Given that BMW’s R1200GS and R1250GS have topped the list of best-selling bikes in the UK for years on end there’s a pretty good chance you own one or know someone who does – so it’s worth knowing that if all boxer GS models made from 2013 to early 2022 are due a revision to their driveshafts to prevent potential damage.
It’s not a recall. That would suggest a safety issue and put the onus on BMW to directly contact owners and arrange for the work to be done. Instead, the work is classed as a ‘technical enhancement’. For most riders, that means it will simply be carried out the next service if the bike falls into the range of machines impacted – numbering an astounding 440,000 worldwide, according to German magazine Motorrad.
However, given that the work extends back to models nearly a decade old and well outside their warranty period, there’s a good chance that many will be getting serviced independently or at home, so might fall through the net.
To check if a bike is due to have the work done, you can put its registration number or VIN into BMW’s recall lookup website here – always something worth doing once in a while anyway, and certainly if you’ve recently bought a used BMW, to make sure there’s no outstanding work required. If your GS is due the update, the site will tell you “There is an open technical enhancement on this vehicle” with the code 0033130000, and direct you to book in with a dealer to have the work done.
The problem is one that’s been the cause of concern to some GS owners for several years: rust where the drive shaft connects to the final drive. A quick check of popular owners’ forums shows threads dating back as far as 2016 highlighting the issue.
The problem appears to be that, in some conditions, water can accumulate inside the swingarm containing the drive shaft, whether due to ingress during off-road use or fording deep water or thanks to riding in particularly wet or humid climates. Although largely the same design of swingarm is used on many BMW boxer models, the GS is the target of the enhancement work because it’s more likely to be used in those conditions and its higher suspension means the universal joints in the shaft drive assembly are at a greater angle, adding to the strain on them. Hence the update only applies to the GS and to rare ‘official use’ versions of the R1200RT and R1250RT – the sort sold to police or perhaps blood bike services.
The work that dealers will carry out varies depending on the age and mileage of the bikes. All get a vent hole drilled into the lowest point of the shaft drive assembly’s outer case, and bunged with a rubber one-way valve that allows water to be drained from inside without letting water in. Dealers will also do checks for excessive wear or signs that bikes have accumulated water inside the shaft assembly and may replace some parts.
If you’ve got the UK’s most popular bike, know someone who has or are thinking of buying one, check to make sure the work’s been done. We’ve run a few random numberplates from classified ads through the BMW recall lookup system and all the GS models from the affected time period that we checked are listed as having the technical enhancement outstanding, so most don’t appear to have been done yet.
As a general reminder, whatever bike you have or are thinking of getting, you can get information on outstanding recalls from the Government website here by simply putting in the registration or details of its make, model and year. It doesn’t include ‘technical enhancements’ like the new BMW action, but will alert you to more pressing, safety-related issues.