Rekeying the BMW/Touratech aluminum panniers - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    pbansen's Avatar
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    I bought a very gently used set of the BMW/Touratech aluminum panniers for my '14 F800GSA a couple of months ago. The bike came with a set of Wolfman soft panniers, but for commuting and long distance travel, I wanted a set of lockable, aluminum cases.

    The seller was savvy enough to know that he needed to provide me with a key to the panniers, so I had a key that he'd made that would open them, but I wanted to rekey them to my ignition key, so I went through the rekeying process that a number of people have documented using YouTube videos. Visualizing the retainer tab in the lock cylinder would be impossible without the ability to rotate the cylinder into the locked position and while you might be able to depress that tab blindly, removing the cylinders is definitely easier with an operative key, because the retaining tab is clearly visible when the cylinder is turned 90° to the locked orientation. So if someone tries to sell you a set of panniers with no key, make sure that they at least leave all the locks in the unlocked position and preferably provide you with a key - it will make rekeying the panniers infinitely easier

    Rotate the cylinder to the locked position so the retainer tab is visible, then depress that spring-loaded tab using a small pick. Once it is depressed, the cylinder can be withdrawn from the latch. This was a little fiddly and some came out more easily than others, but a little pressure on the lug on the back of the cylinder (if the 'front' is the end in which you insert the key) and you can ease the cylinder out. If you have the correct key, when the cylinder is withdrawn and the key is inserted, you'll see that all of the little locking tabs are flush with the outside of the cylinder (there are six of them - three inserted from each side). If you remove the key, the locking tabs will pop out. My locks were well greased, but be careful as you withdraw the key if yours are drier, because there is nothing retaining the locking tabs and springs in the cylinder but the friction of the grease.

    When I inserted the correct key for the bike into the cylinder, I was happy to see that only one of the locking tabs was still proud of the cylinder - it was sort of in the middle of the group. The rest of the locking tabs were flush, indicating that they were the correct ones for that key.

    At this point I had two options:

    1. I could replace the incorrect locking tab with the correct one. The tabs are numbered 1, 2 or 3 and this one was a 3. It probably needs to be a 2. You can buy the kit with a complete set of locking tabs from BMW for something in the neighborhood of $35. I didn't have one on hand and since only one tab was incorrect, the other option looked appealing.

    2. I could simply remove the single incorrect locking tab. The other five locking tabs would, IMHO, do a perfectly adequate job of keeping the cylinder from rotating if the incorrect key was inserted and if someone was really determined to break into the bag, they would find a more destructive and efficient way to get into it anyway. This option had another advantage - it would mean that I could open the bags with either the bike keys or the key that the seller had provided to me, a key that will not start the bike. This would allow me to use that key as a 'hide a key' that would open a pannier in which I could tape a spare key, but the hide a key, if discovered, would not start the bike.

    Guess which option I went with. I removed the key and used the pick to pop the offending tab and the spring that operates it out of the slots and stored them away for future use and reinstalled the lock cylinders in the bores. The locks all work perfectly with either of the keys.

    Now - had there been more than one locking tab that been incorrect, my hope was that I could simply swap the locking tabs around until the bike key worked. You could even do this to some extent and if you got it down to one incorrect tab, just remove that one as I did and have working locks. Since all of the lock variations are simply combinations and positions of 1, 2 and 3 tabs, it seems pretty likely that rearranging the tabs will be successful in the majority of cases, but if you hit a dead end or would have to remove more than, say, two of the tabs to come up with a working solution, you can throw in the towel and go buy the kit at your BMW dealer. I don't think you would ever find a lock that would be all of one number or another - they will tend to be a mix of all three numbers to make it impossible to stick something flat into the cylinder and get the tabs to line up, so the chances are reasonably good that you'll have 6 of the 6 locking tabs that you need and even better than you'll have 5 of the six. I think the panniers would be perfectly secure if you had only FOUR of the locking tabs and it seems like a slam dunk that you'll have enough to make that work, even if you have to move them around to get them in the right places. The latches are not going to open on their own, in any case.

    The hardest part of the job was positioning the pannier so I could visualize the retainer tab and then wiggling the lock cylinders out of the latches - figuring out the locking tabs was a breeze compared to that.

    It's an easy project and the YouTube videos generally do a good job of showing the process, so have confidence that you can make it work if you need to.

    Good luck - drop me a message if I can answer any questions!

    Pete

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  4. #2
    notacop is offline The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    When I got a used set of Vario bags for my G650GS I took them to the dealer where I got the bike and the parts clerk did the lock change for me for a donation to the donut fund.
    i think it was $10 per lock. He apparently knew what he was doing as was done quickly.

  5. #3
    pbansen's Avatar
    Points: 614, Level: 12

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    Pete Bansen
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    Quote Originally Posted by notacop View Post
    When I got a used set of Vario bags for my G650GS I took them to the dealer where I got the bike and the parts clerk did the lock change for me for a donation to the donut fund.
    i think it was $10 per lock. He apparently knew what he was doing as was done quickly.
    That's a pretty good deal for a dealer, but since there are six locks, it wound up being quite a lot of donuts. OTOH, he had the full selection of locking tabs available for exchange as needed, so he was guaranteed to be able to keep all six in operation.

    Once you have figured out how to withdraw the cylinder, ten minutes per lock is probably a generous amount of time.

    Thanks for that excellent tip!

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