BMW R1200GS / R1200 24000 mile Service inc Checking Valve Clearances

BMW R1200GS / R1200 24000 mile Service inc Checking Valve Clearances


Instructions / photo pictorial for carrying out the 24k / 24000 mile service on your R1200GS / R1200 series BMW motorcycle

(This service works the same on the BMW R1100 and R1150 motorcycles as well)
By Jim Von Baden

Also check out Jim’s website: for more R1200GS / R1200 related articles.

GS-911 Diagnostic Tool for BMW Motorcycles

This pictorial is for informational purposses only. I accept no responsibility for accuracy or any damage caused to your motorcycle if you choose to perform these maintenance items.

Note: This service works the same on the R1100 and R1150 motorcycles as well, with differences noted during the pictorial in blue.

This is very picture heavy article but a decent step-by-step guide to servicing your BMW R1200GS. I forgot a couple pictures but you can figure it out from what you see here. 

NOTE: Make sure the engine is cool to the touch before checking or adjusting the valves clearances. Torque settings:

Valve covers (tighten in diagonally opposite sequence)10 Nm(7 ft-lbs)
Spark Plugs (threads free of oil/grease)23 Nm(17 ft-lbs)
Valve Adjuster / Adjustment Lock Nuts8 Nm(6 ft-lbs)

Read all the way through before trying anything!

Engine Oil

Remember you’ll need to replace the engine oil, just head to this link and order either 15w/50 or 20w/50 if you have a 2004 to 2012 R1200GS and if you have a 2013-on R1200GS (or R1250GS) then go for 5w40.


Here we go, valve cover removal:

Pop off the spark plug cable cover. Just pull from the cable end. I use a small screwdriver as a lever and it just pop’s right off.

Then pull the spark plug cap (tool required – included in early R1200GS tool kits) and remove the spark plug cable.

R1200Gs spark plug cap cover removal tool

I use a screwdriver to simply pry it out but I now use a Marc Parnes plug wire puller.

Loosen the valve cover bolts. The come loose, but do not come out all the way. 

Then pull off the valve cover. Mine needed a little tap with the heal of my hand to break it loose. 

You generally will not need new gaskets for this, even after several services. 

The Valve Cover removed. The drip pan is a cheap plastic one from the dollar store. I have been known to use a cookie sheet.  

Note the small amount of oil. That is all that normally falls out when removing the valve cover. 

This is a special plug wrench. Actually a trimmed down Craftsman 16mm spark plug wrench. It makes it easier to get the socket in and out.  The spark plug wrench from an R1100/1150 will also work, you can buy one from BMW or autoparts stores.

Loosen the plug with the ratchet, then pull it out. 

At this point you need to do the same for the other side. Take off the valve cover and remove the spark plug. 

With the engine in 6th gear rotate the engine by turning the rear wheel until the arrow on the cam sprocket is pointing straight out for the right side.  

Check the rocker arms for looseness. Both intake and exhaust must be loose.  

For the R1100/1150 – If not check the other side. Whichever side is loose is the side you start on.

Before getting started with valve clearance, check the rocker arm end play with feeler gages. It should be between .05mm and .40mm.  

Note, if not, you need to adjust the gap by loosening the head and associated bolts, and tapping the rocker arm mounts until the gap is correct. Then you need to retorque the head bolts. Large nut is 20nm, then turn 180°, the remaining three are 20NM.  

NOTE: My DVD says 40nm for the three smaller bolts, that is wrong, it is 20nm. I  sent out an e-mail to everyone I have sold a DVD to explaining this. New DVD’s as of December 1, 2008 are now correct, first generation DVDs have the new spec on the handout that came with the DVD. 

Using a .15mm feeler gage, and a .30mm feeler gage, I am ready to check valve clearance. 

Note the .15mm gage is cut short for clearance of the head bolts. 

I use a modified version of valve adjustment. It is much simpler, and allows for very quick, but very accurate adjustment of the valve gaps. The book way is finicky, and frustrating. 

First I place both feeler gages in behind the valve and rocker arm. Notice how they are covering both valves. The .15mm on the intake, and the .30mm on the exhaust valves. Covering both at the same time helps with accuracy, and makes checking them after adjustment easier. 

Here is a close-up of how they go in. 

Loosen all four adjuster nuts. 

Make sure they are at least one full turn loose. 

Start on either intake or exhaust, it doesn’t matter. 

Place a 3mm Allen wrench in as shown. Make sure it is at about 2 O’clock and moves smoothly. 

Hold it with your finger, them let it go. It should move about 40° or so. 

See it at the natural stopping point. This point varies, so do this several times to determine its natural stopping point. This tensions the adjuster just right, and allows you to be consistent.

Now here is the tricky part. Hold the Allen wrench at its natural stopping point.

Then spin the nut down, and tighten it gently with a wrench, 8nm. Do the other valve adjuster. 

At this point, sorry no picture, place your thumb and forefinger on the center of the feeler gage and pull then push the gage in place. You should feel even drag on the feeler gage. If one valve is tighter than the other the gage will pull out crooked. Redo the tight valve. It should feel pretty easy to slide the feeler gage in and out.

When done, tighten all the adjuster nuts, and retest the tension on the feeler gages.

Note: If you like you can use a torque wrench at 8nm, but wait until you get all the adjustments done, tighten the adjuster nuts gently by hand, or with a torque wrench, then retest for proper adjustment. 

Remove the feeler gages. 

Now rotate the motor until you see this lug on the right side cam chain sprocket, still on the right head, for adjusting the left head.  

NOTE: The 1100/1150 engine you will look at the RIGHT cam gear for the arrow sticking straight out.  

Check the looseness of the rocker arms. Both intake and exhaust should be loose. If not, rotate the engine until the lug (arrow on the 1100/1150) comes around again and check.

Follow the same procedure for the left side of the engine. 

When you are done, replace the plugs. Start them by hand on the socket extension. 

Then use the ratchet to tighten them down. 

The torque spec is 23nm. I go with an easy stop and 1/8th turn. 

Now we reinstall the valve covers.

First clean the center gasket, donut gasket. I don’t worry about getting it dry, just clean. 

Place the casket firmly on the valve cover. Make sure it is all the way on. 

Wipe off the outer gasket. 

Clean the head surface. Then place the gasket back on the head. 

Now is the fun part. Push on the valve cover while aligning it with the spark plug hole. If for any reason you have to pull the cover back off even a little, pull it all the way off and replace the donut seal back on the valve cover. It is very easy for it to get partly off and it WILL leak, and likely ruin the donut seal. 

When all the way on, it should look like the picture. 

Tighten all four bolts, gently turning them until they hard stop, then torque diagonally to 10nm. I just give them a gentle tug holding the center of the ratchet.  

Place the plug wire in place. 

Push it in until it snaps in place. Sometimes it wont snap, but you will know it is in place because it will look like this picture. 

Place the wire cover in place with the pointed end first. 

Simply push it on until it snaps in place. 

At this point you are done with the valve adjustment.  

I took the bike for a spin, then adjusted the throttle body sync at 3500 RPM with a Twinmax. 

Next we look at how to change the trans fluid and engine oil.

Note: I rode the bike and had it warm when I began.

On the GS remove the bash plate. 

It takes a 13mm socket, and a 10mm socket. Simply loosen the nuts, and the 10mm bolt, and the plate will fall off. 

Always loosen the tranny fill bolt BEFORE draining the trans., If you can’t get it out, you don’t want the trans empty. 

The Allen is a 8mm. 

The trans drain takes a 19mm socket. Just loosen and remove the bolt. 

For the 1100/1150, remove the bolt directly below the filler plug on the side of the transmission. 

Neither bolt was a magnetic kind.  

Note: My gearbox / transmission fluid looked like new at 23,500 miles. 

I used a funnel to keep the oil off the exhaust and center stand.

I let the trans drain for about 10 minute. Then I reinstall the drain plug (torque at 30nm, and filled the trans up with 75W140 (BMW Spec is 75W90) synthetic gear oil. I used .8 liters, the spec is .7 to .85, or to the filler hole threads on level ground. 

Reinstall the filler bolt and torque to 30nm. 

Remove the oil filler cap on the engine. I use a Tourtech filler cap removal tool. 

See also R1200GS Engine Oil Change

Remove the oil drain plug.  

Note: the oil comes out fast, so be ready with a drain pan, preferably with a screen to catch the nut if you drop it, and to allow a high oil flow. 

Remove the oil filter.  

Note: The 1200 series takes a special wrench. 

Clean the filter mating surface, and make sure the old o-ring seal came off with the filter. 

I usually fill the filter first, using a little oil on the rubber o-ring to help seal it, and keep it from sticking next time. 

Install the filter by hand first. 

Then tighten it down with a filter wrench. Torque is 11nm. 

Replace and tighten the drain plug. Torque spec is initial torque to 23nm, final torque to 32nm. 

Fill the engine oil. At 24K miles you can safely use synthetic if you like. I used Valvoline 20W50 full synthetic.  

The capacity is 4 liters, or just over 4 quarts, I just dump in all 4 quarts and call it good. 

Reinstall the bash plate. 

Wash the bike. You know you should at least every 24K. Makes sure you can find the leaks, and any loose parts. 

Here are the tools I needed for this. 

I didn’t show it all, but I showed most of the steps.

These bikes are very easy to work on, and I completed the 24K in about 2 hours, while taking a lot of pictures.


The Final drive fluid change is covered here.

If you are interested in a Video version covering everything needed for the R1200 36K service take a look at Jim’s servicing and maintenance DVD here for details of everything covered.


See also: R1200GS Service / Maintenance Schedules (check sheets)

See also:R1200GS Engine Oil Change

See also: R1200GS / R1200 Throttle Body Sync

See also: Final drive oil change

Useful reference:

AndyWusual warning, refer to the BMW workshop manual.

R1200GS Torque Settings (and scroll down the page that opens for service/maintenance schedules)

  • Thomas O'Donnell says:

    I just bought a used 2008 R1200 GS and adjusted the valves for the first time. I love your technique, it is really simple, quick and accurate. Thanks!

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