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19 inch FRONT Snowflake Wheel Recall
(for BMW Airhead motorcycles ONLY)
© copyright 2023, R. Fleischer
article 54, section 1
Back in 2016 I updated this article with the information that the cast alloy silver-color replacement wheels 36 31 1 238 959 were no longer available but the gold replacement wheels 36 31 1 238 960 were available to replace the gold or the silver, and the recall would still be honored. This information has again changed. It might change again. So, be sure to check with your BMW dealership.
Bud Provin checked with BMWNA on April 16, 2021. There are no more brand new cast alloy silver or gold wheels available. Bud's shop is called The Nickwackett Garage. Here's a wee bit about Bud:
He's a very knowledgeable guy; who freely offers his advice on all matters for BMW bikes (INCLUDING Airheads); and participates on the Airheads List on the Internet. SOLID very long term shop and reputation. (802) 483.2460. His shop, which specializes in BMW and old Triumph bikes, is located at 4814 Route 7, in Pittsford, VT. BMW and Brit bike work. http://thenickwackettgarage.com/bmwtwin/ email@example.com Read about the history of this shop, on the website.
In the rest of this article, I may or may not have changed the tense to indicate that new cast alloy replacement wheels from BMW are no longer available. This article may be used as a reference....but, there is always the possibility that replacement alloy wheels may again be available. Check with your BMW motorcycle dealership.
Background and history:
SOME 19 inch front cast aluminum snowflake wheels were 'recalled'. Not 18 inch front wheels. Not 18 inch rear wheels. Recall is only for certain Airheads 19 inch front wheels. Note that any fiche that says any of these wheels were cast IRON is faulty.
A good time to do this wheel exchange would have been right away if you were super safety conscious, or at tire replacement time if you were not overly concerned; or, never, if you so-desire, or no product is available, ...or ...you understood the details (such as WHY the recall, and how it might affect you, and have made your own decision about the situation). The wheels were recalled due to some hairline cracks appearing in the hub when the wheels were subjected to rather severe use. NOTE THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN A RECALLED WHEEL THAT FAILED. OAK TOLD ME HE HAD SEEN ONE, BUT THERE ARE NO SPECIFIC DETAILS, AND I AM SERIOUSLY DISCOUNTING THAT THE WHEEL MIGHT HAVE FAILED FIRST IN AN ACCIDENT. I HAVE SEEN A FEW WITH SOME VERY FINE CRACKS AFTER A LOT OF HARD MILES. MY LAWYER WOULD PROBABLY TELL ME TO SAY THAT I CANNOT TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, NOR ADVISE YOU, BUT I CAN TELL YOU WHAT I PERSONALLY HAVE DONE .....IF A WHEEL THAT IS COVERED BY THIS RECALL HAD VERY FINE CRACKS, OR NONE, I CONTINUED TO RIDE THE BIKE. ONE OF THESE BIKES HAD A RATHER VIGOROUS WEEKEND OF RIDING UP A CREEK FULL OF LARGE STONES...THERE WAS NO...NONE AT ALL...CRACKS PRESENT BEFORE OR AFTER....AND, SAME AFTER SOME SEVERE 'JUMPS'.
You could keep your "recalled" wheels & keep an eye on them, if you wished-to. Recalled wheels that were replaced under the Recall by dealerships were to be destroyed. There are still some wheels around that are part of the Recall, but have not been. If you are worried, for whatever reason, I suggest you install a different wheel, but KEEP the original if you can, as some very critical-eyed collectors might pay an increasing amount for the original wheels.
The USA Federal Recall is #84V-092
The original BMW bulletins are: 36-022-84 (2117); and, 36-023-84 (2123). 36-022-84 specifically notes USA & Canada.
The recalled wheels could be from model years 1977 well into 1983, somewhat contrary to the chart, below. Because sometimes wheels from various years can be found on other year bikes, do check yours, using the information below in this article.
The following chart is, errors and typos and all, directly from BMW's 36-022-84 (2117) page. Even if your bike is not in this list it could be affected! Check your wheel! Read this entire article! The chart below is from BMW! Do not depend on the specific information! Do check your front wheel for if it is one of the recalled ones...and, of course, check for cracks near and around the hub! Yes, I am aware of the strange things in this chart....I wonder if anyone reading this has figured out what I meant?
I confirmed that this recall was/is in effect in other countries. For example, in Australia, the defect code is 00 00360 800; the SI covering the recall is 87/01 (002) of July 1987. I do not know about the status of wheels in countries other than the USA.
The 'good' wheels have support ribs between each main spoke & the hub at the hub area. By support ribs I mean of the main spokes. This is from approximately the point where the X ribs intersect those main spokes about half way out to the rim from the center, very roughly, to the hub. The main spokes are slightly widened in their mid areas ...like a duckfoot web ...in other words, they are broadened at the center thickness, but not as thick as the spoke itself. The web that was added is more or less shaped like a U, if one includes the portion of the hub they are connected to. This is all easy to see even with a quick glance. Do not let that description confuse you, I have photos, below, that makes it very clear what I mean.
Wheels with other numbers of main spokes have been reported ....that is, both 8 & 10 spoke wheels have been recalled; but see the photos.... as only those without the webbing at the hub are recalled!
There is a manufacturing date code stamped into the side of a 'spokes crossover point'. If the date code is 9/82 or before, and, there are no support ribs, then see your BMW dealer for a new tube, new bearings, seals, ...and a new wheel!
BMW does not pay for a new tire, even if you need one. It is not clear if your dealership has to install a tire you bring (say, purchased elsewhere's), that is not yet mounted by you. The dealer is paid in full by BMW for de-mounting your old tire, replacing the tube, & remounting tube and tire onto your new wheel, and balancing.
If you are doing this at a time when your tire is worn out, or nearly, & you intend to bring a tire for mounting in this recall process, I suggest asking your dealer ahead of time. Some may want to just exchange wheels, or have the dealer set up the preload as I outline, or, whatever. The SI is not clear about these finer details....& questions about such fine details has hardly ever come up. What has come up & is serious, is about the wheel preload. Read the rest of this article!
Do not let the text description, above, confuse you, I have photos, below, that make it all very clear.
.....BMW has shipped replacement wheels without bearing grease, or minimally greased, usually only oil if anything. This is on the bearings inside the wheel. You need to be absolutely certain that the dealer does do a preload test (done on oiled bearings, seals removed), adjusting the shimming if needed. The dealership should then clean out that oil, grease the bearings, install new seals, clean the rim, install your tire, & balance the tire/wheel. All of this is covered by the Recall. Note that a qualified Airheads mechanic can adjust preload reasonably well by feel, but it is much better to measure it. I have an article on how that may be done. Click for that article here:
BMW maximum specifications for preload is, in my opinion, too high ...so read that article! If your dealership cannot do the bearings properly, you may want to do them yourself, or find someone that will do them properly.
Be sure to insist on all the above!...a failed front bearing can be the cause for a serious accident!
There is no cost for labor or parts ...except, if your tire is worn out, the dealer will not give you a new tire, but in any case you do get a new tube.
Note: If you have the nut on the valve stem screwed down to the rim, it does not belong in that position ...it should be missing; or, up against the cap. There is a BMW SI on that.
The replacement silver wheel is 36 31 1 238 959; the replacement gold wheel is 36 31 1 238 960.
AFAIK BMW honors these various numbered recalls worldwide .....so no matter where you are, where the bike was sold, no matter who owns it, etc ....it is a free new wheel, etc. ...courtesy of BMW....assuming wheels are available!
While not pointed out in the photo, this recalled wheel also has the Date Stamp. See below photo's wheel.
Below is an updated replacement wheel. There can be two types of stampings in the crossover areas. The one you should be looking for is in normal Arabic numerals ...there are no Roman characters. If your wheel is stamped with Roman characters where you are looking, find the other stamping.
04/22/2010: Review all prior updates, review article, minor changes.
05/11/2010: Clean up article somewhat; also remove one bad link.
05/02/2011: Prepare to add the two photos with annotations; add a few more words to article in various places.
05/03/2011: Finish with the photos; also added notation regarding stock preload as being too high.
09/09/2012: Add QR code; Add language button; very minor cleanup, NO technical changes.
2013: Remove troublesome language button.
04/18/2015: Update to clarify some minor details and background coding.
12/11/2015: Clean up article. Update meta-codes. Similar work, 04/30/2016.
10/16/2016: Update notice at top of page.
11/20/2017: Go through entire article. Reduce excessive HTML. Layout improved. Fewer font and color changes.
05/02/2020: Minor changes to wording.
04/16/2021: Revise for no more wheels.
12/21/2022: Minor updating.
07/28/2023: Fix proper link for the updated wheel photo.
© copyright 2023, R. Fleischer
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Last check or edit: Friday, July 28, 2023