BMW R NineT Problems to Expect

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. As with all of my vehicles, I like to nerd out and do as much research as possible, so in this video we will talk about common issues on the BMW R Nine T.  Specifically, we will dive into the engine reliability, bike electronics, sensors and other components. I will also discuss preventative maintenance, what to pay attention to and my bike’s repair history as well.  

If you have this bike, check out another video I have made on this bike where I talk about its hidden features and thing you might not know!

Engine:

Let’s start with the air and oil cooled engine. Is it reliable, do they overheat and have other major issues? Well, since this retro bike uses almost a retro engine so most of the issues have been ironed out by now. The R NineT runs the BMW R1200 camhead engine which is the same engine that’s used in the R1200RT and R1200GS from around 2010 to 2015. Based on owner reports, a typical lifespan of this engine is at least 100k miles and many examples have reached over 200k miles without major engine work. Although not the same engine, BMW Boxer design has been evolving and being modernized for decades before it ever was put into the R NineT. From what I have read, they are low stressed, overengineered and extremely reliable.. if you take care of them.

Now, what is there to take care of on this engine? The main and most important thing to remember with this and many other BMW engines is the oil. You have to check the oil often and make sure it stays around 75% in the little window on the side of the bike. These bikes tend to burn oil for the first 10k miles so it’s recommended to check your oil every 500 miles or so. Some swear that it stops burning oil around 10,000 miles and some say it still burns, just much less oil. You can think of it as a break in period so I guess I have another 8000 miles to go! Since service is expensive on these just like any other BMW and you will have to top up oil at some point, make sure you DO NOT overfill it. Apparently, it’s very easy to overfill and when you do, you will blow your rear main seal in no time.

Some people think that since there is no coolant, the engine won’t be as reliable and will overheat. Generally, it would be fairly difficult to get one of these to overheat but if you live in the desert, it is possible. So, you have to treat them as air and oil cooled bikes; especially since there is no temperature gauge on the early models. Luckily, they are equipped with a thermal shut off so at least the bike will not burn itself down. Starting 2017, they do have a temp gauge and a temp warning idiot light, but it’s not always accurate and can be deceiving. Why is it deceiving? Well, the temperature is read at the cylinder so it’s much higher than anything you’d ever see on a temp gauge on a car. On top of that, the max on the gauge is 143C/289F which isn’t actually the temp where it will overheat. It can go even higher before the warning light and the automatic shut off after that. Anyway, as you can see, it’s a bit confusing, but luckily not something one has to generally worry about. Just keep the bike moving and don’t get stuck in a traffic jam where you sit for 30+ minutes idling in 100 degree heat!

To summarize, this air-cooled boxer motor is a thoroughly tried and tested unit and has been powering boxer range BMW for years, so engine reliability is not really a concern on the R NineT, but do service it regularly like any other BMW. We will talk about some preventative items we can do, later in the video.

Electronics:

Next, let’s talk about electronics. As this is a retro styled bike, the R NineT isn’t on the very leading edge of technology like many other BMW bikes. It has a basic suspension, ABS and traction control as an option and not a lot of gadgets in general. That’s a good thing in m y opinion as there are way less things to go wrong with and it also means this bike can be a keeper for years to come. However, there is one issue that I have seen come up on multiple forums and group. The ABS Sensor. It seems that a lot of people have experienced issues with the ABS sensor going bad which of course disables your ABS and traction control, but also causes the speedometer and odometer to stop working. This is an issue that has been carried over from the GS crowed as it uses the same design. Some of the older models have also had a problem with the wiring loom to the headlights where the wires would run when while moving and eventually fail. BMW has fixed this issue on the 2017+ models with a plastic sheath, so it might be a good item to look into if you have an older bike like I do.

Those with closer to 100k miles should watch out for fuel pump issues and the mail seal failure, but these are not very common.

Other Issues:

Speaking of not very common, let’s talk about other issues or concerns that people have with the bikes that may not necessarily have to do with the engine or the electronics system. One of the biggest complaints on this motorcycle has to be the quality of the seat and suspension. Some say that it’s basically unusable in the stock form for long distances and I have to agree to a certain extent. I’m not a long-distance rider, the most I’ve done at the same time was about 3 hours and I did have to stretch a couple of times to prevent being sore in the back. From what I’ve read, it’s more pronounced with bigger riders and some choose to upgrade. A very good quality, thicker seat can be had for around $500 and the same for a good rear shock as well. Most likely a worthy upgrade if you want to do long distance on the bike.

I also wanted to mentioned the transmission on this bike. Luckily it doesn’t nee it’s own section. Even though it’s a little agricultural in its feel, the transmission is solid and there should be no issues with it for the life of the bike. The only major worry would if the clutch starts slipping, it becomes a major job as the engine has to be split in half. Luckily, the only reports on this are well over 100k miles.

The R NineT also has spoked wheels on some models and that means it has tubes in its tires, this isn’t necessarily an issue, but you can’t fix a flat with a kit or anything like that. I’m not sure I would be comfortable riding on a kit fixed tire, but people have complained about it. This also means that you have to be really on top of checking air in your tires and making sure it’s correct as you can cause problems with the valve stem on hard acceleration with low air pressure. The bikes also handles horrible with about 25 psi in the tires.. just from my personal experience.

This bike can also go through rear brake pads pretty quick if you tend to use the rear brake more than the superior front brakes, but that’s more of a preventative maintenance item.

Preventative Maintenance (and what to pay attention to):

Other than regular oil changes, what else should we look out for on these bikes? Well, of course you should be keeping up with the scheduled items in your manual like the transmission oil, final drive oil, brake fluid flushes **ADD ITEMS FROM MANUAL HERE**. Some people go by the book and some choose to change the fluids every time they put on a new tire. Some also recommend lubricating the transmission shaft splines very 40k or so and getting the valve clearance checked at 12k miles.

If you store your bike over winter, there are a few things to do as well. First of all, get yourself a battery tender, it’s much cheaper than buying and replacing a new battery in the spring. To keep the tires from squaring off, some people overinflate them slightly or ideally you can get a motorcycle stand and lift the wheels of the ground. It’s also a good idea to fill the tank and add a fuel stabilizer on the last ride of the season. This way no condensation builds up and she will fire up like nothing happened in the spring.

Personal Experience:

So, what has my experience been like with the bike. I’ve owned my bike for one full summer at this point and put on half of its 2000 miles. I had to do absolutely nothing but fill it up with premium gas, ride it and smile every time I open the garage door. However, I did receive a small packet of papers with the bike. Let’s take a look at those now. *Show pictures of maintenance done on the bike before I got it.*

I have realized a couple of items for myself since buying the bike. What you see on forums and groups can be slightly misleading as this is a premium brand and product and people have really high expectations. You have to enjoy this bike for what it is, an awesome retro styled roadster. Of course, I’m not afraid to work on my own vehicles anyway so that doesn’t scare me at all.

In general, there really shouldn’t be any issues with the BMW R NineT as it’s mostly gadget free with a drivetrain and engine that have been in the lineup for over a decade in some form or another. Most people, just like myself have had a wonderful experience with the bike, but I think it’s good to look at the bad sometimes and be prepared and on top of things. I’m generally very happy to have experienced the freedom of the open road, the exhilaration of riding on twisties and just cruising behind the bard on this gorgeous bike. Every time I pull up to another motorcycle, I get the same feeling, I’m riding a beautiful machine, a rolling piece of art that meant to be ridden hard! I’m willing to put up with any issues it presents for this experience and I hope you feel the same about yours. If you are looking to buy one, don’t hesitate, go for it and worst comes to worst, you’ll have to get your hands dirty wrenching on a cool bike.  On that note, thank you guys so much for watching, leave your comments and thought below, like the video if you like it and I’ll see you in the next one.

BMW R Nine T Hidden Features

Hey guys and welcome back to the SimpleCarGuy channel. Today we are taking a look at some hidden features, tips and tricks and thing you may not know about the BMW R Nine T, also known as the best modern retro styled roadster.

If you have been riding bikes for longer than I have been alive or have had BMW bikes for a while, I’m sure you already know all of the ones below but hey.. maybe there is one that you don’t! If you are a pro, I’d love to hear some tips and tricks below in the comments so we can all learn something cool or new. For everyone else, stick around and I hope you enjoy the video. Let’s get to it!

So, what are some things you may not know about this bike?

  1. If you have owned a modern bike, you probably think that you can just turn off ABS or other safety features with a button, but on the BMW R Nine T you cannot turn off ABS unless you have the new version with throttle by wire. In this case your bike will have traction control as well and you can turn off both using the ASC button.
  2. You may not be able to turn of ABS, but did you know that this bike has an OBD2 port? With a $15 dollar adapter, you can scan the bike, see live data and if you have BMW software or buy a fancy motorcycle scanner, you can do so much more! Very cool.
  3. So, we can read this bike’s computer, but we can also plug in a dedicated GPS or phone charger by using the onboard power socket that’s hidden on the left side of the bike here. This socket is protected just like BMW cars where if the battery voltage falls below the level required to start the bike, it will be deactivated.
  4. If your battery does go below required voltage at some point, you are in luck, because this bike has a built-in trickle charger port. Since the BMW R Nine T uses AGM batteries which can be a little finicky when it comes to charging, you have to follow some steps. You must leave your motorcycle on the trickle charger over winter if not riding or the battery will be trash by spring. IN fact, this bike has had a new battery installed after only 800 miles because the previous owner left it over winter and the fact that it took 2 years to do that many miles. In fact, I have already done about that many miles in the few weeks I’ve owned it. BMW Recommends to plug the bike in if not redden for more than 4 weeks.
    1. Some additional notes on this, you cannot jump start the bike from this socket. The wires are not thick enough and rated for high current and can cause a fire.
    1. It’s also recommended to only use this socket to charge as onboard electronics monitor this socket and know when the battery is fully charged and switch off the onboard socket to make sure if you get a cheap battery tender, you won’t fry your bike or battery. If you’d like to charge you battery directly, it must be disconnected from the bike first.  
  5. The next item on my list is the TPMS or the lack of TPMS sensors on this bike. This is, again, old school so kind of expected, so check your tire pressure. When I picked up my bike and rode it home, I was wondering where was this great handling that everyone has been talking about. The bike kept trying to stand up and was slow through turn. The 15 pounds of pressure made a huge difference and how the bike is very confident on the road and the difference is huge. This is a bit motorcycles 101, but no dumby light here, so check manually.
  6. Speaking of dumby lights, that’s all you get for fuel level as well. There is no fuel gauge on this bike, but you will be informed with a simple light once it’s on reserve.
  7. Number 7 is a parking light. This is pretty common in Europe as far as I understand, but pretty rare on bike in the states. To turn it on, switch off the ignition and then immediately hold the indicator switch to the left until the lights turn on. Cycle the ignition to turn it off.
  8. A feature that surprised me on this bike was actually the auto-cancel indicator switch. If you forget to turn it off, it will actually turn itself off after 10 seconds or 300 meters (almost 1000ft) of driving.
  9. Going back to the battery, if you even need to jump-start the bike, you have to use the connection point on the positive battery terminal under the seat and the negative terminal on the right-side cylinder. Now, of course, the seat cannot just be opened, so it has to be removed. Luckily, you only have to remove 1 screw to remove both seats. Your bike should come with a key for this screw, but I got mine used so I use an actual socket. My replacement Is on the way.
  10. The last thing you may not have know is that you can removed the baffle in the exhaust known as the DB killer to improve the depth of the exhaust sound. It only takes 5 minutes and very easy to do. I have a video on how to do that exactly if you’d like to check it out. It’s also easily reversable if you don’t like it.

A few things you should know about the bike is how to check your fluids! I feel like it’s even more important on a motorcycle than it is on the car. As an example, to check your oil, you have to make sure the bike is warmed up and on leveled surface and hold the motorcycle vertical. Then you have to wait 5 minutes and check the little window. The oil should be between top and button. This and much, much more is in the manual for the bike. People complain that manuals now-a-days only have stuff like don’t drink battery contents, but this manual is actually very useful. You can even learn how to remove and reinstall front and rear wheel. Speaking of wheels and tires, this motorcycle has quick release front axle. Who knew such thing even existed!? I was also surprised that on a modern, although retro looking bike, you would still have tube tires, just like on my 1976 Honda CB360!

Well, that’s all I have or you guys today, I hope you learned something new or at least found it interesting. I’d love to hear your opinion or features I don’t know about in the comments down below, like the video and subscribe to the channel for more content and I’ll see you in the next one!