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ESA Replacement PT. 2: A Long Suffering Drama

Indy Dave

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Hot off the  wheels   heels of my 2010 R 1200 RT purchase last November, Yours Truly planned a ESA suspension replacement for the 34K RT. Having replaced my 2005 RT with a WESA system from Wilbers at similar mileage, I knew that it was both time to replace and that the rewards that awaited me once the new system was installed would be smile producing. :18:  :bike:

Riders and friends were consulted, debates about progressive vs linear springs, ESA vs NON ESA conversions and preferred brands. This is not to open up those debates or conversations again. And I state here I have no opinion on the progressive vs linear spring debate. I also state here that I could not be happier with my Wilbers ESA on my 2006 RT.


Having said all of that, I did something rather uncharacteristic for me - I strayed away from Wilbers and I decided to go with a Hyper Pro "ESA" system due to some differences in the Hyper Pro Shock vs the others. Hyper Pro uses a larger shaft ( if memory serves).  I'd had the normal phone conversations with the well known East Coast suspension guy and he took my information and ordered my shocks. My credit Card would be charged once the shocks arrived from Holland. At that time, I'd be notified and could send in my old shocks and in 2 days they would be shipped back to me with the new bits.


I get a phone call that tells me my shocks are in, so I send mine right off. Only to discover that my shocks had NOT actually arrived. After a lot of "In's and out's and what-have-you's" my shocks are finally shipped on out on  .... Dec 24. :5146: Lot's of back and forth emails and polite apologies for the delays... but now they are on their way here!


I install the new system and am immediately struck at how much difficulty I'm having riding the bike well at speed, plus the thing bounces me off the seat. After several days of trying to learn the new suspension, I commit to 2 full days of riding in Southern Indiana where the roads are more curvy and hilly. After day 2 I have a handle on how to ride the bike and have a great day of riding and I'm comfortable with how the bike handles at speed. :18: But it still kicks me off the seat and rides very rough. I try to live with the harsh ride, but after almost literally being bounced off the bike, I decide things have to change. Long story shorter - there was a lot of back and forth with the dealer and time was ticking away. In talking to other suspension dealers, it comes to light the HyperPro doesn't list a ESA system for my 2010 RT! For me, that seals the deal and I'm not interested in working with this dealer anymore. The Manufacturer is willing to have the shocks sent to them and they will see what's up or the dealer will refund my money.


For the record, the official HyperPro position on the ESA2 system for the RT is this:


The RT shocks are what we call “hydrid shocks” since they contain both hyperpro items and OEM items.

This takes quite some knowledge of the importer, that not all importers have.

Therefore it is not listed in our general pricelist.


So, according to Hyperpro, they do make and list a ESA2 system for the GS, but they don't list a RT ESA2 system for the above stated reasons.


So I returned the shocks and got a full refund for shipping and all. And the dealer was very cooperative in sending needed parts that originally were thought to be no longer needed.


To sum up:

1. The HyperPro's seemed to handle well enough - once I made a few adjustments to my inputs. I think one can expect to have to make some adjustments on any new system, so no big deal. Looking back, I don't remember any handling issues once I adjusted. One thing is for sure. I certainly didn't have the kinds of handling problems I'm currently having with the HyperPro's replacement.

2. I would not hesitate to use HyperPro shocks again - this seems like a very isolated issue. Factory support was exceptional.

3. The ride was the main thing here and the SAG figures indicted some deficiencies - which happens.

3. My eroding confidence in the dealer, the lack of timely communication and the many delays in getting the shocks was the real deal breaker here. And this was all before learning about the HP ESA2 RT potential issues. Sending these back to HP in Holland probably would have fixed the issues. But then I would still be left to deal with the original dealer for rebuilds, etc and I wasn't interested in that.

4. In the end, the only real cost to me was time, and lots of it. And a whole lot of frustration! START was rapidly approaching. The dealer refunded all of my money and worked to get the right parts for Plan B.

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I have HyperPro shocks on my '07 RT, and one on my '98 VFR.  The ride could be a little more plush on the RT, but it's well-controlled.


Carry on… 🍿

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Standard.  My bike didn't come with ESA.  I got the "telelever box", so it's not tuned to my weight and riding preferences, but apparently those are within the parameters of the that setup.

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I went through a lot of hoops on my end trying to make things better. Of course this is the Winter, so it's not like everyday is a riding day. The first week or so I was able to get some riding in and then I was away Ceder Key and then another trip got me into Feb. Now with clear roads, I could start riding it again.  I swapped wheels and tires from the 06 to the 2010. Then I mounted new tires on the 2010. The biggest thing was the continued slow response from the East Coast. Which led me to contacting HyperPro and again talking to other suspension folks, looking for ideas and suggestions about the issues.


Mr East Coast has been in business a long time and I know many riders who have been happy with him. Had I been kept in the loop all along, this probably would have gone a different way. But from start to finish, trying to get information was always a challenge. No communication about the delay in my shocks - I had to pry and repeatedly ask for updates throughout. 

While this back and forth is going on, I look for a plan B. With 1 month until START, the pressure is on. I call back Herman at Wings and Wheels, and he'd be more than happy to hook me up with a set of Wilbers. HOWEVER, Wilbers is currently consolidating production facilities and will not be shipping out any product for 3 or 4 weeks! :4331:  So I call Mr. West Coast and talk to an informative employee.


OK - This could really turn into a epicly long post - here's the cliff notes version.


1) After a few more calls, I agree to buy the Tracive system.


2) The shop owner returns a voice mail I'd left, unbeknownst to him that I'd called back and sorted the issue with his employee.


3) Shop owner details the very few number of parts they need for the Tractive system. GREAT!


4) When I call a few days later to advise the parts are on the way, the owner wants to review my info. This info was taken by another employee, so this was his first time seeing it. Given the no 2 up and narrow weight variances I make, he wants to do a system for me that accounts for those narrow weight variables. I do not need all the adjust ability of the Tracive system. He suggests 2 options: 1) Going to Wilbers, but changing the OEM Wilbers Progressive Spring to a Linear spring using his charts, not Wilbers. "This will make your bike handle just like your 2006 Wilbers". 2) He also presents going totally non ESA and gaining more adjust-ability. I tell him I have to think about it. I thought this was very odd, as from the get go, his shop had been pushing the Tractive insistently. I figured they had sold my Tractive shocks and now faced with my deadline, the Wilbers was the only way to get this done in time. But Who knows? It could be any number of things and we'll never know. The shop owner himself had lost sight of how this switch from Tractive to Wilbers came about (until I later documented it for him).


5) I call the next day and agree to do the Wilbers ESA, following his suggested linear spring and using his charts, not Wilbers. If it's going to be like my 06, how could I not be happy?!


6) OK, great! Oh yea, now we need to have more of your old suspension sent to us, and BTW - this will ride a bit harsher than your 06 Wilbers ESA due to different valving.


7) Once the shop gets the additional needed parts, they turn them around the same day. I'm sent photos of the shocks. They arrive with days to spare before I leave for START. I install them, but do not have time to do anything but an around the block ride.




But not so fast. . . .:16:


EDIT: When I told him I had 'to think about it" I was deciding between  his manual VS ESA system. In the end - While I like the additional adjust-ability a manual system offers, I can't see myself pulling over in the rain on a gravel road and making adjustments.

Edited by Indy Dave
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Can't hit the Like button; would seem inappropriate.  Was attracted to the Tractive shocks but no more.  Wilbers worked great on my '05 and '10 and this winter will go on the '13 courtesy of Herman.

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The Bumbling BackRoad Riders™ had planned to meet in Dillard and as I headed out, not only was I met with flooding all over Southern Indiana (Dead End Dave) but the bike has no bite upfront! The front end decompresses on acceleration and the bike understeers considerably! And the headlight is acting like it thinks I'm Commissioner Gordon and it's the Bat Signal in the dark night sky.


This will not do! I struggle the entire week and at one point in the midst of a decreasing radius curve - I go all in for a minute on the brakes, as the bike isn't responding enough to my inputs and I think I'm going to run off the road. From then on, I limited myself to 2nd gear in the twisties and when in chasing mode so I would not get ahead of myself and the light front end. The other issue is that the bike does not absorb the backroad bumps like my 06.


Back home now, sag figures are figured and it's decided to add some preload to the front and add a larger spring on the rear - although still not as big as the rear spring on my 2006. Remember that 'I can make it just like your 2006' comment from the West Coast shop guy? Me too! Seems odd that we're not using the same spring! But He has His Charts, and I still have faith.


After some back and forth the shocks are sent back. Again, time is of the essence here, as the Clean Living Hoosiers trip is right around the corner! The West Coast Shop is responsive and I get the shocks and install them a day or two before departing - so again untested.


By the time we stopped in Madison, IN for lunch on the very first day of my 10 day trip, I was on the phone to Herman at Wheels and Wings to get his opinion on what was wrong. :87:Not being the person I got the shocks from (because Wilbers wasn't shipping due to consolidating of facilities) - and he didn't have a set in stock), there isn't much he can do. But he's a nice enough guy to listen and offer some opinions and advice. When I call, he answers with "Hello Dave!"


One of the issues here is that The West Coast Shop has kind of gone off the reservation with this setup - they've changed the Wilbers recommended spring for my shocks - so what the bike needs now is anyone's guess. And this shop is not a fan of the progressive spring - so when I suggest we go to that - which is what the factory engineers designed the system for- it's a non-starter with this shop.


To be fair - The bike IS IMPROVED. But it's still light up front when loaded and it still under-steers. Uphill Switchbacks? Forget it! It still takes more effort to turn, and when adding more input mid turn, I feel like I'm wrestling the bike. And the ride isn't changed one bit. By comparison, the 06 is on rails. But unloaded I can push the bike some and it has some more front bite (without luggage) with this bigger spring. Improvement is good.


But this is still not what I paid for. In the back of my mind I begin considering selling the bike and keeping my 06!


Once I got back from my trip, forward progress is reduced to a snails pace.




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Waiting for disposition . . . Shocks are back on the West Coast.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Still waiting . . . Once they have your money, there seems to be no hurry to do what  should have been done from the very beginning - actually build the shocks to your specs.


My bike and I are dreaming of better times!














:87:  :88:

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Tis a fair question! One I'm wondering as well. Apart from the shock issues, the sag has been significantly off on their first two attempts. My latest inquiry last week yielded the following response:


Me: Do you guys have thoughts about correcting the sag?

West Coast shop: Yes, I will have some questions later as I build it.


I have a pretty good idea what's been going on and what's happened from the get go.


Setting that aside for now, I also think most people with worn out suspension are so taken by the difference new can make, that just about anything will do and be seen as a significant improvement (much like new tires).  Whereas I already have another Wilber's equipped RT set up well and know how the bike should handle. Additionally, The Bumbling BackRoad Riders™ measure sag and compare notes. How many RT owners go to the trouble? And lastly, no one in their right mind would tear back down the bike as many times I have have (IN THE PRIME RIDING SEASON, no less) and send back the suspension and insist that the job be done correctly?


Taking all of this into account, it'd be easy to make compromises on the other end of this transaction. And there's zero urgency on that end of the transaction to make it right - other than to say "We will see this through to the end."


As for FARTing, at some point I'll need to make a decision on whether to transfer my gear back from the 2010 to the 2006.  I now have had that bike almost a year longer than necessary, but I'm not worried - we all know how much hexheads have appreciated in the last 10 months . . .:3:



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As Jeffery Lebowski once said: "With friends like these, huh Gary?"

Today comes this, from the peanut gallery: Y'all remember the nursery rhyme that goes something like this: Where oh where have my Wilbers shocks gone, where oh where have they gone? With their springs too soft, the ride too harsh and the sag too low, where oh where have they gone?


Brings to mind another tune: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - here I am - stuck in the middle (without my shocks)  :4907:

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1 hour ago, Indy Dave said:



As Jeffery Lebowski once said: "With friends like these, huh Gary?"

Today comes this, from the peanut gallery: Y'all remember the nursery rhyme that goes something like this: Where oh where have my Wilbers shocks gone, where oh where have they gone? With their springs too soft, the ride too harsh and the sag too low, where oh where have they gone?


Brings to mind another tune: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - here I am - stuck in the middle (without my shocks)  :4907:


Look on the bright side, you are still laughing about, or at least smirking. He will follow through and send you some great shocks. I am confident.



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I like your sentiments, Bernie. That's the attitude I'd had for most of this ordeal.  I can't seem to wash the bad taste out of my mouth now, though. And It's not as if there aren't other issues with the Camhead that need sorting out - or more hopefully - confirmation that I have sorted them out. But with no miles to evaluate and confirm that, if the bike is ready for FARTing, that trip, like START and The Clean Living Hoosiers™ trip this summer, will be another shake down exploratory adventure. Who could forget the sudden and intermittent running issues at START? That, on top of the new suspension problems. After START, it was all that could be done to get the suspension sent back and reinstalled back in the bike before the CLH trip, and frankly I'd forgotten about the intermittent running issues in the midst of the pressing suspension woes. I think I also was hoping that something simple - like bad gas was the cause. :4296: On top of those two things, some may recall, the sight glass developed a significant leak at START, so that took priority, right behind the suspension rework. Anyway, it's not like could have done anything about the intermittent issue anyway with the bike on jacks.


When I shoved off for the CLH trip, I was full of optimism and the spirit that overtakes all of us when setting off on a long awaited bike trip, only magnified more so - having overcome the significant challenges to get the bike even ready to go on the trip.


Or as rider Neil Peart would put it: Filling my spirit with the wildest wish to fly @wbw6cos @TyTass


That was quite short lived, as even on the flat and relatively straight roads of Indiana, it was clear the suspension wasn't right.  Not to be outdone, of course the intermittent running issues surfaced yet again on the CLH trip.


Returning home from the CLH trip,  it seemed like starting from scratch again. During the back and forth with the West Coast Shop, I do *think* I was able to solve the intermittent running issue, but I have very few miles on it to confirm that.


Hmmm.... Doesn't endobobdds still have a spare bike in his garage?



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2 hours ago, terryofperry said:

Indy Dave, you are welcome to borrow my Ohlins.   :18:  




I rather you loan me that little blue bike   :bike::bike::bike::bike::bike:

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  • 2 weeks later...



Details are scarce. Cami has a pulse, but it's premature to comment more at this point. Rode a few miles today and will ride some more tomorrow. I hope to find a day to blast down to Southern Indiana to do some proper evaluations before FART, but that may be wishful thinking.


Once I feel like I have a baseline, I'll do a update.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks for the nudge, Brian.


In two words: Yes. (Conditionally)*. :16:


At the Fall Appalachian Riding Tour in Sept - I was able to test out the latest suspension changes (stiffer spring and re-valved shocks). And..... EUREKA!


I took 2 days to ride to START, and at the end of the first day I was confident in the bike. The next day I started riding less reserved. Once at FART, I rode my bike hard. Very Hard. The previously lackluster and unpredictable handling the previous 2 setups provided on the START and the The Clean Living Hoosier trips meant that I had a lot of built up aggression - and I took that out on my poor bike! This was the first time since I bought it that I could ride with confidence and utilize the revised power band of the Camhead. At times I must have had a crazed look inside my helmet as I exploited the added power and ran off like a Banshee - contrasting my mild mannered and civilized veneer. :ohboy::shake:



There were two main issues that needed addressed: (and I probably got sidetracked digressing some into the white noise that was mixed into this now almost year long project)


1. The lack of front end bite (in differing degrees as changes were made).

  • The stiffer rear spring I'd been advocating for all along did what I and the Bumbling BackRoad Riders Suspension Support Group  thought it would - provide more bite up front. BOOM!


2. A harsh ride.

  • The shocks were also valved to my riding preferences - and this too was a sea change. I can now ride the backroads at speed and not get bounced off the seat or hurt my back! BOOM!


* The suspension SAG is still off - and some of that is to be expected due to the inherent limitations of ESA. My SAG is out of range in all three settings (1, 1+ and 2 riders), and my goal is to get it in range at the 1 rider setting - where I ride the bike most. So I'll be adjusting the front shock spring pre-load. This is more just fine tuning - I could ride it as it sits now and be happy!


In the end, despite the long ordeal, I'm glad I stuck to my guns and wish I wouldn't have acquiesced or deferred so much to the expert and his unique spring chart. After a while, I began to question my ability to ride and to make comparative observations. My Hoosier riding friends encouraged me to just accept that this bike was different and to get used to it. All along @Bernie and @terryofperry were rolling up their sleeves and researching, and they could now probably co-author a book on bike suspension. The stiffer spring advocated for from the get go was exactly what was missing - but the builder was so convinced his chart was right (and Wilbers chart- which is what everyone else around the world is using- was wrong) and the spring I wanted (which was also on my 06) would be too stiff.


My take away:


1) When a builder claims the manufacturer spring chart is wrong, "and not to worry because he has his own chart" - go with the manufacturer's recommendation.  This wasn't rocket science - my 06 has the manufacturer spec'd  spring and is perfect, and I gave that feedback and the 06 specs to the builder! Why wouldn't a builder take that info and run with it?  Instead, this builder claimed his charts showed my 06, using the manufacturer spec'd spring, was over-sprung. Needless to say, he used his chart as his spring reference and it's since become clear it's his chart is off, and that's been the problematic and primary issue here. It may be true, and probably is, that most RT riders would never know the difference.


2) When you order shocks - make sure they are built for you (to your specs) at the factory and are not off the shelf. Yes it takes another week or so. But why spend the money to upgrade your suspension if the shocks you put on your bike aren't made to your specs, but instead are spec'd to some universal blanket spec designed to appease average riders? If a shock is on the shelf, it's not been valved to your specs. Yes, shops can re-valve in-house, but it is very time consuming. As one builder said to me, "yes I can valve shocks - but it's not worth my time and effort when the factory is the absolute expert". Remember - my shocks were on the shelf, and they were sent to me without modification (unbeknownst to me at the time). Getting my shocks valved in house took a lot of pushing on my part, and forever to get done on their part.



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