The investigation process at NHTSA is to open a PE or Preliminary Evaluation when sufficient reports are received from the public. When a PE is opened an RFI (Request For Information) is sent to the manufacturer to provide all relevant information. If the PE shows there is a potential defect or a defect trend, then an EA or Engineering Analysis is then commenced. A recall would potentially follow if the EA showed there was a clear defect in the vehicle. The division of NHTSA which conducts invesigations is ODI or Office of Defect Investigations, hence the term ODI reports
This is the PE opened on 18/5/2009 to investigate the F650GS fork issue. At the time it was opened there were 5 official reports lodged with NHTSA. In the course of the PE NHTSA became aware of at least 3 other failures and found an EWR (Early Warning Report) from BMW. The investigator did not interview any of the riders who suffered failures and did not inspect any of the failed forks. It was closed on 18/9/2009 without proceeding to an Engineering Analysis.
The final report concludes:
"Currently, there is no data conclusively establishing that the subject fork lugs are separating before an alleged crash occurs. Additionally, the infrequent, sporadic, and random nature of the failures fails to establish a defect trend currently exists. Therefore this investigation is closed. A safety-related defect has not been identified at this time and further use of agency resources does not appear to be warranted."
"The closing of this investigation does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-related defect does not exist. The agency will take further action if warranted by the circumstances."
The NHTSA documents relating to the investigation are available below, listed in chronological order
The failure report names are the advrider usernames for the riders
The BMW submission document "INRD-PE09026-36506P.pdf" is an ISO standard document and we have been requested to remove the document from the site due to copyright restrictions. The document is available at NHTSA.
To look at the NHTSA investigation use the link below. Enter PE09026 into the search field, a page with the details of PE09026 will be displayed, then click document search and a window will pop up with all the documents.