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Tapatio

Review of Works Performance ESA Shocks

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Tapatio

 

Why:

It was time to replace the shocks on my ’06 R1200RT. The stock shocks were never great to begin with and after 36k miles were pretty much shot. Driving in a straight line was no problem but when driven hard in turns the rear end felt like a wet noodle. Like old age, motorcycle suspension failure starts the day the bike is built and is a subtle but continuous process. You get used to the way a bike rides and subconsciously compensate for it, until one day there's a sudden realization that something is wrong.

 

Ohlins or Works Performance:

I narrowed my choices down to Ohlins and Works Performance. Ohlins are the overall favorite with many riders but I really wanted to keep the ESA function. The other big factor for me is that Works is local so if there was ever a problem or if I needed to get them rebuilt I could simply drive to their offices in Los Angeles. Works shocks are also a few hundred dollars cheaper.

 

Process:

Called them and placed an order over the phone (mention BMWMOA and you will get a 10% discount). I spoke directly to the builder who would be assembling my shocks. I gave him my weight, we discussed riding style and how often I ride 2-up. After about a week I got a call that they had all the parts ready and asked me to ship them the shocks. Shocks were finished within 4 business days. Everything went smoothly and I found their customer service to be excellent.

 

Installation:

I used the following information to assist me with the installation. It was pretty easy and I didn’t have any problems. Thanks go out to Limecreek and Jim VonBaden

 

Ohlins install #1
Ohlins instal #2

Ohlins Jim VonBaden

 

Impressions:

The shocks are very solid and well built. They did a great job of removing the ESA components and attaching them to their shocks. As you can see in the pictures below they reuse the lower dampening section of the stock ESA shocks and reattach them. The rear shock preload adjuster is also removed and fitted. The end result is a very OEM looking replacement shock. They also come with 2 wrenches that allow you to adjust the preload and some instruction on how to fine tune the ride.

 

Ride Quality:

Night and day difference. The tires feel like they are attached to rails and I have a renewed sense of confidence going into turns. Riding in a straight line has also improved and I’m noticing a much smoother ride at freeway speeds. The ride is plush yet firm. Feedback is improved, especially the rear end. The damping is very good on both high speed and low speed bumps. I haven’t riden 2-up yet but expect equally good results. I am very happy with my decision.

 

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734363377_KhCUW-M.jpg

 

Works Performance Website

 

 

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bobbybob

If you rode the OEM's 36K miles, theres no doubt you are in heaven. I replaced my OEM's (07 RT) at 8K miles (with Ohlins). If I had to ride any longer on the OEM's, I would have had to sell the bike, they were that bad!

 

And just like you said, their performance starts slowly degrading on day 1, just like the OEM's. At 16K on the Ohlins my RT was starting to wallow in the turns--I really thought it was the rear. Suddenly, the front sprang a leak. Off to Ohlins and got rebuilt, no charge. Bike is back to its ole self, now. Shocks are still the most farkle bang you can get. :wave:

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smiller

Thanks much for your time and effort in posting the pictures. I'm still on the fence between Ohlins and the Works upgrade. One things for sure, the ESA is going one of these days. The OEM shocks are really substandard compared to quality aftermarket units, I can easily tell the difference between my Works-equipped RT and ESA-equipped GT.

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JayW

Thanks for the write-up, Tapatio. This is what I intend do when my second pair of OEM shocks wear out (I got a barely used set from Beemerboneyard.com). I'll send my original ones in for the rebuild and won't have have any bike down time at all. If you don't mind my asking, what is the approximate cost?

 

Jay

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Mike05

I've had the Works Performance ESA-compatible Shocks for over a year.

 

I like the convenience of ESA; does fine for me. While there are a number of after-market accessories I truly appreciate, the addition of quality shocks (yup, even ESA-type shocks) heads the list as (for me) the single best contributor to improved ride quality & overall performance.

 

It quite literally feels like a different bike. Best I can compare it to is the difference between riding on new tires vs. a set with 5k miles on them.

 

Btw, great service from Works Performance, especially Tom Edison (an easy name to remember).

 

 

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Indy Dave

Tapatio - thanks - my 06 also has 36k and I've been feeling what you're describing. Does the ESA work just like before ie: still full functioning? I enjoy the simplicity of the thing.d

 

dave

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John in VA
Shocks are still the most farkle bang you can get. :wave:

 

+1

 

I got "Ohlined" at 1500 miles.

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Albert

Thanks Tapatio for a great write up. I've got around the same mileage on my 06 RT and have been thinking of the same upgrade. If you don't mind, can you give us a ball park idea as to the cost.

Thanks,

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GordonB

There is an outfit in Corona Ca that is developing a rebuild for ESA shocks with new valving etc. providing performance somewhere in the middle from OEM shock and an aftermarket performance shock, worth looking into. They are also looking for specific model BMW's for their R&D Race Tech

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Tapatio
If you don't mind, can you give us a ball park idea as to the cost.

Thanks,

 

$1298 OTD

 

 

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Albert
If you don't mind, can you give us a ball park idea as to the cost.

Thanks,

 

$1298 OTD

 

 

Thanks Tapatio. Seems reasonable.

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RedMac

Ron,

Excellent, thanks. You do great writeups. Plus you always seem to be doing things just about the time I am planning them !!! :)

 

I've got 24K on mine now and have been noodling around the thought of changing the shocks. I like the esa function too and would prefer to keep that. Seems like a good way to do it and still get pretty good shocks.

 

Mike

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elmer

Has anyone worked with Ted Porter's Beemer shop in Santa Cruz? Sorry if I posted this twice but I wasn't sure where to post. I have an 08 RT with 17k on it. Would like to lower it and retain the ESA if possible.

 

Elmer

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jaytee

Yes, but I would call him first about ESA rebuilds. He is customer service oriented, has a little bias towards Wilbers over Ohlin but will do either.

 

JT

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bvaughan
There is an outfit in Corona Ca that is developing a rebuild for ESA shocks with new valving etc. providing performance somewhere in the middle from OEM shock and an aftermarket performance shock, worth looking into. They are also looking for specific model BMW's for their R&D Race Tech

i just had my k1200gt esa shocks rebuilt by race tech. they did a great job and the price was about the same as what tapatio paid for his wilburs

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rhaus

Thank you for the review and the write up. I just ordered new shocks from Works Performance based on this review and my desire, like yours, to keep the ESA. I will post a review in a few weeks after I have had a chance to experience the new shocks. I managed to wait 42K miles and the shocks are barely better now than springs.

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Tapatio

FOLLOWUP - I found that the preload on the springs was a bit stiff for my liking. I loosened up the front 2 full turns and the rear 1 full turn to make them a bit more compliant. Don't be afraid to adjust them slightly if the ride is too stiff or too soft. :thumbsup:

 

 

 

Edited by Tapatio

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Paul Mihalka

A bit of a hijack: I find it odd when adjusting preload is considered making the suspension firmer or softer. IMHO all it changes is the ride height of the bike and out of total suspension travel how much is available for compression and how much for extension. As long as the shock does not top out or bottom out firmness/softness should be unchanged. When ESA goes comfort/normal/sport all it changes is the hydraulic damper settings, which determine firmness/softness.

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STRUMMER

Has BMW improved the quality/performance of ESA?

 

Can you buy a 2010 R1200RT w/out ESA?

 

Thanks.

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LuckyLeif
A bit of a hijack: I find it odd when adjusting preload is considered making the suspension firmer or softer. IMHO all it changes is the ride height of the bike and out of total suspension travel how much is available for compression and how much for extension. As long as the shock does not top out or bottom out firmness/softness should be unchanged. When ESA goes comfort/normal/sport all it changes is the hydraulic damper settings, which determine firmness/softness.

Paul - I'm with you on this for a linear-wound spring (which I think are found on BMW), but there may be a subtle firming of ride if the preload were increased on a shock with a progressive-wound spring. In that case the softer section of the spring would be put under tension as the static preload compressed the spring. This would leave only the "heavier" section of the winding available for compression. At least that's what I recall from my RaceTech seminar.

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johnlt

On my DRZ which has progressive dampening, the PO took almost all the preload out to lower the seat. It rode like a "truck" because when I sat on it, it sunk down so low, it was already to an "advanced" (harder) section of the dampening. When I put the preload back in, it didn't sink down so was at a much milder dampening area and road much smoother. Seems counter intuitive but isn't if you really think about how the progressive dampening works.

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CruisinCruzan

Question, The OP mentioned getting wrenches to adjust preload. The ESA also adjusts preload, so do the wrenches change the range of the preload affected by the ESA or is the preload function disabled, or am I wrong about the preload function and the ESA?

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Tapatio

The preload wrenches come with the shocks. Set the preload on the spring with the wrenches to the initial position or lightest load (lightest load = motorcycle fully gased with driver minus luggage and passenger). This is the base setting. ESA compresses the rear spring for more weight (luggage, luggage + passenger).

 

Here's a good suspension guide that I found.

 

http://www.beehivebeemers.org/Suspension.pdf

 

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pdes

Does anyone know whether ther is a good shock replacement (with ESA) available in the UK?

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Guest Kakugo
Does anyone know whether ther is a good shock replacement (with ESA) available in the UK?

 

I strongly recommend the Wilbers units. Fitted them last month, I am extremely impressed at both the quality of the ride and the professionalism displayed by the local importer (Motorglobe).

The UK importer is Revs Suspension Service: give them a holler.

 

PS: while the replacement guides published above is incredibly handy I'd like to add a couple of things.

1)On my bike access the rear ESA connectors I had to remove the RH tail panel. Pretty straightforward procedure, though very time consuming.

2)I just couldn't undo the front shock bolt using conventional means. My impact wrench took care of things... :thumbsup:

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Indy Dave

Just an update on my Works ESA shocks. I got a set in May, 2010. I've really enjoyed them and they did improve the handling of the old ESA shocks greatly.

 

Sadly, 2.5 years and 4000 miles or so, the front shock lost its gas charge. Works has a 1 year warranty, so the repair was on me. They said the shaft had a light scratch that caused the gas to escape. They did return the old shaft, which looked new to my untrained eye.

 

Just went for a weekend trip with some buddies and the front shock lost its charge again. Dives badly under braking and lifts excessively under acceleration. So the bike is unsettled with throttle adjustments and the front end washes out. The front shock lasted this time 16 months with even lower miles as I've been unable to ride for several months.

 

I guess for the price of a set of Wilber's wESA shocks (they're making them again - they were not when I bought the Works), I could remove the Works front shock and have it repaired several more times. But considering the down time, hassle and safety issues, I'll probably bite the bullet a get the Wilbers and the 5 year warranty.

 

I guess my trip out West will have to wait for another time. :(

Edited by workin them angels

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