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R1100RS Newbie



1994 is a relatively early RS.  They had a few quirks.   I don't have one
around to examine anymore, so your questions about alignment are difficult
for me to answer.   Some of the things you describe (Tank 10mm to the left
etc) don't sound very wrong.  It is not normal for these bikes to go "out of
alignment".  If the bike was down and then repaired improperly, you could
have a misalignment of the fairing, but without seeing the bike, it's
difficult to tell.  


The ABS problem, on the other hand, is quite common.   The ABS system is
very sensitive to low voltage.  The cold starting routine causes the battery
to drain enough to give you enough lower voltage.  This upsets the ABS boot
routine and cause the light to come on.  When the light is on, the ABS is
actually not working.  You can just put a piece of electrical tape over the
light if you don't care about ABS, but some day you may need it.  


This problem was fixed somewhat on later models, but there is no update that
can be performed on an older bike that I know of.   The best thing to do is
replace the battery with a very good one.  Westco batteries were notoriously
not good for this ABS.  Even a brand new Westco back in the day would still
give ABS faults.  I don't know if Westco ever fixed the problem or not.  I'd
get something else as a replacement.  There are several choices around.  The
probability is that your battery is on its way out soon anyway.  They last 3
to 5 years, generally.


When my '99 RT, with the update, started to give ABS faults as you describe,
my battery soon began needing push starts to get going in the morning and
was very near flat just a few days after.  I was in Colorado headed for a
rally, so I was able to buy a new battery at the rally and install it at a


Weak headlights are part of the early Oilhead experience, unfortunately.
That square headlight isn't very good.  There are knobs under the fairing
for adjustment.  The method is in the rider's manual that came with the
bike.  A set of aftermarket driving lights (not fog lights!) installed down
by the front brake rotors will light up the road very well.  Make sure
they're switched off when you start the bike up cold in the AM to avoid the
ABS fault.  Install a kit from a good vendor like www.cyclegadgets.com
<http://www.cyclegadgets.com/>  .  These kits have a relay and a
dash/handlebar switch for the aux lights that you'll find handy on the road.


Remus makes a nice exhaust.  Staintune also has a good one.  Neither are
cheap, but there are generally used ones for sale at www.ibmwr.org
<http://www.ibmwr.org/>  in the classifieds.  Two Brothers exhausts are
usually for sale cheap but they are too loud on these bikes, especially for
long trips.  


If you have any issues with surging at slow cruising speeds, I would
consider removing the catalytic converter on this bike. It's probably not
functional anyway at this age.  There are other mods that can be done on the
bike to smooth out this problem.  If you don't know what I'm talking about,
you don't have an issue and shouldn't mess with the bike.  


Except for a very involved turbo kit that will destroy longevity and
reliability and may not be produced anymore, there are really not any good
options for increasing performance.   The FI system is complex on and
doesn't lend itself to performance tweaking.   Increasing for peak HP
invariably extracts a penalty in overall torque and ride-ability.  Save a
bunch of time and money and just don't go there.  90HP can get you in plenty
of trouble.  The magic of these bikes is being able to throw some clothes in
the bags and take off for a weekend or a week.  You don't want an engine
that you can't count on.  More power when you have such a nice wide torque
band is really over-rated.  I've now got 110 HP on my bike and it's really
not any more fun.  Get a lightweight sports bike if you want to stupid fast.
These bikes will haul ass on twisty roads and are very forgiving once you
know how to ride them.   They are relatively comfortable all day long.
You'll find most BMW riders improve things like the seats, lighting and
storage capacity rather than engine performance.  There's good reason for
this.  Give yourself a little time on the bike before making performance
decisions that you may be sorry for later.   


This is not to say that these bikes are no-maintenance "appliances". They
require good care and feeding to run their best.   Change oil and filter
every 5,000 or so miles if touring and more often around town, say 3,000 or
4,000.  Learn to adjust your own valves if you don't know how.  They are
very accessible on this machine.  Ease of service is one of the great
advantages of the boxer engine configuration.  Everything is hanging right
out there for you to access.  


You will undoubtedly run into questions about how to check the oil on this
bike.  There is a site glass on the left side of the engine block, but it's
not so simple.  All Oilheads and even the newer Hexheads are notorious for
hiding a half quart of oil or more up in their oil coolers.  Under certain
conditions, that oil doesn't run back down into the block when you turn off
the bike.  It makes you believe that you are seriously low on oil when
you're not.  As a result, you over-fill the bike and cause leaks in the
engine block seals and for lots of oil to collect in the air-box.  There is
actually a drain plug on the air box.  It's a good idea to check this and
drain out all the oil.  Just find the air cleaner. It's in a plastic box
under the seat.  You can reach under the bike and find the plastic plug.
Turn it 180 degrees counter clockwise and it will come out.  Oil may or may
not come out.  If it does, let it all drain and replace the plug.  If you
overfill, this will fill up again.   


Here's a method for getting a good oil reading:  It's not foolproof.
Sometimes it doesn't work, but it's the best I know.   1. Ride your bike for
a good long while, 15 minutes or more.  Shut it off and put it on the side
stand for a few minutes.  Now put it on the center stand and check the oil.
You can do this when you are on a trip and stop for gas.   Engine will be
hot and the bike will sit long enough for this to work.  Another ideal setup
is to park the bike on the side stand in the garage after a day's riding.
In the morning, put it on the center stand for a minute and check oil.  It's
a funky system, but we learn to live with it.   


www.ibmwr.org <http://www.ibmwr.org/>  again for lots of articles on
servicing and tweaks to this bike.  It's been around a long time and there
is a lot of info gained from inventive owners.  Really careful and
methodical valve adjustment is a key to great smoothness and performance for
these bikes.   Buy the tools and learn to do this right.  There are some
great illustrated on-line guides for routine service.  I'm not sure of the
web location, but I've been through them.very helpful and accurate.   


I'd have your crooked fairing question checked out by someone who knows
before I got very attached to this bike.   If it was wrecked, there may be
hidden damage that should be attended to before you spend money on
aftermarket pipes etc.   Make sure you have a sound machine before throwing
more money into it.  








Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 05:45:36 -0700 (PDT)

From: relick <kurandaclarkes@xxxxxxxxxxx>

Subject: R1100RS newbie questions


I recently purchased a 9/94 R1100RS with 180 thousand k's on it but in
excellent condition. A couple of questions for those of you with experience
in things Beemer!!


1/. The front end of the bike seems to be out of alignment, the front of the
tank is about 10mm to the left and looking down the centreline the ignition
key is in front of the abs lights. Looking down there is a similar
difference in the gap between forks and fairing. Everything else about the
fairing looks fine, no big gaps or anything nasty, it's just not in the
middle. Easy/hard to rectify or is it not a problem??


2/. The ABS never kicks in first up, after a few k's if I stop and shut down
then re start it, sometimes it kicks in!! Often not at all.


3/. The headlight is quite poor, certainly not what I expected, I have not
tried to adjust it so this could be due to the fairing alignment.


4/. Any info on aftermarket exhausts or performance enhancing tips would be


Thanks for your help, I love the bike but a little more power/acceleration
would be nice!!

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