Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > BMW Tech

BMW Tech BMW Tech Forum - For Questions specific and of interest to BMW riders only. Questions comparing which bike is best etc go in the "Which Bike" forum.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.

7 Litre Camel Tank Lets You Explore More, Click to Find out More!

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 24 Aug 2008
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 104
Flecks of metal in gear oil!

My wife and I are currently in Buenos Aires and this morning I changed the gear oil (1998 bmw 1100gs with 90000 km, last changed the oil about 12000 km ago). I noticed that the magnetic drain plug was covered with grey paste. In addition, there were very fine flecks of metal on the plug (also in the oil).

Is this a major issue or can we head down to Ushuaia?



Reply With Quote
Old 24 Aug 2008
Big Yellow Tractor's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: England
Posts: 608
Originally Posted by Brian and Marie View Post
last changed the oil about 12000 km ago
I suppose it depends how many crunchy gear changes you have done in the 12000 km. If everything seems to be ok with the bike, I wouldn't worry to much but would do the next oil change a little prematurely just to see if it's an on-going issue.

I have no BMW specific knowledge but have found metal in the oil on my bikes on much shorter service intervals than 12000 km and haven't worried about it.
Reply With Quote
Old 27 Aug 2008
Gecko's Avatar
Slippery when wet
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Buxton,Derbyshire
Posts: 294
I have a 1999 R1100GS and there I always some 'gray paste' when changing the gearbox and final drive oil. I have never had metal fleks ...yet . I think the advice akready given is sound - do the next oil change a bit early and keep and eye on it but don't let it bother you too much , after all what can you do about it now - carry a spare gearbox and final drive on your trip ?
Are you using mineral or synthetic gear oil ? I use fully synthetic in mine and have done for years .
...on the road to nowhere...

Biking roads by bikers for bikers www.bestbikingroads.com
Get involved - save a life today www.bmdw.org
Reply With Quote
Old 27 Aug 2008
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Brum
Posts: 44
If the oil is filled with very fine particles such that it resembles thin metallic silver paint, it's the aluminium selector forks that are wearing. As aluminium isn't magnetic, the particles will not stick to the magnet in the drain plug. Eventually you'll find the bike will start jumping out of gear as you try and shift up.

If that's 'all' that's producing the flecks you'll be OK until shifting becomes a problem. If it's OK now it's should be fine for a good while more, but as suggested, keep an eye on the oil. My 1100 produced shiney oil for a few thousand miles before it started jumping out of gear.

Some grey sludge on the magnet is normal. Big flecks of ferrous metal are not a good sign and indicate that either a bearing or gear teeth are damaged, or you have been crashing through the gears a lot..

1100 gearboxes have undergone several modifications to prevent premature wear of the bearings and moved from open to sealed bearings along the way. Have a good search in the UKGSER site as there are loads of threads on this giving lots of good info'.

Good luck
Reply With Quote
Old 27 Aug 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Estonia
Posts: 771
As said before.

On '98 you have the M97 gearbox, which has a lot less problems than the M94 gearboxes (1994-1996 models).

Mine is '98 1100 also and I get normal amount of metal-grain collected on the magnet at every service when I inspect it.

I change gearbox and finaldrive oil at every 10Kkm, the same time as engine oil, so it's all the oils every service for me. Since it's so easy yet cheap to change the transmission oils. If you ride your bike on very bad roads think how much work they have to do.

If the metal particles aren't more than few millimeters long "slices" and no more than one millimeters thick sticking out of magnet then it's a normal wear for gearbox and nothing to worry about. And very fine metallic dust mixed with oil, "gray paste" as you call it, is absolutely nothing to worry about. Typical bigger metal particles on my gearbox magnet can be relatively long (few millimetres) but very thin. My bike is now over 80,000km, and it's been the same from the beginning.

On final drive magnet I mostly get only metallic dust - very fine particles "gausially" collected around the magnet. Reading at UKGSer or ADVrider - if big noticable metal bits stick to the FD magnet, then it's a warning sign for the crownwheel bearing is about to end it's work contract .

Ride safe, Margus

Last edited by Margus; 27 Aug 2008 at 13:37.
Reply With Quote
Old 2 Sep 2008
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Montreal
Posts: 104
Thanks to all for taking the time to respond. On the advice of others and based on the fact that I found a small piece of metal on the magnet (big enough to roll around on my fingers) we decided to take the gearbox apart here at Dakar Motos. What we found was that 5 of the 6 bearings were worn, some more than others. One in particular was obviously worn on the outside (the rear bearing of the input shaft gear). Other than the worn bearings everything seemed to be OK and the gearbox is now back together. Hopefully this change of bearings will resolve the issue!

Reply With Quote
Old 2 Sep 2008
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,514
Glad you are sorted now.
For future reference, grey paste is fine, flakes are not. Always a sign of impending bearing failure. Ie if you can feel any individual particle it is a problem. ( although not usually of the sudden catastrophic type)
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
FOR SALE: METAL MULE 32 L TOP BOX GSKev TRAVEL Equipment for Sale / Wanted 3 28 May 2010 18:37
Metal Mules prices go up AGAIN!! UTS Rich Equipment Reviews 42 1 Oct 2009 14:08
F650GS and Metal Panniers KneeDrachen BMW Tech 1 8 Mar 2008 18:37
Metal repair Walkabout Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else 21 3 Aug 2007 06:40
Metal Mule braindead Equipment Reviews 13 14 Jun 2005 20:19


NEW! HU 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar is now available! Get your copy now for some terrific travel inspiration!

HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!

Horizons Unlimited 2015 Motorcycle Adventure Travel Calendar.

"The calendar is magnificent!"

"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"

We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!

HU DVD Autumn Special!

Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!

Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).

The first in an exciting new series, Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers."Inspiring and hilarious!"

"I loved watching this DVD!"

"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."

"Wonderful entertainment!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.

Scottoiler automatic chain oilers. The most important accessory for your next motorcycle adventure!

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 05:42.