Thanks Rich & Connie

From Richard and Connie Gamble, vacationing from Canada who joined our ride to Okeechobee:

Both Connie and I were thrilled to be included in your ride.  We met some great people and had a fabulous ride.

Your BMW group was exactly what I expected . . . a group of seasoned riders interested in the ride itself and most importantly in safety.

There were no “shenanigans” which are sometimes present when riding with larger groups of ‘V twin folks.’  Safety is very high on our list of criteria for an enjoyable group ride. Your fine group now has resources in the north.

Please accept my contact info for your group should anyone be in the vicinity of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and need help.

Even though I ride an HD, I’ve been wrenching BMWs professionally for 30 years and my shop includes a bike lift, tire machine and digital balancer (I cleaned out the bike shop when it closed!)

Please express our gratitude to your fine group and know we will be in touch next year to attend another excellent group ride.

Richard and Connie Gamble

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Rich & Connie, you’re always welcome to run with us Space Coast BMW Riders, and thanks for the kind words. Safe travels to you when you head back home.

Ride Report Feb 10, ’18

This month’s Saturday ride commenced from Power BMW Motorcycles in Palm Bay where the staff welcomed us with hot coffee and fresh donuts. At 10:00 a.m. the first group was rolling with the second not far behind. Weather was sunny and ‘mesh gear’ warm. We arrived at the Lakeside Grill right on schedule. Our table was ready and the service and food were both excellent. Following a brief stop at Lake Okeechobee Park we pushed west and north towards Basinger, crossing the Kissimmee River twice. North again, and then east, we passed by the largest shortwave broadcast station site in the United States, WRMI. Continuing east to 441, then north all the way to 192, and a final 90 degree right turn pointed us east back to Florida’s Space Coast.

This month’s cryptic motorcycle list: Three K50s, a K51, an R131, an ultra klassisch, a K26, a ‘92 2473, a K569, K41, K70, and K72.

Submitted by Ed J.

Ride Photos: LINK

Photos submitted by “Selfie Stick” Marty, Herman, Debbie & Ed J.

Jan 28 ’18 Ride to Vero Beach

Kountry Kitchen Ride Report

Eleven riders rode south to the Kountry Kitchen this past Sunday. Three more from the Orlando area caught up with us shortly after we arrived.

Motorcycles: two waterheads, three hexheads, two oilheads, two airheads, one parallel-twin (belt), one pre Hinckley vertical twin, one Fabio Taglioni V-Twin, a flat six and a 650 thumper.

The eatery was packed to the rafters and seating for 14 was a challenge. As we waited outside the staff kept us apprised of the situation and eventually sat us at four adjacent tables. The food as usual was excellent. Also, a big welcome to Bob, Marty, Pete and John who joined our group for the first time.

After breakfast, remaining riders headed across the 17th Street bridge to A1A and then north to Wabasso Beach road where we crossed the Indian River again. The bridge over Wabasso Island is one of the most scenic in the area. Once back in the Melbourne area we had to lend aid to one of our vintage operators who had a failing alternator on his ‘74 Ducati 750 GT. Thirty minutes on the charger and he was on his way.

LINK  to ride photos.

Photos courtesy of “Selfie Stick” Marty, Debbie and Ed. Write up by Ed.


Ghost in the machine

On some considerations of buying pre-owned vs. new

Excerpted from a discussion of BMW reliability in the MOA website forum-   “Disappointed and Discouraged in BMW” . . . comment below by Mr. Paul Glaves:

” . . . . This was, in my opinion, clearly a manufacturing defect. Valve heads are absolutely not supposed to fall off the stems. If it happened to my bike I would be angry. But here is the rub. There is a legally binding contractual commitment provided with a BMW motorcycle. It is called the warranty and provides coverage for defects in parts or workmanship for 36,000 miles or three years.

Yes it would be nice if a manufacturer would cover manufacturing defects forever but they don’t. BMW doesn’t. They cover stuff for 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

This incident, and the dissatisfaction it would cause almost any one of us, should be a cautionary tale for anybody who has a bike that is out of warranty or buys a bike which is out of warranty. There are some totally unquantifiable risks associated with out of warranty bikes and the possibilities of very expensive failures. Virtually any used, out of warranty motorcycle could suffer a mechanical failure where the costs to repair may well exceed the value of the bike. That is just a fact.

So we need to be prepared to write the bike off, sell it for salvage, part it out or otherwise walk away while cutting our losses. That sounds harsh. That is harsh. But it is a possible reality. Folks unable or unwilling to face this risk need an in-warranty bike or an aftermarket insurance policy to cover mechanical breakdowns called an Extended Warranty. “

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My comment . . .      some valid considerations for sure.   Paul, who is well-known amongst the BMW riding community, gives us all a reality check.  As a lot of us are mechanically minded and engineering oriented, we wonder the cause and effect of a breakdown such as this.  The owner (original poster) did not authorize a further teardown of the engine to assess what might have happened.  I know I’d like to know, if in fact, that is what occurred (valve heads separating from stems), why?  What conditions caused this failure to occur?  Something the owner did while the bike was in operation, or a weakened stem at manufacture that just went through too many heat/cool cycles.

So, for those of us sans warranty . . . all we can do is carry on with prescribed maintenance, be informed as to the peculiarities of our respective bikes, and hope the motorcycle gods smile on our local rides and cross-country trips!

Jan, 2018 ride to Seminole Rest

Our mid month ride departed in a balmy 61 degrees from the  W. Melbourne rally point.  The riders departed town, going west on Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway towards Deer Park. The group, all BMWs, consisted of four Waterheads, two Hexheads, a Camhead, an Oilhead, an 800 parallel twin, a 650 thumper and a 55 year old Slash 2. Sadly technical gremlins slowed the /2 to a crawl and its owner had to nurse it back to base. The rest of the group arrived on time and in good spirits. Goodrich’s Seafood Restaurant did not disappoint. We were tended to by an excellent and knowledgeable server and the food was tasty. After lunch it was short hop to Seminole Rest.

The ‘flight’ lined up outside the park.

The Restaurant and Seminole Rest both received a significant pummeling from hurricane Irma. Goodrich’s lost their deck and much of the dock. All has since been rebuilt.  The structures on Seminole Rest survived but many of the old live oaks and ancient cedar trees did not

Lastly, we’d like to point out . . . even though several rides of late have been in the 50’s and low 60’s, we’re busy riding for sure.  We’ve seen some nice mid-Florida, east coastal sites.  No beemer or Euro rider in this area need wonder if there is a local group and whether we ride.  There is and we do!  Bring your cool weather gear and meet us for the next one (couple weekends from now)!

Links to other pictures, courtesy of Ed J.:


Hey Terry

Terry and his recently purchased F800GT.

My name is Terry C. and I have recently rejoined the biking world after a three decade break. Step 1 was buying a bike from Dave, Dan and the team at the Palm Bay dealership.

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Terry, welcome to the Space Coast BMW Riders Group.


New Years Eve, 2017

Thanks to all who participated in the ride this past Sunday morning. Ed & Debbie J. were the group’s leaders. There were 8 or 9 who made it. It was a sunny but chilly 53 degrees when the group departed Melbourne. The “scenic route” was indeed scenic. After breakfast at Osteen’s the group headed towards the coast on Maytown Road with a side trip to Lake Harney. As it warmed up, it turned into a nice ride. From the photos, you can see its location is literally in the middle of nowhere. Note the dark hurricane waterline on the trees approximately 400-500 yards across the marsh.

Links to more photos below, provided by Debbie J. and Marty S. with his infamous selfie stick.

Rider Suit Winner and recent member

Congratulations to Dennis P., a recent joinee to the Space Coast BMW Riders!!! He won the BMW air suit raffled at Power BMW Motorcycles of Palm Bay.  He and numerous others bought tickets to the suit raffle where additional proceeds went to providing local families a Christmas dinner!!  Power BMW Motorcycles partnered with Brevard County Coupon Craze.  Thanks to all who bought tickets that supported area families this Holiday season.

Dennis with Melissa Palmer, wife to ‘super salesman,’ Daniel of BMW Powersports, Palm Bay. She and her associates helped coordinate the raffle.

Pre-Christmas, 2017 ride

The local BMW moto faithful were out and about Saturday morning, Dec. 16th.  The rendezvous started a bit chilly, but warmed up as the day progressed. The ride went to the Pelican Diner in Sebastian and returned via Hwy 512, then west on Hwy 60, north on 441 and east on 192 to Melbourne. The Pelican Diner was packed as usual, but Space Coast beemer riders were able to get a table right away. They made a brief stop at Forever Florida before resuming the trek home. The total distance rode was 127 miles.

Space Coast BMW riders note that with the increased bike sales over the last few months at Power BMW Motorcycles of Palm Bay, we’re seeing new riders showing up to Jason’s Deli on Wednesday evenings (6 pm) and at the 2x/per month Sat/Sun rides.  (And we applaud Power BMW’s success!)  We encourage all Euro motorcycle owners, and Japanese standard, adventure and sport tourer riders to stop in and have dinner with us too.  We’re easy to get along with!  Have a great and safe Holiday season.

Musings on final drive concerns

I’ve done quite a bit of thinking and research on the matter of BMW final drive (FD) failure(s).  There is much fragmentary documentation and discussion already on the ‘net  . . . some is factual, researched and engineering pertinent.  A smaller amount is fanboy emotional and ignoring of evidence.  Let’s address some ‘knowns.’  First, what is a failure?

Yours will be in a failing state long before it looks like this. Look for flecks of hydraulic fluid on the rim and/or seepage of hydraulic fluid from the boot. You or your mechanic should be inspecting this at about every 6K or no worse than 12K miles.

I’ll define “failure” as a defect (either in parts manufacture or assembly) that compromises final drive operation in a time frame considerably shorter than its prescribed lifetime.  I’ll define the final drive unit as the rear ‘hub’ that your wheel attaches to.  If you own a Paralever BMW motorcycle, you have this type of hub.  Inside your hub, the ‘final drive’ is composed of gears, hydraulic fluid, bearings and seals.  Most final drive failures point to the rear drive unit (RDU) was assembled with too much preload or defective bearings.  Two indicators that the FD crown wheel bearings are going bad are shiny metal flakes in the rear drive hydraulic fluid and roughness felt during wheel rotation.   In some cases, some of our fellow beemer brethren, have had a replacement final drive fail a second time, due to the same improperly shimmed crown gear.  Meaning, there are some current BMW riders with 50K-80K miles on their bikes that are on their THIRD final drive.  Many riders can go 100K-150K without a final drive problem, yet there is a sizable enough population of owners who have either spent sizable coin or had warranty replacements of final drives.  BMW’s secretive data-gathering and non-committal as to the scope of the problem with US dealers, compounds issues too.

I think there is a separate but related maintenance issue.  A competent dealer (or independent) mechanic will wiggle your rear wheel at ‘3 and 9’ and ‘6 and 12’ (think of a clock) to determine how much wheel movement there is.  There is not much wiggle or deflection allowed.  In fact, more than a millimeter of side to side or up and down movement is cause for concern.  It means one’s bearings are out of operating spec and will likely and progressively get worse.  Depending on the bearings and if you’re lucky, they might be removed, readjusted and simply reinstalled.  If not, they will have to be replaced.  The mechanic will also loosen and retract the plastic boot.  And hopefully, no fluid leaks out.  In my case, a pool of hydraulic fluid spilled out, covering about a 2×4 inch area.  A seal was failing/had failed.  Seal leaks can come from the transmission output seal leaking gearbox oil down the inside of the swing arm and out into the boot. The FD can also leak oil out past its input seal, sometimes called the pinion seal.  Fixing either of these is relatively straight forward.  If, however, the FD is leaking oil past the “big bearing” seal located where the FD mates with the real wheel (under the rear disc brake), you may have a third seal replacement to contend with.

Regarding the ‘rear wheel wiggle issue,’ I’ve owned two R1100R bikes (not RTs or heavy GS’s) and both needed replacing of final drive related bearings.  In the most recent case, it was the pivot pin bearings.  (I can’t recall the prior R1100R from some years previous . . but would bet, pivot pin bearings also.)  In the earlier case, those bearings were shot by 18K miles (which I attributed to the crummy Washington DC area roads) and in the most recent case, at just under 39K miles, where the bike has been in FL for the last 20K or more miles.  On my R, those were road miles with no passenger hauling, nor off-roading or commuting on salty winter roads.  That’s not much mileage in either case to suffer bearing failure.

Those Paralever owners who start to see ‘flecks of hydraulic fluid’ on their rear wheel rim or notice a small inconsequential seepage under the plastic boot . . . that is your bike’s way of saying, “there are issues you need to deal with fairly soon.”  Lastly, if these signs are ignored, are you on the path to a final drive failure?

I think . . . probably.  In summation, two issues-  there’s a small but known amount of final drive units with improperly shimmed crown bearings that have found their way onto BMW Paralever motorcycles over the last 15 or more years.  I’ve heard “around 4%” of units fail. Secondly . . . improper or ignored maintenance can lead to a final drive failure too.  Most units make it into 6 digit amounts of miles . . . . but maybe replacing a set or two of bearings and seals along the way is par for the course.  Is the Paralever design an engineering weakness?

Hard to say . . . . our friends in Munich would say, (for the bike’s first 36K miles and maybe 48 months) you have bought unique and superior motorcycle engineering that is capable of 175K miles or more, but requires you to conduct diligent and ongoing maintenance all along the way.  In my case, I’ve paid a $1,000 on two bikes to replace FD bearings and seals.  (In neither case, would one say I had a FD failure.)  Would I have paid similar repair costs on a couple of Japanese bikes?  (Chains, sprockets?)  I doubt it.

To close, one thing I’ve yet to see, anywhere . . . is how rear suspension (strut/shock) functionality works with the Paralever suspension.  One would think a rear strut on its final legs, would not meet preferred Paralever functioning requirements.  But I’ll leave that issue for another day.

For further research:

Sept 2008 issue of Motorcycle Consumer News, Bill Shaw, writer, p. 32