How to Modify your K1200RS/GT Shift Lever Forward for More Footroom
Although I love my K1200GT, not all the ergonomics worked for me at first. One of the things that gave me the most trouble was the shifter- it seemed too low, and I sometimes had trouble reaching the shifter to upshift- barely enough room for me to wedge my foot straight down. While shifting in corners, I constantly found my toe dragging. The shifter does adjust for the higher footpeg position, but it rotates backwards, not forwards!
At first I was puzzled by this, since BMW is usually careful to assure good ergonomics. Then I remembered how on vacation I'd tried to buy shoes in Munich, and discovered that no shoe store (and I looked at many) had a shoe larger than size 10. I literally could not find any shoes that would fit, apparently Germans have small feet. This would explain why there's so little room between the left footpeg and the shifter on a K12- it's probably fine for a german foot, but not for mine.
I didn't do anything about it at first, until one day I discovered the K12's tendency to fall over when carelessly parked on the sidestand. You have to be careful that the ground is level, and the bike is in gear, or it can topple. I heard the sickening crunch as my poor bike got its first scratches (although they were minor). However, it fell right on the shifter, which snapped right off. Fortunately you can still ride and shift with the end of the shift lever broken off, though it's no fun.
Safely back home, I examined the damage, and discovered that the fall had broken off part of the shifter rod behind the lever end. But not only would the shifter lever fit back on, the damage had gone more than halfway toward modifying the shifter to accomodate a more forward position. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I fired up my trusty die grinder and set to work finishing the job.
This shows the material that would be removed. The rod is some kind of aluminum or alloy, and grinds away easily with a die grinder. you could also use a hacksaw to remove the portion shown. the two oval notches are intended to accomodate the oval tooth on the end of the shifter end.
Instead, we'll rotate the shift lever end so that the tooth points straight forward. This means removing all the material in the previous picture.
The finished shifter rod. Notice the bites taken out of the righthand side- that's because I started the modification by dropping the bike over and tearing out that side. You could do better on an intact rod by simply grinding the surface flat with the rest of the circular face. But even damaged like this, there's plenty of material left to bolt up solidly. (The threads were also damaged, so I drilled out the hole and threaded it with an improvised tap made by grinding a notch in a longer bolt. But that was damage control, not needed if you start with an intact shifter rod)
This is how the shift lever is attached for the normal down position. Note that even with so much material removed, the lever can still be securely bolted to the shifter rod, and the shoulders of tooth and notch fit tightly. The back position can still be bolted up too, although there's less keeping it from rotating.
This is how the shifter lever will be attached for the full forward position.
Closeup of the shifter lever attached in full forward position.
The finished shifter modification. Plenty of room for large American feet! This position feels closest to the shifter position of a /5 - /7 airhead, for those who are familiar with older BMW's.
With the new forward position, if the bike falls over the shifter won't break off, either.
Disclaimer: The above photographs describe what I did. Obviously any modifications to your motorcycle could be dangerous if improperly done. Use your head, and be responsible for your own work.