GS Valve Shim Check & Change FAQ

compiled and edited by Kristian #562
updated by Brad #1002 and Scott #1244 for ABS equipped bikes
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.
Last Updated: April 2010, by Scott ID, #1244

For other related FAQs:

Section 1: Introduction

This is a simple job you can do yourself and save some money doing it. BMW recommend the Valve Clearances are checked every 10,000km or about 6,000 miles. Note that unlike the Classic F, the F650 GS/Dakar Service Schedule notes that Valve Check is "No longer included in the 600 mile inspection as of MY2002".

See the Classic F's Valve Clearance Check and Shim Change FAQ for details of the changing of Shims procedure, if you have determined you need to do this. There are some additional notes on what to watch out for when changing shims on the GS below, in the FAQ GS Valve Shim Adjustment.

If you are NEW to this procedure, it is HIGHLY recommended you look at the Classic Valve Check FAQ first, as a lot more detail is given in that FAQ. The Chain Gang Maint DVD (number 1) also shows this proceedure being performed on a classic.

ABS Equipped Bikes

CAUTION: If your bike is equipped with ABS brakes you may face an additional challenge doing this procedure should you need to actually ADJUST the valves. Checking them is NOT a problem. If you find you need to adjust the valves you may have to remove the cam chain tensioner bolt. The ABS pump location makes removal of this bolt quite difficult. This is described in more detail later in this FAQ. It is noted here to allow you to plan accordingly. (See Alternative Method / ABS Bikes below for additional information regarding ABS-equipped bikes) Scott, ID, #1244

Ed. Note: Several people have now reported success doing a valve adjustment using the alternative method. (December 2005)

2004-2006 Dual Spark GS

The method for checking the valves on the 2004-2006 Dual Spark GS is almost exactly the same as below. The only real difference is there are TWO spark plugs. The valve clearances are the same as for single-spark GS models.

If you are changing the shims on the 2004-2006 Dual Spark, it is different. The shims on the 2004-2006 GS are UNDER the buckets. It is noted here to allow you to plan accordingly.

So What? This means that to get the shims out on a dual spark GS you MUST remove the bucket. This means the cams will need to be far enough out of the way to get to the buckets.

Section 2: GS Valve Shim Check

Original Write-up by by Paul. Updates, Photos & Revisions by Kristian #562
Feb 2002




NOTE: There are three different clearances in three different sources of literature (all values are for COLD engine):

  1. From: F650GS Technical Data Sheet
    Intake: 0.10-0.15mm
    Exhaust: 0.25-0.30mm. THESE ARE SUPERSEDED.

  2. From: F650GS Service Manual on CD ROM:
    BMW Part Number: 01 79 0 009 824 (11/99 Edition)
    Intake: 0.05-0.10mm
    Exhaust: 0.25-0.30mm. THESE ARE SUPERSEDED.

  3. From: F650GS Service Data Sheet (07.2001)
    Intake: 0.03-0.11mm
Testing The Gap
The idea is that the gap should be anywhere between or EQUAL to the specs. The large feeler gauge should NOT fit between the cam and shim. (OK, a REALLY tight fit is probably acceptable.) The small gauge MUST fit between the cam and shim. (If it doesn't... you are likely on your way to a burned valve.) The ACTUAL GAP will be anything in between. Since the shims only come in 0.05 mm (0.002") increments, there is only ONE shim that will put you within the proper range of adjustment. I don't generally do all the math. I just stick the feeler gauges in and the small better go and the large better not go. If that isn't what I find, I stick the next gauge in (up or down as required). Normally you don't jump two shim sizes in 6k miles. So this is just a verification check. Measure the shim that came out and put the next size, up or down as required in there when you put it back together. Flash#412

Removal Procedure

  1. Before checking the valves, be sure the engine has cooled to room temperaure. (Clearance values are for cold engines). Remove the seat. Undo the four screws that go through the silver-colored plates to which the front turn signals are attached. When these four are removed, the turn signal will hang. That's OK. Here are the left and right turn signals (four Torx each). You can unplug the turn signal wires (Just squeeze the black tabs at the sides and pull gently) if you want and remove them completely from the bike (very good idea).
  2. Remove the left and right fake gas-tank panels. More Torx screws like the turn signals. Including the Turn Signal Mount screws, there are Seven Torx Screws for each side Panel. Six of the total seven Torx screws are removed and one is loosened. Now remove the following: the left-most screw that is exposed when the seat is removed, the screw at the front of the "gas tank" slightly forward of the black filler cap.
  3. Remove the black oil filler cap before taking the left side off. Then put it back on. The lower part of each "tank" half fits in a rubber grommet. Be gentle or you will break the male fitting on the panel. Use Vaseline on the grommet before installing the panels and assembly/disassembly will be easier next time.
  4. Now remove the two screws that hold the center panel in place and remove the Panel.
  5. Disconnect the battery, negative terminal first. Remove the Plastic Overflow Tube from the RHS of the Battery. Remove the rubber clamp holding the battery in. Take out the battery. Mine was low on water. In front of where the battery was (with the red + wire on it) is the starter relay. Pull up on it and set it over to one side. No bolts.
  6. There's a black plastic cover over the Electric Equipment Box under where the relay was. Remove the one bolt with the Torx wrench and remove the cover.
  7. Now remove the air intake housing. (The big black plastic thing under the fake Gas tank). You night like to remove it in two bits, the Snorkel First, to expose the Airfilter (and check it) then the remainder of the Airbox. To remove the snorkel first, unscrew the two Torx Screws, and on the right side a Sensor Connection needs to be removed. Press in on the metal clip and pull down. Gently disengage the Snorkel, taking care not to break the plastic nib at the front of the Snorkel.
  8. When removing the air intake housing as one unit (the part that the air filter fits into), there are two Torx fasteners at the rear of the housing which need to come out. (The fasteners for the tank panels screw into them also). There is also one more fitting that needs to be removed. That's the one bolt which attaches the oil tank to the intake housing. If you decided not to remove the Snorkel separately, on the right side a wire needs to be removed. Press in on the metal clip and pull down. There are also two 10mm nuts under where the battery was which should be removed. These can be accessed using a 10mm socket, six inch extension, and ratchet.
  9. With all the fasteners removed and the wire disconnected, pop the housing up off the throttle body. There's no clamp. If you didn't remove the Snorkel Part first, note that there's a plastic pin on the nose of the housing all the way at the front that needs to come out of its rubber grommet. Just pull back and lift the housing up and to the right and let it hang by its hoses. (Tube2). I put a couple of pieces of duct tape over the opening of the throttle body. A hose clamp can be used to replace the BMW single use clamp on the one vent line if you prefer to remove the unit completely. Just cut the clamp off and pull the hose carefully off the fitting (don't pull the fitting out of the housing). Use a new multi-use hose clamp during assembly.
  10. Remove the one bolt on the radiator expansion tank (Torx) on the left side under the oil tank and pull its nib out of out its Grommet. If you like you can empty the coolant out of it into a milk container or something. but it's OK sitting there. You might like to tie it up with a bit of string, or let the tank hang.
  11. The manual says to remove the fan and protect the inside of the radiator with a piece of cardboard, but I didn't find that to be necessary at all.
  12. The oil tank needs to be moved over to one side. The oil tank is attached to the bike at three places: one is a bolt, the other two places are C-clips. First dislodge the clips using a screwdriver. Note that under each of the C-clips is a black washer, which you should also remove, so as not to lose them. Then remove the uppermost bolt, which holds the tank against the air-box. Take care not to drop the black plastic spacer. Gently wiggle the Tank off the Lugs. The oil tank should now be free from the frame.
  13. Now you can see the top of the valve cover. Oh boy! Oh boy! Twist the throttle grip and see what moves on the throttle body. You need to remove the end of the cable from the black plastic thing (drum) that moved when you twisted the throttle. It's on the LHS of the throttle body. Twist the black plastic drum (circled red) with your finger like the throttle did (to put slack in the cable) and pull the end of the cable out. Put some grease on the end of the needle-nose pliers and remove the clip (white arrow in green circle) that holds the throttle cable on its support (so you don't drop the clip). Pull the Cable out of the holder and push it out of the way. [This is a good time to examine the throttle cable for damage. Easier to replace it now if needed.]
  14. There is a black plastic "wall" at the front of the valve cover that the throttle cable goes through. Remove it. To do this slide it out of the small lugs (Green Circle) welded to the frame.
  15. Single Spark Models (pre 2004): Remove the spark plug wire from the sparkplug and undo the two bolts (Only ONE shown as Red Circle, other one as a the back) holding down the coil at the other end of it. There's also a plastic connector (Green Circle) going from the throttle body to the coil that needs to be unclipped at the coil end. Remove the two Torx fasteners holding the coil down and remove the coil.

    Dual Spark Models (2004 on): Remove both spark plug caps. Start with the outer one first and twist it clockwise. It can be a little sticky removing the cap, but with persistance it will come off. The inner plug cap twists anti-clockwise. Note which plug cap is on what spark plug - this is important when re-installing.
  16. Loosen the spark plug while you're there, but don't remove it from the well. This allows the engine to turn over without the piston developing pressure. (On dual spark models you only need to loosen one spark plug). Dropping anything into the cylinder is NOT a barrel of laughs!
  17. If you have the BMW OEM 12V accessory socket installed (OR you have a dual spark model) you will have to remove it in order to get the valve cover out. It should be on a bracket sandwiched between the frame and the black metal bracket that supports the air box. It is held in by two Torx bolts that have to be removed. The bracket and socket can be left connected but moved aside.
  18. Now use the 10mm socket, ratchet and extension to remove all the bolts holding the valve cover on. Two of these bolts (Green) have threads in the top of them for the screws that hold the ignition coil on. You're going to remember where they go. The front three get just the socket and ratchet, without the extension.
  19. With all the bolts out, jigger the cover off the cylinder head. Despite what the manual says about replacing it the Valve Cover Gasket is multiple times reusable and there's nothing to clean from the cylinder head or cover as no sealant is used. Just take care with it. As the Breather Hose from the top of the Valve Cover is attached to the Oil Tank, you have to move both to the LHS of the bike simultaneously or if you have a small hose clamp available you can remove the hose from the top of the valve cover. This makes it a bit easier to get the cover on and off the engine. Plug the line to the tank or some oil will dribble out of it. Either let them hang from the hoses, like this (but put a rag under any hard edges), or tie a string around them and support it from the frame.
  20. So now you have the Oil Tank/Cover on the LHS, Airbox Hanging off the RHS, like this.
  21. Remove the center plug on the right side of the engine that covers the engine turning bolt (Allen wrench in the tool kit.) It's soft plastic so be gentle. A coin or washer that JUST fits is useful for this. Using the wrench, turn the engine so the two timing marks on the cams point at each other. The points of the cam lobes on the two cam shafts should point AWAY from each other. If you want to be sure the cams don't move during checking (although this is MUCH more important during Shim Changing, insert the TDC Bolt). If you elect to just make sure the marks are lined up, skip point 21.
  22. To insert the TDC Bolt, remove the Keeper Bolt here, LHS of Engine, under LHS Engine Casing. Oil may run out of the opening. Have the TDC bolt ready to reduce the spill. If no oil comes out then you can look into the TDC hole with a flashlight. Have a friend (or just reach under the bike with one hand to the spanner) turn the engine over with the Allen wrench in the hole on the right side of the engine while you watch for the slot in the crankshaft to go by, then insert the TDC bolt and tighten it. You will know fairly well when you expect the slot to be there, it should be when the Cam lobes are pointing outwards. This can be done by feel instead. Thread the TDC bolt in lightly till it hits the crank and them 'feel for the slot that will allow you to run the TDC bolt a bit further. You're not going to forget to remove this bolt when you're finished, are you? If the crank is hard to turn, you forgot to loosen the Spark Plug!
  23. Check the clearances with a feeler gauge, the Two RHS ones can be accessed directly and the two LHS ones through the slots in the "cut-out" on the RHS of the Cam Carrier. The intakes (Red in this picture) are nearest the throttle body. The exhausts (marked Green) are nearest the exhaust pipe. I noticed in the service manual that the values for the clearances change depending on what page you are on. (See Specifications for correct values). The right side valves are open to the feelers, but the left side valves have holes on the cam carriers to check them. The slots are bigger than on the older models.
  24. If the valves need adjusting, the procedures for the older model will help you through it. There are also some Tips for CHANGING the shims on the GS/Dakar, below.

Reinstallation Sequence

Reinstallation is the reverse of the above (hate it when they say that), so here's the sequence.

  1. 1 x Spark Plug (OR two if you loosened both plugs on a dual spark model). It's just plain easier to do this up now, rather than later for access reasons. 20Nm or Follow the Directions on a New Spark Plug Packet.
  2. Valve Cover. 8 x 10mm Bolts. Locations of Coil Bolts in Green. If the Breather hose it attached, you will need to move the Oil Tank Closer to the Valve Cover. 10Nm. You can easily wiggle the throttle body back and forth on its rubber mounts to replace the Valve Cover. The rubber is quite soft. If you removed the breather hose, connect it now and secure with a new hose clamp.
  3. Single Spark Models: 2 x Spark Plug Coil Bolts. Easier to Install without everything else in the way. 9Nm. Plug back the Injector to Coil Wire (in Green) in Photo.
  4. Reinsert the Spark Plug Cap(s) onto the Spark Plug. Push the cap(s) on firmly. If you have a Dual Spark Model: the lighter colour plug cap should be on the outside. However you SHOULD have noted this when you took the caps off.
  5. If you have the 12V accessory socket (OR the dual spark model), re-install it now.
  6. Thread the Throttle cable (Red Circle) through the Plastic "Wall" and clip the "Wall" back in Place at the Two Lugs. To do this slide them into the small lugs (Green Circle) welded to the frame.
  7. Thread the Throttle Cable back onto the Throttle. Twist the black plastic drum (circled red) with your fingers (to put slack in the cable) and put the end of the cable on the slot. THEN put the cable in the holder and and reinsert the small C Clip. (White arrow in green circle). Don't drop the clip!
  8. Fit the Battery Holder Plate and do up the two 10mm nuts. This part includes a bracket that mates to the Airfilter housing.
  9. Fit the Airfilter Housing (rear part only) back on top of the Throttle Body and into the holder attached to the "Wall" and Press Downward ALL the way. There are three "bumps", you can get past the first two easily, the third needs a bit more downward pressure to push it onto the Throttle Body. Use Vaseline to fit it back on if you need to. This also helps seal it. If you took the Airbox out in one piece FIRST Slot the Snorkel Nib into its Rubber Grommet just under the RHS front fairing.
  10. Do up the the Large Torx Screws at the rear of the Airfilter Housing to 9Nm. With the Airbox in Place you can affix the Oil Tank as there is something to affix it to.
  11. Push the Oil Tank back in Place onto the two lugs and reinstall the C-Clips. Here's the other one. Don't forget the Black Plastic Washers go on first, then the Clips.
  12. Do up the Oil tank to Airbox Bolt. Don't forget the Spacer and the Washers. 9Nm.
  13. Fit the nib of the Coolant Tank in its Grommet, insert the Bolt and Tighten "Hand Tight" to 2Nm. Check the Coolant Level. See the Coolant FAQ for Coolant Type to top up. Use distilled water to dilute.
  14. Plug the Sensor Connection back into the Snorkel and push the clip back in place.
  15. Fit the Electric Equipment Box black plastic cover Plate and do up the one bolt with the Torx wrench. 4Nm.
  16. Push the Starter Relay back on the Posts.
  17. Check if your Battery needs water. Refer the Battery FAQ.
  18. Reinstall the Battery, Positive Terminal first. HOLD the Nut behind the post with an open-ended spanner while you do up the bolt. If you don't the VERY soft lead will rip across the smallish hole in the post. Use a Short Phillips Screwdriver, then a Spanner to finish. Tighten firmly, but NOT too much! It's SOFT. Some di-electric grease is good here, on the posts. Do NOT Turn the Key in the ignition just yet!
  19. Reinstall the Plastic Overflow Tube onto the Battery. Use a TyWrap on the vent hose to keep it from coming off and allowing acid to spill. See this FAQ for why: Battery Drain Tube - A Better Connector.
  20. If you took the Airbox out in two Parts, Clean the Airfilter and Slot the Snorkel Nib into the Rubber Grommet just under the RHS front fairing. Fit the Shroud and do up the two Torx Screws, Hand Tight only. (A small bit of vaseline on the nib will help removing and installing the airbox later).
  21. If you removed the vent line from the bottom of the Airfilter housing, reinstall it now with a new hose clamp.
  22. Replace the Plastic Flywheel Access center plug. Just hand tight it OK. Coat the O-Ring before installation.
  23. Replace the Centre Faux Tank Panel. Do up the front two screws (Torx Screws) only. 3Nm, or just "hand tight".
  24. Remove the Oil Tank Filler cap and Replace the LHS Faux Tank Panel. Do up the screw that was just loosened, the left-most screw that is exposed when the seat is removed and the screw at the front of the "gas tank". 3Nm, or just "hand tight".
  25. Replace the LHS Turn Signal. Left. 4 Screws  3Nm, or just "hand tight".
  26. Repeat for the RHS Faux Tank and right turn Signal.
  27. Again, If you used the TDC Bolt, REMOVE IT. The Keeper Bolt Torque is 25Nm.
  28. Now go to the correct Starting Procedure after a Battery Removal, for re-initialisation of the Motronic.

You're done!


Section 3: GS Valve Shim Adjustment

by Paul & Kristian #562


Basically the adjustment procedure is the same for the Classic and the GS, however there are a few "Gotcha's" to watch out for.


There are three tools you can make to facilitate the job. You need a bench grinder to make them.

  1. The first is made from a thin finishing nail, the kind with no head. You want to grind or file a flat, concave point on the end as thin as possible. This is used to pry off the shim from the lifter. Oil suction holds it on very tight. You need to shove this tool between the shim and the lifter at one of the two notches in the lifter. A pointy thin knife also works well.
  2. You may need a tool to remove the 22mm bolt that goes over the hydraulic chain adjuster (see alternative method below). From the picture in the FAQ it appears that this bolt is easy to get at on the Classic. Not so on the GS/Dakar - especially if you have ABS! This is the Photo for the GS/Dakar.

    Option 1. Buy a Short 22mm Socket with a short extension or a LONG, preferably 6 point, 22mm Socket.
    Option 2.
    Buy a 22mm open end/box end wrench from Sears. Using the bench grinder, grind off the box end leaving about a one inch stub on it. Refer Below for how Paul loosened the Bolt using this Option.
  3. The third tool you can make (or buy at BMW for cheap if they have it) is a TDC bolt. There is a plug bolt on the left lower side of the engine that you remove and insert the TDC bolt which goes in a slot in the crankshaft, locking the engine for camshaft removal/installation. Buy an M8X1.25 bolt about 40mm long at the store AND get a nut that fits it. Screw the nut on the bolt and make it look like the picture in le FAQ. (i.e. a 45 degree angle not to a point on the end) using the bench grinder. With the point ground on the bolt remove the nut from the bolt (you'll need to clamp the head of the bolt in a vice and turn the nut off with a wrench) Grinding messes up the threads on the end and running the nut back and forth restores them. So make sure the nut is on before you start grinding! Refer the TDC Bolt FAQ for further information.
  4. NOTE - For ABS equipped bikes!

    Your bike's ABS system includes a pump and other devices to function. BMW choose to locate this pump directly behind the engine cylinder and in front of the under seat fuel tank. (the bolt is partially visible and has a green mark on it). There are hard lines leading to the brake system components at the front and rear of the bike. Two of the lines exit the pump and cross very close behind the 22mm bolt that retains the cam chain tension adjuster. The method described for a non-ABS bike will not work for you. There is no access to the 22mm bolt from above and behind as is recommended for non-ABS bikes.

    If you have ABS you have two options to access the 22mm bolt, or a further third option which does not require access to the 22mm bolt. Here are four ways that have been used by others to access the bolt:
    1. Completely removed the sub-frame of the bike. You are on your own for now as I'm not aware of an FAQ for this. Additionally, you will have to disconnect the lines to the ABS pump to move it. This may introduce air into the system which MAY require the BMW MoDiTeC unit to purge the system. Some members have reported doing this without the MoDiTeC with no problems. You'll have to decide if you want to take that chance.
    2. The other method involves using a slightly modified 12 point 22mm box end wrench and working from the LHS of the bike through a small area between the frame and an oil return line. This method requires long fingers and some strength to reinstall the bolt. It is very hard to reach up through this small area but it is possible. I did it using my left hand, bolt held with my thumb and middle finger, palm facing aft (towards the rear of the bike). You must use a 12 point type wrench because the throw of the wrench is very limited. I ground the edge of the wrench to get it to clear a bracket on the oil return line that gets in the way. The other issue with this method is that you will not be able to use a torque wrench to tighten the bolt. DO NOT loosen the this bolt on an ABS bike until you have determined how you will reinstall it. Experiment reaching in with your hand and with the wrench before cracking it loose. The bolt is under very light tension so that is not a problem.
    3. What I ended up doing was to pray metal break lines attached to ABS unit (very carefully) so that I moved them away from each other and made space for a socket and extension to get through. I used a flexible joint that comes with a rachet and socket set. After making the opening between break lines there is no problem geting to the tensioner bolt from under the seat. sunio
    4. Actually, I finished the 12K service yesterday. The cam chain tensioner problem was solved with a stubby "professional grade" Craftsman box & open-end wrench. It allowed enough room to easily tighten the bolt. I wasn't able to use a torque wrench but I am confident this is not a problem. Just to be on the safe side though, I did mark it with a sharpy pen to see if there is any movement JC12 #1484

    Probably best option for ABS bikes is NOT to remove the 22mm bolt at all. See the Alternative Method.


If you have the Dakar I suggest putting a block of 2 X 4 under the Sidestand to level the bike as much as possible. Oil will run out when you remove the plug bolt otherwise. Not much runs out, but if you have the TDC Bolt ready, you can swap the bolts fairly quickly.

Procedure 1: Adjustment

  1. Follow the procedures for the Valve Check up to Point 22 in the above FAQ, ensuring you DO put in the TDC Bolt & Re-record the Clearances FIRST.
  2. Remove the Chain Tensioner Bolt:

    Option 1: Kristian #562

    Option 2: Paul

    ABS equipped option 3: BradG#1002 (option 'B' from above under Tools-Adjustment note 4)

    ABS equipped option 4: See the Alternative Method.

  3. Swapping Shims

Procedure 2: Cam Carrier Removal

  1. Remove the two ten mm bolts holding the "T bone" on the left side of the carrier. Remove the white plastic T bone1. T bone2. T bone3. T bone4. T bone5. T bone6. It is easier to remove these FIRST, before undoing the eight 5mm Allen bolts holding the cam/cam carrier on, however if you've already undone them, you can undo the Two T-bone bolts afterwards, although you might like to get someone to just hold the Cam carrier flat while undo those two bolts. Prise apart the T-bone at the lower end and lift it up over the chain.
  2. Hint for removing the cam carrier A word of caution---Even though I had a rag stuffed down in beside the cam chain, [the washer from the cam carrier bolt] still made it's way down there. I would advise not pulling the bolts out of the cam carrier but loosen them until they are free of the head and then pull the entire cam carrier and bolts out as one unit. Return them the same way. Maybe it will save you this pleasure. jagdkampf #1761
  3. Then remove the eight 5mm Allen Cam Carrier Bolts holding the cam/cam carrier on. The cam carrier is split in two and acts as the bearings for the cam. Remove the top half of the carrier. Start with the rearmost (intake) cam and lift it up and towards the front cam. The chain should be loose enough to do this. Then remove the exhaust (front) cam moving it up and back. Be ready with a zip tie, string or piece of copper wire to hold the cam chain up in the air. Tie it to one of the cables above it or the handlebars. Now remove the bottom half of the cam carrier. It's held in position by two steel locating pins on the left side of the head. Your cams are now exposed (woohoo) That wasn't hard was it, and now it's much easier to deal with the shims!
  4. Use the sharpened nail to get the shims out. A small screwdriver won't work especially with the cams/cam carrier in place, but a thin sharp point knife will. There are two little notches on each side of the lifter to pry at the shim. Spin the Bucket around until you get one of the notches close to you and insert the nail straight at the line between the lifter and the shim to break the suction. Then lift the shim up and out. Imagine doing this with the cams in there, especially the ones near the chain. (it's possible) Put the new shims in before installing the cams!
  5. Werner #547 notes: The rag works well, but you can be doubly sure (you don't flick a shim into the Cam Chain Well) by lifting out the whole cup (bucket) holding the disk. (Do one at a time, so as not to mix them up during reassembly.) Then you can sit down on your barstool and remove the little disk with your pointed nail while sucking on a tall bubbly. [ed. this is highly recommended if you've got the cams out of the way]
  6. Clean the holes in the Cam Carrier for the T-Piece Bolts.

Procedure 3: Cam Carrier Installation

  1. To install, clean everything really well and place the parts on clean newspaper/rags. Spray carb cleaner is good for this. Wipe down the surface of the head with a clean rag then wipe it down with your clean fingers to remove all traces of dirt/oil. (human skin is the best tool to clean parts) Put the lower half of the cam carrier on its two steel pins. (both are on the left side of the head). Oil the Bearings and the little grooves liberally with Clean Oil.
  2. Holding the cam chain up in the air, cut the tie securing it. Get the exhaust (front) cam in your other hand and wrap the chain around it while you seat the cam in the carrier. You want the lobes of the cam to point to the front of the bike and the line on the gear to be level with the top of the head. OK the cam is in but the lines aren't level? Lift the cam up, remove it from the chain and turn it one link of the chain in the direction you want it to go. It'll take a few tries but its not hard. When the line is level get the intake cam and point the lobes to the rear of the bike. Slide it under the chain and into the carrier. Repeat as above until the little lines point at each other like the picture. TEST it again by pushing in the Chain Tensioner Barrel by hand. The TDC bolt is still in right? The Cam Lobes should look like this, when finished. You did it!
  3. Oil the Bearings again, liberally. Put the top of the carrier on the cam and bolt it in place with the eight Allen bolts. Check to make sure there is a washer under each bolt when you have them all on. Snug all the bolts just a little in a crisscross pattern (but do not torque them down).
  4. Then install the T bone and the two bolts that hold it on. The Threads should be CLEAN and coated with Loctite 243 before you screw them in. Torque to 10Nm. (The bottom bolt first)
  5. Now torque the cam carrier down in a crisscross pattern, working from the 4 inner bolts to the 4 outer ones. Then following the pattern tighten them a little more. Check the Cams can swivel easily in their bearings. Then tighten a little more until you reach the torque value of 10Nm.
  6. Install the bolt over the chain tensioner. Torque is 40Nm, new Aluminium Crush Washer. (Go have a beer first and call your mother to tell her you just adjusted your valves.) Getting that bolt in is the hardest part. If you have ABS and opted for Brad's method you must start and hand tighten, then tighten as best you can with the box end wrench from the LHS.
  7. Take out the TDC locating bolt and re-install the TDC Keeper Bolt. Torque is 25Nm. Use a new Copper Crush Washer (But you can re-use the old one once), Torque is 25Nm.
  8. After installing new shims and tightening the cam carriers/tensioner, but before installing the valve cover, it's worth and rotating the engine by hand a few times.
  9. Turn the engine over BY HAND, with the sparkplug out, SLOWLY, using your spanner in the Flywheel. If nothing jams up you "did good".
  10. This is the important part, to spin the motor around at least two revolutions, maybe four, and measure again before you button it back up. (The oil film will take up some of the clearance until you spin the motor to squish it out.) It is a REALLY good idea to re-measure the clearances also, just to make sure. It's better than finding out at start-up that it was re-assembled 180 degrees off.
  11. Do not worry if they are not exactly what you calculated! Close but not exact. The difference is mostly in the Oil Film.

Reinstallation to the Point you would be if you just did a Valve Check

If you chose option #2 or #3 for removing the cam chain bolt then you can probably skip to v. because you didn't really need to remove the items referred to in i-iv.

  1. Put the Fuel Lines back in their clips.
  2. Put the  ABS/Speedo Sensor Cable back in its clip.
  3. Put the Rubber Band back on the Motronic.
  4. Put the little Black Box that was just to the right and to the front of the Motronic back in its clip.
  5. Refer above Re-installation Sequence (Valve Check) to finish off.

Alternative Method / ABS Bikes

The following method allows you to do a shim change without removing the cam chain tensioner. This is especially useful if you have a bike with ABS - since the ABS pump is in the way. This section is based on feedback from ThreePly, dinskeep and the BMW GS manual (pictures by dinskeep).

Short and Sweet Version

Remove the intake cam first. Grab the cam gear with one hand and the cam shaft at the opposite end with your other hand. Lift up and push towards the exhaust cam (front of the bike). The cam chain has enough flex in it, even with the tensioner bolt in, to allow you to get it out.

The method described is also found in the BMW Service Manual (that I have at least):

  1. Tie the cam chain to both sprockets (so you do not loose the timing)
  2. Remove the top of the cam carrier
  3. Remove the intake camshaft (In the picture it looks like it has been place forward and to the RHS of the bike)
  4. Remove the exhaust camshaft (Again, in the picture it looks like it has been place forward and to the RHS of the bike)

(See below for the longer detailed version)

Starting with the valve cover off:

  1. Bring engine to TDC and put in TDC bolt
  2. Ziptie chain to cam sprockets, as Flash describes
  3. Do not remove cam chain tensioner
  4. Remove cam carrier bolts, top carrier, chain guide
  5. Pull intake cam off of lower carrier, then exhaust cam <- this order is important! see this pic
  6. Remove lower cam carrier
  7. Remove buckets and replace shims as needed
  8. Replace buckets
  9. Clean and replace lower cam carrier. Lube with fresh oil

    (the above is mostly the same as DVD and current FAQ's, with exception of cam chain tensioner)
  10. Put exhaust cam back into carrier, then intake cam <- this order is important and REVERSE of removal!
  11. Check time. If it's lined up, good, put it all back together.

If you loose timing:

  1. Cut all zip ties.
  2. Take intake cam out of carrier, leave exhaust cam in.
  3. This should give you some slack (which you otherwise don't have, because the tensioner is still in) to pull the chain off the exhaust cam and put it in proper place - marks horizontal, lobe outward (front of bike).
  4. Pull any chain slack between the exhaust cam and the bottom, ziptie the chain to the exhaust cam sprocket. From here on the exhaust cam should not move, and the chain should not leave the exhaust cam sprocket.
  5. Make a guess as to where the intake cam should be aligned on the chain and put the intake cam in the carrier.
  6. See how the intake cam is aligned - try to estimate how many teeth you're off, if any.
  7. If the intake cam is not aligned, ziptie the chain to the intake cam, pull the cam out, and use the slack to get part of the chain in the right spot on the intake cam sprocket. Ziptie the chain in that spot and cut the previous ziptie.
  8. Put the intake cam back in the carrier and see if you guessed right. If you're still off, repeat the last two steps (6 and 7) until you get it right.

Other Hints and Tips

Section 4: Other Things

Valve Clearance Feedback

What are the dimentions of my shims?

As noted at the top of this FAQ, there are two different shim sizes. The pre-dual spark FI models (Classic, ST and single spark FI models) have a shim over the bucket. The dual spark FI models have a shim under bucket. Note: Some parts fiches can be confusing and have diagrams of shims over buckets for the dual spark FI models. The following are the part numbers (please check with your supplier to ensure you get the correct shims).

For a lengthy discussion on the shim sizes, check this thread

 Shim OVER bucket Shim UNDER bucket

CS Head Removal

The time I was the most nervous was when I backed the bike out into the driveway to fire it up.
I tried to remember if there was anything I had forgotten before pressing the button,
but I couldn't think of anything. So I pushed start and it fired up immediately -
and purred like a kitten. -- JC12 #1484 after a 12k service