2004 BMW R1150RT

After about a 35 year hiatus from riding,  I decided I wanted a bike again.  I was looking for a large bike that was capable of occasional long distance touring and would be suitable for year round all weather commuting.  In New Jersey, there are normally very few days with snow on the roads, so year round commuting is a practical option with a suitable bike and clothing.

I also wanted anti-lock brakes.  Not being an expert rider, this is a definite safety advantage. After shopping around at the local dealers for suitable used bikes, I found this one on Craig's List.  I am very happy with the choice.

This is a running log of the maintenance of the bike.  Items are arranged with the most recent on top.



2010-December - Last entry!

On the way to work, a driver pulled out in front of me on a somewhat blind curve.  I could not stop or swerve in time and hit the Jeep by the rear tire, went over the handlebars, bounced off the Jeep and landed about 20-30 feet behind the Jeep.  My foot probably caught the handlebars on the way over and I broke a bone in my left foot. I also Dislocated my shoulder, probably when I landed on the street. All-in-all, not too bad, considering the fate of the bike.



2010-Sep to Nov, 32000 miles

After returning from Alaska, changed the oil and tires.  I switched to Continental Road Attack tires, which seem significantly more responsive. 

There is quite a bit of corrosion on the axillary fuse block.  I plan to replace it with the Centec AP-2 unit, which was recommended by my local BMW dealer.

2010-August, 29000 miles, Alaska

Went to Alaska with Leo and Leo Gerrior. It was one of those "Once in a Llifetime" trips that I would not mind repeating. See the Trip photo Album  for pictures. The 9000 mile trip was done in 3 weeks and we camped  for all but about 3 nights. The Google map screen shot shows the approximate route we took.

For a typical day were on the road by 7 AM and rode for about 3 hours before stopping for breakfast. We then rode till about 5 or 6 PM, stopping about every 100-120 miles for gas, determined by the bike with the smallest gas tank. At dinner we would pull out the maps and decide how much further we wanted to ride before stopping for the night.

Saw many interesting things along the way, including Liard River Hot Springs,  buffalo at Elk Island Provincial Park. After reaching Alaska, we went to Denali National Park and spend 2 days there.  We then took the southern loop, past Anchorage and went to Haines.  We took a ferry through the inner passage to Prince Ruppert, Headed East to Jasper and Rode down the Rockies to Glacier National park. From there, we went to Niagra Falls then home.


2010-July, 21700 miles

Will be traveliing to Alaska in August.  Brought the bike to BMW for the 24,000 mile service.  Also got new tires, the Michellin Pilot 2 tires I installed previously.

2010-June, 21000 miles

Wet Weather problem

Coming back from the Delaware Water Gap, I got caught in  heavy rain.  The bike started to run poorly, which has never happened before in any kind of rain.  I made an appointment with the dealer to have it looked at since I could not find any obvious cause.  I had planned to have them go over the bike anyway, prior to the Alaska trip.

2010-May, 19000 miles

Bill Mayer Seat and BMW Comfort Seat

Ordered another custom seat, however, this one required sending the stock seat in for modification so I was without the bike for almost 2 weeks. So far, I am not impressed with this seat and it actually seems worse than the stock seat.  I purchased the optional BMW Comfort seat so that I can use the bike when I send the Mayer seat back for modification. Once I get it back, I will try to sell whichever one I like the least.

Luggage case

Dropped the bike  and broke the right side mirror and the latch that secured the side case to the bike.  Ordered a replacement latch but before the part came in, I lost the case.  It must have come off after hitting a pothole.  Had to get a new case.

2010-April, 18000 miles

Trip to North Carolina

As a test run for the Alaska trip in August, Leo and I rode to Greensboro North Carolina on Saturday April 24, had dinner with Colleen,  camped overnight and rode back on Sunday.  We went down Route and  81 and came back on the Blue ridge Parkway on the section between Roanoake and Front Royal.

The ride down took about 10 hours. The return took about 17 hours, for two reasons.  The first is that the winding Blue ridge parkway is much slower and longer, but was worth it, since it is a very nice ride. The second reason was that about 30 minutes after we came down off the parkway, it started raining.  The last 5 or 6 hours we rode through torrential rain! we came down off the parkway, i

Seargent seat

Ordered a Seargent seat in an effort to be more comfortable on long distance rides.  It has a 30 day trial period so I will use it for the North Carolina trip to see how it is

UPDATE:  Decided to return the seat.  On a long ride it was simply uncomfortable in different places compared to the stock seat

2010-Mar, 15600 miles

Flash  2 Pass Door opener

This accessory from f2ptechnologies allows you to open the garage door by flashing your high beams twice.  VERY Convenient! I wanted to find a hidden location to mount the transmitter and had to find out how to tap into the high beam wires. This required a major disassembly, since I was not familiar with any of this. I removed the front fairing and the headlight assembly.  The following PICTURE shows the fairing removed and the red arrow points to the high beam wire connector.  The following PICTURE shows the back side of the headlight assembly.  The circled connector is the headlight wires. The arrow shows where I mounted the transmitter using Velcro.  This is on top of the headlight assembly.  I was having trouble removing the connectors from the plastic plug so decided to use the wire tapping hardware that came with the transmitter.  I normally do not like doing this but decided to give it a try this time. I had a hard time getting the fairing back on and found that the front mirror clip mount was in the way and had to be pried slightly with a screw driver in order to push the fairing in place [PICTURE].

BMR Cargo Shelf

This accessory from BMR Products allows you to securely carry large heavy items over the passenger seat.  There are two brackets that permanently attach under/beside the passenger seat.  Here is a PICTURE of the brackets installed and another PICTURE of the shelf installed. It works very well and can be added or removed in about a minute.

Using the ROC straps I was able to go on a recent business trip by simply strapping a suitcase to the shelf.

Handlbar Risers

I purchased these handlebar Moto Techniques from relocation blocks from A&S to see if I preferred the handlebars further back.  I'll try them for a while to see. This PICTURE shows how they shift things up and back about an inch.  There is another type made by Suburban machinery but they move them almost straight up instead of back

Gripswell Gloves

On my recent trip to New Hampshire, I had some numbness in my hands.  I ordered the Gripswell GS-33 gloves for warm weather riding.  If they work out, I may get the cold weather version in the fall.

2010-Feb 13700 miles

Auxiliary power outlet and accessory mounts

There are two BMW style power outlets under the seat, but this is not a convenient location for accessories mounted up front (GPS, iPod, etc). I tried mounting an outlet in various locations but could not find a good place without having to drill holes in the fairing

I fabricated a steel housing that goes at the top of the dash and mounted the outlet there [PICTURE].  The wire slips between the dash cover and the speedometer and goes to a quick connect just below [PICTURE].  I have also mounted two RAM mounting plates on either side of the housing to mount devices. [PICTURE]. I also should look into getting a second power outlet but am not sure how to mount it.

First crash (hopefully last)!

Not so bad but learned a few things. Temperature was about 20 deg F, took off from a light and accelerated into a left turn.  At about 20 MPH, the rear tire suddenly broke free.  The bike went down and spun 180 deg and I landed clear of the bike on my side. I  have a bruised or cracked rib and the bike had surprisingly little damage.  The rear luggage took most of the hit with some scratches, the left driver foot peg broke off and the black plastic panel just ahead of the luggage shattered.  The cylinder head also got a few more scratches.

Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires

Because of the crash above, I looked into tires.  I got the Michelins because they are dual compound tires with softer rubber on the sides for better grip when turning.  Apparently the Metzlers I was running have a habit of suddenly braking loose all at once.

The important point is that in cold weather, No tires give good grip when turning, although some are better than others.

Clutch slave cylinder replacement and housing modification

The clutch lever started to become less effective.  I had to move it to the large hand setting in order to get the clutch fully released.  Bleeding the clutch lines restored the lever function.

However, the if the slave cylinder is leaking, it can leak brake fluid into the sealed pocket that the clutch slave fits into, damaging the seal into the transmission.  Pulling the slave is an enormous job and requires stripping the bike quite far.  This includes unbolting the entire rear flame and moving it up to get at the slave.  The following is a PICTURE of the bike apart.  The ARROW shows where the slave cylinder is in this mess.

This PICTURE shows the state of the slave cylinder when it was pulled.  There was a slight odor of gear oil on the face of the slave, indicating that some brake fluid may have gotten to the trans seal. The dealer suggested drilling a hole in the bottom of the housing to let oil or brake fluid drain if there is a leak in the future [PICTURE].  For newer bikes, this area is not sealed. Drilling the hole requires removing the muffler, which splits at the end of the header tubes. If the leak is bad, it will show below the drain hole so you know when to go back inside.  This will not cause a sudden failure, simply a mess if it gets bad.

Ohlins Shocks

While replacing the Clutch cylinder I noticed the rear shock preload adjuster was leaking.  Although It can be topped off with brake fluid, the leak seems big enough that the shock should be replaced.  The BMW unit is not repairable so I looked into alternatives.  The Ohlins are supposed to be significantly better than the BMW shocks and are about 20% cheaper. I got both the front and rear to have similar performance at both ends [PICTURE].

The ride is significantly improved with the new shocks! The steering is significantly more neutral than before, although I do not know if it is because of hte ride hight or the new Michellin tires.

Unusual Fork design

I had heard that the BMW RT has a fork design that reduces the nose dive when you slam on the brakes.  The following is a PICTURE of the fork and A arm with the fairing and gas tank removed.  The large silver block at the top right is the controller for the ABS.

Accessory fuse block

So far I have added a wiring harness for heated winter clothing, and an accessory power plug.  Now I want to add the Coocase with its various electrical functions.  In order to avoid running more wires to the battery and adding additional fuses for each circuit, I added a power wiring block made by Electrical Connection.  You also should get the ground block.

They were mounted under the seat, behind the factory fuse panel. With the seat in the lower position, there is just enough space between the top of the fuses and the bottom of the seat.  The unit has a ni feature that kiolls the power to the accessory block whence feature that kills the power to the accessory block when the ignition is off.  There is a relay between the battery and the block that is triggered by a feed from any wire that is hot when the ignition is on. I used the feed to the stock fog lights. This is how I spliced it in.  The following is a PICTURE of the completed installation with various items connected.

The wiring above seems to have caused the warning light to come on.  I spoke with BMW and iIt could also be caused by a bad bulb in the rear.  I will check the bulbs first, then disconnect the brake lights for the Coocase. If the problem remains, I will bering it to BMW.  A fault code tester costs $300, which I will skip for now. 

Coocase Top case

The stock top case is not large enough to hold a helmet, which is a nuisance when you go somewhere and have to carry the helmet around with you. I ordered an S48 Astra Coocase from Twistedthrottle.com to replace the stock BMW case.   This can hold two XL full face helmets (or more cargo).

I got the luxury version which has a remote keyless lock, LED tail light/brake lights and an alarm system.  In order to mount it, you need the Givi E191 mounting kit.

You remove the original BMW rack and install the Givi rack base frame. The Givi shelf is not used..  The Coocase shelf then mounts on the Givi base.  The following is a PICTURE of the installed case. This PICTURE shows how I routed the wiring under the seat.  I wanted to avoid drilling holes if possible.

BMW logo badge

Since the new case does not have a BMW logo, I ordered one from Bob's BMW.  You need to order the mounting plate and one of two logos they offer.  I got the new 3D version.

2010-Jan 12800 miles

Shoei Multitec Helmet

I needed an extra helmet for potential passengers.  The JHC helmet I originally purchased was fairly noisy, even with the windshield adjusted.  With my glasses, a modular helmet is only practical option. I  ended up getting a Shoei Multitec helmet, which is much quieter then the JHC

Pinloc face shield

The cold weather is no problem with the electric clothing, but face shield fogging is a real headache. The Pinloc shields are supposed to work so I got a setup.  Fogging seems to be less but my glasses still fog. I'll try riding without them to see how it goes.

Accessory mounts

I ordered two RAM motorcycle mounts, one for the Magellan GPS and another general purpose one for the iPod and pocket HD FM radio. 

RAM Mounts, RAM-PD2 PDA cradle, RAM-comp ball adapter, RAM-BC8 mount for motorcycle handlebar clamp, RAM-stdarm standard arm, RAM-clamp-s cell clamp, RAM-AMPS plate, RAM-shortarm, RAM-stdarm, RAM-longarm.


I got a set of dual driver S-Plug earphones.  These block 25 DB of ambient noise and have very good sound quality.  I also had a set of custom ear molds taken.  You can send the earphones n and have them upgraded to custom fit ear pieces to improve comfort, +3 DB sound blocking and they are also less likely to pull out due to a tug on the cord.  I'll try the standard ones for now.

FM Radio

I picked up a pocket FM radio to listen to on the way to work - Insignia NS-HD01

Garage door opener

Now that I am riding the bike, this is the first time I have ever used the garage to store an active vehicle.  Purchased a Chamberlain Model HD600 Wisperdrive.  This is a belt driven opener which has the benefit of being fairly fast to open.  It is also quiet, which does not matter much since it is a detached garage.  I also got  Chaimberlain 956D key chain remote so I can open the door as I approach on the bike.

2009-Dec 12000 miles -

Starter replacement

The bike was getting very hard to start.  It would crank but not start.  Sometimes it would reset the clock, due to the large current draw.  Sometimes it would crank more and more slowly before starting.  I never got stranded but clearly there was a problem. Since the bike is new to me and did not know the sound of a good BMW starter, I did not recognize the symptoms. 

I went to the dealer and the came outside to listen to the starter.  They immediately said the starter did not sound normal and the clock resetting indicated the starter was drawing too much current. Changing it was an easy job (after spending $320 for the part!)

Foot peg lowering kit

I currently ride the bike with the seat in the lowest position. The default foot peg position is OK but it seems that a slightly lower one may be an improvement. I ordered a Suburban Machinery peg lowering kit from A&S to see if that improved the foot position.  The peg installation is straight forward, but you also need to lower the brake and shifter position if you want to keep them in the same relative position.

Shifter - remove the lower side panel by unscrewing the bottom of the linkage pivot assembly (see red arrow) - [PICTURE].  Loosen the  hex screw indicated by the green arrow and rotate the link down one notch on the shaft spline.  Re-assemble. When removing the shift link, there was a felt weather seal around the ball joint.  I replaced it with a short piece of foam weather seal - [PICTURE].

This rotated the shift lever too low and it was not possible to downshift.  I put it back and lengthened the adjuster between the two ball-joints instead.  This did not lower the lever enough, so I may go back later, shift it down one spline again and shorten the adjuster as much as possible.

Since I cannot lower the shifter to the proper position relative to the peg, I need to lift my foot off the peg in order to downshift. I suspect I should have purchased the following kit, which allows proper lowering of the shifter.  Peg and shifter lowering.  I'll try it as-is and see how I like it. I am not particularly happy with this lowering kit. 

Brake pedal - For the brake link, unsnap the connection to the brake master cylinder (red arrow) [PICTURE] and shorten it as much as possible.  I replaced the stop screw in the front of the pedal (blue arrow) with a longer one in order to get sufficient adjustment in the pedal stop position. The green tape was used, with a marker flat on the pedal, to mark how much the pedal position changed.

Valve adjustment

The following is what the valve assembly looks like.  The valve lash adjustment is a simple feeler gauge procedure.  The clearance was too small before I adjusted it. PICTURE

E-ZPass tag mounting

I wanted to find a place to hide the E-ZPass transponder so it would be out of the way and function well.  Remove the windshield and the black plastic cover on the top of the bike to expose the windshield adjusting mechanism.  The tag can be stuck to the underside of the black plastic fairing cover with the normal windshield adhesive strips. The blue arrow in the following picture indicates where the E-ZPass is located. PICTURE

Fuel filter replacement/modification

Changing the fuel filter is a pain, since the filter is inside the tank.  There is a modification that I found on the WEB to move the filter outside, just below the right intake manifold. the link is below:

In addition to the links above, which give a very good description of the mod, there are several additional things to note for the fuel filter mod:

In addition to the fuel lines, there are two vent lines going into the tank - the vent hose marked with x is for the fuel filler vent. The other is the tank vent that goes to the carbon filter.  Do not mix them up.  The one marked with the x on the outside is not marked inside the tank.  If you loose track of which is which, blow on the hose to see where it vents.

The bike must be disassembled as shown below ( the lower side panel was removed to lower the pegs, done at the same time as the filter mod) - PICTURE

Mark the position of the pump/filter flange with tape or a marker.  This will let you put it back in the correct position for the fuel pickup and gauge to work.

This is the stock filter setup - PICTURE

This is the filter bypass hose installed - PICTURE

BMW uses special crimp clamps to secure the fuel line hoses.  The larger ones are shown here - PICTURE.  I tried using ordinary screw clamps but they were too large to allow the assembly to go back in place.  At Home Depot, I got the cutting pliers in the picture and made some thin metal shields to prevent the cutters from damaging the crimp clamps cover the cutting edge -PICTURE.  This successfully crimped the clamps for the fuel lines.

The vent hoses are held in place with smaller snap clamps that I could not get closed with the cutting pliers shown above because the pliers were too large.  I took the tank to Cross County BMW and they snapped the clamps on for me with their special $300 tool.  After seeing the tool, I could probably modify the cutting pliers above ($20) with some extensive grinding.

The following is the filter mounted outside using the pop-riveted hose clamp method.  - PICTURE

2009-Nov  9179 miles

Electric jacket liner and gloves

After thanksgiving, the temperature started falling below 30Deg and I decided to get an electric Jacket liner and Gloves.  It made a huge difference and So far have been able to ride all winter.  The lowest temp so far was 15F and that was no problem.

Addition of front power outlet

In order to provide power for accessories up front (GPS, etc), I ran a wire from the battery to the front.  I used 14 gauge speaker wire and ran it along the existing wiring harness using cable ties.  I also used spiral wrap in several places to protect the wires. The plug was mounted near the left side vent but I am not particularly happy with the mounting arrangement by the right side vent.  I am waiting for the accessory mount I ordered, to see if I can mount it there.

2009-Oct  8700 miles