A crash that left a rider with serious injuries after his BMW’s spoked front wheel collapsed has prompted a wider probe into the issue amid calls for an official safety recall.
Gavin Chapman went over the handlebars when the front wheel of his 2016 R 1200 GS Triple Black collapsed.
“Although I don’t remember much, I was riding with others and as I braked for a corner the spokes on the front wheel collapsed, causing the disk brake to hit the ground,” he says .
“This catapulted the bike and myself into the bush.
“The bike was a write-off and I was seriously injured and air-lifted to Roma Hospital.”
Gavin was taking part in a charity ride about 100km west of his home in Gladstone, Central Queensland, in September, with about 50 other riders.
“It was a combination of road, dirt road and tracks, nothing too difficult,” he says.
“During the course of the day we rode across numerous cattle grids, potholes and washouts, but no rocks.”
Gavin contacted us after reading about Brisbane rider Mark Taylor losing control of his four-month-old BMW R 1200 GS with 10 loose rear spokes.
BMW Motorrad Australia confirms there is an “international service campaign” where spoked wheels are inspected when bikes are scheduled for service at an authorised BMW dealership.
The issue affects 286 models of R 1200 GS, R 1200 GS Adventure, R nineT Scrambler and R nineT Urban G/S built between February 2018 to June 2018.
BMW says the problem lies with the coating on the spoke nipples which does not provide enough friction to retain tension. They say they have made changes to eliminate the issue.
Mark contacted the Department of Infrastructure to call for an official safety recall.
We contacted the department about the second incident and a spokesperson confirmed they had conducted a probe into Mark’s report about loose spokes on his bike.
“The department has considered all information contained in that report,” the spokesperson says.
“The additional information you have provided relates to another recent event and will be considered to assess whether any further action is appropriate.”
RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding says the issue is a safety concern and needs a further probe.
“This is the second incident we have become aware of in about a month and raises concerns about whether there is a more widespread problem putting other riders in danger,” he says.
“We would expect the bike manufacturer to investigate the causes of failure, whether there is a link affecting this model and, if there is, initiate prompt attention to rectify other bikes before more crashes occur.
“Manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure safety-related defects are fully investigated and to take prompt action when they identify a correction is necessary.”
He says spoked wheels have an extensive history of being durable with minimal maintenance.
“It’s not that they don’t have problems; they just don’t have them very often,” he says.
“If a manufacturer is having to initiate a service campaign which includes regular tension checking I think this indicates a need to look much closer at the issue.
“Just what does the ‘service campaign’ involve and if it’s product redesign on a safety related issue what is the trigger point for moving to a recall?”
BMW Motorrad Australia says the international service campaign has been “initiated in conjunction with the BMW Motorrad head office in line with Australian regulations”.
“In addition, we wish to advise that all motorcycles with spoked wheels are automatically checked and tested at every scheduled service.
“This has been standard practice since well before the R 1200 GS model was introduced,” she says.
The BMW service campaign was no use to Gavin as he says his closest authorised BMW dealer is about 450km away on the Sunshine Coast.
Gavin had his spokes checked by a local mechanic two days before the charity ride.
BMW Motorrad Australia says the owner’s manual advises riders to have their bike checked after riding off-road.
Gavin says there was no damage to the wheel rims from the crash, only the spokes.
Mark says his bike’s spokes were tightened at the dealership at 3000km. He rode a further 2500km on bitumen and 22km on a dirt road before his incident.
Riders can report concerns of vehicle safety or non-compliance to the Department of Infrastructure via their online Vehicle Safety and Non-Compliance Report form.
BMW Motorrad Australia also advises concerned riders to phone them on 133 269 or contact their local dealer.