BMW Motorrad Has Definitely Not Done Its Homework

Back in the day when I DARED speak (or write, for what’s worth) about the possibility that BMW seemed in a bit of a hurry to deliver its new lineup of bikes, a lot of BMW fan boys snapped their teeth at me. These early summer days bring one more reason to suspect that the Bavarian manufacturer may be cutting some corners… even though not voluntarily, and in a way, proving that these bikes are not as perfect as some wishfully think they are.
However, since the bikes get a BMW badge and are sold with a BMW price tag, instead of a small card with the names and insignia of the parts suppliers, it only feels natural that some inquisitive eyes are turning towards Munich and some answers are direly needed.

The latest blow for the BMW customers is once more affecting the suspension of certain bikes, with the star of the new recall being the 2014 R1200RT tourer, in its Dynamic ESA-equipped version. Most of the guys who made an effort to get this bike are loyal fans, many of them having planned their summer vacations aboard the new RT and eager to count the miles as they went on. Unfortunately for those who have spent big bucks on their new tourer, all vacation plans went down the drain.

A riding ban was instated for all the bikes equipped with the Dynamic ESA, under the risk of major rear suspension failure. Now, would somebody please illuminate me on how this is possible for a bike retailing for a base price of €16,990? To help our riding buddies across the pond get a better picture, we’re dealing with the equivalent of $23,000 – which is a lot of money anywhere in the whole wide world – and paying this price for a common motorcycle should not come with being left in the middle of nowhere with a rear suspension which breaks down out of the blue.

Putting things in fewer words, such a thing should not have happened. Hopefully, nobody gets hurt in case these bikes’ rear shock absorbers go down in pieces. If what our UK reader Adrian Pulford tells us is true, then you can imagine the dismay in his heart when he realized that the call he got was not a prank from his buddies back home, but BMW telling him to stop riding and call BMW Assistance. And this was not happening on the outskirts of his home in the UK, but as his carefully planned trip was beginning to unfold… in Spain.

“Dear BMW - thank you for ruining my carefully-planned and much-anticipated 'biking holiday in the Picos Mountains, Northern Spain. On the first day, my 62nd birthday, I was able to explore the amazing capabilities of the new R1200RT I purchased on 30th April. Having carefully run it in, organised the 600 mile service and made sure it had covered almost 1,000 mile as I boarded the ferry at Portsmouth I was truly ecstatic about my decision to update from a 2012 RT to the new model. Ecstatic, that is until I responded to a missed call from Wollaston Motorrad at 6pm on 05/06/14.

“I was told to stop riding my new bike immediately as there was a potential for the rear suspension damper to fail! After realising that this was not a wind-up from one of my pals, rather it was a serious communication from BMW to stop all owners of 2014 model RT's from riding them. I was at the top of a mountain with 7 pals but was told to call BMW Assistance who would recover the bike from the roadside!! I nursed the bike back to the hotel where it was placed in the garage.

“On 07/06/14 the bike was taken from the hotel on a low-loader to be repatriated to UK and I was taxi'd to Avis in the next town to collect a Fiat 500L hire car. I am in a state of shock as I write this in Santillana del Mar on the evening of 07/06/14 and trying to work out what happened.

“I am fantasizing how to plot my revenge on BMW because no amount of compensation will bring my biking holiday back. It's gone, never to be recovered. And my short-lived love affair with my new RT is over, disappearing on the back of a low loader. Aaarrrgghhhhh!! I'm so angry and disappointed, BMW - couldn't it have waited til next week,” he writes.

Now, I am not writing this piece to belittle BMW, nor to rant against its bikes. The RT is probably one of the most amazing and fun road-touring machine ever built, and there are only few bikes that could rival it in terms of streetability, handling, comfort and all-round bang for the buck. But this only makes such manufacturing errors even more flabbergasting, and I can almost bet my monthly wage that nobody would have even dared to imagine this nightmare.

Fact is, the damage has already been done, and now it’s up to BMW to try and make up for all the crap which hit the fans. Adrian is only one of the riders who have spent big bucks on the bike and made plans, but I just know that others like him were just as eager to hit the road… possibly to the 2014 BMW Motorrad Days, in early July. Now, it’s uncertain whether they’ll make it there aboard the new RTs.

Truth be told, the fault most likely belongs to the manufacturer of the rear suspension, but again, BMW was supposed to test everything well beyond the limit of human imagination, so to speak, making sure its bikes are safe and REMAIN SAFE after the first thousands of miles. Since BMW is stamping the final OK on these bikes, the blame lies with it, unfortunately.

Even though I might attract more hate mail, there IS something wrong with some of the new bikes’ suspensions, whether BMW fan boys like it or not and regardless of their kind yet completely unnecessary approval of reality. I don’t want to sound ominous, but I just hope we don’t get to hear about another “perfectly fine bike” like that in the (still) mystery-shrouded case of Kevin Ash’s death.
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