BMW Motorcycles of Grand Rapids - A Review: Great Bikes: Poor Service

My first Beemer pictured in 2002
I have been mulling this over in my head for months and I have finally boiled it down to the essence: BMW Motorcycles has really let me down. By "BMW Motorcycles" I mean BMW of North America and the local dealership in Grand Rapids.

BMW #2 at a track day at Grattan Raceway.
First let me tell you that I have purchased and ridden the heck out of 3 BMWs over the last 10 years. All of them were purchased at the dealership and financed through BMW. In addition to the 3 bikes, I have spent hundreds (thousands) of dollars in the service department, bought numerous pieces of riding gear (jackets, rain suit, pants, boots, several pair of gloves, helmets, etc. etc.) over the years. I should also mention that I wrote 7 articles for publication in the BMW MOA monthly magazine over the years and also promoted the brand in a couple of articles I wrote for RIDER magazine.

I just sold the last one - a 2004 R1150R Edition 80 (one of only 200 shipped to the US) to a guy from the east side of the state. I loved that bike, but I did NOT want to have any more dealings with BMW MC of Grand Rapids or BMW in general.

Put 49,000 miles on this one - the LAST one.
Silly me, I actually thought BMW might actually give a shit about me. NOT.

The first time someone at GR BMW honked me off, I turned the other cheek and continued to do business there for a couple more years. As you all know, pretty much ANYTHING for a motorcycle is available on the Internet. But I own a small business, so I try to buy everything I can from local dealers - we need them! Imagine my surprise a couple years ago when I drove the 15 miles to BMW GR and paid $30 more than the Internet price for a Scorpion helmet and the salesman I BOUGHT ALL THREE BIKES from started giving me grief about buying a Scorpion for $200 and not $700 Arai like he wore.

WTF? I let Mike have it with both barrels - I was so mad I could hardly contain myself. I could have bought the helmet for less money and not even had to drive across town to get it. Have not spoken to him since then.

Fast forward to 2011 when I notice a slight crinkle in the gas tank of the black and white bike seen above. I went to the dealership and spoke with the parts guy about it and he, a salesman, and someone from the service department all came out to look at the bike. No one had a clue or a possible explanation. Someone asked if I had dropped something on the bike. My answer was no.

My theory was that the bike had been vandalized. No one in the group had a better idea. I showed everyone some marks on the frame under the tank. I thought maybe someont tried to pry the tank off. (No one even suggested that my tank was bottoming out or that the shock was bad and needed to be looked at or repaired/replaced.) At the point I first brought the bike in there were very slight crinkles in the tank - more noticeable on one side than the other. There was no gas leak.

Since no one at the dealership had any suggestions, I followed up with my vandalism theory and filed an insurance claim. The adjuster inspected my bike, then talked with someone and/or visited the dealership. (Again, no one mentioned shock failure.) The insurance company sent me a check made out to both of us dated June 20th, 2011.

Weeks went by as I waited for a tank. I tried to contact BMW NA to complain, but their website is very protective of anyone in authority and the people who answered my inquiries referred me back to my local shop. I asked Ken at BMW GR for the name of the BMW service manager on more than one occasion. I have never been given a name or contact information. THEY WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE NAME OF THE REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE.

By this time the tank started leaking and I was unable to ride for days at a time while I sought methods to repair it. By now months had gone by with two tanks arriving with paint that did not match. I rode the bike in once with my tank patched so the staff could compare my tank to the one they received from Germany. Again, my bike was looked at by three people. NO ONE at the dealership told me the shock was the possible problem or suggested anything like it. My attempts to get a name or information to contact BMW NA were brushed aside again. The bike was un-ridable for the better part of the summer of 2011.

I was pissed at BMW for not having the ability to match their own paint color. For a company with a worldwide reputation for being high tech and manufacturing some of the best cars and bikes on the road - I could not for the life of me get my head around the delay. I was told that BMW was suggesting that I had painted the bike. Wow - BMW cannot match their own color so it becomes the fault of the customer. How do you spell "arrogant" in German?

Someone came and retrieved my bike so the regional rep could see it. When it was returned to me I was NOT told that the problem was a failed shock - no one told me to quit riding.

Fast forward to when Paul picked up my bike in December 2011 (six MONTHS after I reported the problem). Now the story was that there had been a couple more of the 1150Rs with the same problem. It was all about the shock absorber. I get a call telling me about additional charges that my insurance company is picking up and the fact that I need to replace the shock. My insurance company was billed $500 extra dollars for a "custom paint job" and I had to pay $600 for a shock.

The bike was finally fixed in the early part of 2012 - I think I got it back in March. It took almost a year for BMW to replace a gas tank on a black and white 2004 motorcycle.

I went on the BMW North America's Facebook page and expressed my dissatisfaction. I got a phone call within a couple of hours. However, that was a big waste of time - Elizabeth from BMW NA actually told me that even though the JOB of the regional representative is to "act as a liaison between BMW and their customers" it is company policy NOT to let the customer speak to them directly.


BMW may make "legendary motorcycles" but their concern for the people who purchase them sucks major canal water. Let the Buyer Beware.

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