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The story behind the broken front & rear brake light switches
on BMW Motorcycles

ALSO:  stiff throttles, on ONLY 1985 K bikes

brakeswitches.htm-37B
Copyright, 2012, R. Fleischer



This article is not concerned with the hydraulic pressure activated brake switches.  
Those switches, originally 34-31-1-233-959, were replaced with 61-31-1-244-334.  You
can probably substitute the switch used on old VW Beetles.  Napa carries that switch
as number SL143.  There are other such switches:
3 terminal version is NAPA SL159,
VW 113945515G; 2 terminal version is NAPA SL147, VW 0344004003

 

BMW Service Information Bulletins were issued regarding the front & rear brake light
switches, brake lever, etc.   The bulletins applied to both Classic K bikes & to
Airheads, but not exactly the same way.  
There were bulletins issued in 1987,
updated in 1988 & a formal recall in 1989.   Later bulletins were longer, with more
details.   All R series bikes FROM 1985 model year through 1988, & SOME 1989
Airheads were affected.  ALL models of airheads for those years!

Federal Recall Campaigns NEVER expire!....if your bike has a problem, BMW
dealerships will fix it, if it is in the Recalled Group, for free.

The SI's involved are 61 014 87 (2263) covering ALL models; 61 017 88 (2305);
2342
; 2343.  This all became a formal FEDERAL recall campaign (see 2342),......
if it applies to your bike, & you have the switch contacting problem...it will be handled
totally by your dealer at no cost to you. 

Here is the Bulletin:  https://www.bmwmc.net/catalog/05.pdf

SI 61 014 87 (2263) came out in August of 1987 & covered ALL BMW models. 
It said that rear brake light switch on K models 61-31-1-459-588  &  61-31-1-459-569 front &
rear brake light switches, except R80G/S, are replacing old part 61-31-1-459-519.  The SI
explained that the -588 switch, on K models, can be used in place of the plunger switch if it
utilized the solid mount type of foot rest plate, which has an extra casting rib & a mounting hole. 
That -588 switch was introduced in the 1987 production year.  The switch is to be mounted
so the switch mounting plate is resting against the cast rib, is positioned correctly when
there is a slight gap between the levering tab & the foot rest plate, & a click is heard when the
foot brake pedal is depressed.

The -569 assembly replaces the -519, used as a front brake light switch, a clutch safety
switch, & a choke light switch.

On the R bikes, the new -569 switch can be used at both front & rear brake light switches &
clutch safety switch (except the R80GS rear brake light switch).   The -569 switch must not
be overtightened, maximum is 5 Nm (3.6 ftlbs).  Use a drop of blue Loctite on the flange.  
When installing a -569 on a K75C with drum brake, cap 35-21-1-244-520 must be pressed
onto the head of the screw that activates the switch.

SI 61 017 88 (2305) came out in April of 1988 & was the first bulletin explaining about the
pin problem & to file the hand brake lever & to install the -520 cap on the hex head stop bolt
for the foot brake lever, & to set the air gap between cap and switch pin to ~3.5 mm.

Next in the chain of SI's was SI 61 019 89 (2342).   This is the big one, that was a Federal
Recall.   NOTE that this was for the R bikes!   Rather extensive, with sketches % lots of details:

Details:
The mechanical cable has a small plastic pin...that actuates the switch.  The pin gets bent, &
causes the switch to fail.   The brake lever is what is bending the pin.   In bulletin 61-017-88 (2305)
BMW said that the hand lever was to be removed & you were to file or belt-sand the milled cutout
on the hand brake lever until the plastic pin no longer catches the sharp corner.    On the REAR
brake light switch, the stop bolt which actuates the switch might contact the plastic pin at an angle
...causing the pin to form a ridge or burr.   For this foot lever, a cap, 35-21-1-244-520 was to be
installed onto the hex head stop bolt...& the air gap between the cap and switch pin adjusted to
approximately 3.5 mm.

UNofficial information from Snowbum:  I have seen the offset pin problems on many Airheads,
all the way through the end of production in 1995.  If you remove the rear wheel, you can probably
do some careful bending of the switch bracket, and eliminate that plastic CAP (which eventually
wears from the pin). A minor adjustment of switch position may be needed (simple nut/adjustment).


The RECALL was FEDERAL, & the NHTSA number was 88V-192 (the SI announcing this was
dated April 1989, was number 61 019 89 (2342) in the above paragraph's sequence.   1985 through
1988, & SOME 1989 bikes were affected.   Note that the 'recall' in the SI was for the R bikes.
The following vehicles were in the Recall:
R65 serial 6388193-6388255
R65 serial 6128001-6128516
R65LS serial 6371705-6371713
R80G/S serial 6363060-6363352
R80 serial 6480001-6481120
R80RT serial 6490001-6491452
R100GS serial 6152004-6153373
R100RS serial 6247001-6247599
R100RT serial 6292601-6293397

K bikes: 
  All up to the date of the bulletins.   Brake light switch 61-31-1-459-519 was replaced
by 61-31-1-459-588.   This switch can be used instead of the plunger-type on all K models that
utilize the SOLID MOUNT type of foot rest plate....which has an additional casting rib & mounting
hole.   Bulletin 61 014 87 (2263) has sketches & description, & adjustment information.  ALSO
in this bulletin is the information on the 61-31-1-459-569 FRONT brake light switch.....
clutch safety switch...& choke light switch.
    Information on installing the switch (maximum
torque is 5 Nm) and use of a drop of Loctite 242 BLUE, is in the Bulletin.  A note in the bulletin
states that this -569 switch when used on a K75C (drum brake model)...must have the cap
(35-21-1-244-520) pressed onto the head of the screw which activates the switch.

I do not have the Federal Recall Campaign information handy at the moment, for the K bikes...if
I find it, I will post the information here.

 


Re:  Stiff throttles.....K bikes....1985 ONLY:

There is a Federal Recall Campaign for this problem.   The NHTSA number is 85V-011, the BMW SI bulletin is 
61 010 85 (2143).   This applies to ONLY the following motorcycles:
K100        serial 0030001-0030828
K100RS   serial 0040001-0041020
K100RT   serial 0050001-0050952

The handlebars are rubber mounted, & therefore are electrically insulated.   The brake switch might try to get
its 'ground' via the throttle cable, causing, eventually, the throttle cable to be stiff.   The fix was to add a ground
wire, per the sketch in the bulletin.  There are BMW part numbers for the wire, etc.
 


Airheads:

The bulletins had a new REAR switch & FRONT switch; a modification was to be done to the front
brake lever; & a cap added to the rear brake lever actuating bolt head.....Excepting, I think, the
R80GS REAR, for which it did not apply exactly the same way....see later here.  The bulletins
have a lot to them, but basically, for our Airheads, the front brake lever itself was not contacting
the switch actuating pin properly, the pins bent, failed.  The switch was updated; you, or the dealer,
was to also modify the front brake lever.  Remove the front brake lever, a very easy job; file slightly
the lever in a certain place so it did not 'catch' the brake switch pin.

For the REAR brake lever, the bolt that actuates the rear switch was not contacting the actuating
part of the switch properly, & could cause a broken switch.  BMW supplied a sort of a cap to fit
over the bolt head.
UNofficial information from Snowbum:  I have seen the offset pin problems on many Airheads,
all the way through the end of production in 1995.  If you remove the rear wheel, you can probably
do some careful bending of the switch bracket, and eliminate that plastic CAP (which eventually
wears from the pin). A minor adjustment of switch position may be needed (simple nut/adjustment).



How to tell if your bike was fixed?
Inspect the actuating pin of the front & rear brake light switches.  WHITE pins are the
bad ones. Black or dark Gray are OK.   NOTE that SOME R80G/S bikes used a different
front switch....and if the switch wires can be UNPLUGGED, then it is NOT one of the
bad recalled ones.    However, all should be inspected for condition of the pins, lever,
etc. To see the REAR switch pin, use a small mirror and press the foot pedal, to then
see the pin color.

In any case, the small ridge on the front lever is to be sanded or filed off.

The R80G/S and R100GS do not use the rear bolt cap that is mentioned to be installed
on other models.


It is not easy to describe, without a drawing, what is modified on the front brake lever....but, if
the lever is removed, you will see the area around the pivot has some...well, notches/cutouts.   
There may be a very small very tiny notch on the outer curve, and it is the one to be smoothed.  
If you put the lever into place without the pin-bolt holding it, you will rather easily see what portion
contacts the switch pin & why, if you have a lever needing modification, it should be done.

I DO have the various bulletins, & the model and serial numbers of all the USA shipped (ONLY)
bikes that were affected....but you can see from inspection if you have a bike that needs the fix.  



Rev:
Initial release:  09/17/2004
01/15/2008:  moved position on technical index page
01/14/2009:  changed article number
03/25/2010:  checked, and slight updates
06/04/2010:  checked, minor update information to make the K bike situation a bit clearer; add stiff throttle
                    information on the K bikes.
 May/2011 :  During updating of this article I still did not find my K bike bulletin on the BRAKE SWITCHES
                    matter (not meaning the stiff throttle SI).....I believe there was a Federal recall, just can't find
                    that bulletin.  However, the details in this article you are reading should be adequate.
01/23/2016:  Narrow the article, update meta-codes, increase font sizes for better readability, more left justification.

 

Copyright, 2012, R. Fleischer


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