Lohse is right
in the hymn of praise: “The perfect long-distance travel stove. “S-Class in perfection, notes the euphoric test colleague Ralf Schneider in the exuberance of emotions.

However, the touring qualities outshine the existing points of criticism a little. The constant alternation of praise and criticism runs like a red thread through the studbook. The overall concept is impressive, but obviously still has some weaknesses in the details.

For some, the many small switches are too fiddly, others complain about the too soft, permanently uncomfortable bench or undue turbulence behind the window.

On the other hand, there is agreement when it comes to the assessment of the drive train: the power and performance range of the four-cylinder engine are completely convincing, while the clutch and transmission functioned rather suboptimally from the start. “The gear changes are a joke, “the transmission is annoying or “when driving off like a springbok” are typical comments on harsh shifting noises and the clutching clutch. Which is a little surprising, given that BMW had put enormous effort into optimizing the drive train with the latest model change.

The creaking clutch was certainly a part of the harsh gear shifting noises. When the criticism grew louder, the K got new friction discs after 19,850 kilometers. Excessive wear and tear or any damage could not be seen on either the steel or the friction disks. The swap clutch worked better at the beginning, but the first, slight criticism is already reflected in the logbook.

The electrics also caused some trouble. Already on the first long tour the K refused to work, only to start working again shortly afterwards. A first warning signal, because a little later (7275 kilometers) there were funny failures, such as horns when braking or flashing or confused messages on the display. After replacing the control units on the left and right handlebars, the problem seemed to have been resolved. Later (mileage 19850) the control panel of the cruise control had to be replaced again after the switch had blown away while driving. On the other hand, it was a minor issue: the right case needed a replacement for the stiff lock.
Instead of electrical failures, it suddenly came to a big bang at a speed of 240 on the motorway.

The entire engine had to be replaced after the clutch basket exploded. Another 50,000 kilometers are to be tackled with a fresh engine. Sorry, boss, the increased workload will unfortunately not work. But this time it’s not our fault.

Shortly before the turn of the year, she was allowed to accompany the comparison test with the BMW K 1300 S in order to determine the position of the Honda VFR 1200 F (see MOTORRAD 3/2010). There, test driver Karsten Schwers noticed that the engine was producing a slightly ticking noise in the partial load range at speeds of around 4000 rpm, which increased during the course of the test drives.

Back home, the GT went to the BMW branch to investigate the cause. The engine was opened there in the presence of MOTORRAD. First of all the lids, under which nothing unusual was to be found. So it was time to bite the bullet, remove the engine and completely dismantle it. Only then did the source of all evil unearth: The lower bearing of the right connecting rod had leaked. The bearing shells were already heavily planed, the crankshaft had tracks. No further consequential damage was evident in the engine.

Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT

mps photo studio

Traces on the crank pin of the connecting rod on the right in the direction of travel (left in the picture) initially suggested that something might have gone wrong during nitriding, a hardening process. However, the analysis at BMW showed that the crankshaft was obviously in perfect working order when it was installed.

So now the second engine failure within an endurance test. The question naturally arises as to whether this is an unfortunate individual case or whether the BMW four-cylinder has a fundamental problem. If you look around in the relevant forums on the Internet, you will find a lot of people there who report on this or that quirks and defects. Of course, this primarily applies to the 1200 models, the 1300 has only been on the market for a year. Clutch problems occur frequently, and here and there the transmission is also affected.

Major engine damage is rarely found there. According to BMW, the frequency of engine damage is in the per mille range and thus in an inconspicuous range. The previous model, the K 1200, also passed the endurance test without any serious quirks. So it rather points to a streak of bad luck for the long-term test 1300s.

After dismantling, the crankshaft was immediately sent to the factory for detailed analysis. At first they were pleased that MOTORRAD noticed the damage early and delivered a crankshaft that was still halfway intact. This was the only way to clarify whether there was a material defect or a problem with the hardening. But that was not the case, the shaft was obviously basically in order when it was installed. Possible, but no longer verifiable, that there was a lubrication problem.

The GT always had enough oil, but machining residues and impurities could have temporarily blocked the channels. Also, it cannot be completely ruled out that residues of the first damage have remained in the oil cooler or oil tank. In any case, it shouldn’t have been because the new engine was running in, because BMW had done that itself after the replacement, as had the initial inspection. But one task is out of the question, despite the streak of bad luck, the endurance test continues.

The previous test procedure for the BMW K 1300 GT

Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT


The destroyed clutch basket from the first engine failure.

The editorial team had big plans for the BMW Supertourer: In just one year it should cover 50,000 kilometers. Now it will be two years – at least.

Without the two engine failures, the GT might have achieved its ambitious goal. Because it was precisely the drivers who had to travel long distances who practically fought for the comfortable travel steamer. Although the GT had to take criticism and did not run completely without problems. The clutch in particular received some bitter comments because of the chattering and grinding noises when starting up. Just like the gearbox, which sometimes annoyed with hard knocks when changing gears. The fact that the clutch linings were replaced after 20,000 kilometers brought a temporary, but not final, improvement. The new engine installed at km 25,000 shifted a little more smoothly, and the start-up was smoother thanks to the clutch, which was easier to dose.

At the beginning of the endurance test, there were problems with the electrical system here and there. Sometimes the GT didn’t want to start, sometimes it blew when the lights were blinking. By replacing the control units on the handlebars, these rather amusing mishaps could be put to an end. The last failure was a defective seat heating at 34,000 kilometers. Which nobody would have noticed in the summer, but in mid-November.

BMW takes a stand

In the endurance tests, inspections and repairs are generally carried out by the nearest specialist dealer, in the case of the K 1300 GT, the BMW branch in Stuttgart. But when it comes to root cause research, the manufacturer has to act.

When the first noises from the engine were noticed, MOTORRAD brought the test machine to the workshop. Hoping it might just be a minor matter. After dismantling the engine, the BMW branch in Stuttgart found the cause, namely the defective connecting rod bearing. A detailed examination of the affected parts then took place at BMW headquarters in Munich. There they initially suspected a defect in the nitriding layer, i.e. the hardening of the shaft. However, a comparison with a crankshaft from production showed, “that the wave is absolutely fine. Both the materials and the workmanship, including the remuneration measures, were – as far as they could be determined – in order.”

The wear pattern rather indicates a lack of lubrication. It is conceivable that impurities or machining residues could get into the engine oil, impair the oil circuit or damage the bearing. After replacing the crankshaft, connecting rods, bearing shells and preventively both camshafts, the branch reassembled the engine.

Engine damage in endurance tests

MOTORCYCLE tests are an excellent illustration of what a motorcycle can and cannot do. However, whether it can withstand the stresses of everyday life in the long term, whether it can maintain its properties in the long term, this is only shown by the long-distance tests that only MOTORRAD carries out in this quality and to this extent.

Back in the 1970s or 1980s, it was by no means unusual for an engine to rev up during the 50,000-kilometer distance. Uncoated pistons in cast bushings, larger tolerances, less sophisticated materials and surfaces, all of this meant that extensive renovations were often required after 30,000 kilometers. Today 50,000 kilometers is the least that a buyer can expect from his bike – without any problems.

The progress was also reflected in the MOTORRAD endurance tests. The number of serious mechanical problems gradually decreased in the course of the nineties, the quality obviously improved. There have even been individual voices that questioned the meaning of the endurance tests or called for even longer distances. The more recent past, however, suggests an opposite trend. Something happens again, see the adjacent list. And that applies not only to the serious engine damage shown here, but also to many smaller defects and failures.

Why is it? Has the technology become too complex, for example the electronics? Or is the cost pressure too high that manufacturers lack the money for endurance testing or quality control? In any case, it is noticeable that Japanese machines are still rarely affected by disasters. The Japanese have always been at the forefront in terms of quality and workmanship, nothing has changed in principle.

Exceptions prove the rule: The engine failure of the Suzuki M 1800 R remained a mystery. On the other hand, some manufacturers from the rest of the world have also been able to prove the quality and reliability of their products. The best example: Harley-Davidsons Road King, which completed the endurance test distance without any problems and continues to lead the MOTORRAD endurance test rating.

Endurance test motorcycles with engine damage

Aprilia NA 850 mana
At a good 40,000 kilometers, a slight ticker was noticed, and dismantling the two-cylinder resulted in increased play in the connecting rod eye of the rear cylinder. With a new crankshaft, the automatic machine then covered the last 10,000 kilometers.
Final balance sheet in MOTORRAD 02/2010

BMW R 1200 GS
The bestseller also had to give up in the endurance test. First there were problems with the rear wheel axle after almost 20,000 kilometers, then at 38,000 kilometers the gearbox was damaged after a ball bearing had given up.
Final balance sheet in MOTORRAD 21/2005

Ducati 1098
Over 150 hp in the V2, could that go well? Almost, because at halftime the Duc suffered unusual damage, namely a crack in the piston of the rear cylinder. Only the piston was exchanged, the rest of the mechanics then held out. Many smaller defects were more annoying.
Final balance in MOTORRAD 03/2010

Hyosung GT 125 R

You don’t see that many chips in the engine every day. At the Hyosung, a connecting rod bearing had also crumbled, the chips ruined the front cylinder as a result. All of this already after 4,000 kilometers, but after the repair, the 125 ran without any problems until the end.
Final balance sheet in MOTORRAD 22/2007

Things really went wrong: the first test machine with connecting rod bearing damage rolled out after less than 2000 kilometers. The endurance test was restarted, and then after 26,000 kilometers there was the second collapse. Diagnosis: renewed bearing damage on the connecting rod.
Interim balance in MOTORRAD 19/2009

MV Agusta F4 1000 S.
No other machine has said goodbye in a more spectacular way: At 250 km / h there was a big bang after 12,300 kilometers on the autobahn. A connecting rod was torn off and had smashed the housing. Because there was a lack of trust afterwards, the endurance test was declared over.
Endurance test final balance in MOTORRAD 24/2005

Suzuki M 1800 R.
What was the issue? This has not yet been clarified, because after 13,000 kilometers the Intruder had lost its oil drain plug and oil, and after just 45,000 kilometers the engine seized with the piston. A connection is possible, but could no longer be proven.
Final balance sheet in MOTORRAD 16/2009

BMW statement

Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT


Rudolf-Andreas Probst from BMW comments on the problems of the K 1300 GT

When switching from the fifth to the
sixth course is the basket book-
to death is you out of the
BMW customers have a similar one
Case known?
No, we have no other such cases from the field.
The engine was analyzed at the factory. What
your specialists have found out?
Our research and analysis to date indicate that there is a vibration fracture in the clutch basket. The question of possible causes for the vibration failure should be clarified within the scope of the ongoing investigations.
What consequences does the result have for them
K 1300 GT? Will there be changes to the
Give coupling, possibly even a callback?
According to the current state of knowledge, we assume an individual case. However, we are carrying out further, intensive investigations in order to
to understand this case and, under certain circumstances, to be able to draw conclusions for further action. The question of the consequences is still premature.
The K 1300 GT driver must now fear,
that him at high speeds and / or
heavy load similar happens?
Since March 2009 we have sold around 8,500 K 1300 motorcycles, so far none of our customers have come-
the one with such a case to the dealer. Man
can assume that many of this engine-
wheels can be moved under heavy loads and at high speeds. That is a clear one
Indication that the damage to the endurance test motorcycle is an isolated incident.

Defects in the test

Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT


Pitting corrosion: The bursting clutch basket punched a sizeable hole in the engine cover, leaving a flat disc and lots of crumbs.

Clutch damage
The end came with a huge bang: at 240 km / h, the clutch basket burst when shifting into sixth and blew the right engine cover, the parts literally flew around the ears of the colleague driving behind. Thank goodness the engine did not block when coasting on the fully occupied motorway.
In the MOTORRAD workshop, after the lid was removed, a picture of horror was found: the basket was only present in fragments. Some of the lining washers had crumbled because they had hooked into the ribs of the lid. The many crumbs were scattered throughout the right half of the engine, some had already been ground up by the primary drive.
A more detailed analysis of the pathetic remains in the plant showed, according to BMW, that there must have been a vibration break. What exactly triggered that remains unclear for the time being. A fault in the clutch basket or previous damage cannot be ruled out. BMW will conduct further investigations to get to the bottom of the cause.
Because theoretically something similar could happen again at any time. In practice, however, comparable damage has not yet been found among MOTORRAD readers or in the relevant forums. Complaints about picking or screeching clutches are widespread, but mechanical damage has apparently not occurred so far. Incidentally, the basket remained unchanged when the model was changed from the 1200 to the 1300 this winter. There were only slight modifications to the pads to make the clutch smoother. In contrast to the current 1300, there are many machines of the 1200 series with high mileage on the market.
The copper worm was the GT’s second problem area alongside the clutch and transmission. At first, a defective turn signal switch caused a lot of confusion: the turn signal could no longer be turned off, and the motorcycle honked at times in time with the turn signal. The GT also refused to start twice. After replacing the control units, the electrics worked inconspicuously in the end. However, the left armature had to be replaced again later because the cruise control switch had said goodbye.

Tire tips

Endurance test interim balance: engine damage in the endurance test BMW K 1300 GT


Only two tire types are currently approved for the K 1300 GT, namely Metzeler Roadtec Z6, special code C / K and Bridgestone BT020, special code UU. MOTORRAD rode both types alternately on the endurance test machine. Grip and steering behavior are good with both, the Bridgestone convinces with stability and neutrality. the
Metzeler, on the other hand, is more sensitive to high-speed stability, a top case significantly increases this tendency.

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