Ordinarily, a recall affecting 29,281 motorcycles would be big news, but in this case, the news is overshadowed by confirmation that the next-generation of BMW R motorcycles are on their way.

The recall itself is pretty innocuous: BMW is recalling multiple models because optional aluminum luggage may obscure the rear side reflectors, a violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 108. The recall affects the 2013-2017 R1200GS, F800R and F800GT, the 2014-2017 R1200GS Adventure, the 2016-2017 S1000XR, and the 2015-2017 R1200R and R1200RS.

The R1200GS Adventure in our <a style="color: #3ec5ff;" href="http://www.motorcycle.com/shoot-outs/battle-adventures-bmw-vs-ktm-video">2015 ADV shootout</a> was outfitted with aluminum panniers. You can see how the reflector on the side of the license plate could be partially obscured by the luggage.

The R1200GS Adventure in our 2015 ADV shootout was outfitted with aluminum panniers. You can see how the reflector on the side of the license plate could be partially obscured by the luggage.

Recall documents released submitted by BMW and released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration includes one particularly interesting nugget of information: apparently, the reflector issue was discovered “on May 8, 2017, during a review of the next generation BMW R model motorcycle” (emphasis ours). It was only after noticing the problem on a next-gen model that BMW took a look at current models and found the same problem in production.

The timing of BMW’s review of the model is also notable; if BMW was reviewing the model in May, then the new motorcycle will likely be ready for the 2018 model year, with the full introduction at EICMA in November.

At this point, it’s hard to come to any conclusions about the new R line. Germany’s Motorrad magazine reports the next R models will introduce variable valve timing, a technology already offered on the Ducati Multistrada 1200 (which we also expect to get updated to a 2018 Multistrada 1260.) Like Ducati, BMW may also be increasing the engine’s displacement, going from its current 1170cc to somewhere around 1250cc.

Typically, BMW leads off recent iterations of R models with a new GS. The current R1200GS was introduced in 2013 with only minor incremental updates in the years following and most recently new fairings plus Euro4 updates for 2017, so we’re about due for a more extensive update, to be followed by GS Adventure, RT, R and RS versions. It remains to be seen which models will be the first to herald this “next generation” of boxers. We’ll have more details as they become available in the months to come.

As for the recall, BMW will contact owners asking those who had purchased aluminum cases to visit a dealer where they will fix a new reflector on the outside of the cases. Owners that purchased the mounts without the aluminum cases are also covered, with BMW installing an additional reflector bracket.

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  • Old MOron

    I’m probably riding the last BMW I’ll ever buy already. But I look forward to MO’s thoughts on these new jobs just the same. Good find, DC!

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Its funny how BMW voluntarily issued a recall for the insignificant reflector issue, but had to be literally dragged by customers around the world to issue the extremely serious fork recall after 1 /12 years.

    • denchung

      It’s easier to do a recall when the fix is cheap and simple to perform.

      • And doesn’t require considerable research and engineering effort.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Makes them look good too. It seems like they care about their customers.

  • Volker

    Do current wethead BMWs have any lingering issues, or are they basically solid bikes? I’m thinking about stuff like early wetheads’ final drive bearing failing en masse and destroying the entire final drive, without BMW acknowledging anything. Are there any known issues that can result in very expensive repair?

    I’m asking because I’m thinking about replacing my 2005 R1200GS with a 2015-2016 R1200RS for next season, and I’d like to avoid costly follow-ups as much as possible.

    • Sentinel

      BMW is bottom of the barrel when it comes to reliability for a reason.

      • Without context / stats “bottom of the barrel” might mean:

        1. Super high failure rates (not good enough for Church League)

        2. Lower end of what are already really reliable machines (Olympic contender but not a medalist)

        If all / most brands are already very reliable, being at the “bottom of the barrel” doesn’t mean much.

        • Juan Homs III

          BMW motorcycles are definitely at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to styling. Hard to believe that a company with the great sculptural heritage of BMW could consitently manufacture what looks to me like a heap of disconnected trash balancing on two wheels. What happened to branding at BMW? Lots of money for nothing too special.

          • An entirely subjective and personal opinion. I happen to like the look of the R1200GS, and adventure-touring models in general, as do 10s of 1000s of other people.

        • Sentinel

          If you are capable of an internet search, that should clear up any confusion you are suffering from.

    • Probably not a great data point but my 2016 has been 100% solid through its first ~15K kms. There’s the fork / triple-T recall thing that I’m getting fixed on Monday. My bike doesn’t show any of the related symptoms and has never suffered a heavy impact on the front end so I’m still riding it.

      My centre stand is pretty rusty, which is pretty annoying given it is less than a year old. No functional impact but for comparison my 10 year old (at the time I sold it) Yammie FZ6 centre stand didn’t have any rust on it other than maybe a few spots on the feet where the bare metal is exposed.


    I have two R bikes and have never had an issue.

  • BillW

    Funny. My 2004 R1150RT had reflectors on the saddlebags for just this reason. How did BMW forget this lesson?

    Also, I’m thinking you might be reading too much into the phrase “next generation”. It could simply mean the next model year, especially given that it’s likely translated from German.

    • denchung

      The recall notes were prepared by BMW Motorrad USA and were written in very clean and precise English. Plus this issue is a violation of US and Canadian regulations, not European ones, so it’s unlikely to have been prepared by the German HQ.

      The pertinent area of the recall document is quoted below. Does this look likely to be a translation error?

      “Chronology :
      On May 8, 2017, during a review of the next generation BMW R model motorcycle, a potential issue involving the FMVSS 108 entrance angle for the rear side reflex reflectors was noted.

      On May 17th, a detailed engineering review was initiated. This included evaluations of current models for design comparisons and differences. It was noted that the entrance angle of some current models may have a similar issue.

      Between mid-May and late-June, various documentation for the development of luggage cases and aluminum luggage case mounts was collected for review and analysis. This included engineering drawings of the cases and case mounts, and Computer Aided Design (CAD) images with mounted cases on different BMW models.

      By mid-July, after further analysis involving part numbers, accessory information, and build configurations, the engineering review concluded that if the cases, or the aluminum case mounts, are mounted on the potentially affected motorcycles, then the rear side reflex reflectors could be partially blocked.

      On July 21, 2017, BMW determined that potentially affected motorcycles, when equipped with the luggage cases, or the aluminum luggage case mounts, may not fully conform to FMVSS 108, and decided to conduct a voluntary recall.

      We are continuing to assess this issue to ensure that all possible affected luggage cases have been identified.

      BMW has not received any reports, nor is BMW otherwise aware, of any accidents or injuries related to this issue.”

  • kenneth_moore

    The old “FMVSS 108 Entrance Angle” chestnut. Again. The safety Nazis must be reigned in.