12,000 Mile Maintenance

Oil Change

Changed the oil this past week as part of the 12,000-mile maintenance. Everything went smoothly. This was the second time doing it for me so it went pretty quickly. The process is to remove the bash plate, loosen the drain plug a bit (makes it easier to remove later when the engine is warm), remove the left side cover, then warm up the engine for a bit. Loosen the top drainplug a little, then remove the top oil container thing, then fully remove the drainplug and tilt the container to empty out the oil into a jug or something. After that is done, replace the drainplug and put the top oil container back into place. Next, remove the bottom drain plug and empty out the oil. Clean the drainplug and any debris that the magnet may have trapped. Put a new crush washer on, and tighten the drainplug. Next, remove the front sprocket cover, and get ready to remove the oil filter cover which means to make sure and have your makeshift funnel ready. BMW will sell you the funnel for $65, but I opted for the beercan method (see photo above). Remove the old oil filter and replace with a new one (put a little fresh oil on the rubber seal first). Put a new gasket on the cover, and put it back together. Next put 2 liters of oil in the top, then let the engine run for 30 seconds. Add .3 more liters. Replace bash plate and side cover and you’re done. Easy peasy!

In addition to the oil change, I bled the brakes and put in some fresh DOT-4 brake fluid. Now the brake action feels a lot more solid.

Spark Plug Change

Kiki is nearing the 12,000 mile mark which means a bunch of service needs to be done and I’m trying to do most of it myself to save a bit of cash. One of the things I haven’t done before on the GS is change the spark plugs. Although my bike is a single-cylinder model,┬áit’s a “dual-spark” which means there are two spark plugs. I decided to use the stock NGK DR8EB plugs as replacements and the price for these were about $4.50 each as opposed to an Iridium plug which goes for upwards of $20. Too pricey for me and the performance difference is debatable.

157/366 - NGK Sparkplugs

For a nice guide on how to change the spark plugs, you can check out the FAQ at the Chain Gang site. However, there were a few parts of the procedure that could use a little more detail. For my 2007 model, I’d recommend taking off the plastics, removing the snorkel, the battery, and the battery tray. By doing this, you can access the tops of the coil/caps. There is a grey rubber sleeve that secures the coil to a metal mount, and you’ll want to turn the coil so that the sleeve comes off of the metal mount. After that, you can pull the coil/cap up off of the plug. It’s easier if you have small hands. For the coil/cap on the side, you might be able to push that up from the side, rather than pull up from the top.

Click on the photos below to view at Flickr where you can see highlighted notes.

Spark Plug Replacement

Spark Plug Replacement

Once you get the coil/caps off, blow off the plug area with compressed air to get rid of any dirt. Next, you can use the spark plug socket included in the BMW toolkit to unscrew the plugs. For the center plug, you will have to drop the socket down onto it from by where the battery was. Then, use a big screwdriver and put it in the top of the socket. My plug was in there pretty tight, so I used some vice-grips on the screwdriver handle to turn the socket. Once you get the plugs out, just reverse the process and you’ll be done!

On my old Supercub, changing the plug would take only a couple minutes since it was so easily accessible. The BMW F650 GS’s plugs are tucked in there pretty tightly and there was plenty of cussing and sweating when I was figuring out how to do it. But now that I know how it’s done, the next change will be pretty easy. Anyways, I hope this post helps someone who might be unclear on what they have to do to change their plugs. You can always leave a comment here if you want me to contact you for more explanation!

New Tires

I finally got my tires mounted on my wheels. The original Metzeler Tourances lasted 600 miles which I hear is pretty good for Texas roads. I opted to have the motorcycle shop mount the new Heidenau K76 to the rear wheel since this is notoriously difficult to do by yourself. It’s possible but takes a lot of muscle. It has to do with the shape of the wheel which doesn’t have such a deep channel in the center. Anyways, the place I took it to charges only $26 if you bring in the wheel by itself. I really enjoy working on the bike as much as I can. I think it’s fun to figure out how stuff works; many times things turn out a lot simpler than originally thought. That’s the case with the way the wheels mount to the swingarm on the little GS. It’s very similar to my old Honda C70.

New Rear Tire Mounted

The Heidenau K60 Scout front tire I decided to mount by myself since it is supposed to be easier. I also wanted to make sure I knew how to do it in case I needed to on the road. Even though it is easier than the rear, the front still takes a bit of elbow grease, but there’s nothing magical about it. It’s just a matter of using the tire irons and getting leverage. Speaking of tire irons, I have a 16-inch Motion-Pro tire iron and two smaller 8-inch generic tire irons. The 16-inch is excellent and helps a lot. I highly recommend having at least one. I might get another one if I can find one for cheap.

I also use a lubricant on the tire called Ru-Glyde. It makes the job much easier! The tire will slip over the rim easier saving you a lot of time and power. I also heard that a warm tire is a bit more pliable than a cold one, but it was about 50 degrees today and I didn’t feel like putting the tire in the oven! But I finally got the tire on. Woohoo! The most difficult part was fishing for the valve stem!

Ru-Glyde and ATF

The next thing I need to do is balance the tire as best I can. I actually didn’t know that the tires have markings on them to show you where to line it up with the valve stem to get it closer to balanced. I might need to break the bead again and shift the tire a bit, then rig up a homemade tire-balancing solution. There is a guide on the f650.com site which seems to work well so I will give that a shot.

New Front tire Mounted

I can’t wait to try out the new tires on some dirt. It should be a bit more stable than the Tourances. They won’t last as long as the Metzelers, but I’m expecting to get about 7-8,000 miles out of them which I will be happy with!

*Update*

I bought a 3/8-inch rod from the hardware store and used it to balance my tire. The BMW wheel has flat (non-tapered) bearings inside which supposedly make using a plain bar possible. Sure enough, it worked great. The tire easily rotated around and it wasn’t difficult to find the heavy spot on the tire, then affix the proper amount of weight on the other side. BTW, I went to CycleGear to buy some weights, but the guy there just gave me a strip of them for free!

CBOA Tire Balancing

A Little Cleaning

Cleaning

I was cleaning the chain using ATF the other day and upon close inspection, I found that the PJ1-Black I was using was all over the chain guard, and also the rear wheel. Probably my fault for using too much. But anyways I decided to do a little clean up. I used a little ATF on a rag and shined up the wheel, then removed the chainguard and cleaned it and the swingarm.

Gleaming

It’s looking pretty shiny, but I actually like the look of a dirty bike more. But the greasy wheel made for some dirty air pressure checking so I think this cleaning is a good thing.

Chain Maintenance

Chain Stuff

Ever since I first fixed up my Supercub, I’ve been pretty good about keeping the chain in good condition. There’s plenty of debate as to the best way to take care of the chain, but a trusted source on the Honda C70 Yahoo! Group used PJ1-Black so I bought a can and used it. It seemed to work well, and when I got my GS, I kept on using it. A guy at the local motorcycle dealership gave me some more tips on cleaning the chain and I’ve been using the technique he gave me. Basically use some chain cleaner (I have the Motul stuff) and a brush (I have a grunge brush) to clean the chain. Wipe off with a rag. Then go for a short ride to warm up the chain a bit and finally apply your lube of choice. Let the lube set for a couple hours and then you are good to go.

Like I said earlier, PJ1-Black seems to work fine, but I think I spray on too much of the stuff. The sprocket cover has quite a bit of the black gunk on it. Cleaning that off was a messy affair! I did recently find a can of PJ1-Blue while cleaning up the garage. Not sure when I bought this but I might as well give it a try sometime.

But after reading a bit more, I think I will try just using Automatic Transmission Fluid. The advantage of this is that it will clean and lube all in one shot. Plus ATF is really cheap, and I like the CBOA approach. Some people apply it with a brush, while others use a spray bottle. I guess I will use a brush and see how it goes. Anyways, after 7,000 miles my chain and sprockets still look great. I really don’t know if the lubes really help all that much or if it is just another way to spend money. From what I have read, I think that the most important thing is to keep the chain clean and free from dirt and grime and the tension adjusted correctly.

Incidentally, I just saw a video from Touratech and Helge Pederson where he talks a bit about chain maintenance. Enjoy!

Washing the Bike

Washing

I’ve had my motorcycle for a whole year now and I haven’t washed it once. It’s kind of a tradition that GS’s are supposed to be dirty. I’ve read that at some GS rallies, your bike will be disqualified from show contests if it is too clean. I guess since it is an “adventure bike”, it’s meant to be covered in mud. This lack of motorcycle hygiene suits my lazy demeanor just fine. Actually, I do take care of maintenance and clean/lube the chain pretty often, but most surface areas never get cleaned. I just wipe the headlight, taillight and blinkers every so often and that’s enough for me. A couple Sundays ago my kids and I were washing my wife’s car for Mother’s Day and the kids said they wanted to wash the bikes, including my motorcycle. I wouldn’t call it a proper washing (more like a rinse) but I guess once a year won’t hurt, right?

Maintenance Day – Changing the Coolant

Bike Maintenance

Another day of routine maintenance on the bike. This time it’s a coolant change. Looked like it would be a super easy job. It turns out it was simple, but a little frustrating at one point. The F650 GS takes the normal 50/50 antifreeze coolant so it’s a really cheap bit of work. The only other thing you need to buy is a small copper crush washer, size A6X10. I just ordered a few from Lonestar BMW for 40 cents each. I also bought a funnel that had some marks on the side of it so I would know exactly how much antifreeze I was putting in. It turns out this funnel is unnecessary so I will be returning it.

First, you need to start with a cold bike. Then, remove the left-side faux tank cover so you have access to the radiator cap and reservoir tank. Next, unscrew the radiator cap and remove the reservoir cover. After that, loosen the drain plug at the bottom of the water pump cover. Make sure you have some kind of container to catch the old coolant. I used an old water jug and a big funnel. When taking out the drain plug (and washer) make sure not to drop it into the old coolant. You’ll also need to disconnect the radiator hose to get the fluid out of the radiator. Lastly, remove the reservoir and dump the old coolant that was in there. Reattach the hose, put a new crush washer on the drainplug, apply a little loctite, then tighten it back up.

Next I wanted to bleed the cooling system and to do this, you are supposed to attach a tube to the bleed valve, then loosen it and start adding coolant to the radiator. Any air in the system will be forced out and when you see a steady stream of coolant coming out, tighten the bleed valve. The problem I had was that I couldn’t for the life of me find the bleed valve. I had a photo from f650.com and also the photo from the official service manual. I must have spent 20 minutes searching! Well, it turns out that the twin-spark F650 GS’s do not have a bleed valve, but just a regular bolt instead. This makes bleeding the cooling system a little trickier. Since you can’t attach a tube, I ended up sticking a straw into the hole. Positioned under the other side of the straw was the water jug and funnel. I started adding fluid to the radiator, and when I saw fresh coolant coming out of the straw, I quickly popped the bold back in there. It was a little messy and I’m not sure a little air didn’t get back in there, but what are you gonna do?

Next I topped up the radiator with coolant, and put some in the reservoir to the MIN line. I put the radiator and reservoir caps back on, then started up the bike. After about 10 minutes the fan kicked in which meant it was warmed up. Then I let it cool down and unscrewed the radiator cap and topped it up again. I also filled the reservoir to the max level. I put the plastics back on the bike, and was done! Later on I went for a ride and then checked the coolant level again, but it was the same level.

This was my first coolant change, and they recommend you change it every 2,000 miles so I was well overdue. It’s an easy and quick procedure, so I will be doing ti following the recommended schedule! Next maintenance that I would like to do is a valve check. This will be a little more involved, but I’d rather do it myself since service at the dealer is crazy expensive!

BMW F650 GS – Changing the Brake Fluid

Today I changed the brake fluid on my GS. The speedometer is at 6, 772, so it was a little overdue. I think this is the first time it was changed. The old fluid was looking dark in the reservoir, that’s for sure!

With the stock bleeder screws, this would be a two-person operation, where one person would loosen the valve, then the second person would squeeze the brake lever, then the first person would tighten the valve so no air would go back into the system when the brake lever is released. I figured I’d be changing the brake fluid often so I bought a pair of “Speedbleeders“. These are replacement bleeder screws which have a one way valve which won’t let any air back into the system when you release the brake.

Before I could do that, however, I had to change out the stock bleeder screws with the new Speedbleeders. This was pretty easy just using an 11mm wrench. When you are doing this, some of the old fluid is going to come out so it’s best to have some rags or paper towels on hand and maybe put some cardboard on the ground. Brake fluid supposedly eats through paint, so be careful not to get it on any painted parts. I also wore some rubber gloves that I had leftover from when I used to work on the Supercub. Another tip is to not open up the brake fluid reservoir until after you are done replacing the bleeder screws so that there is at least some vacuum pressure keeping the fluid from free-flowing out.

Unscrew the old bleeder screw, then screw the Speedbleed in by hand to make sure you are threading it correctly. Then use the wrench to tighten it all the way down until it seats. There’s some sealing material on the threads, so it will take a little muscle to screw them in. Don’t over-tighten them, however!

Once the new Speedbleeders are installed, it’s time to bleed those brakes! You’ll need to have some rubber tubing and a receptacle for the old fluid. I purchased these from Speedbleeder.com for several bucks. It looks like an IV bag that you’d see at the hospital. I put the bag in a bottle just to keep it upright during the process. Attach the tube to the Speedbleeder nipple, then unscrew Speedbleeder about a quarter to a half turn. At this point I opened the brake fluid reservoir and started pumping the brake lever. The old brake fluid will come through the tube and into the bag. Pump it slowly a few times and keep an eye on the reservoir. Make sure to fill it up with the new brake fluid when it gets low. Don’t let the level go into the tube. So just pump and fill until the fluid coming out the Speedbleeder and into the baggie is a nice clear color and you don’t see any air bubbles. This might take a while. Once that is done, tighten the Speedbleeder screw, remove the plastic tubing, and make sure you fill the reservoir up to the correct level. Close up the reservoir and try out the new (hopefully firmer) brake action.

Rear Brake Fluid Reservoir
Nice, new brake fluid in the rear reservoir

Lastly, you can put the little covers over the Speedbleeder nipple. The one they provide is really cheap, so I used the old stock BMW covers which have a retaining ring. By the way, you can put this on after the operation is done since the retaining ring is stretchy enough to go over the bolt.

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap Off
New front Speedbleeder with cap (off)

Old Bleeder Screw
Old BMW bleeder screw

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw
The shiny new Speedbleeder on the rear

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw with Cheap Cover
The cheap nipple cap that came with the kit

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap
With the old BMW cap back on

IV Bag
The tube leading to the receptacle