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Ohlins setup


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Is there anything in the Archives on how to set up Ohlins? Couldn't find it in a search.




Is there anything online that is helpful? The official Ohlins site wasn't particularly informative. Not much more info than is given in the manual.




Failing all that: is anyone out there able (and willing) to give detailed instructions on how to set these things up?




Should I go pay a pro to do it? lurker.gif

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There was an excellent guide written by our own Dick Frantz, but I can't find it on the site or web any longer. It was a while ago that I saw it, so it may have timed out. Assuming Dick doesn't mind, I'd be glad to send it to you.

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Here ya go Doc. Straight from Toolman's fingers in a PM I saved long ago. Enjoy!


It is not necessary to remove the front wheel to R&R the front shock. Actually leaving the front wheel on keeps the front suspension from drooping to far.


Removing and installing the shocks on an RT is as easy as it gets. It shouldn't take more than 3hrs from start to finish for both shocks. Steps below are for an RT but can apply to other models.


Front shock:

1) Put the bike on the center stand.

2) Remove bodywork.

3) Remove the air intake tubes.

4) Remove bolt that secures the tank.

5) Slide the tank back to expose the upper mount using caution not to kink the fuel lines.

6) Remove the nut and rubber grommet from the upper shock mount. (the front tire will slowly droop to the floor)

7) Remove the lower shock bolt and pull the shock down and out of it's upper mount.

8) Remove the rubber grommet from the old shock and install it on the new shock (if applicable)


That's it, repeat steps in reverse to install.


Rear shock: The 1150's lower shock mount is an eye mount and the 1100's are a clevis style mount but the procedure is the same. You will need some wood blocks or floor jack, or any other device for holding up the swing arm before you remove the shock.


1) Set bike on center stand.

2) Remove bodywork.

3) Remove rear tire.

4) Remove the rear muffler bolt. This will help with gaining access to the lower bolt

(some cases not all)

5) Prop up the rear of the swing arm / drive shaft with wood blocks or better yet a floor jack. This will keep the swing arm from dropping after removing the lower shock bolt.

6) Remove the lower shock bolt. You may have to wiggle the swing arm/drive arm up and down to pull it out.

7) Remove the adjustable seat mount for access to the upper shock bolt.

8) Remove the upper shock bolt and pull the shock out from the bottom.

9) Install the Ohlins shock routing the damping adjustment hose in the same location as the OEM shock.


That's it again, repeat steps to install.


Shock set up procedure....

This is easier to do with the right saddlebag removed. Since BMW's don't have a rear axle per say, you will create a datum point. Use a non-permanent marker or a peel and stick dot to create a reference point on the center of the driveshaft housing. This will simulate an axle center. This is where you’re going to terminate your measurement.


Find a location on the bike directly above your datum dot on the driveshaft arm you made. Place a piece of tape, peel and stick dot or mark the upper location. This will now be your upper datum point. You’re doing this because you must measure repeatedly at the same locations.


For the front measurement location, the underside of the upper triple clamp is a good upper datum point. The tape measure should run parallel with the fork down to the center of the axle.



Next put the bike on the center stand and measure the distance from your top datum point to the lower datum point. Write that number down, this is your "top out" dimension. Next take the bike off the center stand and holding the bike vertical, measure again. You must keep it vertical so someone will need to hold it up for you while you measure. Write that number down and call it "static sag".


Next you are going to sit on the bike with your gear on simulating the riding position. It's best to have someone hold you up with your feet on the pegs. If you don't have a third person you can lightly touch your feet on the ground to hold yourself up. Have that person measure, from your datum points and write that number down.


That number is your "ride height" Take your "ride height" number and subtract it from the "top out" number. For example: your “Top out” dim. Is 20.00” and the “Ride Height” dimension is 18.5” which = 1.5” actual “Ride Height”


Ohlin’s formula: (R1-R3) for the rear. (F1-F3) for the front.



You want your ride height numbers to fall in this range:

Rear: 1.00" - 1.625"

Front: 1.375" - 2.00"


Your "static sag" numbers should fall in between:

Rear: 3/8"-3/4"

Front: 5/8"-1-3/16"


The static sag numbers are important so that your shock supports the motorcycle and has suspension in reserve to travel upward. Remember the suspension goes up as well as down. You don't want the shocks to top out sharply. They can be damaged if a dramatic topping out occurs.


The ride height is the most important dimension to get correct. The numbers are rather a wide variable, but this is to tailor the suspension for your requirements, i.e. riding style, surface condition etc.


The damping settings are a trial and error depending on your riding needs. You want the damping to be firm but not too harsh. If it's too soft, this will cause the bike to wallow. If it's too harsh it will skate. Ride the bike and take notes on your damping settings and change accordingly. It’s a mix and match and a lot of experimenting to get the bike set up for your needs. Once perfected, you will be rewarded with a very well handling bike and a suspension tailored for your needs.

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Thanks, guys.


The rear shock has two preload settings. One is the nut on the upper section that's adjusted with the spanner wrench. The other is the hydraulic setting. Do I do gross adjustment with the spanner and fine-tune with the hydraulic? (I guess my feeling is not to mess with the spanner nut unless the hydraulic adjuster is way off.)


On the front shock there is also a spanner-adjusted nut on the upper section and a pair of spanner-adjusted nuts on the lower section, just north of the rebound damping adjuster.

Is the situation similar? Do I use the lower nuts for fine-tuning the preload?


The rebound damping is obviously controlled by the easily identifiable adjuster.


Compression damping: I'm puzzled. The manual shows a screwdriver-adjustable screw. Both shocks have a torx screw locked with a nut on the side near the top of the shock. Is this a compression adjuster? Or is this an "explosion-triggerer" and I shouldn't touch it? eek.gif

I don't see anything on either shock that looks like the compression-damping adjuster shown in the manual.

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There is no seperate compression damping adjustment. Changing the rebound also has about a 10% effect on compression damping........ don't touch the explosion triggerer!

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There's no need to use a spanner on the rear shock. There is a pin that keeps the nuts in place. Some people have removed that pin to be able to adjust preload, but I advise against doing that. Preload on the rear should be adjusted by the remote. If you can't get the sag correct, then the shock probably isn't set up correctly for you. (If you don't have the shock on the bike yet, you can look at the serial number on the spring to be sure it is the correct one for your weight. You'd probably be fine with the standard spring.)


Assuming that the shock is new (or relatively in new condition, if bought used), was set to Ohlin specs, and has the correct spring, I would guess that you should be able to get the correct sag with only about 7 turns of preload. With the remote mounted on the bike, use some nail polish to make a couple of marks indicating the position when there is no preload set (turn the knob counterclockwise all the way; you should feel it get very loose). This will now help when you're counting the number of turn of preload. Take a few measurements as you increase preload, starting with no preload, then about 4, 7, 10, and 15 turns. This will give you a good range of sag settings as you try to dial it in. Once you get the sag correct, start working on the rebound damping. Turn that knob counterclockwise (as if you were looking straight down at it) all the way until it stops, then back off about 14 clicks (this is Ohlin's original rebound recommendation). When you ride the bike, in general, if the bike is bouncing and/or wallowing, you need to increase damping (a couple of clicks at a time counterclockwise). If it's too bumpy, take out a few more clicks of damping. Only do one or two clicks at a time and then ride it. When you're doing the setup, make sure you write down the numbers from each of your adjustments. Don't try to remember them. Initial setup can take awhile, but there will be great rewards. Having two additional people with you to hold the bike and take the measurements makes this job much easier. I've done it just by myself, and it wasn't pleasant.


Front shock has no remote preload adjuster, so you have to use the spanner. But once you get this one correct, you'll probably never change it again. Make a mark with nail polish (a good choice because it lasts so long) on the adjusting nut so you can count the number of turns. I've always found this much more difficult to get the sag dialed in, but sometimes it was pretty much right on when it came back from rebuilds, so check it before you mess with it. Rebound damping is set much the same as the rear.


The is no compression damping adjuster on the Ohlins for the R11xxRT.


Oh, and that explosion trigger, only use that if you are surrounded by zombies, they are beginning to gnaw on your extremities, and there is no hope of escape. At least you'll get to take a couple dozen of them with you. wave.gif


(In other words, don't unscrew, cut, or pry out anything.)


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Kurt Snyder

The base sag should be set using the threaded nuts on the shock. A properly set up shock will have the desired sag with the hydraulic adjuster backed off fully. The remote adjuster is to compensate for a passenger and luggage. When my Ohlins was rebuilt the tech advised that a full time load on the hydraulic adjuster shortens its life. They set the sag in the shop to my weight. When I mounted the shock it was right on.

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"When you ride the bike, in general, if the bike is bouncing and/or wallowing, you need to increase damping (a couple of clicks at a time counterclockwise)"


I've always been a little confused by clockwise and counterclockwise on the damping adjustment. My understanding though is that rotating the adjuster IN (clockwise if you were looking at it from below) reduces the flow of fluid in the shock and increases dampening. Have I got this right?

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Perfect timing of this post at least in my case.

I just picked up a set of Ohlins from board member GordonB yesterday!


Where I totally lucked out ( along with the great price) is that he is the same weight as I and had done all the work getting the shocks set up properly by Stig Pettersson at PPS Racing Suspension! I love easy.


Way stoked!

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"When you ride the bike, in general, if the bike is bouncing and/or wallowing, you need to increase damping (a couple of clicks at a time counterclockwise)"


I've always been a little confused by clockwise and counterclockwise on the damping adjustment. My understanding though is that rotating the adjuster IN (clockwise if you were looking at it from below) reduces the flow of fluid in the shock and increases dampening. Have I got this right?


Yes, I believe you are correct. If you were lying under the bike looking up at the shock, you would be turning it clockwise to increase damping. Since I'm usually kneeling at the side of the bike, it's easier for me to think of it as looking down on the shock than looking up, and looking down it would be counterclockwise. If you had the shock off the bike and lying on its side, with the damping adjuster end closest to you, you would indeed be turning the adjuster clockwise to increase damping. Same thing on front and rear. Is everyone thoroughly confused now?

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