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Dump the Damper


roger 04 rt

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I’m not sure why there’s a steering damper on the RTW (training wheels?) but after reading a German thread detailing excess sticktion in the steering bearings I decided to measure the breakaway force in the steering. 
 

With the front wheel in the air it takes over 3lbs. of force to get the handlebars to move, which seemed a lot. And for a while I’ve been wondering how the bike would handle without the steering damper. (I’ve never really been satisfied with the bike’s high speed handling in turbulence or its low speed handling over things as insignificant as thickly painted lines.)

 

To make a long story short, I removed the damper and took the bike for a local and highway ride. My impression from that first hour is the the steering is light and nimble, tracks noticeably better and feels MORE stable.

 

So I’m left wondering exactly why BMW added it in the first place. 
 

 

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What year is yours ?

I can't even tell that I have got a steering damper attached. If anything, it's still too light. At very low speed and sharp turns, it will try to mildly turn in i.e over-steer.

So maybe yours is different to mine.

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Good evening Roger.

After removing the steering damper, how much did it reduce the steering friction?

Do you think that you may have a defective steering damper? Maybe it's bend?

I do recall, that you have never really enjoyed the handling of this bike. Maybe you have a warranty issue?

 

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I can only assume it is there to reduce the risk of setting up a high speed tank slapper.  I dont notice mine but I do know others have replaced their stock one with aftermarket and say there is a difference. 

 

I had thought on low speed stuff there should be little to no pressure.  3 lbs is a bit of resistance but through the tire on the ground, and standing and turning the forks to get on the bike from the side stand, 3 lbs would not be noticed by me.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Alfred02 said:

What year is yours ?

I can't even tell that I have got a steering damper attached. If anything, it's still too light. At very low speed and sharp turns, it will try to mildly turn in i.e over-steer.

So maybe yours is different to mine.


2017 R1200RT I think they all use the same linear damper. You can’t tell the difference until you remove it.

 

It’s not just the static force that’s at issue, it’s the dynamic response to a disturbance. It could be a wind gust at 80 mph or a thick line painted on the road at 35 mph.

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1 hour ago, Bernie said:

Good evening Roger.

After removing the steering damper, how much did it reduce the steering friction?

Do you think that you may have a defective steering damper? Maybe it's bend?

I do recall, that you have never really enjoyed the handling of this bike. Maybe you have a warranty issue?

 


Hi Bernie,

Removing the damper reduced the starting-friction by half to two-thirds. A German thread I posted a couple months ago documents a high stiction in the steering bearings and I’m working (slowly) with the dealer on that. It may be that the bearings are tight or that the damper is out of spec but the damper seems fine.

 

EPMPERF suggested I remove the damper and see what the handlings like. Quite good—very light but nimble feeling. In stock form the handling’s an odd combination of quick turning but slow to get started.

 

Without the damper, the bike’s handling seems light but natural. With it the handling is just a bit odd.

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1 hour ago, LAF said:

I can only assume it is there to reduce the risk of setting up a high speed tank slapper.  I dont notice mine but I do know others have replaced their stock one with aftermarket and say there is a difference. 

 

I had thought on low speed stuff there should be little to no pressure.  3 lbs is a bit of resistance but through the tire on the ground, and standing and turning the forks to get on the bike from the side stand, 3 lbs would not be noticed by me.

 

 


I’m going to ride for the time being without it but on today’s ride I got no sense of instability at 75-80, in gusty conditions and while passing trucks or being passed. The steering is light, but pleasantly light. 
 

I’m surprised others haven’t pulled the damper to see what it’s like.

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Hi Roger. As you know, I am one (it would seem of very few), who think the handling of the Wethead RT is nothing special. In many situations my 1150RT was way better.

Now to clarify, I have ridden several Wethead RT's and find them all the same.They are pretty good with new tyres, but once the tyres have done a couple of thousand miles, the bike starts getting up to tricks on things like road markings, tar lines, surface irregularities et al.

So, I am following this with interest and will be interested to see what you find. The only thing that concerns me is the same as LAF.  If the bike gets punched with a cross wind or bow wave from a lorry when riding at higher speeds, will the bike become twitchy and generate a tank slapper?

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I don't find the steering damper intrusive at all. In fact, for the weight and type of bike, I think the steering is quite light and fast at lower speeds. Like many manufactures, I suspect BMW fit one to negate any claims of crashes due to machine instability (Remember BMW K1000 RT and Honda ST1100 Police bikes). The steering geometry  is set up to be very stable on the RTW and I would imagine it wouldn't need a steering damper anyway.

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I'll keep the damper. I have installed them on other bikes. I don't spend a lot of time at very high speeds, but it only takes once to get into a tank slapper and fall off. Maybe there is a difference in dampers, I seem to be one to actually LIKE how the steering feels when leaned into the zero chicken strip range. Hitting irregularities in pavement, stones, sticks even at less angle seems to be very well controlled....with the damper. Lighter steering isn't faster, you will simply get used to it. The only time the damper would be intrusive is when the handlebars are moved quickly. There are two times that might happen. When stopped or doing low speed manuevering, or at speed when an object strikes the tire. Low speed isn't a problem. High speed....I don't want the bars moving quickly! Tank slappers are another problem, and since this is the first generation of Boxers to come with a damper I suspect BMW knows there is a need for it. 

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2 hours ago, AndyS said:

Hi Roger. As you know, I am one (it would seem of very few), who think the handling of the Wethead RT is nothing special. In many situations my 1150RT was way better.

Now to clarify, I have ridden several Wethead RT's and find them all the same.They are pretty good with new tyres, but once the tyres have done a couple of thousand miles, the bike starts getting up to tricks on things like road markings, tar lines, surface irregularities et al.

So, I am following this with interest and will be interested to see what you find. The only thing that concerns me is the same as LAF.  If the bike gets punched with a cross wind or bow wave from a lorry when riding at higher speeds, will the bike become twitchy and generate a tank slapper?

 

The 2013 R1200GSW was released without a steering damper and I believe I read that there were some off-road racing reports of instability. BMW then added a damper to the 2014 GS and for the launch of the RT. Here's what one spokesperson said:

 

"A BMW spokesperson commented: 'The steering damper and two-mode Automatic Stability Control (ASC) are standard equipment for all R1200 models – GS, GS Adventure and RT - from the 2014 model year onwards. The Adventure and RT bikes will have these features from their launches early in the new year and the GS model has benefited from the upgrade since the annual model year change this autumn. It makes economic and logistical sense to harmonise this specification across all R1200 models as they are built on the same production line.'"

 

So after extensive testing (I assume) BMW introduced the 2013GS with no damper. Then BMW changed their minds and added it to GS and RT because "they are built on the same production line". So how much does the RT need that little friction inducing device, if at all?

 

Riding on a gusty day yesterday, at speeds to 80, with trucks in the mix, I didn't notice anything vaguely like instability. On the Touratech site, they say "While the R1200GS is an inherently stable motorcycle for touring, when pushed hard off-road, loaded up with luggage, or riding fast in the twisties, it can start to show signs of front-end instability. This feeling is increased even further when a knobby tire is mounted on the 19-inch front wheel."

 

I'm going to keep riding without one and enjoy the lighter, more natural handling. Any other brave souls should also give it a try.

 

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Haha-   I think you might have just created a new farkle category.   Maybe if you buy a few thousand trick looking steering dampers off Alibaba you can cash in.

 

Seriously I hadn't thought of the damper introducing negatives as I had noted the high speed turbulence weave went away when I relearned to keep my arms loose and a light grasp on the grips.  And never had any big issue with parking lot maneuvers either. My guess is BMW engineering worried about potential tank slapper induced either under some circumstances (weight of the fairing, autobahn speeds, or aggressive breaking). 

 

But now that you focused my pea sized brain on this, it is interesting to consider the impact the damper has on handling manners.   One question is the damper present on the RS or R versions of the wethead/shiftcam? 

 

oh oh,  I hope Ohlins is ready for a rush on adjustable steering damper units to fit the latest boxer.

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BMW added the steering damper after Kevin Ash was killed testing a 2013 model GS. BMW has admitted no fault in that accident, but the timing of the damper addition makes one wonder if a lack of one contributed to Ash's crash...

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A moto journalist was killed during the launch event for the wethead GS. There has been much speculation on whether that death, and the introduction of the damper, were linked. I have a 2015 GSA, and I have no complaints about the steering (I had an ‘06 RT prior to the GSA).

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I don't know how long after the journalist was killed did the damper appear?   That would take a redesign of the lower triple clamp and lower telelever arm to engineer and tool up the changes to mount the steering damper. Probably many weeks to finish testing and prove the design. The damper also adds weight and cost to the bike. BMW would not have it there without good reason. 

I guess we could put power steering on them? Power steering is in itself a damper........

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49 minutes ago, realshelby said:

I'll keep the damper. I have installed them on other bikes. I don't spend a lot of time at very high speeds, but it only takes once to get into a tank slapper and fall off. Maybe there is a difference in dampers, I seem to be one to actually LIKE how the steering feels when leaned into the zero chicken strip range. Hitting irregularities in pavement, stones, sticks even at less angle seems to be very well controlled....with the damper. Lighter steering isn't faster, you will simply get used to it. The only time the damper would be intrusive is when the handlebars are moved quickly. There are two times that might happen. When stopped or doing low speed manuevering, or at speed when an object strikes the tire. Low speed isn't a problem. High speed....I don't want the bars moving quickly! Tank slappers are another problem, and since this is the first generation of Boxers to come with a damper I suspect BMW knows there is a need for it. 

 

Hi Terry. It is not the high speed, laid over handling that I have a problem with. That is indeed fine. It is the upright handling when the bike just doesn't rack like other bikes do.

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The thing with dampers is that a steering resonance (a.k.a. "tankslapper") can go from "fine, no worries" to sliding down the asphalt in just a blink of an eye. 

 

The damper changes the system's resonant frequency by moving it out of the range of any excitations (like the wheel once per rev and its harmonics or gusts of air that upset it momentarily). You are being a test pilot by removing it without knowing where the steering resonances are in the design and in the blink of an eye you could be turned in a smeared roast beef on the road. There are lots of things I'd fiddle with on a bike but if they spend the money (a thing ANY manufacturer is loathe to do) to install one, that's a pretty good sign to me that there's a reason for it.

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8 hours ago, Pappy35 said:

There are lots of things I'd fiddle with on a bike but if they spend the money (a thing ANY manufacturer is loathe to do) to install one, that's a pretty good sign to me that there's a reason for it.

I think the damper they installed is tuned to the safe side, but could imagine that some adjustability may help your handling observations. For sure be careful with the no damper experiment and if you are not ATGATT at least do so for this experiment.   I still say my issues were resolved with me getting back to keeping a loose torso and arms and a light grip on the bars. 

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35 minutes ago, AndyS said:

 

Hi Terry. It is not the high speed, laid over handling that I have a problem with. That is indeed fine. It is the upright handling when the bike just doesn't rack like other bikes do.


That’s my observation too. Try a slow cautious ride without the damper and see what you think.

 

The damper seems too stiff to me. Without it, slow speed tracking is better. With the damper, I’ve noticed that it takes just slightly more than the “natural” amount of input to initiate a lane change. I’d go so far as to say the damper’s stiction leads to too large an input to initiate something like a low speed lane change or transition over a thick painted line, and therefore some low frequency rider-bike weaving. 

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57 minutes ago, Paul De said:

I think the damper they installed is tuned to the safe side, but could imaging that some adjustability may help your handling observations. For sure be careful with the no damper experiment and if you are not ATGATT at least do so for this experiment.   I still say my issues were resolved with me getting back to keeping a loose torso and arms and a light grip on the bars. 


Yes, the handling is slightly better doing the loose torso thing but not the whole answer.

 

Hyperpro and others have variable, and non linear dampers that might be better.

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58 minutes ago, AndyS said:

 

Hi Terry. It is not the high speed, laid over handling that I have a problem with. That is indeed fine. It is the upright handling when the bike just doesn't rack like other bikes do.

 

15 minutes ago, roger 04 rt said:


That’s my observation too. Try a slow cautious ride without the damper and see what you think.

 

The damper seems too stiff to me. Without it, slow speed tracking is better. With the damper, I’ve noticed that it takes just slightly more than the “natural” amount of input to initiate a lane change. I’d go so far as to say the damper’s stiction leads to too large an input to initiate something like a low speed lane change or transition over a thick painted line, and therefore some low frequency rider-bike weaving. 

 

 

I notice that the GS/GSA versions use the same damper - yet we know those bikes have wider handle bars and when comparing the RT to GS/GSA, the first observation a RT rider generally makes is how that the GS/GSA bike take less effort to steer . . . being that they use the same damper - it could be that the damper specs were tailored to the wider and less effort required steering needs of the GS/GSA and are not 'tailored' to the narrower and more effort required inputs for the RT - and therefor create that low speed hindrance on the RT?

 

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That makes sense considering BMW’s one-production-line comment. 
 

Also, they launched the GS without a damper. Suggesting the design did not take that into account. 

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6 minutes ago, roger 04 rt said:

That makes sense considering bmws one-production-line comment. 

 

The thing is, no large manufacturer is going to install a complex part (I mean not like an extra sheet metal bracket, a plug on a wire harness, or an extra wire tie or two) on a bike ONLY because it's running down the same assembly line as another model that has it. Large serial manufacturers live for lean, just in time,  manufacturing.

 

I've been in Aerospace my entire career and we have armies of people that do nothing all day long but figure out how to squeeze a penny out of the process here and there and anywhere. BMW is a much larger scale and thus the manufacturing philosophy of Continuous Improvement (like Kaizen or other similar practices) must be in use there. Ever see that video of BMW's assembly line? It just screams Kaizen. The retail price of the damper is $450. Say it costs them  one quarter of that to procure. There's is NO WAY that BMW is going to add $112 to to the GS's manufacturing cost just because it rolls down the same assembly line another bike that needs a damper.

 

I typed all that to emphasize that BMW would not have added that part to the bike unless they thought it needed. Especially when that bike is their simple largest selling model.

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33 minutes ago, Pappy35 said:

I typed all that to emphasize that BMW would not have added that part to the bike unless they thought it needed. Especially when that bike is their simple largest selling model.

 

I agree. Those same production parameters also would seem to support the use of one part across product lines (as long as the part use doesn't present a true safety concern when applied to other models) - where the economy of scale in design and production can be applied with only minor drawbacks. That vs a researching and designing a different spec for a model (RT) that sees significantly less volume. If this is the case, it would seem that the trade off is a good one for BMW, as it seems that the average RT rider seems to not notice.

 

I am all for improving my bikes handling and I am known to be picky in that regard. :ohboy: While I do not think I personally would entertain removing the damper as a solution, if I felt the bike had steering issues related to the damper, I would be open to exploring what other solutions are out there. Checking HyperPro dampers - they spec the same damper for the RT/GS/GSA , HOWEVER, you can adjust the sensitivity of the HyperPro damper, and this may be the key to unlocking the low speed resistance while maintaining tank slapper prevention.

 

My guess is that the damper aftermarket solutions for the RT are going to be the exact same dampers offered for the GS/A. If the aftermarket provides adjust-ability of dampers, that very well may be the solution.

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I accept the argument that BMW didn’t add it for no reason. What I’d like to know is why did they add it after releasing the R1200GS in 2013 without one and does that reasoning apply to the RT. 
 

They’ve added cost and to my riding sense detracted from the bike’s handling. Was it to “fix” a heavily rear-loaded GS in the sand? Or a fully loaded/overloaded RT with a passenger?

 

And for that matter, why did they come up with a tire inflation protocol that has tire pressure pegged to a fixed temperature? This is the first and only vehicle I’ve owned where the correct “cold” tire pressure varies with ambient temperature. On a cold day, the tires are “correctly” inflated to a lower temperature than on a hot day. Surely that too affects handling. 

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I took a ride this morning...crazy holiday traffic here in Houston so didn't ride long.  I am an expert in NOT knowing anything about dampers.  PHD in damper ignorance so take my experience for what it is worth.

 

This morning while on the stand, I weighted the rear and checked the steering while on the center stand.  I don't have empirical data on force but was able to move complete side to side using only my pinky.  I didn't notice the 3lbs resistance.  

 

I went out and rode at 20, 30, 50, and found I mostly change lanes by body movement.  Moving the bars was really unnatural.

 

Now...take me back to my visit to BMW factory in Oberammergau a few years back. I got to meet with several of the engineers and developers.  One of things they taught me about testing for tank slappers is actually pretty simple.  The said get going about 25-30 mph with a slight down hill if you can.  Take your hands off the bars and whap them really hard with your hand.  Be prepared.  If you don't get slapping your damper is doing it's job. They also told me to exercise extreme caution as easy to lose control if it was too wild.

 

I did not try that today as figure crashing right before Christmas might get a severe arse whipping from the wife!!!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Skywagon said:

I went out and rode at 20, 30, 50, and found I mostly change lanes by body movement.  Moving the bars was really unnatural.

 

Now...take me back to my visit to BMW factory in Oberammergau a few years back. I got to meet with several of the engineers and developers.  One of things they taught me about testing for tank slappers is actually pretty simple.  The said get going about 25-30 mph with a slight down hill if you can.  Take your hands off the bars and whap them really hard with your hand.  Be prepared.  If you don't get slapping your damper is doing it's job. They also told me to exercise extreme caution as easy to lose control if it was too wild.

 

I did not try that today as figure crashing right before Christmas might get a severe arse whipping from the wife!!!

 

 


You’re a smart man, avoiding a pre-Christmas crash! 😉

 

While out riding without the damper, I tried carefully jolting the handlebars and didn’t notice anything other than it jarred the path and it settled right back.

 

For lane changes and most turns, of course it’s mostly a subtle weight shift. But when we do that, the handlebars need to move just a bit on their own and sometimes it seems to take more than an imperceptible input. Same with going over thickly painted lines, the bike seems to resist going over them, again subtlety.

 

On the highway at speed, with the damper installed, a good gust from a truck seems to unsettle the Wethead much more than the Oilhead. With the damper off, I found the Wethead respond better to the gusts—a quicker restoring, smaller wiggle. I’ll ride some more tomorrow and see if the improvement is all in my head. 
 

I haven’t given up on the fork bridge thread that I came across but Andy has ridden several bikes. I’m discussing it with my dealer. 

 

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5 hours ago, roger 04 rt said:

And for that matter, why did they come up with a tire inflation protocol that has tire pressure pegged to a fixed temperature? This is the first and only vehicle I’ve owned where the correct “cold” tire pressure varies with ambient temperature. On a cold day, the tires are “correctly” inflated to a lower temperature than on a hot day. Surely that too affects handling. 

 

Oh man. Pet peeve right there!

 

I'm an engineer (which only really means that I know enough to be dangerous) and I will NEVER understand this. Pressure is gage (the difference between internal and ambient). That's what keeps the tires stiff enough to support the weight of the bike. On day I'm gonna find someone that can explain this to me in way my feeble mind can understand.

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7 minutes ago, Pappy35 said:

I'm an engineer (which only really means that I know enough to be dangerous) and I will NEVER understand this. Pressure is gage (the difference between internal and ambient). That's what keeps the tires stiff enough to support the weight of the bike. On day I'm gonna find someone that can explain this to me in way my feeble mind can understand.

 

Natural frequency of vibration is proportional to spring rates and mass.  Typically root-K-over-M, where K is the spring rate and M the mass.  Damping usually reduces the amplitude of the vibration, and alters the frequency slightly.

 

I agree that it is unusual to spec tire pressure conditioned on ambient temperature, and I am not convinced that this odd spec is related to the notional steering vibration problem.  I can think of a couple of possible reasons why one might spec tire pressure and temperature because of some relationship to stability in handling.  First, it might be because the spring rate of the tires is critical for some reason, and temperature causes the spring rate to vary enough to matter.    I don't believe this explanation about tire spring rates, because different brands of tires will have more variation than that caused by temperature within a single brand, and not all riders are diligent about keeping their pressures perfect in any case.  

 

Another possible reason is that the tire pressure is critical to maintaining a steering geometry, and that the geometry is affected by temperature. The geometry theory makes more sense, but not much more.  Again, if setting tire pressures are so critical to handling stability, then in this explanation the handling of the bike is too close to unstable.  I don't believe it.

 

So, a third possible explanation is that BMW engineers are fucking with us.  In that explanation, they are reading this thread and laughing hysterically.  

 

 

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I would like to add the different tire brands and models into this equation. I know a lot of people and dealers love the Michelin PR4-GT tires. But from my own experience and from other local riders, these tires are not the most stable tires on the market. They have a natural tendency to over steer in curves, regardless if initiated by weight shift or counter steering. Also once they have a few miles, the front tire develops scalloping or cupping or whatever that is called when you can start seeing a edge between the different compounds. On the German RT forum most WetHead members have given up trying to use the Michelin PR4-GT tires. And some are reporting that the PR5’s are even worse.  Michelin has been recommending for years at trade shows to run higher front tire pressures to prevent this cupping or wear characteristics.

I have also found out in the last few miles, that it really helps the front tire of my 2018 R1200RT-LC bike, if I adjust my air pressure on the COLD front tire to 39 PSI at Sea level and at 68 F,  but after having 2 cups of coffee. Oh and this is a Continental RoadAttack 3GT tire. 

So if you think your direction changes are too slow, increase your front air pressure. This should also help with the cupping and possible prevent the tires from following all sorts of cracks and paint lines in the road.

As for Steering dampers, I don’t have a clue, my first bike with one. Also comparing statements made in Germany on a GS forum, does not apply to a RT, even if it is assembled on the same line and same day. A friend of mine had a 2009 GSA and decided to try a set of RT rims and tires, for long distance touring.

He said that the handling turned so scary that he gave up the idea and sold the rims. He couldn’t believe the difference in handling. So there is a lot of difference between an RT and a GS/GSA, and its not just the handlebar width. 

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3 hours ago, Cap said:

 

So, a third possible explanation is that BMW engineers are fucking with us.  In that explanation, they are reading this thread and laughing hysterically.  

 

I pick #3! Haha!!!

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3 hours ago, Bernie said:

I would like to add the different tire brands and models into this equation. I know a lot of people and dealers love the Michelin PR4-GT tires. But from my own experience and from other local riders, these tires are not the most stable tires on the market. They have a natural tendency to over steer in curves, regardless if initiated by weight shift or counter steering. Also once they have a few miles, the front tire develops scalloping or cupping or whatever that is called when you can start seeing a edge between the different compounds. On the German RT forum most WetHead members have given up trying to use the Michelin PR4-GT tires. And some are reporting that the PR5’s are even worse.  Michelin has been recommending for years at trade shows to run higher front tire pressures to prevent this cupping or wear characteristics.

I have also found out in the last few miles, that it really helps the front tire of my 2018 R1200RT-LC bike, if I adjust my air pressure on the COLD front tire to 39 PSI at Sea level and at 68 F,  but after having 2 cups of coffee. Oh and this is a Continental RoadAttack 3GT tire. 

So if you think your direction changes are too slow, increase your front air pressure. This should also help with the cupping and possible prevent the tires from following all sorts of cracks and paint lines in the road.

As for Steering dampers, I don’t have a clue, my first bike with one. Also comparing statements made in Germany on a GS forum, does not apply to a RT, even if it is assembled on the same line and same day. A friend of mine had a 2009 GSA and decided to try a set of RT rims and tires, for long distance touring.

He said that the handling turned so scary that he gave up the idea and sold the rims. He couldn’t believe the difference in handling. So there is a lot of difference between an RT and a GS/GSA, and its not just the handlebar width. 


I’ve been wondering how much of this is related to the tires. I test rode Metzlers and liked that better than mine with PR4s. But could low speed handling issues be tire related?

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16 minutes ago, roger 04 rt said:


I’ve been wondering how much of this is related to the tires. I test rode Metzlers and liked that better than mine with PR4s. But could low speed handling issues be tire related?

 

Bill W (Hwy41) rides always with PR4 GT tires on his CamHead RT and usually changes them before they are due, because they develop "Evil Handling".

I don't know how many miles are on your tires, but you could play around with some higher tire pressures, but don't exceed max cold pressure stamped on the tire. Maybe you can get a few more miles before having change them. Sometimes the agnation is not worth the savings.

I have never tried the PR4GT's on my WetHead, but I have used several pairs on my HexHead. I did not like the handling, but they did last longer then any other brand. Or let's say it like this, I have never seen cords on any Michelin PR tire.

So far on the 2018 RT, I have had good service from the Metzler Z-8, Pirelli Angel GT, Continental RA3GT and at the present time I have Bridgestone T31GT mounted on the rear. The front will be mounted in the next week or so. At 33K miles I am on my 7th set of tires. 

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At the risk of volumes of ridicule....this Neanderthal doesn't see a steering problem on his '17 RT.... and tire brands are soooo subjective a subject...I've tried Metzler, Michelin, Continental (worst in my experience), and will try Dunlop next.  

Happy Trails to all of us!  jb

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Bernie...You are on your 7th set of tires at 33k miles?  Wow.  Your burn rate of 5500 miles average per set is about 1/3 of mine.  I know a lot plays into it as we've seen on this site a zillion times...road, style, inflation, etc....but wow.

 

I'm at 25k on my bike.  It came with Continental something another (they came on my new truck as well and they sucked there too).  I took them off at 1000 miles as I found the rear end sliding out regularly.  I've been using PR4GT's ever since.  I'm only on set number 2 at 25K...really. They still have a good bit of tread left and I will likely run them to about 30k. I expect to get 12-15K out of them and still take them off without tread showing.  I do run them air'd up a bit - 38/42 and I am always solo.  I've never noticed any bad behavior wet or dry. Maybe I don't know what I've been missing.  I've been running Michelins for at least 15 years.  My only gripe about them is they are expensive.

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Skywagon, we are going to have to make a trip together. One of the Rallys or something. I want to follow you. I could leave with bald tires and come back with tread on them!

 

I don't run a tire to the wear bars, at least not now that I don't commute on the bike. Tires do get removed with substantial tread left when I leave on a multi thousand mile trip. $50 worth of tire left isn't worth the worry and for sure the cost if I needed to have one installed at a dealer on the road. I pay $230 per SET for Bridgestone T-31 GT's. About what the new Michelin rear tire costs. I have not had PR4's on this bike, but have run them before. I have well over 7000 miles on the rear of this T-31 and well over 14,000 on the front one. With maybe 1500-2000 miles left to the wear bars. By far the best ever for me. BUT...that isn't even close to what you get. 

 

Something is different. I have run the exact pressures you state in the T-30 EVO that were the predecessor to the T-31. BTW, I did remove the factory throttle stop. Could that be it?:4322:

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12 hours ago, Bernie said:

 

Bill W (Hwy41) rides always with PR4 GT tires on his CamHead RT and usually changes them before they are due, because they develop "Evil Handling".

I don't know how many miles are on your tires, but you could play around with some higher tire pressures, but don't exceed max cold pressure stamped on the tire. Maybe you can get a few more miles before having change them. Sometimes the agnation is not worth the savings.

I have never tried the PR4GT's on my WetHead, but I have used several pairs on my HexHead. I did not like the handling, but they did last longer then any other brand. Or let's say it like this, I have never seen cords on any Michelin PR tire.

So far on the 2018 RT, I have had good service from the Metzler Z-8, Pirelli Angel GT, Continental RA3GT and at the present time I have Bridgestone T31GT mounted on the rear. The front will be mounted in the next week or so. At 33K miles I am on my 7th set of tires. 

 

I plan on switching to the Metzler Z8, I had a good test ride on those tires and have heard good comments from others.

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I got out for a long spirited ride this morning. There were fast and slow sections and a few miles of fairly rough roadway being reconstructed.

 

It was windy, in places I was doing 80 into a gusty headwind. It's all good.

 

Anyone need a slightly used steering damper?

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I'll agree with Bernie's dislike of PR4 rubber even though I was a fan of the PR2/3's.  I have to favor the view that BMW would be too stingy to include a steering damper if not needed.  They were too tight to even give me a second metal ignition key with my new '06 R1200ST for Christ's sake!  The handling gremlins are interesting as I too am picky about handling.  The problems in this thread resemble steering bearings adjusted too tight on a conventional front fork design or a heavy bike at speed as the Honda ST1300 & Goldwing among others are in the group.  The Triumph Rocket 3 & the latest Yamaha V-Max, both really heavy machines, have had their top speeds electronically limited.  Has the newer RT's crossed the line on GVW, I don't know.  BTW, the tracking on pavement irregularities would make me want to at least just check the swing arm bearings adjustment.

 

I'll follow this thread with interest even though I'm at the present very happy with my 'old 2006' R1200ST's handling on Dunlop RS3 tires.

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BTW, the tracking on pavement irregularities would make me want to at least just check the swing arm bearings adjustment.”


Is there a swing arm bearing adjustment?

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roger 04 rt wrote in his original post, “So I’m left wondering exactly why BMW added it in the first place.“

 

Liability, of course. Same thing for the recommended tire pressures also mentioned in this thread. BMW has to cover the worse case scenario. Like hitting a bad patch of cracked or ripply asphalt in a turn. Or forgetting to up the pressures when you are two up with over loaded side cases and top case. 
 

Look at what it cost Ford and Firestone with the Ford Explorer Firestone tire pressure situation in 2000. Millions and millions of dollars. A couple hundred dollars per bike is peanuts instead. 
 

A slight loss of steering feel for some, less small bump absorption is an acceptable exchange for BMW. 
 

For some of us, these are not acceptable. Hence we try removing the steering damper and adjust tire pressures up and down to suit our personal tastes. But of course we are doing so against BMW recommendations. 
 

I prefer lower tire pressures. I rarely ride two up and if I do, I will air up (if I remember!!). I prefer the better ride and feel I get a larger contact patch. I’m less concerned about getting maximum mileage form my tires. I’m not sensitive to the low speed feel issues others have mentioned regarding the steering damper. 
 

Regarding GS vs RT steering differences, one thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the difference in front wheel diameter, 19” vs 17”. The 19” has more gyroscopic stability vs a 17”. So wider handlebars on the GS help overcome this. Off-road objects that can defect the 19” front wheel at the relatively low speeds is probably close to those that can deflect the 17” front wheel at higher street speeds. BMW only has to account for the worse case scenarios so making an adjustable one or more sophisticated damper doesn’t make financial sense. 
 

We are all responsible adults here on this forum, able to make decisions that we will be personally responsible for, accepting any consequences within our control. Tire pressures, whether to keep or remove the steering damper are such decisions. It’s great to have this forum to share our thoughts, preferences, perception differences, and experiences. 
 

Ride safe and stay rubber side down. 

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I believe the recommended tire pressures for my R1150RT for a rider with no luggage were 32 front, 36 rear. Now on a same-weight 2017 R1200RT with the magic TPM, on an 90 degree winter day in FL, my bike’s starting at 38-39 front and 43-44 rear, no matter what weight/configuration. Why does one weight fit all?

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21 hours ago, realshelby said:

I pay $230 per SET for Bridgestone T-31 GT's.

Where can one buy at this price?  The vendor I normally use is upwards of $300/set.    If I can save that much on a set it would really help as I tend to get between 4500 and 6200 miles on tires, regardless of manufacturer.

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22 minutes ago, Rockosmith said:

Where can one buy at this price?  The vendor I normally use is upwards of $300/set.    If I can save that much on a set it would really help as I tend to get between 4500 and 6200 miles on tires, regardless of manufacturer.

Here you are.  https://www.rockymountainatvmc.com/tires-and-wheels/bridgestone-battlax-sport-touring-t31-gt-rear-motorcycle-tire-p

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