Gearbox Backlash Noise - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    savs1701's Avatar
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    Gents, I have a problem…Lately, I am getting a weird backlash noise from, what I believe the gearbox. The noise is a “tock….tock….tock….tock…” (or a "clunk" if you want...) at low RPM (approx 1100) and is noticeable at every gear but mostly on 4th gear. There was another post (related to this in 2009 for GS and S model (ie chain and sproket) but nothing related to ST (belt driven). The backlash is not audible all the time, sometime I get it, sometime not!

    1st gear, I do get the noise once in a while a low speed (10MPH) while I am pulling the clutch lever when getting to a stop sign, but I don’t get it all the time. Note that I do get the noise even if I don’t engage the clutch, it is just easier to hear when the clutch lever is fully pull and the engine noise is minimized…

    Neutral, of course!

    2nd gear, not very often, but I do get it sometime a speed of 20MPH while slowing down to a stop sign.

    3rd gear, yes, but hard to reproduce and only around 30MPH while decelerating with the clutch lever pulled.

    4th gear, the is the worst one, I hear the noise every time I pull the clutch lever and the RPM hits the 1100 rev mark, a lot of “tock..tock..tock...tock…” (Way faster noise since the speed is faster…)

    5th and 6th gears, very hard to say, maybe the speed is too fast and it is to noisy to pay attention to it…

    Neutral, of course!

    So I went back to my garage, try to put the bike on the centre stand on a 2x4 to increase to ground clearance of the rear wheel, of course while trying to do this alone, I drop the bike and break the plastic fearing…arrrrgn!!!!

    After a little help from my wife, I was able to check rear bearing and rear braking while I put it on 1st gear and give it some throttle. The free play of my rear wheel why on 1st gear (engine off) is approx 1-2 inches). Engine on, in fist gear, with no throttle at all, the gear box was giving a lot of backlash…so much that I was scare the bike would fall from the centre stand. It was like if you put a free piece of metal (like a nut or a bolt) inside the gearbox and the piece of junk was jumping from one gear to another… but as soon as I would give a little bit of throttle to increase the RPM, the noise would disappear….

    I send an e-mail to my “favourite” dealer to get some advice, ie stop riding the bike or enjoy it since this is “normal, they all do that”…but after three weeks, still no feedback from them! (Why am I not surprised?). While on vacation, I stop to another dealer to explain my case and ask them if they in the past such issues? The answer was no, and they could not give me much more advice then bring it to your closest dealer….

    The nearest dealer is approx 3 hours (6 hours round trip) away form my house and I am just too lazy to go there, and get the good old answer “ Ah, this is just normal! Have a good day”.

    Therefore, my questions are:
    1. Are these gearbox backlash noises part of the “charisma” of the BMW F800ST gearbox and I should just “enjoy more and worry less” or;
    2. Are these gearbox backlash noises a real issue and I should rent a trailer and go to my nearest dealer to get it fix knowing that my bike is out of warranty, it is a 2007 (with the new front pulley) with only 9800miles and that BMW is not likely to give me a “free good will warranty repair” for this issue? Or
    3. Should I just wait for the next 12000 miles services and get it check at that time while they will fix my leaking head gasket at the same time?

    Any comments and suggestions would be much appreciated! I love to ride this bike, unfortunately, my wife Honda is much more reliable and half price, so I am a little bit disappointed by BMW as manufacturer even if after all, it is a Canadian engine under the “hood”…Blame Canada !

    I also have lovely video if interested on YouTube, but it is not easy to filter the “tock….tock….tock….tock…” from the engine noise in my garage….

    Last edited by savs1701; 07-16-12 at 11:24 AM.

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  3. #2

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    I don't recall ever hearing that tock...tock...tock sound when I had my F800ST. I think there may be something up with your bike but not sure what.

  4. #3
    East Anglia, UK nicko is offline F800Riders.org Supporter
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    I'd say what you're hearing is the norm. My 800S has done this since new - thats over five years now. I notice it most when feathering the clutch in very low speed turns typically in first or second gear.

    Never hear it when wearing earplugs, but it sounds pretty horrible riding round town without them and my passenger (who reckons her ears are too petite for earplugs) commented on it some time back - she thought the noise was me scraping the bike through the turns .

    The backlash you noticed on the centre stand with the engine off sounds about the same as my bike and there are some loud mechanical noises on mine too when moving the backwheel between it with the engine off no matter what gear is selected. I think the belt accentuates matters like this when riding more than on a chain drive system for two reasons - because it runs tighter than a chain generally would and its a lot quieter otherwise.

    As with most things regarding the F800 series engine - put in a fresh set of earplugs and enjoy....



    nicko
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  6. #4
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    Fit a loud pipe and ride, sorry to be flip, both mine sound like they are going to explode, if I run it on the C stand in gears, loud gear change clank, clunk, yup got next gear. It doesn't diminish the enjoyment for me. Generally though under light load, there can be noise, due to lack of free play in the drive train, but under constant load either throttle or engine braking all should be 'quiet'. The fact that it is more pronounced in 4th gear is a slight concern to me, (fine print...I cant hear your sound) Guessing, mmm
    frayed edge of belt
    cush rubbers in rear pulley
    cush dittos in front pulley
    gearbox
    Is the tock tock more in line with engine revs, or road speed?
    Current rides 2011 grey, grey, black f800st hamburger with the lot + leo vince slip on, Intiminators, M shock, led tailight, bmc air filter, F800Ridrers.org sticker, 2007 blue f800st R.I.P. since bought back. sport panniers top box, k100rs, xr400, can-am400, c71 honda, xr100, xs650 and some 

  7. #5
    savs1701's Avatar
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    Richard, I you mentionned, as long as I keep the rev upprer the 3000 and have constant load either with throttle or engine braking, I don`t get the "tock or clunk noise". But i do have frayed edge on the belt (approx 10 to 15%) but this very light! Something that I also notice is that my belt as tendancy to move from left to right on the rear pulley, I only notice that after a stop, sometime it will be all the way inside, and other time, it will be in the outside of the pulley, but it does not get out of the pulley yet! As for the noise, I am trying to change my habit from "cruising on free wheel" by pulling to cluth lever while getting to a stop or a traffic and now I try to shift down, release the clutch lever, use a little bit of engine compression (to increase rev) and it like this I manage to reduced the occrurence of that gearbox noise.

    As for your question, if the the tock tock are more in line with engine revs, or road speed, I would say yes! At very low speed just before stopping, it maybe one deep noise tock per wheel rotation, so very slow, but if I pull the clutch lever in 4th gear (to reduse engine noise so that I can monitor the backlash noise), the tock/clunk noise is much more faster, possibly one tock per rotaton, but since I am going faster, I get the sound at higher frequency...

    Tonight, I may try to replica the sound while going down a road and cut the engine off, just to see what will happend (of course I will pull the clutch lever...). Thanks for your feedback!

  8. #6
    savs1701's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicko View Post
    The backlash you noticed on the centre stand with the engine off sounds about the same as my bike and there are some loud mechanical noises on mine too when moving the backwheel between it with the engine off no matter what gear is selected.
    In fact Nicko, when I have the bike on my center stand with engine OFF and clutch engaged, (pulled lever with a c-clamp), I can easilly spin the rear wheel in all gear without noticing any suspicious mechanical noise. Only with engine ON, in 1st gear (did not try the other gears...) with NO throttle that I get these backlash noise from what I beleive comes form the gearbox.

    Even with earplugs, I still hear to noise at very low speed...But as I mentionned before, I don`t get these backlash noise all the time.... I will still monitor this issue, I am just surprise by the few people who have experienced this issue. Maybe should just put a microphone taped to my bike with my MP3 player (or my laptop) and record it while I am driving...

  9. #7

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    A couple things, Savs- Did you check the tightness of the front pulley bolt? How about the rubber damper blocks in the rear pulley? These age and deteriorate, causing unwanted play, backlash and lumpy noise/juddering. (ie: that's also why they are called "judder dampers" or on Max BMW parts fiche: "jerk dampers" lol)

    There will be little evidence of this when coasting, or engine off, or by hand spinning the wheel etc., because there is an entirely new order of magnitude of torque and mechanical advantage going on with the engine under load, versus not.

    Also- 1,100 rpm in 4th? Dude! All transmissions (well bikes for sure anyway) will tend to do that! Waaaaaay too low RPM for the gear! (even 3rd or 2nd or 1st!) The F800 (S and ST) is geared pretty tall, and is hideous to try and do low speed heavy traffic type duties, IMHO. I don't think the makers envisioned people in other countries stuck in rush hour traffic where you are not allowed to lane split. Trying to gurgle along lurching and shuddering in first gear with the clutch constantly in/out in/out at 10 to 30 kph is just *not* a fun thing to do on this machine.

    My bike ('09 ST) sounds and acts every bit as bad as yours at low speed, low rpm's. With other bikes I've had, they were usually geared lower, especially in first, and you could troll along at idle with no throttle input, no hand on the bar even, and be happy as a clam, smoothly creeping along.

    With this bike, I absolutely fing dread going slow on, because of the horrible driveline lurching and grinding/crunching, and the insane amount of fuel injection abrupt mannerisms.

    Raise your RPM's and/or shift down your gears. That's the only thing I can really offer up.
    Formerly: 2009 F800ST Night Blue Metallic. She's gone, sob. Now: 2012 Honda NC700XA Manual/ABS Darkness Black Metallic  

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  11. #8
    savs1701's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LBS View Post

    Also- 1,100 rpm in 4th? Dude! All transmissions (well bikes for sure anyway) will tend to do that! Waaaaaay too low RPM for the gear! (even 3rd or 2nd or 1st!)
    Thanks for the comment, note that I was not driving in 4th gear at this RPM, just slowing down to a STOP or Trafiic with the clutch lever fully pulled (i.e. on free wheel). I normally drive at RPM between 4000 and 5000, except on the military post, where speed limits is at 25mph, and I have no choice to go between 2500 and 3000 or the bike will almost stall on 2nd gear if I go in the lower RPM....

    I will do more search on the rubber damper....So far I hate my bike since this backlash noise started...It is so bad that when I get backlash, that the bike shake as I am driving and pulling the clutch lever at high moderate speed (approx 50 to 60 MPH)...Not a great feeling when cornering in the first part of the turn while braking...

    My wife offered me her little CBR250R and I am almost tempted to use this one instead of my supposed to be "high tech" and very expensive BMW...

  12. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by savs1701 View Post
    Thanks for the comment, note that I was not driving in 4th gear at this RPM, just slowing down to a STOP or Trafiic with the clutch lever fully pulled (i.e. on free wheel). I normally drive at RPM between 4000 and 5000, except on the military post, where speed limits is at 25mph, and I have no choice to go between 2500 and 3000 or the bike will almost stall on 2nd gear if I go in the lower RPM....

    I will do more search on the rubber damper....So far I hate my bike since this backlash noise started...It is so bad that when I get backlash, that the bike shake as I am driving and pulling the clutch lever at high moderate speed (approx 50 to 60 MPH)...Not a great feeling when cornering in the first part of the turn while braking...

    My wife offered me her little CBR250R and I am almost tempted to use this one instead of my supposed to be "high tech" and very expensive BMW...
    Ahh, I see

    Definitely have someone take a good look at the bike to make sure it's safe if it's doing bad stuff at higher speeds, though! Please don't ignore something that might make you take a bad spill, mate.

    Hey, your wife is a smarty! (if you don't mind me saying so)

    I have a CBR125R that I am a lot more fond of, and it's quality far outstrips my "high tech" and very expensive BMW, too!
    Formerly: 2009 F800ST Night Blue Metallic. She's gone, sob. Now: 2012 Honda NC700XA Manual/ABS Darkness Black Metallic  

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  14. #10
    savs1701's Avatar
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    New info, I was wasting my time on my bike (as usual) playing with the rear wheel while the bike was on the center stand just to make sure that I did not get any noise from the rear bearing and voilà! I was able replicate the gearbox backlash noise with the engine OFF!!! At fist, I spin the rear wheel in every gear with the clutch lever fully pull (using a c-clamp), and suddently after one cycle from 1st to 6th gear, in the second time I got the noise in the 4th gear!!! I was very happy and proud of me So I go back inside, grab the camera and ....no more noise in 4th gear! So I play the rear wheel, front and back rotation, while switching to different gear and I finally replicate the noise again in 3rd and 6th gear...As you can see and hear the noise is not permanent on my bike, I only get once in while but it is very annoying....In order to share my joy and maybe get more feedback, I have posted there videos on YouTube. The first one with the noise in 3rd gear that suddently disapeared....The second one in 6th gear and the last one is normal noise (i.e. no noise) when I don`t get this issue with my gearbox. Enjoy and eager to get more feedbacks!

    #1
    http://youtu.be/kVZL5lVCb1k

    #2
    http://youtu.be/R6LnLJN6BeQ

    #3
    http://youtu.be/YXVV_ocNUo8

  15. #11
    richarde1605's Avatar
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    It sounds almost if the gear is not fully engaged, and the dogs on another gear are skipping over each other? I don't know but it is not a good sound...
    Current rides 2011 grey, grey, black f800st hamburger with the lot + leo vince slip on, Intiminators, M shock, led tailight, bmc air filter, F800Ridrers.org sticker, 2007 blue f800st R.I.P. since bought back. sport panniers top box, k100rs, xr400, can-am400, c71 honda, xr100, xs650 and some 

  16. #12
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    Sylvain,
    It seems that no forum member has had this "problem" and had it fixed / knows for certain the cause. Therefore, we can all speculate but don't know ---- it could be harmless or could be indication of gearbox problem that could deteriorate towards an expensive repair or lock up on the road. I think it is time to seek BMW advice.

  17. #13
    savs1701's Avatar
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    That is exactly my next step...Right now, I am just not sure if I should let BMW do the work or just buy a used gearbox/transmission from E-Bay and do it myself...The cheapest gear set for this transmission (2nd gear) is approx $170 and the most expensive one (1st gear) is $430...A used gearbox is between $300 to $450 on ebay...Plus at max 2 hours of labor if I can find a local shop to "play" with my BMW...

    I will provide update after the problem is fixed.

  18. #14
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    Savs,

    You said that there was a post on this same issue on the 09 GS model. What did they figure out or how was it resolved, because if it is gearbox related it shouldn't matter if it is belt or chain. That might provide you some answers. Also, how many miles on your ride? I would say that this noise is not normal and since it appears to have a random pattern as well as it happening in various gears it is most likely related to the gear box. Let us know what you discover......good luck

  19. #15
    savs1701's Avatar
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    The issue of the previous post was only a chain noise!!! And I only have 9800 miles on the bike...So far, BMW Dealer told me that I should be "safe" driving the bike after viewing the videos on youtube...So I may go there this Saturday or next week, but before I want to stop at a local shop to see if they could have a look at the trans...After all, a gearbox is a gearbox and since my dealer has no clue anyway, the risk is pretty low. I am very tempted by the "used transmission" on ebay for $400...Will see!

  20. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by savs1701 View Post
    The issue of the previous post was only a chain noise!!! And I only have 9800 miles on the bike...So far, BMW Dealer told me that I should be "safe" driving the bike after viewing the videos on youtube...So I may go there this Saturday or next week, but before I want to stop at a local shop to see if they could have a look at the trans...After all, a gearbox is a gearbox and since my dealer has no clue anyway, the risk is pretty low. I am very tempted by the "used transmission" on ebay for $400...Will see!
    I agree, just because it is a BMW mechanic does't necessarily mean he is any better then a joe from another shop......keep us posted

  21. #17
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    Joe from another shop is charging me $75 per hour to have a look and will have a hard time ordering parts...On top of that he ask me if I change the oil in the transmission, I told him that it was the same oil as the engine, and he reply that "no, no, it is separated from the engine...you should have a drain plug under the gearbox" I double check the manual, and correct me if I wrong but this guy did not have clue about he was talking....I never saw any "Transmission Oil" on this engine...That scare me a little bit, maybe Joe is not that good after all....

  22. #18

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    Go to the dealership and forget Joe.

  23. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by savs1701 View Post
    Joe from another shop is charging me $75 per hour to have a look and will have a hard time ordering parts...On top of that he ask me if I change the oil in the transmission, I told him that it was the same oil as the engine, and he reply that "no, no, it is separated from the engine...you should have a drain plug under the gearbox" I double check the manual, and correct me if I wrong but this guy did not have clue about he was talking....I never saw any "Transmission Oil" on this engine...That scare me a little bit, maybe Joe is not that good after all....
    That's an ugly noise! I'm sorry I don't know what it is, but I know it's not normal or "safe" sounding to me!

    The guy is ignorant and/or misinformed about the F800 series of parallel twins, Sylvain.

    The "boxer" engined BMW's (the opposed twin models that have the cylinders sticking out in front of your boots), and the older "brick" engined (longitudinal inline four's and triples), have a dry, automotive style clutch, and therefore seperate transmission and engine oil compartments.

    Our bikes have a normal motorcycle wet clutch with engine and trans, sharing the same motor oil.
    Formerly: 2009 F800ST Night Blue Metallic. She's gone, sob. Now: 2012 Honda NC700XA Manual/ABS Darkness Black Metallic  

  24. #20
    savs1701's Avatar
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    Thanks LBS, for a moment I though I was getting dump!

    FYI, Did a oil change and it did not change my issue!!! Could not take the bike to the dealer since I was unable to rent a trailer...It will have to wait for one week!
    Last edited by savs1701; 07-21-12 at 03:15 PM.

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  26. #21
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    Dropped the bike at my dealer, they were able to duplicate the noise but the technician did not have any clue! I ask svc manager how does it take to remove the engine, so that I could have better approximation of how much I will have pay for the repair ($82 per hour) and as usual the good old answer, was: I don`t know!!! We never have to do it before....Now I am officially scare, drove 2 hours to get there, rented a trailer, and they just don't have a clue, not even able to get the BMW Warranty Services so they would know how much BMW would usually pay for this type of repair....Normally, any good dealer should be able to get access to this type of info....Hopefully, it would not be too bad and I will still have some money for X-mas

    Would anyone know how much time it takes to remove a F800 Engine from the bike?

  27. #22

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    This was posted on another thread/board about cam chain slack [linked] by LBS (still horrified about the article)

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=727687

    Time to remove engine was 7 hours 45 minutes.


    According to BMW, apparently I now have 15 minutes [l]eft to repair the cam chain and reinstall the engine.
    Post 72

    Best of luck!
     

  28. #23
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    Dave, this is very detailed post, but in my case, the question was related to just remove the engine from the bike itself, when the engine if off the bike, to get the transmission is that long...Oups, just read the post, and it was just to remove the engine....Hopefully the BMW Technician won`t take any picture and save some time! So far, still no news from my dealer...

  29. #24
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    I drop the bike on July 24, 2012. So far, after 8 working days, I called the dealer and "They are still checking..." Just that (5 sec answer), nothing else, nothing like, we can not find your issue and we have contacted BMW USA for more info, or we have not yet found anything suspisious in your gearbox, or gears are OK, could be a bearing...Just "We are still checking..." I wonder if they did any on my bike at all...I don`t want to push my luck since they have my bike right now and there is not much I can do!!

    If I would of done it in my garage, buy a refurbished transmission on ebay, I would likely be done by now! I hope that I will not be charged for the time they spent SEARCHING for the problem but only for the time to REPAIR the issue.

  30. #25
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    9 Aug 2012 UPDATE: Just called the dealer and beleive it or not, it seems that the noise was due to a rear bearing failure, nothing in the gearbox... and they had to order a shaft....Ouach...Just did a quick check on ASCycle:

    - Drive shaft $460
    - Bearings: $50 each (x2)
    - Just hope that eccentric was OK...

    I still have my doubt about the rear bearing failure at 9850 miles , since I had not slack at all, and no noise coming from the rear axel...You bet that I will test drive the baby properlly before leaving the dealer on Saturday...

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  32. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by savs1701 View Post
    9 Aug 2012 UPDATE: Just called the dealer and beleive it or not, it seems that the noise was due to a rear bearing failure, nothing in the gearbox... and they had to order a shaft....Ouach...Just did a quick check on ASCycle:

    - Drive shaft $460
    - Bearings: $50 each (x2)
    - Just hope that eccentric was OK...

    I still have my doubt about the rear bearing failure at 9850 miles , since I had not slack at all, and no noise coming from the rear axel...You bet that I will test drive the baby properlly before leaving the dealer on Saturday...

    Well as bad as it feels to say this, I think I'd rather have a rear bearing failure than a weird unknown gearbox problem...

    I wonder what the labour will be? Was there any mention of "goodwill" on that?

    Best of luck! Keep us updated, please
    Formerly: 2009 F800ST Night Blue Metallic. She's gone, sob. Now: 2012 Honda NC700XA Manual/ABS Darkness Black Metallic  

  33. #27
    savs1701's Avatar
    Points: 7,627, Level: 61

    Real Name
    Sylvain Savard
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    Not much info for the service department, but I did mention it when I drop the bike that I would like to get some sort of goodwill repair, maybe I pay labour, and BMW pays the parts... Right now, I am searching the Service Campaign 19/2009 when BMW was offering goodwill repair for new shaft for bike below 30K KM...Will see, don`t expect much but I will ty for sure! I am supposed to get an e-mail tonight for a price estimate...

  34. #28
    savs1701's Avatar
    Points: 7,627, Level: 61

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    As posted in other place...FYI I just got my goodwill money from my dealer! BMW America paid for all parts related to the rear axle. Now, I have to admit that I start to like my dealer! He did a great job!! Unfortunately, my left handle grip just died . So it seems that no matter what, BMW will see more of my money...

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    I have a 2017 F800GT, I’ve had it 2 days and have noticed the same mechanical clunk and clicking noises every time I change up or down, especially at low speed.
    As a new rider I thought it was my sloppy clutch and gear shift sync.
    One test I did was to stand the bike on Center Stand, engine off, dip the clutch change in to 1st.
    Now turn the rear wheel back and fore, there’s nearly 1/8th of a wheel turn slack before any resistance is felt.
    To me this is a problem, This backlash is excessive, every time the drive goes neutral at changing gear or using engine braking this backlash is slapping backwards and forwards making all the noise and possibly damaging the drive in the gear box.
    I still investigating this and looking for a parts manual to check factory settings myself.
    Meanwhile it is under. 3 month warranty and considering taking it back to the dealer to sort out
    I’ll post more as I find out

  36. #30
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    Remember to check your belt tension as this has an impact on this feeling. If the belt is too tight it does not help, especially with the sensitive throttle at low speeds too. Also ensure the oil level is not too high as this can cause a issues too, as the bike runs a dry sump.
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, 

  37. #31
    MGD109's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldgreeny View Post
    .......1/8th of a wheel turn slack before any resistance is felt.....
    Checked my GT today and I have about 2.5 inch play at the wheel rim when rocked backwards and forwards. It's all backlash in the gears you can see the pulley is moving with the wheel no backlash in the cush drive. It's a 2013 bike with 10,000 miles on it and as far as I can tell rides fine. 1/8 of a turn would be by my calculation over 6.5 inch moment at the rim so it would suggest there is a problem with your bike.
    In the Garage 2013 BMW F800 GT,1994 BMW R80 RT,1986 BMW R80 GS,1999 Yamaha SR125
    Sorley missed Honda TLR200
    Enjoy the ride 

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    As for your question, if the the tock tock are more in line with engine revs, or road speed, I would say yes! At very low speed just before stopping, it maybe one deep noise tock per wheel rotation, so very slow, but if I pull the clutch lever in 4th gear (to reduse engine noise so that I can monitor the backlash noise), the tock/clunk noise is much more faster, possibly one tock per rotaton, but since I am going faster, I get the sound at higher frequency...

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