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The dreaded BMW front wheel recall
This is a subject that comes up on the forums from time to time. To avoid repeatedly typing the same information, I've put together this short web page so I can just post a link to it every time the question comes up. If you think it is worth linking to this page from your own site, please feel free to do so. (Also, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page).
The story, as I understand it is:
In 1977, or thereabouts, BMW started fitting cast wheels of the type normally referred to as 'Snowflake' wheels. They were fitted throughout the range. Front wheels were fitted in 18" size to the R45 and R65 in 19" size to the R60, R75, R80 and R100 models. Spoked wheels were also available as an option and were still fitted as standard to the 'GS' range but snowflake wheels were the 'norm'.
A year or so later, there were reports that a very few of the 19" cast front wheels had suffered from cracking a the base of the spokes where they join the hub. The result was that, in 1983, a general recall was issued by BMW and all of the wheels were replaced with new, slightly different wheels that have additional webbing at the base of the spokes... or at least they were supposed to have been replaced. It seems that, as is usually the case, some machines escaped the recall process and, every so often an old style wheel is found, still fitted and presumably having completed 20 odd years of service.
So, how do you know whether the front wheel fitted to your pride and joy (or the one you are about to bid for on Ebay), is a Pre-recall wheel. In fact it is quite easy to tell if you know what to look for.
The recall only related to 19" wheels. The 18" wheels fitted to the R65 and the R45 were never recalled and so, presumably, were not affected by the fault.
The recall only applied to front wheels and I have never come across any suggestion that rear wheels were affected by this problem.
The casting date of the wheel is stamped at one of the places where spokes
cross. You will find two different stampings at two different crosses. The one
to look for is the one in the form 11/83. This would denote a wheel cast in
November '83. The other stamping has a Roman number and an Arabic number...
don't know what that one means.
If the wheel has a casting date prior to October 1982, it is suspect.
The other way to tell is to look at the spokes where they meet the hub. The older (suspect) wheels have rectangular flat spokes at this point. The later replacements have Cross section spokes with the additional sections joined to form a curved web between the spokes.
Number of spokes
I have it on reasonable authority, and it is born out by pictures I have seen, that Pre-recall wheels have 10 main spokes, while the later Post-recall wheels have eight. <Update 9/8/2006> I now have it on even better authority that there are 8 spoke pre-recall wheels thanks to Mark Ross from Australia who sent the picture included below of a wheel from a 1982 R100 (wheel date stamped 4/81). Mark is in contact with BMW Australia in an attempt to get the wheel replaced and has promised an update.<Update 11/8/2006> Mark has now informed me that BMW Australia have agreed to replace the wheel without any argument at all. A new wheel is being sourced from Germany.
Here are a few photo's showing (I hope) clearly the difference between the two types of wheel.
The first three pictures show the pre- recall wheel. Note the fact that the spokes are flat and go straight into the hub.
Photo Courtesy of 'Vanzen'
Photo Courtesy of Mark Hall
The next pictures show the post-recall wheel and clearly show the additional web reinforcements as well as the location of the cast in date stamp for the wheel.
Photo Courtesy of 'Quinner' Photo Courtesy of 'Vanzen'
Supplied by Kurt Schrader of San Antonio, USA... thanks... A link to the United States NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation notification of the recall. Click on the link and put the recall number 84v092000 into the relevant search box.
This web page is the original work of Robin Frankham. The information contained herein is assembled from a number of sources including BMW and other credible commentaries relating to BMW motorcycles. I have made every effort to ensure that the content of this page is accurate. This information is offered as a free information service in good faith and I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might occur from it, either directly or indirectly. It is your responsibility to ensure that the wheels fitted to your machine are correct and in good condition. If you have any doubt about there suitability or condition please refer them to a competent expert for examination. In particular, if there is any sign of cracking or any other damage to any cast wheel, do not ride the machine until you are entirely satisfied that it is safe to do so.
I am very keen to ensure that the information contained in the web page is correct. If you find any errors or omissions in the page, please let me know. If you have any reason to believe that any of the information in the page is incorrect, please also let me know as soon as possible. It would be helpful if you could quote the source of your information in order that I can assess it's credibility. All of the information I have posted has documentary sources but I am under no illusions that those sources are infallible.
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(v2.2) 11th August 2006