BMWSportTouring

Shifting gears in the WB's

Posted By: fastlarry

Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/23/17 05:55 AM

I hear a lot of complaints about the R1200XX transmissions, clunking into first while at a stop, clunky shift from 1st gear to 2nd and to a lesser degree 2nd to 3rd.
The clunk going into first at a stop is unavoidable, a characteristic of wet clutches. One can keep the bike in gear, holding the clutch in. 1st to 2nd I find is clunky if you try to make a fast shift out of it. If you lay back a bit let the engine revs drop a bit then the shift is much smoother. Must be something to do with ratios, e.g. a tall first. Most of the other upshifts are fine. Just a thought.
Posted By: JR356

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/23/17 05:20 PM

BMW known for clunky transmissions since the 1920's,both dry and wet clutch,although the newer wet clutch bikes do seem to shift better than prior versions.
Best to not be in a hurry when shifting,except with the newer shift assist equipped bikes.

JR356
Posted By: RecentConvert

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/23/17 06:02 PM

I am in the camp of those believing BMW should outsources both the design and manufacturing of the transmissions in their wethead bikes. Simply outsourcing manufacturing is not enough, the best manufacturing won't fix a poor design.
Posted By: Alfred02

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/23/17 07:31 PM

Originally Posted By: RecentConvert
I am in the camp of those believing BMW should outsources both the design and manufacturing of the transmissions in their wethead bikes. Simply outsourcing manufacturing is not enough, the best manufacturing won't fix a poor design.

I wrote a 2015 R1200RS while mine was in for service and it shifted absolutely perfect. No clunk at any stage, including clutch-less shifting and starting from stop in Neutral.
So they seem to exist.
Posted By: RecentConvert

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/23/17 08:33 PM

Is that true for your 2014 RT also?
Posted By: fastlarry

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/24/17 03:11 AM

Hard to outsource your tranny when it is integral to the engine. I think the airhead boxes were made by an outside vendor. To me in an overall marvelous package it is but a minor irritant.
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/24/17 01:54 PM

Getrag on dry clutch machines, not sure about waterhead bikes. Getrag is one of the largest transmission manufacturers, they're in all kinds of stuff. It could still be a Getrag design in the waterhead but assembled by BMW.

In any case my 2015 K52 drive train shifts way better than my 1999 R259 drive train. My '99 shifted just like my 1971 /5 showing no progress in 28 years! Glad they finally did something if still not benchmark.
Posted By: Limecreek

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/25/17 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Alfred02
Originally Posted By: RecentConvert
I am in the camp of those believing BMW should outsources both the design and manufacturing of the transmissions in their wethead bikes. Simply outsourcing manufacturing is not enough, the best manufacturing won't fix a poor design.

I wrote a 2015 R1200RS while mine was in for service and it shifted absolutely perfect. No clunk at any stage, including clutch-less shifting and starting from stop in Neutral.
So they seem to exist.


Yup my RS shifts flawlessly. But I did take the time to adjust my shift lever as I've done with all my BMWs. That alone makes a huge difference.

Putting pressure on the lever prior to shifting that so many on this and other forums prescribe is not necessary and in fact risks damage or premature wear of the shift forks.
Posted By: bewareboy

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/26/17 01:18 AM

Limecreek, When you say you've adjusted your shift lever/linkage, can you elaborate on this? Was this per the manual process and specs or to a different process and specs that can share with us?

Thanks,
Posted By: fastlarry

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/26/17 05:53 AM

FYI there is: a 30% drop in engine speed from 1st to 2nd:
24% drop in engine speed from 2nd to 3rd
18% drop in engine speed from 3rd to 4th
11% drop in engine speed from 4th to 5th
10% drop in engine speed from 5th to 6 th

Those close ratios in the higher gears promote smooth quite shifting with or without Gear Shift Assistant. That 30% drop from 1st to 2nd promotes easy takeoff from stopping on an upward hill. You need that on a heavy road going bike, fully ladened. The gear ratios get closer as you shift up and so shifting become quiet and smooth. To make a smooth shift from 1st to 2nd you have to let the engine slow a little before making the shift. To shift down from 2nd to 1st blip the throttle a bit. Old school stuff.
I you had a close ratio box on a heavy road bike you'd have to slip the clutch getting it going. On a race/track bike this is acceptable. Now, if you had an engine that would produce adequate torque at idle you could use that to get away with a lower 1 st gear ration. Those engines aren't much fun at high speed.

These designs are a compromise and engineers work long and hard to make a workable package for all riders in all conditions. I hate hearing them get trashed in these forums by riders who haven't a clue what it takes to engineer such a package.

As you ride them more and work with the shifter and throttle you can gain a lot of smoothness, a much better alternative than frying the clutch.
Posted By: LAF

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/26/17 10:04 AM

Well can you splain why just about every Japanese bike shifts as smooth as butter. From a Yamaha R1 to the huge Star they make? The ne Ventura is also butter and is a HUGE bike.

Not buying it at all. My six speed I4 car shifts like butter just like my old 396 did.

Gear ratios have nothing to do with shifting. Just as short throw shifter and close ratio shifters do not make notchy and hard shifting.

It is not the ratios it is the drum and forks and selector and how gears are cut and fitted that make a smooth transmission.

Why do you think they attempted to improve shifting on the 17? It is getting better and I have no doubt it will continue to get better as BMW needs a smooth transmission to draw younger riders who have had Japanese bikes and walk away from a clunky tranny.

There is no excuse for the clunk from neutral to first on these bikes. It sounds and feels like a tractor!

Me I can get butter smooth shifts at times and other I get clunk. Either way I love my RT but I make no excuse for the tranny as it is what it is. Gear ratio means nothing to a tranny as far as shifting.

Not buying what you are selling.
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/26/17 01:33 PM

Originally Posted By: LAF
...
It is not the ratios it is the drum and forks and selector and how gears are cut and fitted that make a smooth transmission....


I think you are on to the issue and I think this is where BMW made adjustments on the '17 MY. Also the amount/degree of undercutting of the gears dogs for a positive engagement on he next gear. Too little or none = missed shifts, and too much = a clunk into the next gear.

One thing that I noticed on my '99 RT it had an extremely long shift lever throw to get to the next gear. So much so, I rode that bike with steel toed work boots to be sure that I made the full travel to engage the next gear. That improved the shifts on that bike a lot, but you still need to have the Zen going to get smooth shifts all the time (ummm, ummm, see the gear-be the gear-see the gears mesh...haha).

On my '15 RT the shift lever throw is very much reduced and the shifting is much easier and more positive, no more steel toe boot needed. No more Zen required, so it is very much improved. That said, the shift throw is still way more than any of the Japanese bike transmissions I have ridden going all the way back into the 80's. Maybe a revised shifter linkage to further shorten the throw would help the '14-'16s and maybe even the '17. The penalty would be more pressure to engage the next gear as you are loosing leverage.

Not sure I buy the argument that slick shifting is a killer variable for younger buyers. Styling, performance and price are much bigger drivers. I would buy an all things being equal the bike that shifts better would win, but that would be pretty nit-picky at that.
Posted By: Limecreek

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/26/17 09:25 PM

Originally Posted By: bewareboy
Limecreek, When you say you've adjusted your shift lever/linkage, can you elaborate on this? Was this per the manual process and specs or to a different process and specs that can share with us?

Thanks,


The lever was adjusted to my foot/toe size and to ensure a proper throw of the lever. I typically make an adjustment, make a test run and adjust again until I get snick, snick shifts. That's it.
Posted By: old_farmer

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/27/17 12:18 AM

My 99RT was pretty clunky but I learned to live with it.

My 17 wethead is much better. No complaints.

The only other bikes I have ridden recently are Harleys, so I guess I don't know what a "good" shifting bike is like.
Posted By: ToddM

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/27/17 02:59 PM

Besides the shape of the gears and synchronizing speeds I have a feeling that the clutch engagement/disengagement has a lot to do with that amount of clunk that is felt between gears. There is a certain amount of engagement even with the clutch lever fully depressed. More engagement = more clunk. My last bike (Kawasaki Vaquero) had a terrible clunk going into 1st from neutral. If the back tire was raised off the ground it would spin in any gear even with the clutch lever fully depressed. I just tried this on the BMW (going from neutral into 1st) and the first time the tire didn't move but I also did not get any clunk. The second time the tire jumped about a full turn and stopped.
Posted By: Bill_Walker

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/27/17 09:53 PM

I have a hunch that BMW has kept the clunking transmission in the wetheads as an element of tradition, just like the boxer engine layout, in the same way that Harley transmissions always clunk. They've always done that, so they always still do that, albeit less than they used to.
Posted By: fastlarry

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/27/17 10:27 PM

I've ridden BMW's on 7000 mile road trips, 2-up and all the associated gear and clothes. Ridden them hard and fast in hot weather and cold, up and down mountains at speeds no Harley or Star can match, fully laden. (With only 70 hp on tap, but lots of torque, Harley's wont climb like BMW's. Sorry, simple physics) I don't care if they clunk between the lower gears. The engineers (and I'm a retired one, so I am biased) do the best they can with the performance and design parameters they are given. Given 2 more gear ratios and lighter components, they would eliminate this but then everyone would gripe about the price and all that extra shifting. I get a little sick of all this griping and complaining about BMW's on a BMW-centric forum. Shame on me.
Posted By: RecentConvert

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/28/17 01:12 PM

Not bashing engineers in general, as that would be bashing my chosen occupation and my son, but as one of the earlier posts stated, the Japanese have figured it out. As evidenced by my son's Triumph Tiger, they have figured it out. The Ducati I test rode, shows they have figured it out. I think one of the earlier posts attributed the clunkiness to tradition. They've done it for so long, it is expected.

As stated, this is a BMW centric forum. Does that mean we can't talk about the turd in the punchbowl? I accept manufacturing variability, some are better than others, I just happened to get what I must assume is bad one. It has been torn down, conferred with the German mothership, reworked the clutch and "tuned".

The comment about the cost of fixing the problem seems a bit funny. Have you priced a BWM RT vs. a Yamaha FJR? There is already $6000 of premium built into the RT.

If you read many of the BMW forums, and I do, I find it interesting that so many that "drink the Kool-Aid" also have little work-a-rounds for the shifting woes they deny. "I always start it in gear" "I preload the lever before attempting the shift", "I shut off the motor at stoplights" "A good deliberate, deep clutch" "you will get used to it".

I appreciate the goodness of the RT, I am keeping mine, but it pisses me off that it shifts so poorly that my 125HP wethead has trouble keeping up with a 90 HP RT from 2004 until third gear is engaged. While so much of the RT speaks "premium", the clutch, transmission speak "old agricultural". At least mine does.
Posted By: marcopolo

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/28/17 01:19 PM

For what it's worth, I have a 2015 GSA, with about 18,000 miles on the odometer. I have no complaints whatsoever about the shifting (and I don't have workarounds, tricks, or any other kind of magic).
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/28/17 02:13 PM

I guess I'm easy to please. A nice reassuring clunk into 1st while stopped is a big so what for me. My '15 RT shifts very well even w/o using Shift Assistant Pro. Is it a shifting benchmark machine, no, but it shifts well enough that shifting is no longer a top of mind deliberate process in the riding experience. The lizard part of my brain handles the shifting chore on my '15RT, and that is just as it should be. BMW engineers should sleep well are night as far as I'm concerned...or maybe they lay awake wondering if they have EPA cheater software some where in the product line, but it isn't the K52 transmission keeping them awake.

Facts are a stubborn things. I am not bashing my '99 or '71 BMW bikes, but the fact is they were not easy bikes to shift smoothly, it took practice and deliberate thinking to do it.

Can't speak to comparison with a 2004 RT but my '15 RT smokes my '99RT from 0 to what ever speed the '99 runs out of breath. Maybe turn off the ASC and do a hole shot to get the 2004 in the rearview.
Ain't no way that dry clutch beast will like that kind of launch burnout
Posted By: Green RT

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 08/28/17 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Paul De
I guess I'm easy to please. A nice reassuring clunk into 1st while stopped is a big so what for me. My '15 RT shifts very well even w/o using Shift Assistant Pro. Is it a shifting benchmark machine, no, but it shifts well enough that shifting is no longer a top of mind deliberate process in the riding experience. The lizard part of my brain handles the shifting chore on my '15RT, and that is just as it should be. BMW engineers should sleep well are night as far as I'm concerned...or maybe they lay awake wondering if they have EPA cheater software some where in the product line, but it isn't the K52 transmission keeping them awake.

Facts are a stubborn things. I am not bashing my '99 or '71 BMW bikes, but the fact is they were not easy bikes to shift smoothly, it took practice and deliberate thinking to do it.

Can't speak to comparison with a 2004 RT but my '15 RT smokes my '99RT from 0 to what ever speed the '99 runs out of breath. Maybe turn off the ASC and do a hole shot to get the 2004 in the rearview.
Ain't no way that dry clutch beast will like that kind of launch burnout

+1
Posted By: Bob Woodsom

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 10/23/17 04:39 PM

I am new to this forum as I just upgraded from an ST1300 with 140k miles. I was pretty surprised at how unrefined the transmission on the RT feels compared to the smooth and silent Honda Transmission. The more miles I put on the RT I am getting better at keeping the clunking to a minimum but it is still the single part that I feel is a downgrade from the Honda.
Posted By: JohnH VA

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 10/24/17 01:35 AM

Hi Bob,

I've had 5 RTs. The RT's clunky shifting can be explained by Geico's TV commercial schtick: "It's What They Do."

The 17's is a slight improvement but only slight.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 10/24/17 02:47 PM

Originally Posted by JohnH VA


The 17's is a slight improvement but only slight.

I'd say from my '17 that it is a BIG improvement.
when warm, N to 1st clunks but that's all.
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 10/25/17 08:46 PM

Originally Posted by Bob Woodsom
I am new to this forum as I just upgraded from an ST1300 with 140k miles. I was pretty surprised at how unrefined the transmission on the RT feels compared to the smooth and silent Honda Transmission. The more miles I put on the RT I am getting better at keeping the clunking to a minimum but it is still the single part that I feel is a downgrade from the Honda.


Lol. I rode a '71 R75/5 back in the day which had a 4 speed clunk box for a transmission, then bought a '83 Kawi GPz which exposed me to a slick shifting transmission (loved the positive neutral finding feature as well). Took a decade off from riding and then bought my '99RT. And was shocked that BMW had made no discernible refinements toward a slick shifting transmission in those intervening DECADES. My '15 RT was a huge improvement even though it still is not benchmark. That said, for what ever reason in their respective decade each of my BMWs had that something that made them a joy to ride.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 10/26/17 08:49 AM

Originally Posted by Bob Woodsom
I am new to this forum as I just upgraded from an ST1300 with 140k miles. I was pretty surprised at how unrefined the transmission on the RT feels compared to the smooth and silent Honda Transmission. The more miles I put on the RT I am getting better at keeping the clunking to a minimum but it is still the single part that I feel is a downgrade from the Honda.


What RT have you bought?
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 11/10/17 02:25 PM

I took my '15RT in for a maintenance service...brrrr 38F on the ride there and 27F on the way home. Anyway, the dealer let me have a 2017 RT for a loaner so I could run over to work instead of hanging around. I asked if they have a '17 or '18 specifically to check out the refined shifting VS my RT. I will say it was a noticeable improvement, with no apparent clunk N>1 and shifting was slick snicks up and down the gear. I could find Neutral easier than my '15 as well. I think the lever throw is still longish like my '15 which IMHO kept it from being a benchmark shifting bike, but I'm splitting hairs as it shifted very nice. shifts made using SAP was the same as my '15.

Being only about 5 miles away I don't think the '17RT was thoroughly warm and it had about 550 miles on it so still very new and tight. I was most interested in comparing to my '15 for the ride home as my bike now had fresh oil and was ice cold just like the '17 was. Back on my '15 for the ride home it had the reassuring BMW clunk N>1 and shifts were positive but with more of a smack than a snick between gears. The differences were not so large that I would trade in my '15 for a '17 for improved shifting, but If I were in the market for a used RT, I would prefer a '17 over a '16 if the price gap was not too large.

On a side note, the red on black '18 RT sitting on the sales floor had me lusting a bit, but I will wait for the new TFT dash before I get too serious about trading up a few model years.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 11/10/17 03:23 PM

The Red and Black won't look so yummy once the new owner has fitted a taller screen (as many of us do). After that, it will just look like another RT Wethead...Unless of course we were talking about an Iconic which still looks dreamily fantastic.

Even the 17/18 model years 'clunk' into first once warm. However, all the other changes are noticeably slicker.
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 11/10/17 06:06 PM

Originally Posted by AndyS
The Red and Black won't look so yummy once the new owner has fitted a taller screen (as many of us do). After that, it will just look like another RT Wethead...Unless of course we were talking about an Iconic which still looks dreamily fantastic.
.

If one is smitten toward redheads, then a nose out of proportion with the face would not be a concerngrin
Posted By: NoelCP

Re: Shifting gears in the WB's - 11/11/17 04:04 AM

Originally Posted by Green RT
Originally Posted by Paul De
I guess I'm easy to please.

+1


+2 I don't like the N>1st gear clunk so I avoid it. Whenever I get to the front side of a traffic signal I always leave the bike in 1st and kill the engine after verifying it's generally safe to do so vis a vis approaching traffic from the rear. In 27K miles now since new in March 18, 2016 I've only shifted from N>1st maybe 12-15x. My fantasy is that a starter really isn't going to wear out from repeated us per se. I would say for most days out for 40-60 miles on average I end up killing the engine about 2-3x as the rest of the intersections are green lights back side of red lights. I don't like the sound and feel of the N>1st clunk it just feels course and 'agricultural' so I avoid it which is very easy to do. It does surprise me they did not engineer out this behavior which apparently some of the Japanese bikes in similar weight classes have been able to do much better. Since there is a workaround it never bother me.
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