GS Advice - Post Greece Trip


Hi Everyone,

Hope your all good. Just got back from trip to Corfu on Wednesday and got post holiday blues! My 2 month old Adventure now has 6300 miles on the clock and square Trailwings!

Not sure how to start but I got a couple queries/problems with my GS and I need some post trip experience, please.

i) Got down to Southern Italy and pulled in to a service area to fuel up and noticed a 'knocking' through the handlebars, a kind of loose bolt feeling on the front end over slightly bumpy ground at low speed. Checked brakes and bolts etc. and everything seemed okay and carried on, as I was about 60 miles from Brindisi with a ferry to catch. I figured it was front suspension but a motorcycle dealer in Corfu (A friend of my pals in Corfu) said it was the rear suspension. Anyone had any probs like this or got any clues?

ii) I know the fuel in Southern Italy and Greece etc can be questionable and a lesser quality than ours, but lost all ability to pull away hard in 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th without a tremendous 'Clattering' from my bike! It was riding like a dog and not at all enjoyable especially on mountain roads needing plenty of torque. I was an unhappy chappie. Temp. in Italy and Greece was 35-40 and I check oil level everyday whilst away. Suffered this 'poor running' all the time I was away until I got to UK and now problem seems to have gone, suggesting a weather thing, humidity or something? Couldn't be the fuel as I was 3/4 full on arrival in UK from tunnel, with French fuel. ??????

I'm sure it shows I'm no mechanic and but I was genuinely concerned about my new GS. I used my Navigator to visit 2 BMW dealers in Italy, if only to be reassured - Sadly my BMW Navigator, though absolutely fantastic, failed to tell me that they were closed on my chosen days of arrival, never mind eh?

Can anyone shed any light on these problems? I've booked my bike in for it's 6000 service with Rainbow but this can't be done until October as they're booked up. (Will try and remember to prebook before a big trip next time) Going to take my GS down later this week though so they can check it over with a ride and confirm the bikes ok to continue riding until it's service.

Sorry if this sounds like a moan, it's not at all, the trip was fantastic and otherwise the bike was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, especially France, Switzerland and The Alps. Maybe it's because I just spent a packet on my dream beemer, but whatever I need reassurance. Thanks, in anticipation,


Had bike checked at Rainbow on Thursday. Tell me no problems, everything is fine. Sadly, on my way home engine started clattering as I pulled away hard on M1? Bike running great otherwise. Service will tell I guess.
Wollaston BMW in Northampton can probably fit you in for a service this month or early September. I'm only guessing because I asked about a 6,000 mile service for mine just a week or so ago. An earlier service might set your mind at rest.
I know it's further for you to come, but if you want to travel down the night before and drop your bike off first thing in the morning, you're welcome to stay at my place and we'll ride to the dealership. They'll loan you a bike whilst yours is being serviced so we can go for a blast.
Phone 01604 232000 and ask for Steve Nash. Tell him Simon Eassom recommended them to you and suggested that they might be able to fit you in (I'm not sure if they were trying to fit me in just because I'm a regular customer - so they might fob you off if you're just any old punter).
Sorry I can't help you on the other issues, but I'd be prepared to bet that it's a minor problem: fouled plugs not running well when under load or something.

Simon E.
:) :) :)

darren said:
... lost all ability to pull away hard in 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th without a tremendous 'Clattering' from my bike! ...

I took a trip last year to Spain and ended up with the same problem - frightened the life out of me and we ended up in 2 dealers when we were over there. I've had EXACTLY the same problem which was never correctly diagnosed by BMW.

I had the most sickening noises while in Spain and had to back off the throttle to avoid it, but back in the UK without all the luggage the sound, while it is the same kind of sound, is much more difficult to reproduce to the same extent. It is for this reason that my dealer couldn't identify a problem. But it's there and over time it gets easuer to reproduce in colder temperatures and with less load on the engine.

Reading the threads in ADV Riders I discovered plenty of other riders with the same issue, always from the right hand cylinder under heavy load when high temperatures.

Believe it or not its 'pinking' or 'pinging' - pre-ignition. Several people have cited the cause to be poorer quality fuel, others to the build up of carbon through riding the bike frequently in lower rev-ranges - both will cause pinking.

The one obvious cause is that BMW leaned off the air/fuel ratio in the midrange to meet emissions standards and as a result the cylinders are running very close to the wrong side of lean out of the crate. Any wear or poor adjustment, carbon build-up and the like will cause air/fuel problems like surging, pinking overheating etc.

I have had an engine replacement on the strength of my concerns, thinking that the problem was related to camchain or piston slap, because it doesn't sound like a pinking car engine - it's such a nasty noise. Well bugger me if I didn't develop the same engine noise within a few thousand miles on the new engine.

In the meantime I found out about the pinking problem and here's my take on the situation.

I do a lot of town work at low revs - the engine seems very happy pootling along at 2,500rpm so that's where it gets a lot of work. I then take it for a blast and bingo, there's the noise! Invariably the symptoms appear putting the engine under load from 3,000rpm upwards in a higher gear, 4th gear usually.

More recently having heard that carbon build-up in the cylinders might be a cause I have ridden the bike long and hard following the noise, around 5-6,000rpm and this seems to cause the pinking to disappear, but whether this is down to lower engine temperatures I can't be certain.

I used a tankful of fuel with a product called STP Complete Fuel System which is supposed to clean the engine and injectors. I noticed the same noises since doing this so either I didn't use enough or the carbon build-up really isn't the cause

I have noticed on my bike that from looking at the colouration of the header pipes that the rh pot is running hotter than the lhs and have been thinking about fuel mix and throttle-body balance as the possible cause. Engines will run hotter with leaner fuel mixtures so have recently adjusted the valve clearances and throttle body sync. This seems to have made a noticeable improvement but I've only just done this and will have to monitor whether this cures the problem long term.

The other solution is to use either a fuel additive or petrol with a higher octane. I have avoided this as I would prefer not to add even more expensive fuel to the bike, but I have heard that this fixes the problem.

The final and complete solution is to remove the catalytic convertor. This seems to let the engine run cooler. And of course a chip will completely remap the a/f ratios and you definitely won't have any more problems.

Don't take my word for it - look at ADVriders website and see the comments there...

There are plenty more there to read, just do a search for 'Pinging', the US term for pinking.

Kinda comforting to know that this is well known and documented by owners, but the dealers either don't know or are in denial about it. I had to lean on my (ex-)dealer to identify the problem after six months and the best they could diagnose was a worn main bearing (which I knew it wasnt, but, hey, fit a COMPLETE NEW ENGINE if you really insist dickheads :) ) The best thing to do with the dealer is to point them in the same direction for information and get them to involve BMW UK in bringing out a firmware upgrade for the Motronic's fuel mapping. Despite what they might tell you they know ALL about it I'm sure.
Thanks guys,

I was beginning to think 'I was alone' :( Just about to leave for work, but had a quick look at some of the posts on - Bloody Hell! I'm amazed how many people seem to recognise this as a problem - Sadly none of them dealers, so far. To be fair mine is intermittent since back in blighty but, reading your post 'Slicker', it was like I wrote the stuff about the noises etc. Mine is also in the right pot and sounds like one day, when I pull off took overtake and I'm committed, the engine's gonna seize and I go out in a blaze of glory! £9,000 say's I'm a little grumpy about this.

Catch you later.


PS. Simon: Thanks for your very kind offer - I'll let you know, based on what happens ;)

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