of the RT often comment on two things related to the Transmission:
Noise or Whine at certain speeds or in certain gears, and
“clunkiness” and Noise when shifting.
Other complaints include popping out of certain gears, false
neutrals, and the GSI reading “E””
with anything like this, there is a lot of advice and opinion
on how to deal with it. Generally speaking, Everyone agrees
that the problems go away over time a combination of the
transmission and drive train breaking in and the rider learning
how to better shift the RT. Many folks swear that changing
the Oil can really help as well.
your RT is consistently popping out of certain gears, giving
you false neutrals, and the GSI reading “E”, then you may
have mechanical problems that need to be addressed by your
with usage, Changing the oil seems to be the best method for
reducing noise and chatter from the Transmission. Tom firstname.lastname@example.org
Says “the gear noise bothers me the most. I have ridden
older R1100RTs with 50K miles, and the noise is a lot less.
Thinking it might be due to 80 weight lube, I changed it out
yesterday with Valvoline 80w90, but it didn't seem to make
much difference. There was a LOT of metal particles on the
magnetic drain plug for both the transmission and the rear
drive. Is this to be expected on the first lube change? Is
the noise common and does it reduce with miles?”
at <email@example.com >
said that he “experienced excessive gear whine noise
in third and forth gears. I tried every lubricant you could
think of recommended by BMW. What I found worked best was
an oil called Redline heavy shockproof gear lube. You can
locate this company on the web at http://www.redline.com.
Also, I recommend you call them and ask for Dave in technical
support and he will explain to you how this oil works. I was
very pleased with the performance of reducing gear whine and
easier shifting of the trans over all. If you’re that frustrated
with your transmission I suggest you try this product. You
won't find a better product for you bike.
says that “ At 3000 miles, I believe my 99RT transmission
is quieter. Most of the whine is in the lower gears and sounds
great in 5th. I am trying 75-90 synthetic (only a few metal
particles on the drain plugs) but plan to switch to 75-140
synthetic (BMW sells it online but need to buy a case. The
bikes just get better and better with time as many will tell
you on this site.
those who are changing oil and find shavings, fear not:
WURTY notes that “metal shaving are a common thing.
Especially when you have such low mileage. Now, after 20,000
miles there will be less shavings and less gear noise. I am
not too sure about the oil you used. I think it calls for
75/140 so be sure and let the mechanic know so he may replace
it with the proper weight oil. I have put 16,000 miles on
in the last year
Looked up the spec in the Haynes just to be sure: “the Haynes
manual calls for Hypoid gear oil, API class GL5, SAE 90 above
5 degrees C, SAE 80 below 5 degrees C, or SAE 80w 90 for all
conditions. Matt <firstname.lastname@example.org
> says the “75W140 is a synthetic gear oil. BMW sells it
under their own label. About $12.00 a quart. Only takes about
a quart to change the fluids in the tranny and final drive.
It does make a difference. Unlike changing to synthetic engine
oil you can make the switch to the synthetic. gear oil anytime.
Cloud notes that his
“drive train whines, although it has settled down some as
the miles have rolled up. According to sources, because the
BMW is air/oil cooled, and has a separate tranny, noises like
that are not masked as a bike with one single unit and water
St.Yves says that his “bike has a transmission that sounded
like an old truck winding out when I first got it. At the
600 mile dealer checkup I had synthetic transmission and rear
end oil put in and it made a tremendous difference. As soon
as I left the shop I noticed that the noise was no longer
Barrow agrees that a fluid change really helps: “I have had my 99RT
since last September and the transmission and rear drive had
a definite whine especially when fully warm. Friday in Sturgis,
I changed the fluids to BMW 75-140W synthetic gear oil. On
the 350 miles home it made a noticeable difference in the
noise and the shifting is certainly less clunky (never was
a real problem with pre-loading). It's bit pricey at $14.00
per quart but well worth the change if you want less gear
noise. I also think that the accumulated miles help; the RT
just keeps getting better and better, at 5,000 now.”
or Difficult Shifting
RTs’ motor may take as long as 20,000 miles to fully break
in, and your transmission even more. The RT’s transmission
is rock solid and feels quite different from other bikes.
As Fernando Belair Notes
“The issues generally discussed regarding transmission "clunking"
are related to noise. The RT (like most BMW's) uses a Getrag
transmission, one of the most rugged and dependable transmissions
in the world. These are the same people who make the transmissions
for most of the world's rally cars, where 600hp twin turbo
4WD cars slam clutchless shifts every 50 yards like they were
motocrossing (which in their own way they are). Getrag transmissions
are not known for their quiet operation, just their bulletproof
engineering and longevity. They are noisy when they shift,
but this can be reduced with various practiced techniques
as well as with the introduction of synthetic gear oil. Synthetic
gear oil is usually not recommended until at least 12,000
miles, the distance BMW feels it takes for the tranny to fully
break in (I told you they're rugged).
not fear the transmission. It's an acquired taste and some
people even prefer it, citing the secure sensation of a gear
change properly and completely made, like the sound of a vault
door completely closing. I can tell you that the tranny on
my RT is a lot smoother than the one on my old R90S, so there's
progress, but it's not "Japanese" in operation.
It is VERY German.”
has used this basic tranny design in the R bikes a long, long
time The mechanism engaging 3rd ALSO must disengage 2nd. This
is different than the 3/4 shift and 1/2 shift. The shift fork
for 2nd and the one for 3rd are connected so that adjustment
of this is very critical (so that one does not engage before
the other disengages) but also just the nature of the act
causes some disharmony of relative speed of the gear parts.
This is why a preload helps and why some extra rpm's help.
besides Time and Oil, technique is key to success with this transmission.
It takes many miles of practice to get used to it.
trans would often grind between the 2nd - 3rd gear shift.
Somewhere around the 11,000 mile mark I was shifting gears
and it made a really big grinding sound. Since then it just
clunks into gear without the grinding. I guess something must
have worn off as it has been ok for the last 2,000 miles”
concurs, “most of us have found that the entire motorcycle,
including the transmission, gets better and better as the
miles roll up. Specifically regarding the transmission, most
dealers will switch you over to the synthetic oil between
8,000 and 12,000 miles and that makes a world of difference.
I have 32,000 miles on my '99 RT and the bike continues to
amaze me with how much smoother it gets.
Harrah <email@example.com> has similar observations:
“Maybe just me, but my trans does seem smoother at 9700 miles,In
fact the whole bike keeps getting better and better.
other factor is technique. One of the most common methods
is to “preload” the shifter.
John McBratney firstname.lastname@example.org
explains: “Up changes with a little pre-load on the lever
and change after a bit of throttle i.e. load the gearbox then
change quickly as the load is lifted. It takes a lot of practice.
Down changes need precise revs matching. 5th to 4th and 4th
to 3rd are not too hard. I still find only 1 in 10 3rd to
2nd go through smoothly. 2nd to 1st almost never. I am told
this too will improve as the bike gets towards the 30,000km.
after getting his RT, Jim L wrote: “I've got 2700+ miles on
a new 00R1100RTS and I'm very happy with everything but the
transmission. Compared to this R1100RTS my K bike transmissions
shift like a hot knife through butter! My biggest gripe is
going from 2nd to 3rd. 80% of the time I get a grinding of
the teeth finished with a clunk. The grinding is but a millisecond
but it shouldn't happen. This happens hot or cold, and at
all RPM's from 3,000 on up. I don't upshift below 3,000 RPM.
95% of my downshifts are smooth! I've had BMW Synthetic in
the gearbox since 850 miles. I've tried preloading the shift
pedal and everything I've used in the past.”
after practicing and working on his shifting Jim wrote: “It
works!!! Proper preloading works!!! I'm just coming up on
3,700 miles and I now have a transmission that upshifts and
downshifts quietly! Actually my whole problem was upshifting
from 2nd to 3rd. With just the right amount of preload my
shift from 2nd to 3rd happens now without even a clunk. It
is smooth now in all gears upshifting and downshifting and
no false neutrals. I can easily select neutral at stop lights.
Now this just means I learned how to control the beast after
7 trips to/from Lake Tahoe via Hwy's 50 and 88 from the Bay
Area in the last month and a half! I still say that a BMW
transmission should be smooth, up or down, without preloading!
My reason for this posting is to help new owners with their
transmissions. Preloading takes practice!!!”
what is Preloading?
Franklin says “Basically applying upward pressure on the shifter
prior to pulling in the clutch. If you have the pressure right,
the shift will occur automatically as you pull in the clutch,
and often results in a much smoother shift. Bob Painter describes
it as follows: “Apply firm pressure up against the shifter
just prior to shifting. You'll find that the transmission
slides smoothly into gear (1-2, 2-3). This called pre-loading,
and it works great for me”
from Delaware says “Believe it or not, it is possible to learn
how to "snick" the R1100RT transmission from gear
to gear, both upshifting and downshifting...but it takes practice.
As suggested by others, a slight preload on the shift lever,
accompanied by very rapid clutch and shift lever operation
at about 4000 rpm works for me. Downshifts require "blipping"
the throttle to match engine and gearbox speeds, but can also
result in very smooth shifts. It's not easy, but once you
learn it, it will put a smile on your face with each shift.
Experiment, practice, and enjoy the success that will come
Barrow has noted that its harder to shift smoothly when the
bike & tranny
are really hot: “Seems to be a general agreement that preloading
and quick gear changes work best. The tranny definitely improves
with age and synthetics seem to help. I did notice the other
day at a very warm 100 degrees, it seemed to be a bit more
clunky. It's just one of those things that's fun to practice
and magically disappears as one is chasing the twisties.”
Johnston concurs: “It's strange, I don't remember my K75RT
transmission being all that different from the RT. I used
to have false neutrals with it (until I found it was my short
lazy foot -same on the RT) It used to get hard to shift when
really warm or hot - same as my RT until I put synthetic lube
Roach puts it all on wear and technique: “Like my previous
BMW, a 71, my RT does shift with a crunch at times 2 to 3.
The best shifts are made around 3800-4000 on my bike (it only
snicks then). I now have 7300 miles on it and it is a little
better. I plan to move to a good synthetic at the 12000 mark.
The only time I miss a shift is when I am lazy with my foot...it
ain't my bikes problem.”
from Castle Rock Co, offers this Haiku style advice:
shift like the wind.
will go into a gear.
sound much like a crushed rock!”