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Corporate Runaways

Overland travelers and certified geeks, based in Vermont.


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Athletes have a full physical before every sports season. Why should high-performance motorcycles that are about to go on a major trip be any different?

Starting out on a 20,000 mile trip with motorcycles in excellent operating condition just made sense to us, so we send our motorcycles up to Max BMW to have the professionals give them a very thorough once-over. This is what they did to both bikes before we left:

Horse – 2003 BMW F650GS with 11,564 Miles

The major reason for sending the bikes to shop now (the initial plan was to have them serviced a week or two before departure) was because we were changing our oil and discovered that the prior owner of Kay’s bike had overtightened the oil drain plug. We couldn’t get it out without stripping it, so we thought it was an excellent time to send them off for the pre-trip service and let the professionals deal with the drain plug at the same time.

When we sent the bikes in, Kay had the following complaints about the bike:
– Rear brake felt excessively “squishy” and notably ineffective on dirt.
– When initially purchased the bike would jerk as if momentarily starved for fuel between 4,000 and 5,000 RPM. Bad / old gas was suspected and a few tanks with Sea Foam added alleviated the issue significantly, but it was still occasionally noticeable and not something we wanted to crop up whilst in the middle of South America.
– The clutch lever was “wibbly”. We thought about replacing it and just wanted them to take a look and see if they could figure out what was wrong with it.

What the Shop Did:

  • 12,000 Mile Service
  • Replace Oil Drain Plug
  • Inspected Valve Adjustment – All Within Spec
  • Removed battery tray and intake tube to clean corrosion
  • Install new battery tray
  • Replace front brake pads
  • Check clutch lever for too much play
  • Check rear brake for ABS/brake functionality
  • Check for surging/fuel starvation between 4k-5k RPMs

Labor Cost: $448.80

Parts Replaced:

  • Spark plug: $6.50
  • Gasket ring: $1.83
  • Screw plug, magnetic: $19.87
  • Brake pads, front: $77.96
  • Sprocket: $41.46
  • Sprocket: $51.38
  • Fuel filter with pressure regulator: $123.32
  • Hose clamp: $1.80
  • Injection valve (bad spray pattern and chunky spatter): $131.72
  • Battery tray (old one was corroded): $21.26
  • Mirror mount: $16.46

Parts Cost: $493.56

Pick Up/Delivery: $70

Total Cost: $1037.36

In the end, the folks at Max BMW thought the bike losing power between 4,000 and 5,000 RPMs was probably related to the fuel regulator. Additionally the fuel injector was starting to go, so we had them replace both just to make sure. The battery and air box area had some severe corrosion due to the prior owner having an unsealed battery that leaked all over the bike, so Max BMW cleaned that up for us. Between the new fuel regulator/injector and the new spark plug, Kay reports that the bike is running SIGNIFICANTLY better – as close to “like new” as a 7-year-old bike with nearly 12,000 miles can run.

Nargo – 2007 BMW F650GS with 4,998 Miles

Nargo was in excellent condition before going off to the shop. It was really only sent along to double-check that everything was running as well as it could, and it was 1,000 miles away from needing its first (6,000-mile) service. Some of the items in that service seemed like things best left to the professionals (i.e. valve adjustment, which it turned out the bike needed) and since Kay’s bike was going in already, it made sense to send Nargo along at the same time.

What the Shop Did:
– 6,000 mile service
– Inspected Valve Adjustment
– Adjusted intake valves – exhaust in spec
– Replaced rear sprocket
– Check bike brake pads, fluid, etc.
Labor Cost: $297.50

Parts Replaced:
– Air Filter: $68.95
– Sprocket: $51.38
Parts Cost: $120.33

Pick Up/Delivery: $70

Total Cost: $512.83

Max BMW confirmed that Nargo was in great shape aside from this routine maintenance. (The service paperwork actually says “Bike is in great shape.”) I feel comfortable with good peace of mind now that Nargo has officially been cleared for the trip.

** Both bikes require new chains, but we wanted DID X-Ring Gold, which Max didn’t have in stock. We want the experience installing them ourselves, anyway, for when we need to replace the chains during the trip. Additionally, Horse’s OEM speedometer is still broken and rather than paying $350 for the part we’ve simply added a Trail-Tech Endurance speedometer.

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A couple with 2 dogs and a thirst for exploring the places in-between.