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Corazon de Pollo

Dynamic ESA Suspension Removal/Installation

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Corazon de Pollo

Hi everybody.

My 2017 RT will need new suspension soon: I give the present ones 5/6,000 miles before sorely needing replacement.

 

I had Wilbers ESA shocks on my Hexhead and will most likely go with those again as I was extermely satisfied with both shocks and customer service.

However there's one thing that is not clear to me: does Dynamic ESA shocks need some kind of dealer-specific calibration when installed or are they "plug and play" like old ESA shocks? I haven't bought a manual for this bike yet as I leave the dealership handle all maintenance but I had (almost) no problem with replacing the shocks of the Hexhead. I figure the mechanical part is not much different and the biggest challenge is figuring out how to keep the bike from toppling without both shocks.

 

Any information is much appreciated.

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Indy Dave

I know the dynamic ESA is something somewhat different than you had on the Hexhead. My understanding is that you have two choices for aftermarket - Hyperpro or Touratech.

 

And these puppies are quite a bit more than the old ESA types on the hex/cam head. How many miles do you have on your bike now?

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AndyS
2 hours ago, Corazon de Pollo said:

 

My 2017 RT will need new suspension soon: I give the present ones 5/6,000 miles before sorely needing replacement.

 

 

 

Why?

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strataj

What is your mileage?  What indications do you have? 

 

When the time comes to replacement I'll talk with Ted Porter of The Beemer Shop http://www.beemershop.com/  It's a job to get the shocks out of the Wethead.  My 02R1150RT was easy the new RT no so. Most of the brands use the stock BMW motor this requires you to send the rear shock in. 

 

Jay  

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dirtrider
4 hours ago, Corazon de Pollo said:

Hi everybody.

My 2017 RT will need new suspension soon: I give the present ones 5/6,000 miles before sorely needing replacement.

 

I had Wilbers ESA shocks on my Hexhead and will most likely go with those again as I was extermely satisfied with both shocks and customer service.

However there's one thing that is not clear to me: does Dynamic ESA shocks need some kind of dealer-specific calibration when installed or are they "plug and play" like old ESA shocks? I haven't bought a manual for this bike yet as I leave the dealership handle all maintenance but I had (almost) no problem with replacing the shocks of the Hexhead. I figure the mechanical part is not much different and the biggest challenge is figuring out how to keep the bike from toppling without both shocks.

 

Any information is much appreciated.

 

Morning Corazon de Pollo

 

Depends on a number of things but if the static height gets altered by the new shocks then it will probably need a calibration. 

 

This is something that you will probably have to ask/work-out- with the company that provides the new struts. They will be the ones with the history & expertise to correctly answer your re-calibration question.  

 

What are you basing your "5/6,000 miles before sorely needing replacement"  on? Are yours presently leaking or damaged? 

 

 

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Corazon de Pollo

So basically nobody has done it before, eh?

 

No problem, I'll just buy the manual, have a look in there and then decide what to do, but generally new suspensions are cheaper than a new bike.

 

Thanks for the replies.

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dirtrider
55 minutes ago, Corazon de Pollo said:

So basically nobody has done it before, eh?

 

No problem, I'll just buy the manual, have a look in there and then decide what to do, but generally new suspensions are cheaper than a new bike.

 

Thanks for the replies.

 

Morning Corazon de Pollo

 

It never hurts to have the proper manual but I doubt that a BMW service manual will have any info on replacing/calibrating aftermarket struts. If you change the ride height (even a little) then you will most likely have to re-calibrate the front & rear level sensors.

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AndyS
1 hour ago, Corazon de Pollo said:

So basically nobody has done it before, eh?

 

 

Hi Corazon de Pollo.

Still trying to get to the bottom of why you need to change yours.

Let me explain (because I have been down this route myself). I was convinced that my units were toast. The damping and general ride was all over the place. However, The bike went back in for a relearn and had the sensors re-calibrated and it came back feeling very much better, (no where near as supple as my 1150) but none the less the bike felt like all the others I have ridden, so was back to 'normal'.

Hence the 3 questions:

a/. What is the problem with yours?

b/. How are you predicting this 5/6000 miles replacement?

c/. Your subject heading is: "Dynamic ESA Suspension Removal/Installation". Are you actually looking for responses on the step by step process of removal and fitting of the current units or are you looking for information on who can provide alternative units?

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Chris K

I have only seen write ups on the Tractive aftermarket shocks (including the Touratech). One write up indicated that you needed to have you shocks set on one helmet and in road mode. No recalibration was needed. Whatever brand you go with they will give you instructions on what modes to set them in before you remove them. 

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Boxflyer

Good Day Corazon de Pollo,

I had Herman in FL,  install Wilbers on my 2013 K1600GT at 12K miles and really think the improvement was worthwhile.  At the end of the installation, 

in the "Finishing Work" section it directed us to "Initialize/Calibrate" new parts...which we did with my computer and GS-911 WIFI.  I don't remember what the computer interface displayed at the time, but it was successful and the results were excellent.

I traded that K1600GT for my current 2016 R1200RT and love the lighter weight, wind protection, fuel economy, and longer tire wear but miss the turbine like power!

 

When trading in my K1600GT, I removed the Wilbers shocks myself and reinstalled my OEM shocks since I had sourced some zero mile donor shocks for the initial conversion to Wilbers. 

To do a conversion of the shocks to Wilbers definitely requires the training and tools to disassemble the shock and spring to install a new damper cartridge and proper spring for your overall weight and ride performance.  The top (for the rear) and bottom of the shocks were retained from the OEM shocks to maintain all ESA functionality.

Doing a remove and install of the shocks is complex, time consuming and detailed work, but doable with just a few special tools.

 

Here's the screen shot of the shop manual from the K1600GT with optional equipment ESA listing the steps to "Initialize/Calibrate".

image.png.253aa98634a4d9d3313b0076f4dab750.png

 

 

On to the R1200RT LC series, I checked the GS-911 Functionality Chart.  It shows that it is capable of accessing the XSAF controller and performing the Service Functions of "Calibrate suspension" for our bikes.

image.png.f72e36596c6a18a4813413cafb27a619.png

 

I then hooked up my computer and GS-911 to my 2016 R1200RT LC that has Dynamic ESA.  

Here is a screen shot of the interface with my bike showing that it can carry out the calibration.

My bike is up on my lift in the garage, so I didn't want to risk moving the suspension until the bike was resting on the ground, so I don't know what it will do or what the completion screen looks like.

 

Hope this is what you were looking for from your initial post.

 

image.png.7eeced3b948467b864bc5696ec5815ef.png

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Corazon de Pollo

Those are exactly the replies I needed, thank you very much.

 

So it looks like this bike will be sold, that's way too much trouble for me and I have no intention to waste my money on diagnostics.

 

Thanks again people, you have been a lot of help.

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realshelby

I guess the answer here others are asking is "are you possibly wasting money on new aftermarket shocks"? I have 40,000 miles on my RT. I cannot tell any degradation in shock performance, I will give that such a change would occur gradually and might be there unnoticed by me. But when in "dynamic" mode, shock action seems really good to me. And yes, I have owned aftermarket shocks on RT's. Yes, I do know of aftermarket shock installations where the owner said the bike was improved. But few would say otherwise after spending north of $2000!

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Whip
15 hours ago, strataj said:

What is your mileage?  What indications do you have? 

 

When the time comes to replacement I'll talk with Ted Porter of The Beemer Shop http://www.beemershop.com/  It's a job to get the shocks out of the Wethead.  My 02R1150RT was easy the new RT no so. Most of the brands use the stock BMW motor this requires you to send the rear shock in. 

 

Jay  

I just replaced the ESA dynamic shocks on my 2017 Rallye. Ted has a magic box made for the job.

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realshelby

Looks like we have upset Corazon De Pollo? 

 

Seems he has left the forum according to another post............

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Whip

I don’t know. 

 

I guess so

 

 

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AndyS

It's a shame he didn't answer the question as to why he wanted to change though.

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Paul De

Seems that CdP had target fixation on new shocks and misunderstood the curiosity of this group.  Too bad as you all have talked me off the ledge many times over something I was fixated on, then be open to accepting the input provided to arrive at a good choice.

 

I will say I have bemoaned that the waterhead ESA shocks were not the perfection of my Ohlins on my previous RT, but to be real the system is 90+ percent of  "my" perfection.  I did notice that after about 15K miles the ESA suspension seems to have become more compliant.  I would say now it is 95% of "my" perfection.

 

Glad to hear Real Shelby has 40K on his shocks with continued high quality performance, that is good news.   I was loathing the thought having to lay out big $$ to replace a degraded suspension at 35K miles, like I experienced with my '99 RT. 

 

Talked off the ledge again

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realshelby

That was why I posted my mileage. The shocks on my '04 RT were pretty bad well before 40K miles. 

 

While I too think the Ohlins more compliant as far as ride, the system on the '14 is far more versatile. Especially for adding/subtracting luggage and instantly switching to Dynamic mode. I find soft just that. Too soft for all but the smoothest of interstates. I did recalibrate my suspension via the GS 911 and that made the "soft" setting work better. 

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Bernie
4 hours ago, realshelby said:

That was why I posted my mileage. The shocks on my '04 RT were pretty bad well before 40K miles. 

 

While I too think the Ohlins more compliant as far as ride, the system on the '14 is far more versatile. Especially for adding/subtracting luggage and instantly switching to Dynamic mode. I find soft just that. Too soft for all but the smoothest of interstates. I did recalibrate my suspension via the GS 911 and that made the "soft" setting work better. 

 

Terry, do you recommend to recalibrate the suspension on a regular basis? Every 12K miles maybe?

Does it get out of sync, like the stepper motors on the throttlebodies off the old HexHeads?

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realshelby

I would say it won't need calibrated very often. If at all once properly done. Changing out the shocks would make it mandatory of course. I probably have 12K or so on it since calibrating it and it seems to be exactly the same. It did improve the ride, and not just in the "soft" setting. I would guess that once the bike settles in after manufacturing, some will benefit from recalibration to get it just perfect. 

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BamaRider

The shocks on my 05 RT were still good at 87,000 miles when I sold it.  The ESA still worked as advertised.  The suspension on my 04 ST 1300, with 120,000 miles still works fine best as I can tell, and leaned it on a few curves just a few days ago.  So I dunno.

 

 

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strataj

I knew my shocks on my 02R1150RT at 36k needed replacing when I bottomed out at speed on a compression dip riding in the Texas hill country.  I replaced them with Wilbers, WOW biggest improvement I ever did to that bike and I did a lot.  I didn't realize how poor the suspension was until it was replaced. The suspension on my 14R1200RT is so much better then the stock on my 02RT.  I have about 33k on her and seems to be fine for now. 

 

Jay

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Cap
On 1/24/2019 at 7:33 AM, AndyS said:

...much better, (no where near as supple as my 1150)...

 

This is a reason that I might explore a change in shocks someday on my 2017 RTW.  Like Andy, I own a 2004 RT.  I bought it used about 5 years ago with very low miles. And after a few years of riding it and catching up with deferred maintenance by the previous owner, I elected to install Ohlins shocks with their "heavy duty" spring rate.  And what I noticed immediately was that supple ride that Andy mentions.  The difference was so dramatic that I was immediately more confident in the cornering capability on rough paved mountain roads.  It is really a pleasure to know that you can lean the bike over on rough pavement, and the rear tire will stick.  From my perspective, it was the single most valuable change I made to the bike with respect to enjoyment of riding.

 

That said, the 2017 RTW has so many improvements compared to the 2004 that I simply don't ride the older bike anymore.  And the handling of the 2017 is fine -- its limits are beyond mine.  But it still lacks that supple feeling that inspires confidence.  Maybe that is a feature; one that discourages me from riding beyond my abilities.  In any case, I can understand someone buying a newer RTW, and wondering if replacing the shocks will make their ride more enjoyable.  If I knew I could achieve the same feel as the Ohlins on my 2004, I would start planning the swap at some point.

 

Cap

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Paul De
1 hour ago, Cap said:

If I knew I could achieve the same feel as the Ohlins on my 2004, I would start planning the swap at some point.

 

That's the thing, the ESA suspension is very close to the well controlled yet compliant ride many experience with the high end aftermarket shocks.  The compromise between high compliance and chassis control is not nearly as large as it was on the earlier OEM non ESA suspensions.  Tough to justify that last 5-10% improvement for perfection for a big $ investment.  And if you aren't so fussy about suspension performance, or you are strictly into touring, it makes no sense to lay out that amount cash to replace an EAS system that is functioning well.

 

I had thought about buying a stripped down waterhead with the intent of replacing the shocks immediately with Ohlins or Wilburs, but so few come through in base form and to get the color I wanted it was a fully loaded bike.  I have been satisfied overall with the ESA system, and I am happy to find compliance seems to have improved some after about 15K miles.  YRMV.

 

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dirtrider
1 hour ago, Cap said:

 

This is a reason that I might explore a change in shocks someday on my 2017 RTW.  Like Andy, I own a 2004 RT.  I bought it used about 5 years ago with very low miles. And after a few years of riding it and catching up with deferred maintenance by the previous owner, I elected to install Ohlins shocks with their "heavy duty" spring rate.  And what I noticed immediately was that supple ride that Andy mentions.  The difference was so dramatic that I was immediately more confident in the cornering capability on rough paved mountain roads.  It is really a pleasure to know that you can lean the bike over on rough pavement, and the rear tire will stick.  From my perspective, it was the single most valuable change I made to the bike with respect to enjoyment of riding.

 

That said, the 2017 RTW has so many improvements compared to the 2004 that I simply don't ride the older bike anymore.  And the handling of the 2017 is fine -- its limits are beyond mine.  But it still lacks that supple feeling that inspires confidence.  Maybe that is a feature; one that discourages me from riding beyond my abilities.  In any case, I can understand someone buying a newer RTW, and wondering if replacing the shocks will make their ride more enjoyable.  If I knew I could achieve the same feel as the Ohlins on my 2004, I would start planning the swap at some point.

 

Cap

 

Afternoon Cap

 

Obviously the newer 2017 RTW  has slightly different geometry & weighting bias so it will feel slightly different even with apples to apples suspension  upgrades.

 

Other than the basic bike differences the biggest difference that most riders feel is the tire difference as those can easily alter or change that confidence feeling.

 

Have you played with tire pressures & tire brands on your  2017 RTW?  Getting the correct tire pressures & a tire that goes with your riding style can a go a LONG way towards that warm fuzzy confidence feeling. (I have yet to ride a 1200WC bike that the front tire leaned-over grip &  turn-in doesn't feel odd until I let some air out)-- especially after some aggressive riding that builds even more front tire pressure.

 

Or put another way-- lets take the very same 2017 RTW bikes & you put whatever suspension on that bike that you feel will make it better & I will JUST put on a set of tires that work for my riding style using tire pressures that also fit my riding requirements. We will then  both ride the same rough twisty, off camber roads with decreasing radius turns & see who gets through it the quickest with no white knuckles.  

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realshelby
3 hours ago, dirtrider said:

 

 

Have you played with tire pressures & tire brands on your  2017 RTW?  Getting the correct tire pressures & a tire that goes with your riding style can a go a LONG way towards that warm fuzzy confidence feeling. (I have yet to ride a 1200WC bike that the front tire leaned-over grip &  turn-in doesn't feel odd until I let some air out)-- especially after some aggressive riding that builds even more front tire pressure.

 

Well, at least I am not the only one that thinks the RTW feels a LOT better with 35-36 in the front compared to 38-39 psi. I have had some pretty negative replies when I posted that on a couple other forums.   

 

 

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Cap
On 1/27/2019 at 9:25 AM, dirtrider said:

...lets take the very same 2017 RTW bikes & you put whatever suspension on that bike that you feel will make it better & I will JUST put on a set of tires ...

 

Thanks for the suggestion about lowering the front tire pressure... I will try that.  I may also try another brand of tire next time, but I have become very loyal to my Michelin Pilot Roads over the years, and while I agree that changing tires is cheap compared to shocks, I have also felt a huge difference changing shocks while using the same tire.  Your perspective on changing tires might reflect that you can do it yourself, while for me changing a tire requires some planning and expense.

 

With respect to your other point about "I will do this, and you do that, and we'll see" ... With respect, this approach won't settle anything.  Our respective feelings of confidence are subjective, and can't be compared.  You may find that tire pressure is your holy grail.  I will certainly try it.  But that doesn't mean that it will work for me or anyone else.  And that, I think, was the origin of this thread from the original poster -- that  they were thinking of changing out the OEM shocks and were looking for some help.  

 

And I agree that the cost-benefit seems like it might be marginal, especially for a fairly new moto.  But, hey, BMWs are expensive anyway, and cost-benefit is another personal judgment.  So, I will defend anyone who wants to swap suspension if they can afford it, and it makes them smile when they ride.

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realshelby

I think tire pressure isn't experimented with enough!  Most hear of someone getting 14,000 miles on a rear tire, running 42 psi in it, and think that is the only way to get mileage. Some seem to be horrified if the front tire develops a bit of feathering or cupping, so they run 40-42 in it to reduce that. Mileage matters for sure. I have found that front tire tread pattern has more to do with wear patterns than 2-3 psi of pressure will fix. Yes, our Wethead RT calls for 42 psi in the rear. But it also does not have a solo/passenger/loaded spec. I wonder about that....

 

The difference in front tire feel, stability, confidence is obvious to me comparing 36 to 39 or 40 psi. Rear tire doesn't seem to feel different at the 39 psi I was running it at for a while. 

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Paul De
On 1/27/2019 at 1:27 PM, realshelby said:

Well, at least I am not the only one that thinks the RTW feels a LOT better with 35-36 in the front compared to 38-39 psi. I have had some pretty negative replies when I posted that on a couple other forums.   

 

Well I should get whipped hard on those forums then.  Late last year just as farkle season hit I had tried 34 PSI on the front tire and it seems for 1 up 32 PSI would not make the front end squirmy with PR4 GTs.  Next spring I will explore this more on both ends as 36 & 42 gives a harsh ride!

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Skywagon

Terry...Nothing scientific, but I have played with a few PSI changes on same day, same road etc.  Here is what I've concluded at least for me....  Running the front below 36 makes me feel like I have to push the bike hard to turn...kind of like plowing.  When I am at 36- 38 the drive and handling feels right.  Above 38 it feels very bouncy and not as well stuck on the road.  I didn't try any of the above pressure on the front while varying the rear.

 

My constant solo, full fuel, normal crap in the bags, is 38 front, 42 rear normal.  If I am on a long trip and concerned about distance, I will put the rear at 44.  Do I get any measurable distance difference....in my mind I do...

 

By the way….I am one of those guys who always gets high mileage from times...from my air head, oil head, and waterboxer….  12-14000 miles on a set is normal for me and I take them off early.  I don't ride hard very often, but I do press the speed side.  YMWV

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Paul4450

Anyone correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding that BMW rims are pretty soft and deformable. A bent rim is better than a cracked one, I would think.  Riders have posted using rocks to pound the rim closer to round after having it bent!

 

perhaps this is the rationale for the high tire pressures?  This high pressure means less compliance in the tire and thus the “harsh” ride comments. It would be nice if high speed compression damping in the rear shock were adjustable.   Then riders could adjust it to their riding style and preferences. 

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Foot

I just finished replacing my 2015 R1200GSA shocks. My bike had 50,050 miles on it and the shock were gone. I went with the Tractive conversion by Ted Porter's Beemer Shop. You just have to send the rear to the Beemer shop to harvest the pre-load motor assembly. The rear shock is not too hard to replace, but the front is a royal pain in the ass. All the body work comes off, the tank, the airbox then you can get to the shock bolt. I have the BMW repair manual and it gives you very accurate step by step instructions.

 

 

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Paul De

Thanks for sharing.   Regardless of vintage the Telelever design makes to front shock R&R a tedious job to get at the top mount bolt, but adding the airbox of the waterhead is icing on tearing of the in the way componenets for this job. 

 

I will say that old school fork damper removal isn't any fun either if you don't have a small hand held 3/8" drive pneumatic impact wrench to get that bolt free on the bottom of the fork slider...but at least you don't need to tear half the bike apart to get to the bolt.

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RMA

Just wanted to add an alternative option to this thread. I have a 2010 R1200RT that left a pool of oil on the floor under the rear ESA unit after having the bike moved. Called the local BMW motorrad shop and got the standard BMW doesn't consider the ESA unit a serviceable part you have to replace it. What kind of cost am I looking at for that. Response: Are you sitting down $3800.00 CAN +Taxes and labour. What are my alternatives, buy a used one, after market as described here Wilburs with refit @ Ted Porters, still not attractive $2800.00 CAN with shipping and exchange. So I called Shail's Motorcycles Ltd. and asked if they had any suggestions and they put me on to RMR Suspensions in Abbotsford BC. I called and talked to Rod, $375.00 + taxes and shipping I have a rebuilt shock. So if the unit is functional but the seals blew RMR Suspensions can rebuild for a reasonable cost.

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realshelby

There are several places now that rebuild and modify stock ( not serviceable according to OEM ) shocks. Quite popular in the V Strom community and other bikes. I expect many of the BMW shocks could be rebuilt. These are pretty darn good units as new, I don't think I would pay for an aftermarket upgrade if I could find a source to rebuild the ones on my RT. 

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