R1200GS Gear / Neutral Indicator Failure
BMW R1200GS / R1200 Symptoms: Bike won’t start and/or gear indicator display errors or no display at all.
Issue – no gear or neutral indicator on the dash display, no neutral green light or some gears fail to display, wrong gear indicated. This may happen intermittently.
You may also have problems with the bike not starting as the gear position switch / potentiometer may well be sending an ‘in gear’ signal to the bike’s ECU even though the bike is in neutral (you can get round this by starting the bike with the side stand up and the clutch lever pulled in).
In general these issues are a nuisance only however it is possible for the neutral green light to show when the bike is still in gear, I don’t think I need to explain what could happen then! (Always a good idea to let the clutch out slowly after you think you’ve put the bike in neutral;-)
This has been a fairly common issue with the BMW R1200GS and no doubt other BMW R1200 series motorcycles. Whilst I guess a failure of the actual ‘dash’ display is possible all the problems I am aware of have related to the gear position indicator switch (potentiometer) mounted to the back of the gearbox and/or the electrical connector to the switch. For the R1200GS a common issue is the ingress of water to the electrical connection and/or the switch itself but there have also been reports of failed gear / neutral indicator switches (potentiometers) and I’ve also read of a few problems where a reset of the bikes ECU software has resolved faults with wrong gears being indicated – the cure is as simple as clearing the fault code on the bikes ‘computer’ which will require a visit to the dealer unless you have access to a GS-911 diagnostic tool.
Location of the BMW R1200GS / R1200 gear indicator potentiometer unit:
UPDATE: With effect from 2010 R1200 / R1200GS models there’s a small modification. The gear indicator potentiometer now has a wiring tail that goes to a connector located on the left-hand side of the g/box housing, just above the gearchange shaft. Presumably this is an acknowledgement by BMW that the previous potentiometer connector was too exposed and subject to water/dirt ingress.
Thanks to Phil Mather for bringing this to my attantion.
Change for 2010 onwards R1200 models
If you have problems with neutral / gear position not being indicated it’s well worth checking the electrical connector for the gear potentiometer first off. Disconnect, check for corrosion, clean and reconnect with some silicone grease or spray ACF50 around the connector.
I don’t think there is anything serviceable but it’s worth removing the switch and checking for water / dirt, clean, allow it to dry out and reinstall. Apparently they have moved the potentiometer to a drier location on the 2008 bikes! To remove the potentiometer…
Removing gearbox potentiometer
Disconnect plug (1) of gearbox potentiometer.
Release the cable from the cable clips.
Remove screws (2) from the gearbox potentiometer.
Remove the gearbox potentiometer, noting the O-ring.
Installing gearbox potentiometer
Install the gearbox potentiometer, noting the O-ring.
Install screws (2).
Gear potentiometer to gearbox
Bolts/screws 2 x (M6 x 25)- torque 9 Nm
Connect plug (1) to the gearbox potentiometer.
Clip the cable into the cable clips.