Frequently Asked Questions


There are certain discussion topics that have come up so often, list regulars are bored with them. Also, they can get cranky when the same question is asked each time a well-meaning new subscriber logs on.

However, the questions and answers are still important, especially so to the person who asks the question.

Newcomers to the list can learn a bit about what's transpired before they logged on by reading these questions and answers . . .

Q. What's the best BMW?

A. The one you own/ride/want.

Q. (version 1) I've always wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle . . . what's the best way to learn?
    (version 2) I haven't ridden in XX years. What's the best way to brush up my skills?

A. Call the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and arrange to take one of their basic or experienced rider courses. You can locate a course near you by calling 800 446-9227 within the U.S. To speak to a human being to find out more about the courses or the organization, call 800 447-4700 or 714 727-3227.

Also, be sure to browse the collective "wisdom" of the rec.motorcycle denizens.

Q. Does ABS really work? Is it worth the money?

A. Yes, it really works.  From a post on the subject:

>The consensus seems to be that ABS helps the most in the situations it's
>designed for: panic mode, grab a handful situations where you can't
>anticipate, can't practice threshold braking, and/or have to steer
>while braking as strongly as possible.
>Everyone (
most people -- Ed.) seems to agree that in a controlled situation with an expert
>rider on dry pavement, ABS can be beaten as far as absolute stopping
>power/distance goes.
(Because ABS rapidly turns maximum braking force (at the lockup level) on and off... an
expert rider can hold the braking level just short of locking up without cycling, which
means a shorter overall stopping distance under ideal situations. -- Ed.)

... But that isn't usually the situation most people  find themselves in when ABS saves
>their ass.

It's certainly worth the money if it saves your life. And it's saved a number of list member's lives. From that recent post, again:

>It's like seat belts.... they only work if you have 'em and use 'em.

Q. Do RADAR detectors really work? What's the best kind?

A. Yes, they really work too. The list consensus is that Valentine Research V1 is the only way to fly low and fast. Probably the most expensive detector out there, it consistently comes in at the top of various comparison tests.

One Prez was kind enough to summarize a recent thread and posted:

  1. 1. Valentine One is about two times more sensitive than the second best--and about two or three times the cost. It has unique features that provide important information. It is overwhelmingly preferred by prezzes.
  2. Bel 945iM is a gimmick. The unit has problems that make it inappropriate for motorcycle use as suggested by the manufacturer. Several prezzes have had them, hated them, and divested themselves of the liability.
  3. Sensitivity of the 945 is reduced by about 15% on battery operation as opposed to 12V according to a Car & Driver review and confirmed by a Bel spokesman.
  4. There are situations and tactics for which a detectors offer no defense. Instant-on was mentioned in almost every post or email--but was not relevant to my situation. Cresting hills is a situation that is not defensible. Radar behind certain terrain and obstacles may be virtually indefensible--greater sensitivity can make all the difference. A detector sensitive enough to alert on the scatter from reflections gives you an edge and is why the V-1 is worth twice the price. Others like the 945iM alert on a direct hits--which is the problem in a nutshell.
  5. A detector can be concealed in a tank bag or system case without significantly reducing sensitivity to radar, however laser detection will not work without line-of-sight contact.
  6. Good eyeballs and awareness of tactics are the best protection detectors are supplemental. Knowing the limitations of detectors is crucial. Everyone hates enforcement for revenue generation.

Valentine sells direct only; you won't find them in stores, although they're occasionally listed on Ebay. V1s can be upgraded as new circuitry and features are added, so if you contemplate purchasing a used unit, get the serial number from the seller and ask Valentine how current the guts are. Valentine does occasionally sell refurbished units; it's worth asking them about if you'd like to save some bucks.


In general, the slick way to go is with the optional audio and visual remote modules so you can see what's happening on a discretely hidden-away detector. 

If you buy a V1 with radar only innards, you can mount if anywhere on your cycle or person that doesn't hide behind metal (because radar waves won't penetrate metal) and to which you can get 12 V DC. Saddlebags and tank bags are popular nooks.  

If you get a V1 with laser detection (this probably works too -- some people claim that they've been saved by it; others who don't have it are skeptical [I'm getting an increasing number of laser alarms over the last few years; laser use in increasing and I'm convinced the V1 picks it up except in single target, instand on situations. Ed.]), you need to figure out a mounting point that's not blocked by anything because laser works in line-of-sight. Aftermarket mounting brackets by SAENG and other manufacturers that place the detector up and around the mirrors are popular. Several riders have fabricated Plexiglas cases and rigged up permanent mountings; under the chin of the fairing is a popular mounting point. Another consideration is whether you want the detector active in the rain. If you do, some kind of housing is required because the V1s are designed for dry in-cage environments. A small ZIP-lock bag works great as a temporary cover and the price is right, but it seems to be less than elegant.

Q. What do the letters and numbers in BMW model designations mean?

A. From a posting by Tom Coradeschi to the newsgroup (And be sure to check out the cycle chronology at

Roughly speaking, R stands for "rad" which is German for cycle. K stands for "Kompact" (Kompakt?) and is BMW's name for the drivetrain layout on those bikes. All of the R bikes (at least those currently in production) are boxer twins, while the K bikes have inline 3 or 4 cylinder engines.

As far as the letters go, if it has an S after it, it's a sport model, with a small fairing, belly pan and low handlebars. There is no K75R, but there is a K75RT, which is a touring bike: big fairing, moderately high bars, electrically adjustable windshield on the later model bikes, probably comes with saddlebags and possibly a top case. There's also a K75LS, where the LS stands for Low Seat - very low seat with different battery covers, etc to make room for it.

For those who prefer a more systematic approach . . . from a posting by Uwe Jarczynski, also on

Here's the solution:
All (current/recent production) BMW types are coded as:
Type / CCM / Subtype
Where Type can be
F for newer single cylinder 650s
R for all 2-cylinder
K for 3 and 4 cylinders

and CCM is cubic centimeters of displacement divided by 10 (for K-Types and older R-Types) or the actual displacement. Typical Subtypes are

- (nothing) Basic Model
C same as -
S Sport (normally with small sporty fairing)
RS Sport (with bigger fairing)
T Touring (mostly with windshield)
RT Touring (with large fairing)
R Roadster, new subtype, former Basic models
GS the Bavarian idea of a dirt bike :-) means *G*elaende/*S*trasse

I don't think I got them all ;-)

In addition to this, BMW used to designate models with a slash and a number indicating the version number. For instance, a /2 model usually indicated the second release (with improvements or changes), a /3 indicated the third release, and so on.

Q. Can someone please re-post the part number for the John Deere power accessory plug (male part), so I can make an adaptor for my cigarette lighter enhanced cell phone? I was sure I saved it but...

John Deere part numbers:
Socket #AL25073
Plug-in #RE11344

Q. I'm traveling to (fill in the blank) and I'd sure like to rent a cycle while I'm there. Who rents cycles?

A. A number of places rent motorcycles. Check out Cruise America for US/North American stuff. A dedicated IBMWR member, Adam Wolkoff, maintains a tasty central clearing site of BMW rental outfits although it's a bit out of date. His site contains info provided by another member, Court Fisher. Court is willing to provide a current list of European rental sites via email and also recommends a MOA site. In some U.S. locations, the Budget Rent-a-Car company rents motorcycles. Contact your local office for information. Also, the Motor Company has an international dealer-based program. (Although this link points to the US program listing.)

And a few individual outfits that have surfaced.

Q. I need to get a cycle shipped from where I am to where I'm going to be. Who can I call?

A. Court Fisher posted this response:

  1. Bike trucking 'specialists'. North American Van Lines and Allied have merged, but are still doing business under separate brands, and both operate air-suspension cross-country point-to-point vans for uncrated bikes, bookable through several local agents: Federal, 800-747-4100; JC Motors, 800-730-3151; and Liberty, 888-330-5599.
  2. Amtrak Express,, 800-368TRAK, does crated or palletized bikes between some of their major East & West coast railfreight terminals. Check website for terminal location & pricing detail, but you need to call them anyway.
  3. Comparison shop above with any national trucking firms that may be near you. Be sure to compare their bike prep requirements, skills and cost, in addition to actual freight cost.
  4. 'Fleet' [?]--most pricing is per bike unit, but never hurts to ask for multi-unit or a total weight 'discount.'
  5. How do you value however much time you've got?--for some folks, a personal U-Haul rental of the right size can be 'cheapest.'

There are some additional companies listed in the Address Book - do a search for "shipping" to locate these Prex-recommended companies.

Q. Damn, this list generates a lot of email. How can we cut down the volume?

A. Probably not much you can do about the volume. It's a popular list and a lot of people like to type. However, you can do a number of things to manage your time and email more efficiently.

Very few people read all the material that flows over the list. Either ignore some of the messages, or investigate software that automatically filters messages for you so that you read only the topics you're really interested in.

Another option to consider is the digest. You'll still get all the messages, but they'll be neatly wrapped in just a few mail messages. (Remember, when you're a digest subscriber, that when you reply to a message, you (usually) have to manually edit the Subject: line so others will know what message you're replying to. Otherwise your reply will appear to be a reply to all the messages in the digest.) 

Once you're receiving the digest, you can use special digest-reading software to make live easier : dreader, Digest Reader, or LetterRip. Other untested-by-this-author software resides at,, and For Macs, Digest Viewer at

Q. There's so much mail! Why don't we split the mailing list into more, smaller mailing lists?

A. Every now and then the idea of splitting the list up into model-specific sections, riding styles, or by owners' astrological signs comes up. This idea is usually short lived, since the benefits of the single list far outweigh any further segmenting of the community of BMW owners. Most people like it the way it is; others can live with it; and those who can't cope either investigate the options mentioned in the previous answers or unsubscribe.

Steve Anderson probably explained the reason for not breaking the group best:

Almost any question I would ask could be answered by the folks here, whether the response came from the owner of a K or a 30-year-old twin. Who among us isn't interested in Noemi's ongoing GS adventures? The appeal of this list is its diversity, its inclusion of beemerphiles from all over the map, geographically and by cycle model.

And another nice exchange on why most people like things the way they are, from Arno Jones and Gary Harris:

>This place isn't just a technical exchange forum, it's a place for us to
>be friends.  It's a place to communicate with people and get excited
>over the prospect of meeting them, and in doing that, you will make
>trips you wouldn't have made without belonging to the list.
>That I'm on the list caused me to ride to Florida from Arizona to keep someone
>company.  It caused me an excuse to go to Death Valley, a spiritual
>place for me, but a place I keep putting off in going to.

Because of this list I've ridden to Key West, I've seen/ridden the beautiful
roads and mountains of Georgia/Tenn/NC, met a few Polar Bears, rode to
Canada, spent the night on a beautiful farm in Maine, visited an Estate in
Va, experience wonderful hospitality in Maryland, rode the sweet Blue Ridge
Parkway and met some wonderful people...some of whom I hope to call friends
for the rest of my life.

And that was just over the course of ONE year!

>The list made me
>cry for fallen riders whom I've never met and it motivates me to meet
>all of the members that I can.


>This list isn't just a cold cathode-ray tube to get facts from, it's our
>sub-culture.  It is what we are.


>Arno Jones
Gary - NYC

And, of course, because the Internet is functioning anarchy, you're always free to start your own mailing list dedicated to whatever you want...

Q. I really like to commune with other people like me who like what I like, always agree with me, and tell me what a great rider I am. And don't want to wade through all the posts on the list to find just those specialized messages. What can I do?

A. Try the other, more specialized BMW mailing lists?

There's an entire WWW site that lists nothing but motorcycle mailing lists, including many BMW brand-specific ones. And if your topic is of more marginal interest, check the list of all known mailing lists.

There's a BMW Motorcycle technical list that may be just what you're looking for. It's maintained by us, the same folks who do the IBMWR mailing list. To subscribe, send an email message with the words "subscribe bmwtech (or bmwtech-digest)" as the body of the message.

Or, for "discussions of long distance riding and the where, whys and hows," send a message with "subscribe ldriders" as the entire the body of the message.

For riders in (or interested in Europe), there's ibmwr-euro.

Play in the dirt? Try the GS list. Or email with "subscribe BMW-GS Your Name" as the message body.

You may also want to consider subscribing to the BMW-oriented mailing list / electronic motorcycle club that's dedicated to off-topic chat, jokes, and garter belts as to cycles: The Village Idiots. Subscribe by sending an email message to village-idiots-request@ ; the entire text of the message body should be the word: subscribe.

If you happen to be a MOA member who is more, or as, interested in club politics as riding, take it to the MOA list, with the two words: subscribe bmwmoa as the entire message body.

Q. I can't count; I ordered 113 IBMWR t-shirts and bounced the check. What can I do?

A. Well you can't run and you can't hide. Our knee-cappers are everywhere. Treasurer Tom Keen writes:

Everyone (except my mother) has bounced a check or two during their lifetime. We understand that deposits don't get made on time or folks make subtraction errors. But IBMWR does not have a lot of money to absorb the services charges associated with a "returned check" so... our policy on checks you write for IBMWR merchandise that bounce is: 

1) You will be notified that your check failed to clear. We will expect you to send a new check ASAP and include a $26 service charge (this is what our bank charges us)

2) When your new check clears, your old check will be returned to you.

3) Until you make things right, you will not be able to buy any IBMWR merchandise.

If you have questions: Please contact:

Tom Keen at

Q. When I get twisted, I can't remember the difference between torque and that horsey number... 

A. Go straight to the Cycle Doctor.

Q. Did we miss something?

Or, rather, what's your favorite FAQ? If you've got a topic that you think should be included here, email it to Art Campbell. And then be patient. This only gets updated when the weather's too shitty to ride.