BMW R1200GS | DOIN’ TIME

Long-term test update: 6K service stop at the dealer turns up two outstanding recalls

WRIST: Aaron Frank

MSRP (2013): $19,520 (as tested)

MILES: 6,197

MPG: 37

MODS: SW-Motech rack

There are two ways for a manufacturer to handle a faulty product. One way is to disregard engineering concerns and mounting consumer complaints and hope the problem is small, isolated, and goes away. Sometimes it does. More often it doesn’t, like the recent case involving General Motors’ faulty ignition switches that could cause airbags to malfunction. GM more or less ignored this problem for 10 years until the government finally got involved, issuing a $35 million fine and forcing a record-setting recall of 11.2 million vehicles in 2014 alone. Ouch.

A more proactive alternative is to issue a voluntary product recall before any known engineering problems can manifest as actual safety issues. This appears to be the method BMW Motorrad prefers, for when I delivered my 2013 R1200GS to Schlossmann’s BMW of Milwaukee for its scheduled 6,000-mile service, I was informed that there were two outstanding Service Information Bulletins (SIBs) for my motorcycle, both of which would be addressed immediately and at no charge.

The first SIB applied to all cruise-control-equipped bikes and required replacing the ride-by-wire throttle twistgrip assembly due to “rare cases where the throttle twistgrip sends an implausible signal to the engine management system when the throttle valve is closed,” causing the ECU to mistakenly read a fault and activate the engine warning light. The second SIB required replacing the clutch slave cylinder to address a bearing prone to accelerated wear, causing “a gradual degradation in clutch disengagement action on high-mileage vehicles.” These are both more product quality issues than actual safety issues, so it reflects well on BMW that the company took the problems seriously enough to issue costly, model-wide recalls to correct the situation.

I’m lucky labor was covered under warranty because the job took much longer than expected on my particular bike. “Sarge,” the lucky Schlossmann’s service tech assigned to my job, had to—and I quote—“dig through all the aftermarket stuff that’s been added to the bike” just to get at the slave cylinder that’s attached to the backside of the engine, behind the starter. This included moving crashbars, the Remus exhaust, even the skid plate I had installed just days before dropping the bike off for service. Sorry, Sarge!

SW-Motech’s Steel Toprack (twistedthrottle.com; $175) provides double the surface area of the stock rack.

Everything else was squarely within spec for the 6,000-mile inspection—a relief given the rather unorthodox break-in strategy I followed with this bike, which involved picking it up at a US press launch in Valencia, California, with a mere 121 miles on the odometer then immediately embarking on a two-day, 2,200-mile cross-country endurance run to my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. With zero maintenance or mechanical problems so far—aside from these two SIBs—the liquid-cooled R1200GS is shaping up to be a reliable platform without any serious gremlins that sometimes plague the first year’s production of any all-new machine.

SW-Motech’s Steel Toprack (twistedthrottle.com; $175) provides double the surface area of the stock rack.