Midrand, Gauteng - BMW Motorrad SA is recalling all BMW R1200 GS and GS Adventure models made from November 2013 to date to check their upper fork tubes after a number of cases surfaced of the front suspension of these machines literally coming apart in relatively moderate off-road riding.
About 6100 GS models are affected in South Africa alone, underlining the popularity of this big beetle-crusher.
To understand what is happening, you need to know that the flagship GelandeScooter has a complex inverted front-suspension setup with a separate, central damper. To make that work you need a universal joint at the top of each upper fork tube, in the form of a plug with a ball-joint on it.
End plugs in front suspension tubes are usually threaded into place, so they can be removed for servicing if necessary and replaced without damage, and making it impossible for them simply to come out - they have to be rotated to get them off.
In this case, however, BMW has elected to press and crimp the plug into the end of the tube, making it a permanent, non-removable fitting - until the steel tube stretches and the crimping works loose.
Worse still, BMW slips a protective rubber sleeve over the joint during assembly so, unless you know about it and take the trouble to pull the sleeve down and check the crimping regularly, the first time you’ll know you have a problem is when it starts making a clacking noise, oil starts leaking out from under the sleeve and the steering gradually gets more and more wobbly.
In the worst-case scenario, the crimp lets go and the front suspension comes apart.
At least one South African BMW rider is known to have suffered a broken shoulder, 10 broken ribs and a punctured lung when that happened while riding on a not-very-rough jeep track in the Cedarberg.
So now BMW is advising all owners of R1200 GS and GS Adventure bikes made after October 2013 to have them checked out as soon as possible and, if necessary, repaired free of charge with upgraded parts at their nearest BMW dealership - preferably before you ride it again. BMW is advising owners to contact the dealer, or BMW On Call to arrange to have the bike trailered to the workshop.
BMW Motorrad will contact the owners of all the affected bikes directly, but if you have any queries as to whether your GS is one of them, call your dealer, or the BMW Customer Service Centre on 0800 600 555.