Full BMW Diagnostic tool available to all riders

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a KTM 1050 Adventure. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty, bumpy backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 

 

With motorcycle electronics now controlling everything from the indicators to the cam timing through a complex CAN bus wiring system, home servicing and fault diagnostics is beyond the scope of many home mechanics. Understanding why the brake light doesn’t work, or why the engine won’t fire isn’t a simple matter of tracing a bad earth anymore, and with multiple ECUs sending data throughout the loom, the consequences of getting it wrong could be very, very expensive.

Hex Innovate has been making diagnostic equipment since 2000 for VW, Audi, Porsche and other car brands, but now offers a tool for owners of most BMW motorcycles, which allows the user to safely communicate with the control modules in their bike via the OBD port.

 

What is OBD?

OBD, or On-Board Diagnostics, is a standardised system for accessing the ECUs of a vehicle (and yes, there are usually many Electronic Control Units, not just what most of us consider the main ‘brain’). Not all bikes have the latest OBD II connector, but the majority do now use the CAN bus protocol. This ‘Controller Area Network bus’ enables communication between almost every part of a vehicle, which allows for much more complex systems to operate – with fewer cables – than with a traditional loom consisting of wires that are either powered or not.

To the home mechanic, this can be irritating at best – I once struggled to wire in a set of high-intensity spot lights before discovering that the power lead to a KTM Adventure’s main beam also carries the crank position sensor information. It can also make identifying cables very tricky – disconnect the tail light connector to find the switched power lead and the indicators will illuminate. It’s actually a safety feature that means the bike knows if the lamp fails, and can keep you safer in the dark.

Some machines, like many new Yamahas for instance, have their own plug for diagnostics, but these still conform to the CAN bus protocol, so with a simple adaptor you can use a generic diagnostics tool to read some data and reset fault codes.

 

Can I use a generic diagnostics code reader on my bike?

Euro 4 emissions regulations applied to all new bikes from 2016, and mopeds from 2017. That means that if you buy a new bike now, it must be at least Euro 4 compliant, and with that regulation came the need for OBD stage 1 requirement; all new bikes must have the ability to be quizzed by a standard device for their fuelling.

This means that anyone with a generic code reader (and the plug adaptor if necessary) should be able to check emissions-related information on a new bike or on any car in Europe from 2001 (though many earlier cars will have an OBD port).

In practice, you’ll likely find your bike is OBD II compliant, and can offer a series of standardised diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) to problems relating to the fuelling and exhaust.

What does that mean? If you run an MT-10 on paddock stands, the engine management light will come on. The only way to get it turned off is to go to your dealer; the code it throws up will be a speed sensor fault – the bike knows the rear wheel is spinning, but can’t understand why the front isn’t moving for such a long period of time. This fault code can be read by a generic reader, and can also be cleared.

I’ve used a generic reader to save a fortune in diagnosing a faulty lambda sensor on my wife’s car, a failed crank-position sensor on an old BMW car… not to mention clearing an MT-10 speed sensor fault code.

But there are serious limitations – a generic reader will not be able to interrogate anything that isn’t related to emissions. For that, you’ll need your dealer. Unless you own a BMW.

 

Hex Innovate GS-911 bmw diagnostics

The GS-911 comes in a handy, small case, along with a USB cable and quick start guide

 

How can I diagnose fault codes on my GS?

If you’ve got a BMW R1200GS, or almost any of the rest of the R-Series, the K-Series, S-Series, F-Series, C-Series or G-Series BMWs of the past few years, you can likely use the new GS-911 to gain access to ALL of the communication modules on the bike (for full compatibility, click here). Racers for instance will be able to cancel the fault code displayed when the headlight is removed, and while diagnostic tools like this are extremely valuable to workshops and home mechanics (from service indicator resets to serious fault finding), the GS is compact enough that it can be carried anywhere. Ad as BMW uses a standard OBD II port, the device just plugs straight in. Older BMWs used a round, multi-pin port, but an adaptor is available.

 

Hex Innovate GS-911 bmw diagnostics

The GS-911 has a built-in standard OBD II plug. An adaptor cable for older models is also available

 

The entry-level GS-911usb costs £225, and connects to a PC via a USB cable. It will allow you unlimited access to reading and clearing fault codes for all the systems on the bike (not just those relating to emissions), and read ECU information, along with real-time values. You can also calibrate components and run various other tests. All safe in the knowledge that you’ll be guided through the process and can’t break anything!

Service-related tasks, like running the fan remotely to check it works, or resetting the service reminder, are limited to 10 VINs. Once you’ve registered a bike, you can’t delete it. For the majority of riders, this is enough for a good 20-30 years of biking at least, even if they’re entirely BMW-loyal.

 

Hex Innovate GS-911 bmw diagnostics

A smartphone can be used to quiz the wifi versions of the GS-911

 

The mid-level GS-911wifi adds the option to connect to a PC wirelessly, or more usefully, to an iOS or Android smartphone app. At £300, it’s the most convenient way to diagnose any fault while out on the road. You’re still limited to 10 VINs, thanks to the ‘enthusiast’ licence, but with this version you can upgrade it later if you decide you need more.

The top-end model costs £565, and offers a professional licence, which means you have unlimited access to all of the service tools – essential for a professional mechanic.

For most, the GS-911wifi Enthusiast is the best choice, but the full features are as follows:

Feature

GS-911usb

GS-911wifi Enthusiast

GS-911wifi Pro

Price

£225

£300

£565

USB to PC connection

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wifi to mobile & PC

No

Yes

Yes

HTML web browser app option

No

Yes

Yes

Firmware updateable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Option to upgrade to pro

No

Yes

-

Support for K1X chassis models

Yes

Yes

Yes

Support for K024 chassis models

Yes

Yes

Yes

Support for K001 chassis models

Yes

Yes

Yes

Read all ECU controller info

Yes

Unlimited

Unlimited

Read/clear ALL fault codes

Yes

Unlimited

Unlimited

Real-time values for ALL controllers

Yes

Unlimited

Unlimited

Service reminder reset

10 VINs

10 VINs

Unlimited

All other diagnostic functions

10 VINs

10 VINs

Unlimited

 

Fault codes delivered include an explanation of the problem – as an example, the following is the result of a disconnected lambda sensor…

Fault Codes : 1

3A1042 : Narrowband oxygen sensor 1 heating circuit, open circuit

Currently present : YES

Engine warning light (MIL) : NO

Frequency count : 1

Logistic(Healing) count : 1

Fault Code History :

Record number : 1

Odometer : 15980.0 km

ABS time : 15755533

SAE Code : 12288

Lambda sensor voltage bank 1 : 0.46 V

Engine speed : 0.0 rpm

Time since engine start : 0.00

Exhaust gas temperature before catalytic converter (for lambda heater in boxer engines) : 16.8 °C

 

From the demonstration I’ve been given, this is an impressive piece of kit – I wish it was available for more brands. If you do have a BMW though, this could save you a lot of time and money. I’ve given BikeSocial’s review sample to a professional mechanic, who’ll be able to tell us exactly how good it really is – expect a full and thorough review on BikeSocial soon…

For more information, or to buy one, visit Hex Innovate.

 

Hex Innovate GS-911 bmw diagnostics

The system does a good job of guiding you through maintenance tasks

 

For an example of the information offered by a basic scan by the GS-911, see the report below, which was generated during the presentation I was given of the device. Don’t worry – you don’t need to understand this to use the device, but it’s a useful way to see what’s being queried…

AutoScan : -

Base System Version : 0.254 - 0.157

Serial Number : GS3 000 108

Registration : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Date : 2018-11-29 10:34:26

Bike Information : -

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Model : R 1200 GS (K50)

Factory I-Level : K001-16-07-511

Actual I-Level : K001-16-07-511

Odometer : 15980.0 km

Motorcycle Date : 29-11-2018

Distance to next service : 9126.0 km

Service due date : 19-09-2019

 

XSAF : -

Controller Name : XSAF

Controller : 0F8500

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacturer : Temic

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/13

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1024

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/13

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 5

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 1014

....Firmware Version : 001.000.001

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 1013

....Firmware Version : 001.001.002

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 1015

....Firmware Version : 001.019.002

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 117D

....Firmware Version : 001.019.002

..Coding Data (CAFD) :

....Firmware ID : 1016

....Firmware Version : 001.019.001

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XBCL : -

Controller Name : XBCL

Controller : 0F8A10

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/05

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1024

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/05

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 4

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 2A58

....Firmware Version : 001.007.001

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 2A55

....Firmware Version : 002.000.000

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 2A56

....Firmware Version : 002.031.000

..Coding Data (CAFD) :

....Firmware ID : 2A57

....Firmware Version : 001.001.071

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XRDC : -

Controller Name : XRDC

Controller : 0F8100

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacturer : Schrader

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/05

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1024

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 99/99/99

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 4

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 0B49

....Firmware Version : 000.001.008

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 0CB1

....Firmware Version : 000.002.025

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 0CB2

....Firmware Version : 001.000.070

..Coding Data (CAFD) :

....Firmware ID : 0B4B

....Firmware Version : 000.005.003

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XKOMBI50 : -

Controller Name : XKOMBI50

Controller : 0F8850

Manufacturer : Continental Automotive

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/02

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Odometer : 15980.0 km

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1024

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/02

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 5

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 124E

....Firmware Version : 000.003.000

..Hardware Type (HWAP) :

....Firmware ID : 1A1C

....Firmware Version : 255.255.255

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 124D

....Firmware Version : 000.004.000

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 1250

....Firmware Version : 000.006.001

..Coding Data (CAFD) :

....Firmware ID : 124F

....Firmware Version : 000.007.000

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XEWS4 : -

Controller Name : XEWS4

Controller : 0F8C00

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/03

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1024

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 99/99/99

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 3

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 0BFE

....Firmware Version : 003.000.000

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 0BFF

....Firmware Version : 003.001.000

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 0C01

....Firmware Version : 004.000.001

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XABS : -

Controller Name : XABS

Controller : 0F8300

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacturer : Continental Automotive

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/03

VIN : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Program Count : 0

Program Count Maximum : 1000

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/03

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 3

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 1299

....Firmware Version : 000.004.000

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 1298

....Firmware Version : 000.002.000

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 129A

....Firmware Version : 004.000.001

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

XBMSMP1 : -

Controller Name : XBMSMP1

Controller : 0F8B10

Serial Number : REMOVED BY BIKESOCIAL

Manufacturer : Service rejected for unspecified reason

Manufacture Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/08/22

Program Count : 1

Program Count Maximum : 60

Factory I-Level : K001-16-07-511

Actual I-Level : K001-16-07-511

VIN : WB10A0101HZ815274

Odometer : 15980.0 km

Firmware Date (YY/MM/DD) : 16/09/21

Kilometers when programmed : 0.00

Number of FW configurations : 5

..HW Electronics (HWEL) :

....Firmware ID : 24BE

....Firmware Version : 002.000.000

..Bootloader (BTLD) :

....Firmware ID : 3747

....Firmware Version : 003.000.001

..SW Memory Image (SWFL) :

....Firmware ID : 3054

....Firmware Version : 009.000.000

..(SWFK) Detailing on software creation level :

....Firmware ID : 4184

....Firmware Version : 009.000.002

..Coding Data (CAFD) :

....Firmware ID : 38E5

....Firmware Version : 001.004.005

Fault Codes : 0

No Faults found :

 

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