Failed Drive Shaft and Final Drive on my BMW R1200GS LC

My R1200GS left me stranded.

I was on my way to office on morning, merrily rolling along the usual morning traffic when I suddenly felt my rear wheel disengaged from the motor. Blipping the throttle only produced a cringe-worthy rattle with no power transfer to the wheel. And so I pulled to the side of the road and called BMW Assist.

I had to tow.

Grounded splines on the drive shaft mating surface.

Turns out that I’ve got the much dreaded drive shaft and final drive failure! The splines that mate the drive shaft to the final drive had somehow ground it way through and is no longer mating properly. At merely 70,000km and 5 years old, the un-abused shaft and final drive failure was disappointing! In fact, I just had my shaft serviced merely 6 months ago – completely removing it and greased up.

With gear 1 engaged and engine turned off, the drive shaft skips when the rear wheel is rotated.

Shit! Now, that’s gonna be an EXPENSIVE repair! My local dealer quoted me somewhere north of $5,000 for a new shaft and final drive. GULP! Now that’s some BMW TAX there!!

Not too apparent in this picture, but the splines were pretty worn.
The removed final drive and drive shaft.

Not willing to spend so much, I scouted around for some lightly-used parts. The internet is simply amazing! It quite literally connects the world together. Very quickly, I found a 2018 drive shaft that has seen some 1,200km only – shipped from Romania. I also found a 2015 final drive that has been used for approximately 20,000km – shipped from the UK for a great price. All-in at approximately a quarter of the dealer-quoted price!

The final drive that came in from the UK.
The Romanian-sourced almost-new final drive that was removed from a 2018 GS – 1,200km.

So after spending less than a month waiting for parts and in the workshop for repairs, I’m finally re-united with my R1200GS LC. In the meantime, I’ve gotten a little bit more intimate with the G650GS Sertao – using it not only for my weekend off-road adventures, but also my daily runs to the office.

Hello baby! Good to see you again!
Re-united with my 1200GS!

Welcome home, my old friend!

16 thoughts on “Failed Drive Shaft and Final Drive on my BMW R1200GS LC”

  1. Were there signs prior to failure? I’m also worried with my 2012 Triumph Tiger XC when bike suddenly died while at gear 1 (about to move off from traffic light) but was able to start immediately.

  2. That’s scary and should not happen to a $50k-60k bike at 70,000km. Actually, I thought 70,000km should be almost nothing for an adventure bike of this caliber.

    1. When shit happens, it happens. Doesn’t matter how much the bike cost when new, doesn’t matter what brand or badge it wears. Just gotta deal with it and move on to enjoy riding it.

  3. I had the driveshaft disintegrate on my 2016 R1200GSA at 30,000 km. Fixed under warranty. The bill was close to $7,000 canadian dollars.

  4. Hello SG Biker Boy,

    My GSA 1200, a 2012 model has just hit the 110, 000 km mark. I’ve brought it to two workshops at the initial 100, 000 km mark and now 10, 000km later. I have gotten responses saying that the condition of the engine, gearbox, valves and shaft is fine and that I can just proceed with normal 10, 000km service.

    However, I’m very uncomfortable since I’d rather take a pre-emptive measure instead of waiting for a problem which increases the downtime and cost of repair.

    Can you advise me on what I can look out for?


    1. Hi Jeevan!

      Congratulations on reaching your 100,000km mark on your GS! Truth be said, the advice you received from both the workshops is probably correct. The GS boxers have been around for a very long time and are generally considered very reliable. I’ve heard of BMW boxer engines twice or even three times that mileage that are still going strong!

      Probably the best advice is regular replacement of all your bike fluids – engine oil, final drive oil, brake fluid, coolant, clutch oil. Couple that with regular checks on the valve clearances at intervals specified by the user manual, and you should have a reliable workhorse with plenty years of serviceable life.

      I won’t worry too much about it. Just enjoy your ride! =)

  5. Hello Mr.

    Can you share us the business name on where you got your parts from UK and Romania?

    Thank you

  6. It’s a fabulous bike, love your blogs.
    I sold my GSA with 96K on the clock from new – no drive shaft issues at all – bike was always regularly serviced.
    Now on my second GSA the LC version – 41K on the clock and no issues – this biker chick loves her GSA – keep going Singapore Biker Boy – love the blogs

    1. Greetings from Singapore to the UK!

      I’m absolutely certain that you’re loving your GSA LC! I once knew that feeling too…. Unfortunately, my GS LC was totalled in an accident. It was a write-off and the insurer paid out. My primary bike is now the G650GS Sertao – technically still a BMW GS though. =P

  7. I had exactly the same thing happen on my 2007RTP. I also lubed the splines a few months before, so when it failed I couldn’t understand why there was moisture inside the rubber boot. It would seem that when it’s compressed where the FD and Swinging arm are in their normal position, the internal collar of the rubber gaiter wasn’t properly seated allowing road water and salt in, hence the wet and rusty appearance. Nothing to do with metal fatigue, simply water displaced the lube, the pinion got overheated and both parts wore out. Important to use the RIGHT LUBE! Ensure the rubber boot is correctly seated! if you use a mirror under the FD you will see a squarish hole to view it thru.

    My repair – well I was quoted over £2000 plus (FD £1200/drive £800) labour by BMW to fix it. Purchased a used FD from a reputable bike parts trader with a warranty and a new, non-BMW re-buildable Driveshaft from (Ei – Beemershop US/Motorworks UK) total cost of parts was £1000 and I will be changing the parts tomorrow myself.

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