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Need suspension advice

I have an 04 1100S with the stock suspension. Ride seems pretty harsh which is why I assume so many replace the stock with aftermarket. That said, the bike is pretty much a commuter bike with a few trips to the mountains, twisties here and there. I never have any intentions of taking the bike on the track. Based on my type of riding, do I need or would I even use a 3-way adjustable shock in rear or would I be just as happy with a new emulsion shock in rear? Thanks in advance for any and all input.
Old 03-09-2010, 10:27 AM
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You don't need a 3-way, but you don't want an emulsion unit either. There's a large, happy, middleground.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:38 AM
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Please forgive the ignorance, but this large, middleground is what? Rear with a reservoir? What model are we talking about from Ohlins, Elka, Works?
Old 03-09-2010, 10:58 AM
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All of the above would qualify. You don't need much more than compression, rebound, and preload. The rest is bells and whistles. Nice, but not required for good basic operation.
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:10 AM
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One could argue that most people would see huge improvement by replacing the OE shock with a good aftermarket emulsion shock and wouldn't notice any difference with a more expensive shock, at least not one that is in relation to the price difference. I mean, most people don't even realize their shock is shot, until you show them to the oil pouring out of it. The average on this forum is definitely not the standard.

On the other hand, once you used proper shocks, you probably don't ever want to go back to anything less.
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Old 03-09-2010, 12:14 PM
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i replaced the "sport" shocks on my BCR, with Wilbers emulsion units. they were a big improvement, but a far cry from the Ohlins that came on the R12S. you get what you pay for as far as suspension goes.
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:05 PM
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You don't mention....maybe you don't know, but the OEM sport suspension is harsher than the normal ones (taller too). So if it's just the harshness you don't like a standard OEM rear might be enough and you can probably get ones of those for cheap.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:20 PM
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My apologies....I have the standard OEM suspension and still seems quite harsh to me. I've been trying to avoid asking this as not to feel stupid, but here it goes. I assume a 2-way is one with compression and rebound adjustments, while a 3-way offers low/high speed compression as well? Low/high speed compression being used for fine tuning and track riding mostly? thanks.
Old 03-09-2010, 02:28 PM
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Hi speed compression is a tool that can be used to help dial out harshness (or add extra control, at the expense of harshness) In that regard, it is still pretty useful, even for the street (possibly even more useful)

Don't get hung up on 2way vs 3way. Some count preload or length as a function, and some don't. Have to compare features/functions, not the name.

When ridden hard, an aftermarket emulsion shock can fade worse than some OEM shocks, but it WILL generally be less harsh. So if reduction in harshness is goal-one, then the emulsion can be ok. Otherwise, avoid them. They have low N2 and Oil volume, and last much less time between rebuilds, and money saved up front is lost in service down the road, not even counting the lower performance.

hth
r
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:36 PM
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BMW Roundel suspension problems?

Look,..I understand the desire for upgrades and Ohlins makes a great product.
But if your just using the scoot for commuting, don't waste the $,..just get out your tech. manuel and reset your shocks to "zero" then adjust them to your style of riding and weight. When I purchased my R11s, the suspension was too stiff for me and I reset and dialed them in for myself,..it made a very noticable and improved difference. My buddy has an '03 boxer prep w/ ohlins and it is a harsh ride compared to mine.
Old 03-09-2010, 03:33 PM
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A little OT but when would be the time to change the shocks. I mean for safety concern. If you have old stock shocks and rides harsh, does it mean it is not safe?
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Old 03-09-2010, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFeldman View Post
Look,..I understand the desire for upgrades and Ohlins makes a great product.
But if your just using the scoot for commuting, don't waste the $,..just get out your tech. manuel and reset your shocks to "zero" then adjust them to your style of riding and weight. When I purchased my R11s, the suspension was too stiff for me and I reset and dialed them in for myself,..it made a very noticable and improved difference. My buddy has an '03 boxer prep w/ ohlins and it is a harsh ride compared to mine.
If your friends Ohlins are harsher than your stock shocks I suggest he has not set them up properly for himself. There is no way the stock shocks can compare to a correctly set up Ohlins. Perhaps his spring is too strong for his weight. My personal experience with stock shocks no matter how they were adjusted was harsh compression & very often bottoming out of the front, combined with an inadequate rear spring forcing me to use near full preload on the rear. When I switched to Ohlins & finally got them dialed in they soak up the road yet give excellent control when thrashing mountain roads. no comparison. Junk the stock suspension!
Old 03-09-2010, 04:27 PM
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I feel the best upgrade you can make on the R1100S is the suspension. To me it seems to be the best thing you can do on any of the BMW bikes. Atleast the ones I have owned. Its kinda like the difference between night and day. After having a bike setup with a good suspension its hard to go back to the stock shock. Its just not that much fun riding a stock shock. Ofcoarse thats already been said!!
Then again some guys don't seem to mind a stock shock, Bill Swartzwelder is one them. His bike seems to do what he wants regardless. I also think a stock shock is probably better than say a ohlins that is completely out of adjustment. Seen a few bikes with high dollar shocks that pogoed all over the place!!
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Old 03-09-2010, 04:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFeldman View Post
My buddy has an '03 boxer prep w/ ohlins and it is a harsh ride compared to mine.
If that's the case your buddy doesn't have his set up very well.

I see you live in Spokane, just a stone trow from me. We should get together and do some comparisons sometime.
Old 03-09-2010, 05:07 PM
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BMW Roundel lets ride.

Billy,....."Rockford" I didn't even notice, for crying outloud. I ride up there all the time, Elder road to u.s.95 through Coeur d'alene is a *****in ride. I'll give you my cel. As far as ohlins compared to stock, I know , there's no comparison, all I'm saying is if your not pushing the limits i.e. shoboat is just commuting, then why spend all that extra $,.. the BMW engineers did a pretty good job putting that bike together for the daily commute. If I had an extra $1400. plus installation, I'd consider a suspension upgrade. But w/ 7500 mi. I'll wait till I've logged a few more miles.
Old 03-09-2010, 06:03 PM
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Yes stock shocks are usually pretty good until about the 18K mark. By then there shot if there not already.
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
all I'm saying is if your not pushing the limits i.e. shoboat is just commuting, then why spend all that extra $,
One of the many suspension fallacies. First, you don't have to be pushing the limit to benefit.
Second, as others have said, if you're friend's shocks feel harsher then either they're not set up right, or, yours or so clapped out that they're offering virtually no compression damping. Third, outside option, is that he has a very early config of Ohlins on there - Early spec was pretty harsh.

The stock Showas are all over the map. Functioning poorly by 20k is very common, but much as it pains me, as a guy who sells shocks, I've seen some working pretty well to double, or in rare cases, triple that.

First priority, stock or aftermarket, is getting spring rate and sag right. Damper quality and fuction is secondary.

Back to the rider in question here; he feels his are harsh, which if he's not a very light rider, is likely a damping issue, or possibly a bottoming issue (which would co-indicate a damping issue and/or spring mismatch) And in any case, he's not happy.

The advice to retry setup on the stockers remains good advice. Except in extreme cases, I always recommend starting there myself, on almost literally, a daily basis. Where I differ w/ Mr. Feldman, is that aftermarket is only valid if pushing the limit. Aftermarket is only absolutely NEEDED when pushing the limits, but the benefits are there even when operating well within the envelope. Comfort, Traction, Agility, Stability, and Tire-life, all benefit, to varying degrees.

Get a pro in your area (one who doesn't seem overly focused on 'making a sale') to evaluate it if you're not comfortable or skilled in that area.

If all works well, and it's just too harsh, then the solution will be aftermarket valving or shock.
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:22 AM
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It is funny reading this thread,how many times do they start,'I've stock shocks will i notice the difference',and then a few weeks down the line,when they've had a wallet numbing injection,then turn up and say can't beleave the difference,i bet i've seen 100's on various boards.

I have Ohlins on both my Tiger and my 1100s,if i have a complaint,it's the fact it's possible to buy them over the counter with no questions asked,they come with a stock spring,and unless you ask via a suspension guy,you get the same as the stock suspension one spring fits all,i don't have a stock supplied spring on either,i'd always buy an Ohlins via a suspension guy,rather just and shop,tell him you weight/two up/how you ride.

Having bought a K1200r Sport the end of last year just before the winter set,i rode half a dozen times and just couldn't be done with it,untill i'd changed the rear shock,secondrate is an understatement,but i have to confess aftermarket suspension is an addiction,i'd already bought a second set of Wilbers,as luck would have it off a guy the same build as me,but under normal circumstances it's not possible to buy new without supplying,weight and how you ride etc and they are set something like out of the box,my only complaint unless you specify there's no separate compression and rebound,which is a pain,and it gets expensive with all the bells and whistles,you live and learn

The stock shock is what it is,built to a price for Joe Blow,it's like everything else in this world you get what you pay for,my bench mark for a shock, separate compression and rebound,and remote preload,with that spec,when you come to sell you'll always get good money.
Old 03-10-2010, 07:21 AM
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You've mentioned that with 7500 miles on the bike, you'd rather wait until the shocks really have to be replaced. Why not have a better ride now? You don't like the shocks now and they will not get better over time. Figure you ride another 10,000 miles on the shocks you have now before you replace them. That's a lot of great miles on good shocks, not-so-great miles on bad shocks.

If it is determined, after you try adjustments to the stock shocks, that it is the shocks themselves that are the problem, consider purchasing better aftermarket shocks. Then, keep the original shocks (Hey, they only have 7500 miles on them - like new!) if you decide to trade the bike in.

If you do decide to go ahead and get after market shocks, take the time to talk to Ted Porter at Ted Porter's BeemerShop - Welcome!. He sells Ohlins and Wilburs. Ted helped me with my shock selection and his focus is on you, your bike, how you ride and where you ride.
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Old 03-10-2010, 10:26 AM
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Well I certainly appreciate everyone's feedback. Unless I'm missing something, I've messed with the stock shocks quite a bit to no avail..there is only the preload and tension screw on the rear, correct? I've ridden a bunch of other bikes that ride better than mine and since I absolutely love this bike so much...it's pretty clear what I need to do.

FWIW I weigh 195....I think Roger mentioned something about not knowing my weight. I pretty much knew what I wanted to do when I started this post...I mean, there's a reason why most replace the stock shocks, right. Just looking to see if i really need the bells/whistles as most refer to them as.......thanks again.
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