Did Someone Mention The Word Sell?
Motorcycle Trader’s Sub-editor, Wolter Kuiper, puts his BMW F800GS on the market
I’m not sure exactly what happened, it was that fast. One of the twins wandered into the garage, asked me why I was working on the F800GS and I might have accidentally mentioned the word “sell”.
Before you know it, the Interior Minister has done a redraw on the mortgage, booked flights to the UK for her third cousin’s second wedding (or was it the other way around?) and is going to walk the South Downs Way for a couple of weeks, leaving me to look after those blabber-mouth kids. It was like she’d suddenly turned into Samantha Stosur and was serving into the body at 200km/h. Ouch.
Sell or not, the Beemer was demanding some kind of action. It was slightly overdue for a workshop visit (since last May) so the service light was already glaring at me when the low-beam bulb cried “enough” and activated a second warning light, plus I had to run high beam continuously. Despite having had a relatively easy life as far as adventure bikes go, it had clocked up 20,000km and was due for what’s called a “small” service.
There comes a time when bikes must move on…
I bought the 2009 model with 7000km on the clock in 2013 from a former Catholic priest who’d got married, had kids and was running a conference centre in rural Victoria in between running volunteer medical teams to Papua New Guinea. Not surprisingly, it had had very little use and was tidy.
The sidestand had touched down at some stage, which I surmised had been one of the vendor’s sons giving the bike a spirited run in the nearby Great Dividing Range. Despite the kid’s best efforts to keep it charged, the battery had needed replacing before I bought the bike.
Fast forward a few years and the F800GS has acquired almost no embellishments. There’s a set of Continental TKC80s on the spoked wheels, a permanent battery tender lead (shown plugged in) and a Givi sidestand foot. That’s it, not even an aftermarket bashplate to protect the oil filter hanging in the breeze out front.
Not even a BMW Safari to its credit, either. The year I was able to go, the Safari was heading to Tasmania and I’d already done one in the Apple Isle on a suitably modified G650 X Challenge. So the GS has had to content itself with runs through various state forests around Victoria testing those Contis, none of which really qualifies as adventure riding.
Where did all those kilometres come from? Beats me. I was sure I was riding the pushy the 21km to work at least four days a week, although some cold mornings I just couldn’t get it started.
Problems with the BMW have been relatively minor: an oil leak from the rocker cover, a noisy clutch thrust bearing and prematurely worn rear brake pads. A new rubber gasket and bearing were prescribed for the first two, although the clutch started making noises again fairly quickly with the new thrust bearing
The brake pedal height is not adjustable on this model so I was “riding” the pedal, wearing out the brake pads, keeping the brake light on and potentially boiling the brake fluid. Short of buying an aftermarket version or getting shorter legs, I’d learned to keep my foot off the thing, but looking at the pedal I noticed a hole at the back that happened to accommodate a 5mm bolt.
I found a strip of 3x12mm alloy that was perfect for the job. It already had a hole in it so all I had to do was bend it into an L-shape in the vice, cut it and file it. The L-shape fits over the back of the pedal and that 3mm of aluminium drops the toe by about 10mm. This is where it gets tricky. You don’t need to be a heart surgeon but you do need to make sure that you adjust the length of the master cylinder pushrod so that you retain the freeplay, otherwise the brake will be on all the time or you’re going to lock up the rear wheel the first time you hit the pedal and annoy the hell out of the ABS.
The other issue is that you need to use a 5mm bolt that’s only about 10mm long with a button or countersink head to avoid fowling the master cylinder cover. If you’re not confident about this procedure, don’t bother.
The 20,000km service involves replacement of the oil and air filters and a dose of fresh fluids. I was worried that the rocker cover oil leak might have resurfaced and about the noisy clutch. So it was off to BM Motorcycles in Ringwood, Victoria.
Three hours’ labour later, the verdict was in. The rocker cover was still oil-tight, the clutch was no-more noisy than anyone else’s and I hadn’t cooked another set of brake pads. The bad news was that the aftermarket Motobatt fitted under the dummy tank by the previous owner wasn’t up to the job, despite my best efforts with the battery tender.
The Optimate 3+ tender had spent the past four years alternating between two bikes and undoubtedly saved me from replacing the battery, although it did get a bit sluggish at times. Having the tender lead permanently fitted means I can plug in the Optimate without removing the “centre trim panel”, which is secured by six of those poxy Torx screws. Don’t forget the two front ones.
The Motobatt’s spec gave a Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) figure of just 145, with the minimum for a bike like the 800GS being 160CCA and an absorbed-glass mat (AGM) battery like the stock Exide producing 200CCA. Chris Roberts at BM Motorcycles recommended going up in size with a Deka or Yuasa. “Computers love strong voltage,” he said.
Weak batteries corrupt data and generate fault codes in the engine management system, just like bad petrol messes with your fuel injection.
“They’re a good little bike,” said Chris, who owns a F800GSA. “We’ve just replaced our first timing chain [on a customer’s bike] at 115,000km.” Rather than use an endless chain they fitted a joining link and riveted the pins to avoid the costly procedure of splitting the cases to fit an endless one.
Roberts said the clutch noise was from the basket rather than the thrust bearing and he hadn’t seen one of these bearings fail. I was on my way $494.85 later, preparing myself mentally for some battery shopping. The bike seemed a lot happier. Maybe it was the dose of premium unleaded, instead of the usual 95RON, I fed it to celebrate the homecoming.
Now it’s just a question of organising a roadworthy certificate before I can sell the thing. Hopefully the rear tyre will scrape through. Perhaps I’ll wait until the Interior Minister is overseas on her fact-finding mission.