Water-cooled BMW R1200GS owners will soon be getting a call from their local dealership, as the popular adventure-touring machine is getting a worldwide service bulletin that affects models made between November 2013 and June 2017.
The service bulletin concerns the fixed fork tubes on the BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200 GS Adventure models, which can suffer damage from high stress incidents (going over an obstacle, riding through a pothole, etc), and subsequently fail.
By our math, this service bulletin affects over 150,000 motorcycles, making it a massive global undertaking for the German motorcycle brand, for its flagship model.
Damage to the front forks manifests itself by a gap forming between the pipe and the top seal plugs, though damage to the front wheel may also be present.
As was explained to us by a BMW dealership in the United States, this is a different issue from the fork issue that lead to the recall of the 2014 BMW R1200RT, which concerned the electronically controlled suspension pieces.
Despite the fork issue affecting a large number of GS owners, and having possible dire consequences for the handling of the motorcycle when the tubes fail, BMW Motorrad is not issuing a recall for the affected models, instead dealing with the problem through what is called a service campaign.
This is likely because escalating the issue to a recall would bring with it certain legal obligations, whereas a service bulletin or service campaign puts more of the onus on BMW customers.
A service campaign also means that BMW will only fix motorcycles that show a gap created in the fork tubes, meaning bikes that do not show the symptom will be left with their current suspension hardware – a significantly cheaper undertaking than a recall en masse.
Interestingly, this issue with the front fork tubes on the R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure has long been a bone of contention with GS owners.
It has even lead to the creation of the website BMWFatalFlaw.com – which includes photos and testimony from a bevy of GS owners who have been afflicted by the fork tube failure.
With likely 150,000 machines or more to check, we can expect this service campaign to take a considerable amount of time. This will only be compounded further if dealers have long wait time for replacement parts for affected machines.