The BMW R1200RT is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed touring motorcycles.
With its powerful boxer engine, comfortable ergonomics, advanced electronics, and generous luggage capacity, the R1200RT offers an ideal combination of performance, comfort, and practicality.
Still, like any vehicle, the R1200RT is not immune to problems and issues.
This article examines some of the most common problems of the BMW R1200RT based on various sources such as owner reviews, forums, recalls, and technical bulletins.
Table of Contents
1. Rear Wheel Carrier Cracks Easily
The rear wheel carrier is the part that connects your R1200RT’s rear wheel to the final drive unit, which transfers power from the transmission to the wheel.
The rear wheel carrier uses six studs to hold the wheel in place with bolts.
On some models of the BMW R1200RT from 2005 to 2014, the rear wheel carrier can develop cracks around the studs, which can cause the wheel to loosen or detach from the bike. This can result in a loss of control and a potential crash.
Here are some quotes from real-life rider testimonials describing the problem:
“My rear wheel flange has 3! separate cracked stud areas. On a bike with this kind of mileage on it, is there a snowball’s chance in you-know-where that I’ll be able to get some help from BMW.”
“I was riding home from work when I heard a loud bang and felt the bike wobble. I pulled over and saw that one of the studs had snapped off, and the wheel was loose. I was lucky I didn’t crash.”
- The cause of the cracking is believed to be a casting defect in the aluminum rear wheel carrier, which weakens the area around the studs that hold the wheel in place. The stress from riding, especially with heavy loads or high speeds, can cause the carrier to crack and eventually fail.
- The solution is to replace your rear wheel carrier with a new one made of steel, which is more robust and more durable than aluminum- a complicated job that a qualified mechanic or a BMW dealer should do.
- To prevent your rear wheel carrier from cracking, check your rear wheel carriers regularly for signs of cracks or damage, and contact BMW if you notice any problems or have any questions.
2. Leaking Plastic Fuel Pump
One of the most commonly reported problems on the BMW R1200RT is its leaking fuel pump flange, the plastic piece that holds the fuel pump inside the fuel tank. Reported mainly on the 2011–2014-year models, the flange can crack and leak fuel, posing a fire hazard and impacting performance and reliability.
“It [my BMW R1200RT] developed a fuel leak recently, so I finally found a reason to park it and started getting to know it. I removed the left-hand side plastic and replaced the windshield arms; I started with a deep cleaning, which was pretty fun. Back on track, it is leaking at the fuel delivery hose on the gas tank.”
“Do you know what was done for the recall on the fuel pump? I had the recall done on mine. At the time, they had the option of fixing or replacing the pump. They fixed mine by adding a reinforcement ring. Two years ago, it started leaking. I brought it back, and BMW changed the whole pump assembly.”
– “I noticed a strong smell of gas when I parked my bike in my garage. I checked under the tank and saw a wet spot on the floor. I traced it to a hairline crack on the plastic flange where the fuel line connects. It was dripping slowly but steadily.”
- Rider reports claim the cause of the cracking fuel pump is a manufacturing defect in the plastic flange, which weakens over time due to stress, heat, vibration, or ethanol in the fuel.
- The solution is to replace the plastic flange with a new one made of metal, which is more resistant to cracking and leaking. This requires removing the fuel tank and draining the fuel, then replacing the flange and reinstalling the tank.
- To prevent this problem from happening, owners should check their fuel pump regularly for signs of cracks or leaks and contact BMW if they notice any issues or have any questions.
3. Rusting Fuel Tank
A rusting fuel tank is a common problem on the BMW R1200RT that can cause severe damage to the bike and its performance. Multiple rider reports claim rust develops around the fuel filler assembly, the overflow spout, and the fuel line flange.
Some of the symptoms of this problem, as described by real-life R1200RT owners, are:
“The overflow spout on the fuel tank is heavily rusted and could easily be/become blocked.”
“I found corrosion or rust beginning to form. Not wanting the rust to get any worse, I did a little DIY.”
- A design flaw in the R1200RT exposes the metal parts of the fuel tank to moisture and air, which causes oxidation and corrosion. The fuel filler assembly has a gap between it and the tank, allowing water to seep in.
- Riders can remove the fuel filler assembly and check the tank for rust to fix and prevent this problem.
- If rust is found, apply a rust converter, primer, and cold galvanizing spray to seal the area.
4. Fuel Strip Failure
The R1200RT uses a fuel strip sensor instead of a float to measure the fuel level. The strips tend to fail, impacting the fuel gauge’s accuracy, putting the rider in jeopardy of being stranded without fuel.
More than a handful of riders have reported having their fuel strips replaced multiple times due to malfunctioning.
“My [BMW R1200RT’s fuel strip sensor] failed at 18000. Replaced under extended warranty. The dealer said it happens so often that they keep the new ones in stock!”
“My bike is now on its third fuel strip sensor at 54,000. Fortunately, all replaced under warranty.”
Instead of a reliable float sensor, the R1200RT’s fuel strip sensor is a thin metal strip prone to corrosion, cracking, and damage from vibration and temperature changes.
5. Leaky Final Drive
A leaky final drive is a common problem on the BMW R1200RT that can cause oil loss, noise, and reduced performance.
As a result, riders have reported finding oil on their rear tires, wheels, or brakes.
Reportedly, a manufacturing flaw in the R1200RT affects the final drive’s seals and bearings. The seals are supposed to prevent oil from escaping from the final drive; they fail due to wear, damage, or improper installation.
The bearings support the shafts and gears of the final drive; they fail due to wear, corrosion, or lack of lubrication.
Inspect the final drive regularly for signs of oil leakage and noise, replacing faulty seals and bearings with new ones that have been correctly installed and lubricated.
6. Loose Bearings
BMW R1200RT riders commonly reported finding excessive play or wobbling in their wheels, driveshaft, or swingarm due to loose bearings, which can cause noise, vibration, and instability.
Here are some of the symptoms of loose bearings, as described by real-life BMW R1200RT owners:
“The real problem was that there was still a heap of bearing free play in the rear wheel, even after the rebuild. It was clicking when you grabbed the wheel top and bottom and moved it.”
“My drive shaft and the final drive have had a catastrophic failure [due to loose bearings].”
“There was also some wobble in the pivot bearing.”
Proper maintenance, storing, and riding habits and conditions affect the quality and durability of the bearings, although some riders theorize that the bearings loosen because of poor design.
The R1200RT’s bearings are supposed to reduce friction and support the rotation of the shafts and wheels, but they can fail due to wear, corrosion, damage, or improper installation unless owners take the following steps:
- Replacing the faulty bearings with new ones that have been correctly installed and lubricated, either at the BMW dealership or by following service manual instructions or an online video tutorial.
- Check for recalls or warranty coverage for the bearings and contact BMW National to register a complaint about multiple failures.
- Inspect the bearings regularly for signs of looseness and noise, taking corrective action as soon as possible.
In addition to proper storage, riding, and maintenance habits, conducting a routine service inspection on your BMW R1200RT, keeping these common issues in mind, and following the steps to rectify any problems you find allows plenty of riders to enjoy reliable performance from their R1200RT for years.
What are the Pros and Cons of the BMW R1200RT?
Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of the BMW R1200RT:
- Powerful and smooth boxer engine
- Comfortable and adjustable ergonomics
- Advanced and customizable electronics
- Generous and versatile luggage capacity
- Excellent handling and stability
- Superb braking and suspension systems
- Rear wheel carrier cracking
- Leaking plastic fuel pump flange
- Rusting fuel tank
- Fuel strip failure
- Leaky final drive
- Loose bearings
What’s the Resale Value of a BMW R1200RT?
Here is a table showcasing the resale value of a BMW R1200RT by comparing 7 used models across three categories: Year, Mileage, and Price.
What are Some Alternative Models?
The following table lists some alternative motorcycle models to the BMW R1200RT; sport-touring motorcycles with amenities like fairings, windshields, storage capacity, and comfortable seating positions.
|Triumph Trophy SE
|Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS
|Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring
|Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V
What Do the Reviews Say?
“The BMW R1200RT is why BMW has such a strong reputation in the touring market. If you need to cover huge distances, this boxer behemoth has everything (or can be accessorized to add it) you could possibly need.”
“Like a favorite pair of blue jeans, the RT is comfortable and unpretentious. It doesn’t warp time like the K 1600 GT or conquer the world like the R 1200 GS. Instead, it exemplifies the classic definition of “sport tourer,” balancing performance and excitement with practicality and reliability.”
“Until the advent of the new six-cylinder K1600GT models, the R1200RT was the best touring machine on the road, according to BMW aficionados. Ride one for a week, and it’s a good chance you’ll agree – non-aficionados too. It’s bloody comfortable in the saddle. Bar, footpegs, and switchgear are in the perfect position to relax for the next 900 miles.”
“Taller riders knocked their knees on the fairing at times, but otherwise, the comfort package on the R1200RT is first rate—an all-day bike with a whopping 7.1 gallons of fuel. We made several long rides on it solo and two-up and couldn’t find fault with its comfort—someone was really paying attention this time.”
“The BMW R1200RT is vigorous and lively, yet with the same reliability and flexibility as ever – still no missile, though. If you want that, get a BMW K1200GT.”
“It’s a BMW motorcycle tourer, so there’s the best of everything on the BMW R1200RT… if you pay the extra. In stock trim, however, the BMW R1200RT is still very comfortable thanks to comprehensive instrumentation, effective screen and mirrors, and, best of all, the sumptuous and usefully height-adjustable seat. Every motorcycle should have one.”