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Catastrophic Fork Seal Failure

Discussion in 'General R1200RS Discussions' started by Gregory Clark, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Gregory Clark

    Gregory Clark Active Member Contributor

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    My riding buddies caught up with me this afternoon toward the end of a great ride and immediately after we exited 30 miles of sweepers on FM 1431 here in Texas. They waived me over to tell me there is smoke blowing out the back of my bike - not a good thing to hear.

    We found a safe spot in a gas station parking lot and I went looking for a motor oil leak or a coolant leak, however upon closer inspection I found the left front fork with oil pouring out of the bottom of the fork leg. My boot, the lower spoiler and header were covered with fork oil - the source of the smoke. Not only that but the entire left side of wheel and tire were covered with oil as well as the caliper and the brake pad.

    Up to this point there was not a hint of a seal failure or leak. This kind of failure, had it not been detected by my fellow riders could have ended with me sliding on the road as I tipped into the next set of left hand turns.

    I think I know what failed but will hand it over to my local dealer for repair. More later....
     
  2. boxter

    boxter Well-Known Member

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    That's a big worry, good job it was seen before disaster.

    Be interested what happened to the fork.


    Ged
     
  3. neil wheelhouse

    neil wheelhouse Member

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    Hi Greg, what is the millage on your bike
     
  4. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Thanks Greg. Keep us updated on what your dealer finds out about that catastrophic failure. I hope it is something unique and not a designed-in issue. :eek:
     
  5. Brimstone Mahone

    Brimstone Mahone Well-Known Member

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    Hey, if we wanted bulletproof bikes, we'd be riding Hondas! ;)

    Seriously, good save by your buds; glad it was discovered before the leak caused an incident due to slick tires/bad handling (no oil in fork)/ braking!
     
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  6. Lee

    Lee Well-Known Member

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    Good to hear you did not go down due to oil on the tires.
    I would ask that warranty replace the brake pads that got on them.
     
  7. Gregory Clark

    Gregory Clark Active Member Contributor

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    Just under 8 thousand miles.
     
  8. Leon.P.

    Leon.P. Well-Known Member

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    A great save which could have been a disaster. I would like them to replace all effected parts including the front tire.:(;)
     
  9. Brimstone Mahone

    Brimstone Mahone Well-Known Member

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    They might do that just to satisfy a customer but with the exception of the brake pads, the leaking fork oil has no adverse effect on any of the other parts, including the tire (once cleaned 0ff) so although nothing wrong with asking/demanding, I wouldn't expect them to replace parts under warranty other than fork seal/brake pads.
     
  10. Jim Evans

    Jim Evans Well-Known Member

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    One does wonder whether use forks are worth the advantages. Lots of people getting new seals, a total pia to change the fork oil ( really, dismantle the whole front end just for a few ounces of oil?). I see Triumph don't even warranty fork seals, I don't know about other makes.
    The theory is good, but I think a bit more engineering is called for. How about bellows over the sliding parts like they had on the BSA Bantam?
     
  11. Gregory Clark

    Gregory Clark Active Member Contributor

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    Update: Bike is with service team. The stanchion tube seals are fine.

    It is leaking out of the bottom of the left fork leg where the inner damping unit is fixed in place with by an exterior screw and sealing ring. They will pull it apart in the next couple of days. At best the fastener and sealing ring let go. At the worst there is a crack in the casting.
    upload_2017-11-28_14-43-11.png

    More to come...
     
  12. GordonH

    GordonH Well-Known Member

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    BMW have all the engineering they need in their own parts bin - the RS should have a telelever front end on it........no need for electronic anti dive etc and no worries about fork seals going.
     
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  13. Grumpy Goat

    Grumpy Goat Well-Known Member Contributor

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    Wow! I was on that road a couple of weeks ago while on a camping trip to Blanco State park. You don't want to be losing brakes and traction on that road. Good to hear that you were able to safely bring the bike to a stop and that you are having it looked at. I would like to know why this blew out like that - definitely not good.

    On to read more of the thread which I am now seeing for the first time.
     
  14. Aussie Import

    Aussie Import Well-Known Member

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    Telelever has seals too.
    AFAIK there is very little knowledge of tweaking its handling and changes are not simple.
    I had to install an aftermarket torque arm to raise the rear end to steepen the steering. With telies you just drop the forks.
    The front end of the RS feels much more secure than the Telelever. If the Telelever had the same feedback it would be superior even with the additional weight.
    Anyhow occasional seal failure is not an issue.
     
  15. GordonH

    GordonH Well-Known Member

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    AI - you are right.....but the seals on the fork legs/sliders are simply dust seals - no oil behind them. Oil seals are in the shock absorber/damper unit....and if they go, its up out of the way of brakes and tyres etc......I think!

    Yes - much harder to adjust the geometry.
     
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  16. Aussie Import

    Aussie Import Well-Known Member

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    There was oil in my sliders but I agree they did not dampen.
     
  17. Brimstone Mahone

    Brimstone Mahone Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully it will simply be that bolt #1 was not properly tightened from the factory and the fix is just a new seal and a properly tightened bolt! :)
     
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  18. Jim Evans

    Jim Evans Well-Known Member

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    True, but the usd fork is much more compliant and definitely rides better than the telelever. I just wish they'd make the usd fork as reliable as the telelever. A fork which dumps oil on the front wheel and brakes is a major safety hazard - maybe we should be notifying the safety authorities and calling for a recall.
     
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  19. runnerhiker

    runnerhiker Well-Known Member Contributor

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    BMW's seem to have failures that others don't have, or maybe it's just the nature of the BMW clients. But I would say BMW needs a new seals engineer: fork seals, water pump seals, rear gear seals.
     
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  20. Richard230

    Richard230 Well-Known Member Contributor

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    You probably can't directly blame BMW for any fork seal problems as they don't make the suspension components. I believe they are sourced from Sachs. No doubt when there is a warranty issue, their supplier will be back-charged for any expenses that BMW incurs. Of course, BMW did select the vendor, so I guess they share some responsibility - especially if they went with the "low bidder". ;)
     

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