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BMW's GS LC Fork Stanchion Issues Linger

Eric Hall

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I've said this previously but more recently even, BMW has been having quite a lot of social media blowback over their stanchion problems.  I first noticed this in November of last year and posted on Instagram these three images, one of which I took myself and another from the same event I was at:

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Now we have reports of injuries related to apparent failures of these fork stanchions:

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Woody Witte (of Woody's Wheel Works) in his caption to this story above he shared on Facebook: "This is the sort of stuff that makes me MADDER THAN FUGGIN HELL!! I bet i can round up at least a dozen incidences in a few minutes Half of which have lefte the rider needing serious medical help !!MAN UP BMW & send an alert ir even product recall before it'll cost ya more in bad press AND COURT COSTS!!! Pass the word!!

I even had a reporter from Motorrad Magazine in Germany reach out to me the other day about this.

Just to refresh... these crimped forks have been found to be coming loose on the '13+ liquid cooled GS bikes.  There have been a few injuries.  To BMW's credit there is word of some new service bulletins out designed to address this (not yet confirmed as of June 23) and there's already a few after market solutions (see link at top).

Here's where it gets interesting though...  So I read that the crimped fork solution was in an effort to reduce weight (and probably cost) from the previous generation GS (looking for source now).  I had an '11 GSA and never had this problem.  But as it turns out, this crimped fork solution appears to be an attempt to patch or correct an even earlier design that was found to have also failed ... coincidentally merely weeks after the fatal accident of journalist Kevin Ash at BMW's GS launch in South Africa on January 22, 2013.

According to an anonymous source (6/24 edit: this was actually public), barely two months after the accident (April '13), BMW Motorrad USA issued a service bulletin regarding a check of the front forks.  The bulletin affected only a few handfuls of early '13 model bikes and their solution was a tool they provided to crimp the forks so there'd be no separation between the "slack plug" and the fixed fork tube.  Their wording was such that they'd determined in rare cases the plug could work itself loose.  It was after this that the fork tubes came crimped from the factory.

As to Kevin's accident, there is no implied or direct connection being made here between the fork stanchion issue and that. Reporter Florin Tibu of AutoEvolution.com felt that even a year after the accident, many questions remained.  He characterized the fact that BMW retained the wrecked bike before a forensic mechanic could inspect it as "a bit bizarre" and that explanations are still due in the investigation.  The Warwickshire UK coroner, Sean McGovern, says there's no verdict due to insufficient evidence.  BMW never released the results of their investigation, even at the request of Ash's widow. Caroline.


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not to my knowledge.  I had an '11 GSA and never had the issue or heard of it.  They changed the design in this latest generation.

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Hi all!

not sure if everybody heared, but if you tanslate http://www.motorradonline.de/vermischtes/bmw-r-1200-gs-service-aktion-telelever.836856.html you'll see that BMW writes:

"BMW don't call it a recall, but: Worldwide 168.500 LC BMW K50/51 have to visit a shop because those telelevers can loosen up......If there is a space smaller or equal .2 millimeters between pipe and the plug then those pipes will be strengthend by pressing some security socket on it. if its wider than .2 millimeters you'll get NEW Pipes. Those are different, the upper Plug is completely secured 360 degrees instead of four 90 degrees caulkings."

not sure if pipes or fork tubes is the correct translation here :)

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I saw some pictures on Instagram this morning of the revised fork-caps and it made me wonder it anyone knows why BMW didn't mount the inner forktube directly into the trimple clamp like on most bikes (forgive me if I don't have all the terminology correct)? Is there a technical advantage to mounting the forks this way (as they already had a similar construction on my 1150 and perhaps the 1100 and previous too)? Or is it just BMW being... BMW?

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All I heard is the change in fork design from the previous generation (oil head) was to save weight.

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On 7/13/2017 at 10:54 AM, Motopreneur said:

I saw some pictures on Instagram this morning of the revised fork-caps and it made me wonder it anyone knows why BMW didn't mount the inner forktube directly into the trimple clamp like on most bikes (forgive me if I don't have all the terminology correct)? Is there a technical advantage to mounting the forks this way (as they already had a similar construction on my 1150 and perhaps the 1100 and previous too)? Or is it just BMW being... BMW?

Well, that is not a "fork", as the suspension function is done by a shock (the Telelever system). So those tubes are there only to hold the front wheel.

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1 hour ago, Dragos Stefan said:

Well, that is not a "fork", as the suspension function is done by a shock (the Telelever system). So those tubes are there only to hold the front wheel.

It is a fork if you ask me, even though suspension takes place somewhere else. 

Nevertheless it still doesn't explain why the 'tubes' are not secured in place in a triple clamp. Unless the current construction allows for some hinging of the tubes during suspension movement?

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Every time I look at this suspension I think what an over-engineered Lump! I had an R1100RS with this design. They already have "Forks" in place but have added significant weight with the shock, links and a-arm. The advantages with anti-dive can be worked out now with electronics manipulating fork action. BMW really needs to phase this design out, it was a good (but still heavy) idea years ago. Yes there are TONS of bikes out there without an issue, the fact that some of these are now failing may be another reason to do so.

My 2c rant.

RPM

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This is my fix until my name comes up on the recall list. My local dealership is small and doesn't get parts as quick as others.

IMG_1783.JPG

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Is that basically shrink wrapped?  I'm sure that will be fine in the short term.  This fork thing turned out to be quite a big thing after all and I've noticed a huge uptick in negative comments on the GS/GSA photos I post on IG.  I think BMW's taken a huge pr hit here.  Hopefully they get beyond it.  They usually do.

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I drilled straight through the tube and into the top fitting. Then I ran a bolt and nut through that hole. To seal it I used large diameter shrink wrap to keep it from leaking oil. There's no way it'll separate now.

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