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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 06-30-2011, 08:29 PM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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Z3 Installing a SpeedoDRD Speedometer Calibrator

I have a 1998 Z3 (E36), but I suspect this posting will apply to a wide variety of BMW models.

There have been lots of complaints here about the erroneous speedometers in BMWs. My personal experience was being passed by trucks while driving my Z3 on the highway. This was confusing and embarrassing until I passed one of those “Your speed is…” signs and discovered that my actual speed was way lower than my speedometer reading. I then used my GPS unit to discover that my indicated speed was actually about 6-7% lower than my actual speed. I actually used my GPS unit as a speedometer for a while.

I looked at many of solutions and found various limitations of each. Then I came upon the SpeedoDRD speedometer calibrator by 12 O’clock labs.http://www.12oclocklabs.com/ It was designed primarily for motorcyclists who need to change gears, sprockets, tires, etc., often just for a day at the track. It allows easy calibration for various configurations. It does this by reading the pulse rate from the wheel speed sensor, applying some math (such as dividing by 0.06), and generating a new pulse stream to the speedometer. Best of all, 12 O’clock labs has miniaturized all of to a tiny little device that can be installed behind the instrument cluster. It has been reduced to a single chip, a single button, a single light, and a few minor components. Despite its minimalistic user interface, it is easy to program using a series of LED flashes and the pushbutton.

Of course adapting a motorcycle speedo calibrator to a BMW car is not plug-and-play, but it’s relatively simple to do. You need to order the Universal Model which has no connectors, just four wires: +12v, ground, signal in, and signal out. You have to cut the wire from the left rear speed sensor to the back of the instrument cluster (black with red stripe) and insert the calibrator. You also have to find a source of switched 12v power, which I got by splicing into one of two wires in the back of the instrument cluster. You can used the connectors provided, which are common on motorcycles, or use your own, which is what I did since they fit my crimp tool.

There is one more limitation, and this was a difficult problem to troubleshoot. I actually spent some time in the passenger seat with an oscilloscope between my knees troubleshooting this. Apparently the BMW wheel speed sensor has a bit of chatter or something that can add a few stray short pulses that are not relevant. BMW apparently deals with these in the instrument cluster, but the SpeedoDRD senses and responds to them with some sporadic wild upward swings in the indicated speed, usually at high speed. I worked with the good folks at 12 O’clock labs through several iterations of circuit changes, and they finally concluded that we needed a noise filter on the input side of the calibrator. So we added two 0.1 uF* capacitors between the input (white wire) and ground (black wire). They’re considering adding these to future versions of the SpeedoDRD, but for now you’ll have to provide your own or ask 12 O’clock Labs to provide them. They’re readily available from Radio Shack or any electronic component supplier such as Mouser.com. One 0.1 uF capacitor is probably sufficient and three is probably too much, so I just went with two in parallel. I soldered two capacitors together in parallel with white and black leads, applied heat-shrink tubing, connected them to the SpeedoDRD input, an zip-tied them to the leads.

Removing the cluster is quite simple once you know how. You remove the two T15 Torx screws at the top of the cluster then hook the two cluster screw holes with a small screwdriver and pull the cluster out and turn it face down, with the back now facing almost up. There are only three connectors in the back and they are easy to reach once the cluster is out and facing down. I have a 4-spoke steering wheel and the cluster will not fit through it. You have to lay the cluster face-down in the top of the steering wheel air bag, then turn the steering wheel (with the cluster in it) to the left. You can then easily remove the cluster from the car.

You might want to have a handful of light bulbs on hand (there are 3 different kinds back there: 14 of one kind, 2 of one kind and 3 of another kind) to replace all of the burned-out bulbs such as the odometer bulbs and the check-engine light that probably burned out long ago due to the secondary air pump.

The speed sensor input to the speedometer is on the black connector (Connector C) at the left end of the cluster. There are only three wires on that connector: speed sensor, fuel level, and ground. The brown wire with a red stripe is the speed sensor. You will have to cut that wire to insert the SpeedoDRD. For +12 switched power, I tapped the green with blue stripe wire on the middle (blue) connector (Connector B) which is hot in Run and Start, but not Accy. For models other than the Z3, you should verify these connections. There is a nice bolt behind the cluster for a ground connection.

I removed the fog light switch and routed the SpeedoDRD out through that hole so I could program it. Once I’m happy with the settings, I’ll push it back into the dash and replace the fog light switch. There is a blank-plugged hole on the other side of the steering wheel that could probably work as well, but it’s farther from the sensor input.

Programming the device is easy, but you need to know the calibration factor to apply. This will be a constant percentage of change with one-tenth of a percent precision. That’s really splitting hairs. I used my GPS to measure the speedometer error for a variety of speeds, plotted the results, calculated the average, looked at the linear regression and deviation, and finally settled on a factor of -6.3% (-0.063). I’m an engineer; this is what I do.

The result has been perfect. I am now confident of my speed and I’m no longer in the way of other traffic. I passed that same “Your speed is…” sign and now my speed is exactly what my speedometer indicates.

* If you’re not familiar with electronic components, capacitors are measured in Farads (named after Michael Faraday), which is sort of an indication of the number of electrons it can store up in a certain time (measured in ampere seconds per volt), which is an exceedingly large number. Reasonable capacitors are measured in micro farads, or 1/100000 of a farad, which is abbreviated with the lower-case Greek letter mu, which looks a lot like a lower case “u” on an ASCII keyboard. In this case, we’re talking about one or two ceramic capacitors, the most common material for this size, rated at 0.1 micro farads each, with a working voltage of about 16 or 25 volts. Additionally, capacitors connected in parallel add, so for 0.2 micro farads, we connect two capacitors in parallel with their leads connected together.
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2011, 06:37 AM
Monolith Monolith is offline
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BMWs are set 4mph low (actual speed is 4mph lower than indicated speed) to avoid any lawsuits based on speeding. The BMW speedometer is also not linear. You can adjust out the 4mph by just making needle adjustments for a given speed (say 70mph), but it may read low below 25mph (a mile or two).

Last edited by Monolith; 07-01-2011 at 06:40 AM.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:20 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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They are NOT set 4 MPH low, if you search there is a tolerance for the speedo, but the German law requires the the speedo NEVER reads low, even with a slight tire change, so the BMW tolerance is pretty large.

IIRC it is 10% + 2.4 MPH. So at a real 60, you could read as much as 8.4 MPH low.

And it does vary a good bit. Our M Roadster is almost spot on (actually with 255/40 tires it is pretty much dead on). Our E46 M3 is fairly far off, at higher speeds as much as 6MPH.

One issues with this device is that it may affect the odo reading (I think it does), and that could get into some legal issues with the obo reading not being correct if you sell the car. Although it should make the odo read higher.
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  #4  
Old 07-01-2011, 07:26 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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That's what makes this device so nice; it adds or subtracts a percent change. It doesn't introduce a fixed change such that you would get by changing the speedometer needle position. That makes the correction valid over all speeds.

Before I added this device, my speedometer had a fairly consistent error across all speeds of between 5.7 and 6.5 percent. Programming a correction value of 6.3 percent brought the error to less than I can see on the speedometer.
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Old 07-01-2011, 07:49 AM
Monolith Monolith is offline
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Yes, I use a Superlift TruSpeed unit on my other vehicle. For most folks a needle change would be sufficient. However, it can cause damage to the gauge in the hands of the unskilled. So, using a calibrator requires less skill and is "safer."

Thanks for the tip on the caps required. Most wouldn't have chased the source of the problem down and just returned the calibrator.

I would also like to thank you for posting the information. I know it took a great deal of time and effort!


You should post a link to this thread in the Z3 how to thread:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35961

Last edited by Monolith; 07-01-2011 at 07:59 AM.
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2011, 09:29 AM
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bob lindquist bob lindquist is offline
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I base my speed on how many cars I still have to pass
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  #7  
Old 07-02-2011, 05:40 AM
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I find it no big deal. I drive the speed I want, unless the radar detector sounds off, then I slow to the speed limit, and since the speedo reads high, I KNOW I am safe.

And I have the GPS in the E46 all the time, so I always have an accurate speed.
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  #8  
Old 10-26-2011, 07:23 AM
tipsy_m tipsy_m is offline
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Thanks for referring me here Blacklane. It looks like the SpeedoDRD is my best chance at fixing my problem. Even though I've got no skills whatsoever in electronics I think I might be able to pull it off.

You did mention that capacitors are required to avoid interference at high speeds. What speeds are you talking about? I'd prefer to avoid the capacitors if possible but then again don't want the speedo going haywire at 100km/h.

If it's anything over 110km/h I probably won't bother with it....this is already testing my technical skills more than I'd like to! I've put up with this for 5 years and wouldn't care about it if I wasn't planning to sell my car sometime in the future.
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  #9  
Old 10-26-2011, 11:09 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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I tried to live without the capacitor on the speed sensor input, however the occasional jump in the indicated speed caused the cruise control to drop out, so it wasn't much fun to drive. The speedometer needle would imediately drop back to the correct speed, so it didn't bother me except for the cruise control issue.

The jumps occur at all speeds, but more frequent at higher speeds. At about 100km/hr, my car had jumps every 20-30 seconds or so.

The folks at 12 O'clock labs told me that they would install the capacitor if requested. I would contact them, tell them that you are installing in a BMW, and ask for a version with a capacitor installed.
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Old 10-28-2011, 03:23 AM
tipsy_m tipsy_m is offline
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Thanks a lot....I'll let you know how I go.
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Old 11-30-2011, 01:30 PM
tipsy_m tipsy_m is offline
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My SpeedoDRD has arrived and I'm up for the challenge. I requested the capacitors as you suggested. I thought that if I'm going to go through all of this effort to fix the speedo I may as well do it properly.

Just a couple of questions before I get started:

1. I'm assuming that there's no practical way to to use the provided wire connectors when tapping into the power source, connecting the ground to the bolt etc that soldering is the best method. Would you recommend just soldering all connections and sealing them with heat shrink tubing?

2. The capacitors: I'd just like to clarify where to place them. From what I understand they are to be placed between the input and ground wires. In other words, one end of the capacitor taps into the input wire and the other one taps into the ground wire, essentially making a link between the two?

3. The capacitors that 12oclock labs sent me are pretty cool because they're all set up with wires (see attached photo). Should the black and white wires be going to a specific wire in the SpeedoDRD or doesn't it matter (e.g. should the black capacitor wire be connected only to the speedo input wire, and would doing it the other way around cause a catastrophe?)

Thanks a lot.
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  #12  
Old 11-30-2011, 03:06 PM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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It's pretty straightforward.

1. There are no connectors that you can use behind the cluster. You'll have to cut the appropriate wires to install the SpeedoDRD. Soldering and heat shrink is certainly the best connection method, however soldering and heating back there in a hole is challenging. Instead, I used crimp connectors. The right size is the red ones. I have never had a problem with one unless I failed to crimp it sufficiently. You can tell right away by tugging on the connection. If it pulls apart, start over.

2. The capacitor goes between the input (white wire) and ground (black wire) bridging the two.

3. 12 O'clock labs put a white and black wire on the capacitors to simplify the installation. Just match the colors. This will leave you with a couple of 3-way splices. The speed sensor (BMW Black with red stripe) wire will go to the white SpeedoDRD wire and white capacitor wire. The output (blue wire) from the SpeedoDRD goes to the speedometer (BMW Black with red stripe). The grounds (black wires from capacitor and SpeedoDRD) go to a bolt on the chassis. The power (red wire) for the SpeedoDRD comes from whereever you want, and I chose the cluster switched power.

When you get it done, it really works nice.
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  #13  
Old 12-09-2011, 07:02 PM
tipsy_m tipsy_m is offline
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Blacklane you are an absolute genius! I've got it working! It didn't take me anywhere near as long as I thought it would. Even the instrument cluster was relatively straightforward to squeeze through the steering wheel. I slotted the SpeedoDRD through the plastic panel below the steering wheel as you can see in the attachment...it's very neat and once I'm 100% happy with my set speed factor I'll push it in to conceal it.

I was somewhat concerned that your instructions for the Z3 wouldn't be relevant for my e36 318i however all the wires that you described obviously perform the same function in both cars. This was especially so because I actually have four wires coming from the black instrument plug as opposed to your three.

The capacitors seem to be doing their job as there aren't any wild changes in the speedo reading. When I put it all back together there was a moment of consternation as I wasn't getting a fuel or speedo reading, however this was merely due to the plug not being inserted properly.

I took your advice and earthed the device through a bolt. I exposed a fair bit of wire and wound it tightly around (as tight as was possible in such an awkward position) and then I had to consider how to insulate it (and hold it in place as it was obvious it wouldn't hold for too long. I then thought of blu-tack which will insulate and hold the wire in place.

I bought all the crimping pieces that you recommended which were pretty cheap however I just went with the simple method of stripping the wires, twisting them together and wrapping it (tightly) with insulation tape. I just felt more confident with this.

I really have a lot to thank you for because all I did was follow instructions without a very good understanding of what I was doing (not to mention the fact I would've had no hope of ever identifying which wires I needed to tap into!) - and to anybody else who reads this I guarantee you you're capable of doing the job if you follow Blacklane's instructions.

I would've had no hope without you providing your insight and knowledge - once again thanks a lot Blacklane and well done for using your knowledge and skills to assist others.
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2011, 06:59 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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tipsy_m:

I'm kind fo blushing from your kind words, but that's what these forums are for: people helping people.

I do suggest that you improve your wiring connections. Yours might become intermittent in a few years.

If you look around any car, you'll notice that almost all wiring connections are crimped: pins inside of plugs, ground lugs, etc. It's a reliable connection method. I suggest buying a ratcheting crimp tool such as the S&G Tool Aid 18900. A picture of one is attached. The ratcheting action provides much more force on the crimp and leads to a lot fewer problems than using a plier-type crimper. Practice on a few crimps and you'll see how much wire to strip, how much force it takes, etc. (You squeeze the tool until you feel it "pop," then you're good. It can be a two-handed squeeze to get there.) The small-size wires behind the cluster all require the red-colored crimp connectors. The next size bigger is blue, then yellow. You may need blue for multiple-wire connections.

You will need three hands when working behind the cluster, so you might want to ask for a little help. It's somewhat heartbreaking to finish a crimp only to discover that one wire has slipped out at the last minute. Then you have to cut off the crimp using valuable wire length.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2012, 03:27 PM
stick405 stick405 is offline
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This is my first post.... I have a 2001 Z3 and have just installed the nifty speedo corrector..However, either my programming is not right or the wiring on the black plug needs a revisit.... I double checked my install... it all looks great. My question is, there are 6 wires coming out of the black plug... I don't know if this makes a difference.. As the OP mentioned there were only 3 wires on his... I've included a pic.. The colors are Green with yellow ring..Brown/red stripe..Yellow/brown stripe...Purple/black stripe...Purple...and Brown/black stripe...Not only is there no adjustment but the speedo doesn't even work now...Any help on IDg' these wires would be appreciated...

... Cheers...



Last edited by stick405; 12-20-2012 at 03:46 PM.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2012, 06:24 PM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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It looks like the wiring for the 2001 is a little different from the 1998 that I wrote-up. Starting with the Electric Troubleshooting Manual (ETM) found here: http://wedophones.com/BMWManualsLead.htm
and finding the 2001 Z3, scrolling down to the 6211.0 Instrument Cluster, and then clicking on 6211.0-02 Vehicle Speed Sensor, we get to the wire colors. The speed sensor to cluster is "BR/RT" or in German "Braun/Rot" or in English "Brown/Red." It also shows that signal is on pin 4 of Connector C (the leftmost one viewed from the face of the cluster). So I think that part is correct. This wire gets cut with the sensor end tied to the SpeedoDRD white wire and the cluster end tied to the SpeedoDRD blue wire.

For power in Start and Run, you need Pin 23 of Connector A (the rightmost one) or Pin 4 of connector B (the center one). I chose Connector B since it was closer. That is power signal X10017 which is color "GN/GE" or "Grun/Gelb" or "Green/Yellow." That should be the line you can splice into for power (SpedoDRD red wire).

Then you can find a ground anywhere (SpeedoDRD black wire).

What I can see from your photo, it looks correct. I think maybe you don't have power to the SpeedoDRD.

Last edited by Blacklane; 12-20-2012 at 06:26 PM.
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  #17  
Old 12-20-2012, 09:06 PM
stick405 stick405 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blacklane View Post
It looks like the wiring for the 2001 is a little different from the 1998 that I wrote-up. Starting with the Electric Troubleshooting Manual (ETM) found here: http://wedophones.com/BMWManualsLead.htm
and finding the 2001 Z3, scrolling down to the 6211.0 Instrument Cluster, and then clicking on 6211.0-02 Vehicle Speed Sensor, we get to the wire colors. The speed sensor to cluster is "BR/RT" or in German "Braun/Rot" or in English "Brown/Red." It also shows that signal is on pin 4 of Connector C (the leftmost one viewed from the face of the cluster). So I think that part is correct. This wire gets cut with the sensor end tied to the SpeedoDRD white wire and the cluster end tied to the SpeedoDRD blue wire.

For power in Start and Run, you need Pin 23 of Connector A (the rightmost one) or Pin 4 of connector B (the center one). I chose Connector B since it was closer. That is power signal X10017 which is color "GN/GE" or "Grun/Gelb" or "Green/Yellow." That should be the line you can splice into for power (SpedoDRD red wire).

Then you can find a ground anywhere (SpeedoDRD black wire).

What I can see from your photo, it looks correct. I think maybe you don't have power to the SpeedoDRD.

Thx for the info.... The +12V and ground are set up exactly as you had mentioned... Don't have an issue with the switchable power... works great.... And it looks like you have confirmed my signal wiring.... I couldn't fault it.... I think it must be in my programming.... I'm setting it for -4.4%... First I'm clearing any existing settings... by holding down the programming button and turning on the key power.. and letting it go through it's gyrations of green, red, orange etc... Then I set the light to red for a neg number.... Now this is where I may be doing it wrong.... I hold the button down for 10 blinks to set "0"... then count off 4 blinks and then another 4 blinks... however, at the end I'm not seeing the orange/red for saving to memory... I think I'm missing something here...
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:46 AM
Blacklane Blacklane is offline
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It's looking for a sign plus three digits at that point. Are you entering all of the digits?

That input would be a divide (red), zero (or ten blinks), four, four. After the last digit, the display should blink orange.

You can also e-mail 12O'clock labs from their website for some troubleshooting help. They work from noon to midnight Eastern, which might explain their name.
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  #19  
Old 12-22-2012, 02:08 PM
stick405 stick405 is offline
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First off... The Corrector unit is working like a champ @-5.6%...In my haste (typical "A" type personali
ty) I failed to realize the factory illustration was showing the cluster was headed to the odometer..so at the instrument panel the cluster is headed to the sensor.... I had to switch the white and blue wires.... Forget that it was clearly marked, had I paid better attention....

Next I had only read part of the instructions, thinking I knew enough to get it done.... That personality thing again... I failed to set the mode..... Anyway it works great and I really want to say a big Thx Blacklane for providing a super fix and extra help for the Z3 speedo error....Cheers...

Last edited by stick405; 12-22-2012 at 02:44 PM.
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  #20  
Old 02-24-2013, 03:35 PM
keithhe keithhe is offline
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This is rather easy, as previously stated. Like others that posted, once the two T-15 screws are removed, I was not sure how to get it started forward, and did not want to break anything. Here's what I did:

Remove screws
Use an old credit card and slide in on inside of either screw flange. Now slide toward screw flange and you'll see it loosens up. Same for other side.
Now it is pretty loose, but not out. I used a small needle nose plier and grabbed one of the screw flanges that are easy to grasp now.
Wiggle the assembly toward steering wheel until it is clear of shroud.
No need to remove the wire harnesses for bulb replacement, just move toward driver door and replace bulbs from underneath.

Very easy, and took about 5 minutes. Again, mine was just a odometer bulb replacement, not the surgery also explained on this thread. Works again, like new.

Thaks to OP and those that shared !!!!
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  #21  
Old 09-18-2014, 07:41 PM
MNZ3 MNZ3 is offline
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Speedometer reads faster than actual speed

My BMW K1200LT bike ( it's common on the bikes too ) had the same trouble. I remember there was a fix that involved soldering a small jumper on the back of the instrument cluster. Has anyone heard of such a fix on our Z's?
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