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BMW R 1200 GS Hand Guard Problem

From “D.W.” (December 2012): “I can’t believe I fell victim to this design fault and didn’t realise until I went looking for the information after the event.

The front wheel on my newly purchased R1200GSA locked up as I came off the tar seal onto a gravel section. I have four broken ribs a broken ankle and a damaged shoulder as a result.

Just prior to the wheel locking up the bike gave the impression of gas starvation as I rolled the throttle back on in third, I knocked it down a cog and rolled the throttle on and the same thing happened, this all took place in the span of a few seconds and the next thing I knew I was lying on the ground with the bike on top of me.

I am so angry that BMW haven’t made this information common knowledge and kept the issue alive by at least planting the details somewhere where they are readily available for people to see instead of hiding it. There is no mention of the problem even on their official recall site.

I would be very surprised if someone hasn’t died as a result of this major defect, a crash investigator would have a very difficult job proving it as the cause of death, if the bike went down on the right hand side, it would look as if the hand guard was damaged in the crash and the investigator would just assume that the rider lost control.

I have contacted both previous owners of the machine and neither was aware of the issue, even though the bike has been serviced at Motorrad dealerships on a few occasions over the last 5 years of it’s life.

It’s sad to think that after nearly fifty years riding on two wheels, the most serious accident I have ever had was on the most expensive bike I have ever purchased with the most sophisticated braking system. Well done BMW..NOT.”

UPDATE From H.B.C. – September 8, 2008

“Not sure if you have received any other information…with some reference to the latest info you have posted with the description and the stickers, etc…and the comment left by ML, the ‘newer’ style handguards introduced on the 2005 R 1200 GS and subsequently on the 2006 and 2007 R 1200 GS and GS Adventure models do have the problem identified.

No amount of tightening down the bar-end mounts or the control clamps will resolve the issue. The hand guards will continue to rotate enough and allow the beveled edges to apply pressure on the clutch and front brake levers.

I, along with others, raised this issue with Motorrad Canada via our dealers (at the time) but I for one never got a response.

The 2007 GS and GSA models use the new (two-piece) style guards and as noted, are the only hand guards reflected in the parts system, although there might be some older units still held as stock here and there. The new hand guards still flex somewhat, but they cannot be rotated due to the change in the mounting bracketry.

I am trying to pursue the issue regarding replacement of the original hand guards through our local dealer, but to be honest, its likely to be an uphill battle, even though the whole matters is, in my mind, an obvious defect and liability issue that should be addressed by BMW.”

UPDATE From Alex – August 3, 2008

It’s me, Alex from Germany, again. I am glad to provide important NEW information on the subject of defective hand guards on BMW R1200GS models.

  1. It is known that for the BMW motorcycle models BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200GS Adventure a “recall measure to eliminate significant shortcomings with regard to road safety” in accordance with Section 35, paragraph 2, No. 1 Road Traffic Act [StVG/German Law] was initiated in the beginning of June 2008!These measures included the distribution of a long letter with warnings, a “supplement for the user guide”, “installation instructions for stickers” and a “sticker for the right hand guard” and a “sticker for the left hand guard.”The European Commission is warning about the risk of injury on their website.
  2. It is known that BMW R1200GS and BMW R1200GS models have been delivered since October 2007 (!) with completely newly constructed hand guards.The risk of locking front wheels during ride and in addition various clutch and brake malfunctions during ride no longer exists with them. Quite simply for the reason that the hand guards no longer touch any of the lever, even if they may rotate.Here is the photo of the new style hand guards:

    New Style BMW R 1200 GS Hand Guard

  3. It is known that the “old” hand guards no longer can be ordered at BMW dealers. This is the situation since at least April 2008!  And it’s even not possible to order any spare part for the “old” design if you need one. So no dealer can repair a BMW motorcycle whose “old” hand guards are damaged.

NEWS:  There is now a special retrofit for the hand guards on BMW R1200GS models produced between March 2004 and October 2007 available. Part #: 71 607 705 265. The price of the kit is in Germany about 110 EUR, which corresponds to 170 USD. Photo below.

Note: This is a very innovative form of a “recall”. Because the customers are paying the bill!

BMW R 1200 GS Hand Guard Part #: 71 607 705 265

I am from Germany and there seems to be the need of clarifying the issue of the “BMW R 1200 GS Hand Guard Problem”.

The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, KBA) informed the European Commission and the EU Member States about an unsafe product from Germany. They started an official investigation after a serious accident with a BMW R1200GS Mod. 2004 near Fulda/Germany on 13th January 2008 02:14 pm.

The brakes were totally locked and the bike was equipped with power assisted integral-abs brakes. The European Commission published the safety warning of the German Federal Motor Transport Authority on 11th July 2008 in RAPEX.

RAPEX is the EU rapid alert system for all dangerous consumer products. It allows for the rapid exchange of information between Member States and the Commission of measures taken to prevent or restrict the marketing or use of products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers. Both measures ordered by national authorities and measures taken voluntarily by producers and distributors are covered by RAPEX.

Ref. No.: 12 – 0738/08

NOTE: .pdf file (in German) explaining the problem.

Germany Category: Motor vehicles
Product: MotorcyclesBrand: BMW
Type/number of model: Model R1200GS, type R12Description: Concerns motorcycles built between December 2002 and October 2007.Country of origin: GermanyNo picture available


The product poses a risk of injuries because in the event of inappropriate handling, such as pulling roughly, hitting objects while manoeuvring, or if the motorcycle falls over, the hand protector on the handlebar controls can twist. It could then touch the handbrake or clutch control causing brake or clutch malfunction. In addition, if the twisted hand protector lightly touches and operates the handbrake control, the brake linings may touch the brake disc and the resulting heat generation would cause the brake pressure to build up which could slow down the front wheel, even so far as to block it.

Three incidents reported.

Voluntary corrective action taken by the manufacturer.

The official recall campaign (= voluntary corrective action) is a letter with a warning, a supplement to the manual and so called “nanny stickers”. These stickers have to be put in the hand guards so everybody can see if hand guards and protector are in the right place.

And you see that the authorities do warn about motorcycles produced between “December 2002 and October 2007”, which clearly indicates that they did not only forget to mention the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but also the BMW R1150GS and BMW R1150GS Adventure.

Attached you will find these “nanny stickers” for owners of the affected bikes and a picture of the hand guards in question. Feel free to use and publish them!  By the way: BMW stopped to distribute the hand guards. It’s not possible to buy them, you don’t even get parts of them if you need them!

BMW R 1200 GS Hand Guard Warning Label

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From “K.M.” (9/09):  “I bought a used 2007 BMW R1200GSA about a year ago, and never knew anything about this “issue”. Went on a trip with a buddy of mine on our GS’s a couple weeks ago up to Nova Scotia and was having a great time cruising around, doing the normal sightseer thing.

On the way back into Maine, it started to look like rain, so we pulled off the shoulder of the highway to let my buddy put on his rain gear. I must have rested my hand the wrong way or something, and not realized it. After he got his stuff on, we got back on the highway and took off (fast), I got up to about +80 or so, and suddenly the bike started running like the fuel filter was clogged… “hmm.. that’s strange, that never happened before, wonder what that could be??”

I decided that since the motor was about to stall out, I should pull in the clutch and coast her in for a look-see…. I pulled in the clutch and promptly had the engine bounce off the rev limiter. “(What???)” and “OH *&^% MY BRAKES ARE LOCKING UP!!!” went through my mind…. here I am going well over 80 and I’m about to go into full front brake lock up, no warning, no reason, and most likely no walking away…?

I QUICKLY pulled her to the right shoulder and put all the brake on that I could to bring the speed down, figured I’m about to auger in anyway, may as well slow down as much as possible before I do it. Simultaneously, I’m running through the Evil Knievel checklist; “Helmet, check”, “Aerostich, check”, “riding gloves, check”, “riding boots, check”…

I got over to the shoulder (thank God I was out of traffic at this point, I still thought I was going to endo, but I actually breathed a sigh of relief that I most likely wasn’t going to get run over immediately afterward) and somehow came to a stop upright. The front wheel left about 10 feet of rubber at the very end of the “stop”. Sheer luck, no doubt about it.

Now, I’m sitting there going, “well (what) just happened?” and wondering what to do. I’m 600 miles from home, my riding partner may, or may not know that we are no longer on the same trip together, and my bike will NOT move. Not an inch. I could smell the brake pads roasting on the front rotors, and the rotors themselves were bright blue – now I’m going “*&^%, this is going to cost me a fortune to fix both rotors, plus whatever the hell just malfunctioned to cause this in the first place. Plus, I don’t know what this is, but I don’t like it and I certainly don’t want to own a bike that spontaneously locks the front wheel at 80+ without any warning”. (Good thing) my SO wasn’t with me, cause seriously, she would never ride a bike again.

About that time, I release the bleed nut on one of the rotors and fluid comes shooting out of it. So I know there’s still pressure on it.. I’m scratching my head, wondering what to do… and my buddy pulls up (and of course starts yelling at me for stopping without telling him ) I tell him what’s going on, and VIOLA!  HE has read about this problem!  He snaps the handguard up about 20 degrees, and *poof* problem solved!

Now my rotors are (gone), my underwear are ruined, and I am scared to death to even roll the bike down my driveway… and it’s all because of a STUPID HANDGUARD?!?!  Are you SERIOUS?!?

I’ve been riding bikes since I was 9 years old, and I’ve seen a lot of stupid stuff, and some really scary stuff.. but I have NEVER seen a manufacturer who would allow such a simple, dangerous and easy to fix problem go unfixed.

I’m VERY disappointed in BMW for allowing something like this to happen to begin with, it almost cost me my life. Literally, this could have been a vicious, life altering (or ending) crash. I got seriously lucky. It could have scared my SO to the point where she would never ride with me again, which could have long term repercussions for me in terms of lifestyle.

The point is, this is something that should fall under a mandatory recall, and should be something that the NHTSA follows up on to enforce.

As it is, I am putting this in through my dealer for a warranty claim to replace my brake pads and rotors, and update the handguards to the new style – AT THEIR EXPENSE.

If BMW won’t do this, I will keep the bike because I love it, and have it set up the way I want it. THIS problem WON’T EVER happen to me again I can assure them of that. But this is something that should NEVER have happened in the first place. If they don’t have my back with this claim, this is the last BMW product I will ever buy; Car, SUV or motorcycle. Period.

I sure wish I would have read about this issue a month or two ago.

If you’re aware of any changes to BMW’s response to this problem, or if there have been any deaths ( I know there have been many close calls, people have come to complete stops in the 3rd lane of the 405 freeway in LA, etc) I would VERY MUCH like to know. This is a very poor reflection on the value of life BMW places on their customers!”.

Follow-up from K.M. (9/09):  “Just a follow up with you regarding the response my dealer has gotten from BMW NA – NOT COVERED!  BMW is not even willing to help me with the damage to the rotors, never mind putting on the newer updated handguards!

My dealer is going to pick up the bike and bring it in for a once over, and has asked me not to take up an argument with BMW at this point, until we’ve assessed what the situation is. Basically, he’s trying hard to cover me with ZERO support from the manufacturer.

I just sold my 2003 K1200LT, and my 1978 R100/7 in the last year, and over the years I’ve had many different bikes. With this kind of reaction from BMW NA, I would bet even odds I’m back on a Harley or a Honda soon.”

From “L.D.” (4/09):  “I have owned my 2007 R1200GSA since August 2007 and have put 12K miles on it with no problems arising from the old style hand guards. That is until I took it to a local off-road vehicle site here in California a few weeks ago where I dropped the bike on a steeply inclined hairpin turn. No serious damage was done to either me or the bike, however the right hand-guard inboard plastic support bracket did break.

On my way home that afternoon, I stopped by Diablo Kawasaki/BMW in Walnut Creek to order a new bracket. I was told that the bracket and all parts for the 2007 hand guards were no longer available and that I’d need to purchase the newly designed items. Considering the price is around $200 (US), I decided to fabricate two new brackets out of 1/8 inch aluminum. I fabricated and installed them with no problems.

My concern, however, and my reason for writing is that NO ONE AT THE DEALERSHIP MENTIONED ANY SAFETY ISSUES WITH THE OLD HAND GUARDS. Is it possible that U.S. dealerships have not been made aware of the “voluntary” recall?  Was I deliberately misled?  I will follow up with the dealership, but this concerns me greatly. Why hasn’t BMW notified each of its consumers of the problem?”

Also from L.D. (9/09):  “I posted a response to your article noting that I had had an issue with the bracket attaching the inboard end of one of the hand guards on my 2007 BMW R1200GSA and that I had fabricated a bracket to replace the broken one since the original plastic one is no longer available.

It’s an old saying — there are two kinds of motorcyclists: those who have dumped their bikes and those who are going to. Whether it’s a moment of oversight at the filling station during which you neglect to put down the kick stand or the more serious and costly act of laying your bike down at speed, it’s a given…sooner or later, all fall down.

I have logged thousands of touring miles on my 2001 Harley Davidson Road Glide throughout the US and Canada. And yes, I’ve had a few less than tragic confrontations with the tarmac, but overall, I’ve been lucky.

The same goes for the time I’ve spent on my 2007 BMW R1200GS Adventure which I took as its maiden voyage last summer on a solo ride from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, northward through Canada, and into Alaska…Tok, Glennallen, Valdez, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and ultimately, the unpaved Haul Road/Dalton Highway from Fairbanks north to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay.

It was a wild and wooly ride…sun, rain, sleet, hail, and snow. 700 miles most days and just a hair under 8,000 miles total. Alaska offers everything an off-road adventurer could want. It was an amazing trip…the people, the wildlife, the immense beauty of the land…and the fact that I did not go down even once.

Ah, but of course, good things do not last forever. And according to the saying, we do all fall down. Most recently for me, it was on a Saturday in the dirt at Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), when a steep hill, loose dirt, and a hairpin turn conspired to topple me and my 500 pound dual-sport.

When I stopped rolling, I looked back up the hill to find my Adventure on its right side, handlebars down hill. I checked for damage to both myself and the bike. Fortunately, there was little to either. The only real issues on the bike were a scraped cylinder head cover guard, a scratch on the windshield, and a floppy right side hand guard…nothing I could not cope with.

The scratches looked like they might be rubbed out, but that hand guard was going to require a bit of attention. The plastic bracket attaching the inboard end of the right hand grip to the handlebar had snapped. But a stop by the local BMW dealership on my way home would put things right…or so I thought.

Owners of BMW R1200GS and GS Adventure models produced between March 2004 and October 2007 may have problems with the hand guards on their bikes.

Recalls in some countries and Motorrad distribution areas are in effect and riders should familiarize themselves with the very real dangers regarding the basis of the “recall”. Apparently the original hand guards can rotate up or down enough to bring them into contact with the brake/clutch levers.

After the fall in which I broke one of the hand guard brackets, I stopped by a local BMW dealership to purchase a new bracket. I was told that neither the bracket nor any other parts for the hand guards on my bike were any longer available. I was not told there had been a recall (probably because there had not been one in the U.S.), but I did learn I could purchase a whole new and updated set of hand guards for around $200 (US). I left to ponder the problem.

Ultimately, I opted to address the issues myself. In particular, I focused on two challenges: 1) replacing the weak inboard hand guard brackets, and 2) increasing the potentially dangerous proximity of the brake/clutch levers to the curved outer ends of the original hand guards.

Plastic inboard brackets needed replacement
Broken original plastic brackets on BMW R1200GS.

Replacing the plastic inboard brackets required fabrication of new brackets (see photo above). To do so, I used 1/8” aluminum plate onto which I traced the outline of the good bracket.

The brackets are asymmetrical so either the right or left bracket can be used to make the template for the opposite side by simply flipping the bracket over before outlining (photo below). I chose to simplify the appearance and fabrication of the rearward end of the new brackets by cutting along the dotted line marked “B” on the template.

Template for bracket replacement
Making a template for a metal bracket replacement.

Once I rough cut the first bracket, filed the edges smooth, and drilled three holes to match the original, I gently bent the bracket at the dotted line marked “A.”  I used a vice and gentle hammer strokes until I achieved the same degree of bend as on the original bracket. This is not rocket science and “close” was close enough.

I test fitted and repeated the process with the second bracket. Finally, I painted the new brackets with SEM Trim Black (39143) because it requires no primer and dries to a strong semi-gloss black similar to other finishes on the GSA.

The brackets bolted on as the originals. I did, however, install nylon spacing washers and used new, longer stainless steel fasteners (photo below).

Broken plastic bracket
Broken plastic bracket on the BMW R1200GS handguard.

The second issue I faced was increasing the distance between brake/clutch levers and the curved outer ends of the hand guards. To do this I installed a cruise control kit by Throttlemeister (review).

I have found the product, when adjusted properly, is a great comfort to my aching and cramping right hand on long flat interstate rides, but the added benefit is that the heart of the rotating mechanism of the cruise control (and its left hand complement) is nearly one inch longer than the original bar end (photo below).

BMW bar end
Original bar end (arrow) and Throttlemeister replacement.

The product comes with black powder coated extension brackets which attach where the new brackets I fabricated and original hand guards connect and serve to move the hand guards from their original dangerous position outward by approximately one inch. Once the units are installed, the ends of the hand guards are less dangerously close to the brake/clutch levers.

A close look at the finished project reveals the final appearance and location of the right hand fabricated bracket and the new, safer distance between the brake lever and hand guard (next photo).

BMW hand guard problem
Finished hand guard assembly.

I highly recommend that riders of 2004 through 2007 BMW R1200GS and GS Adventures consider replacing their hand guards with the new factory replacement units. The modifications I have made and present here do not guarantee freedom from what BMW and others judge to be the potential danger and the possibility of injury or death caused by continued use of the original BMW hand guards.”

From “M.L.”:  “Spare parts are still available in Canada, and I was told the “upgrade” will be done at no charge.
I’m no expert, but are the hand guards the same on the 1150 and 1200GS (and Adventure) models?

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