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OK, Here's one...
- To: "BMW Oilhead List" <oilheads@xxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: OK, Here's one...
- From: "Tom Brown" <tbrown@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2007 13:47:49 -0600
- Sender: owner-oilheads@xxxxxxxxx
Here's one for you to chew on. I mentioned it earlier, but didn't get much
response. Here goes...
OK, It's October somethingorother and my bike, an '05 R1200RT w/ Wilbers
suspension front and rear, including the fancy high and low speed
compression settings on the back, is running like a top. I've just packed
it the night before for a weekend at Falling Leaf in Potosi, MO. Since our
group is not composed of campers, but more twisties addicts who like the
comfort of a Comfort Inn at night, I'm not filling every possible space with
tents and camping gear.
I've got a pair of jeans, a couple shirts, some extra layers, street shoes
etc. The side system cases are decently full and I've got a couple extra
pairs of gloves and a light jacket in the small top case. Nothing strapped
to the pillion set. I'd guess that the load, including the cases, did not
exceed 65 lbs. Probably less than that.
The weather this morning clearly sucks. Wind is about 30 mph from the west
and temps in the low 30s with grey skies. Riding isn't very pretty, but
we've got tunes and heated liners and gloves so we're pretty well cocooned
from the elements. We leave an hour late just to let things warm up. I
live furthest west of Chicago of our group, so we've all met in my driveway
to begin this ride. I also have the radar detector with the little LED, so
I lead most of these transit things. As it turns out, we don't go that
fast because of this awful headwind with awfuller gusts. We head west on
some county roads towards a desolate entrance to I-39 that I know.
On a narrow county road a few miles out of Kaneville, IL, I come upon a turn
marked for 20mph. I notice a little sign under the turn sign that says
"Road Construction". The visibility of the road is great. No trees or
hills, so you can see all the way through the turn and beyond. No
construction evident. No construction vehicles or other traffic. The sign
looks like it may have been left there from a previous repair. I round the
turn at considerably faster than 20mph and just where I'd really be getting
on the throttle out of the turn, I see a line running all the way across
both lanes of the road...no escape route...I slow a bit instead of
accelerating. Then I see a second sign that says "Bump" right where the
line in the road appears. When I get close enough to realize that this
line is a cut-out in the pavement, I hit the brakes. I'm going maybe 25,
maybe less, when I run down into the "hole, which is about 3" deep, and ends
abruptly at the far end...no fill to make a "ramp" to soften the blow. It's
like going up a sharp curb. I stand on the pegs with legs bent as the bike
rides in and then out of this bump.
As I ride through, I worry for my rims. When the bike comes out, I notice
the rear wheel feels strange, so I'm now certain that I've flatted a tire
and move to the side of the road. I reach for the brakes but the bike is
slowing on it's own and feels very low to the ground. I stop safely and
realize that I can't put the sidestand down because the bike is too low to
the ground. The wind is strong from the left even for that, it takes a
great deal of effort to keep it upright. My 4 accomplices all make it
through the hazard unscathed and stop to see what's going on with me.
The first guy comes to look and can't see anything at first. Then he can't
believe what he sees. A couple more come over and hold the bike while I
dismount and we all work together to haul the bike up on the center stand.
The Paralever has broken. Not just a little bit either. There is an
almost square section around the shock mount that has completely severed
from the rest of the casting. Then, there is a break all the way around the
driveshaft leaving the "half" connected to the rear wheel and diff
completely separate from the "half" that is still connected to the
transmission mounting points. Basically, the casting is broken into 3
distinct pieces. One connected to the bottom of the shock, one connected
to the transmission, and one connected to the rear wheel assembly.
The bike had slowed of its own accord because the rear tire had been rubbing
on the inside of the fender liner. No suspension to hold the wheel so the
weight of the bike was right on the outside of the tire.
The bike looks almost normal up on the center stand. If you stand behind
the bike, you can see that the rear wheel is not straight, but that's the
only clue that this bike is not right unless you look at it from the right
Obviously, my ride is over. I go through all the gyrations of calling BMW
Roadside Assistance, which does not have my bike's VIN number in its
database for some reason. I then called Progressive Insurance, who was a
lot more help. They dispatched someone immediately. Tow truck driver, a
specialist in motorcycle pick-ups, called me about 20 minutes later and said
he'd be there in 3 hours. I then called my wife for pickup of me and my
system cases and other bike junk.
The good part, for me, is that I was only 30 minutes away from home and my
dealer is 2 miles from my house, so I was able to sit in my warm house next
to the cell phone and out of the howling wind while waiting for the tow
truck driver to call.
Spur of the moment, I decided that I was not gonna give up on this trip. I
have a modified, nearly street legal '95 BMW M3 (that's a BMW with 4 wheels)
in mothballs in my garage. It usually gets only one track weekend per
year. I topped up the tire pressures, got the bag liners out of my system
cases, threw them in the trunk and went off to meet the tow truck. Things
went pretty well there and he was soon off to the dealer. There wasn't much
else for me to do here, so off I went to catch my pals in Potosi. When
one has worked hard to get clearance for a weekend away, one shouldn't
The weekend was great. The car was terrific. I had great fun tearing up
the roads with my two-wheeled comrades in the Missouri hills.
Returning home, the questions began. "How fast were you going???" What the
hell did you hit?" The dealer called me "Evil Kneivel" etc. I had
digitals of the bump and told him my speed and the circumstances. No one
thought this should have happened. However, because of the non-stock
shock, BMW denied the warranty claim. Again, Progressive to the rescue.
They picked it up as a road hazard claim.
The rep for Wilburs came into the dealership and examined the shock. He
proclaimed it to be in good working order. The dealer even remounted it on
my bike when the repair was complete. I've since removed it and mounted
the stock shock on the back. Setting rebound damping about 1/16th turn
from full hard, it isn't bad. Much better than the old stock shocks on RT's
past. I'd only put about a thousand miles on this shock when I'd installed
the Wilbers setup.
Oh, the rims were undented and the tires seemed OK as well. The rear tire
was replaced in the insurance claim but we're not really sure it was
damaged. The front tire is still on the bike and works fine.
So, anyone seen anything like this before on a 1200RT? If so, I'd like
Any theories? Was it the shock? A defective casting? After the repair, I
did ride the bike a little with the Wilbers prior to chickening out and
mounting the stocker. The Wilbers seemed to work OK to me. We can't seem
to find a good reason for this damage. I've done one 2,000 mile trip since
(with the stock rear shock and Wilbers front) and everything seems fine.
Should BMW have paid?
Should Kane County of Illinois have paid?
This was a real hazard and was improperly marked. The tow truck guy even
hit bottom on his truck after knowing there was a hazard coming that had
disabled my bike. Lots of scrape marks on the pavement where other
vehicles had bottomed as well. I think the county had filled the
depression with sand, but the sand had all washed out or blown away.
What about my $500 deductable?
I have to hand it to Progressive this time, they really went pretty far to
make sure the claim was handled correctly and did follow-up, arranged the
tow and all. Much better than BMW, who basically did nothing but sell new
parts to the dealer. I was a little ticked about the lack of roadside
assistance. That was wrong. They also assured me my rates would not
increase as a result of this claim.
Mechnically, I can see that a frozen or bottomed shock with so much leverage
from the rear wheel could put a huge amount of pressure on the area
surrounding the lower shock mount. Thus, I can understand why BMW was
reluctant to pay this claim. Still, it may have actually been a defective
casting and BMW was not even interested in getting the casting or the
Wilbers back for examination. Curious.