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Thread: Any Downside to 1200RT low suspension option?

  1. #16
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Anthony, sorry, clicked on edit instead of reply,

    I base my statement on actual measurements of the suspension travel. Reading the quote, it could well be an omission or translation error, or just wrong. It's easy enough to measure the front suspension travel on any hexhead. Put a tie wrap around the fork tube above the slider, push it down to the top of the slider, go for a vigorous ride and see where it ends up. Measure the distance between the top of the fork tube and the bottom edge of the tie-wrap and you have suspension travel. The rear is more difficult to do, and is better done with the rear spring off the shock and with a tape measure. It can also be calculated using the minimum compressed length of the shocks, which is a number available on most aftermarket shocks, and I've seen it somewhere for BMW factory shocks. If the minimum (fully compressed) length of a stock shock is the same as the minimum length of a standard shock, then the minimum ground clearance HAS TO BE THE SAME.

    I believe that statement by BMW would be more accurate if it stated "Ground clearance is adversely effected, and it can be expected to have less ground clearance - except at full suspension compression - under many conditions." - that would be an accurate statement for BMWs lowered suspension design. The use of "ALL" isn't accurate. Could it be different on the GS? Mebbe.. haven't measured those.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  2. #17
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with all models either, but do know that no centerstand is available with a lowered F800ST.

    That spells lowered ground clearance to me.

    So would a different part number centerstand, obviously.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  3. #18
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    Don

    I have a RT that's lowered with Wilbers shocks and it's definitely lower to the ground . However that tells me nothing about BMW lowered suspension.

    From the RT owners manual below. Is a bit confusing to me maybe you can interpret it. I would still trust a direct observation.


    Lowered suspensionOE
    A motorcycle with lowered
    suspension has less ground
    clearance and cannot corner
    at angles of heel as extreme
    as those achievable by a
    counterpart motorcycle with
    standard-height suspension

    Risk of accident by unexpectedly
    early contact with
    the ground.
    Bear in mind that lowered
    suspension limits the
    motorcycle's angle of heel and
    ground clearance.
    Test your motorcycle's angle
    of heel in situations that do not
    involve risk. When riding over
    kerbs and similar obstacles, bear
    in mind that your motorcycle's
    ground clearance is limited.
    Lowering the motorcycle's suspension
    shortens suspension
    travel (see the section entitled
    "Technical Data"). Ride comfort
    might be restricted as a result.
    Be sure to adjust spring preload
    accordingly, particularly for riding
    two-up.
    Anthony S.
    2012 R1200GS

  4. #19
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Anthony and Kent..

    Once again (dunno how I can explain this better/clearer)

    1. Yes - lower suspension means the suspension (and bike) is lower. That's pretty much the point of it. At rest, and under any condition where the suspension ISN'T fully compressed it IS lower. When you sit on a lowered suspension bike, your feet touch the ground sooner. That's why it's done. That isn't a surprise, nor do I argue that. The side and centerstand may well need to be shorter to be usable. That's how it is.

    2. On bikes I've measured (and looked up shock specs) - lowered suspension as done by BMW have the SAME ground clearance when the suspension is FULLY COMPRESSED as standard suspension. Under other conditions - the ground clearance will be reduced compared to a standard suspension.*

    Apples /= oranges. Similar in being fruit, but different.

    Ditto on aftermarket shocks I've measured, with the exception of the very custom ones Hyperpro made for me (it is NOT a standard item.) It's possible other aftermarket shock makers have done the same thing, retained the same travel distance on a shorter shock, but I know for sure, Wilbers and Hyperpro - that is not standard.

    The difference may not be much in non-fully-compressed situations IF BMW used a spring with a higher spring rate (ie - stiffer, resists compression more) on the shorter shocks. Dunno on what they did since I haven't measured the spring rates. If someone has a factory lower set of shocks for an R1200R, I have stock ones and access to a spring rate measuring machine. My WAG is - they probably upped the spring rate to avoid full compression of the shock (which potentially can damage it, or create a very harsh ride.)

    * = since BMW spec'd less suspension travel on the F800GS, this to me means they have not changed the fully compressed suspension clearance. Without measurements, that's just my theory - so take it for what it's worth.

    Just as an aside - all shock makers I know of (including BMW) over-spec the travel (stroke) of their shocks (and hence suspension.) The measurements always ignore the rubber bumper on the shock shaft which is intended to prevent fully compressing the shock (to avoid damage to it.) If you measure the shocks (and I have - on Wilbers, Hyperpro and BMWs) - the stroke measurement assumes the rubber bumper becomes infinitely thin when compressed. That's BS.. but it's how they all do it, so it's uniform BS.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  5. #20
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    Don

    Great explanation perfectly clear to me now. Thanks

    For me there is no downside I can easily avoid touching down in the twisties and I may be a minority but the low seat suits me fine. I've done 700 mile days.
    I feel much more comfortable now and seem to be avoiding the 0 mph drops.

    Of course avoiding the drops may be the natural effect from putting on engine guards

    On a side note I bought my RT used and it came with ESA and my Wilber are ESA. I end up with a low suspension and ESA which is not available on the RT from the factory.
    Anthony S.
    2012 R1200GS

  6. #21
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    "When fully compressed" is mostly a theoretical concept.

    In practical terms this seldom happens and in practical everyday riding the lowered suspension merits warnings--as BMW publishes in the owners manuals.

    In all cases the basic design assumes normal suspension. The "lowering" is, again, a compromise of that design that merits warnings.

    It does not serve well to promote ignoring this.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  7. #22
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    I have a low frame model 2009 RT which has 76,000 miles on it and it's the most comfy ride (with a different seat) ever. Not sure you will notice anything especially if you're not riding the bikes one after the other as in a test. Yes there are compromises, but despite having many morning of frost on my seat while traveling, I've never complained of a cold butt.

    As for the drops, I've discovered I can pick up a fully loaded RT without a problem.

    Good luck!
    __________________
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    '07 F650GS (Sold), 09 R1200RT, 2012 Yami FZ6R
    IBA# 37022

  8. #23
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    "When fully compressed" is mostly a theoretical concept.
    I would beg to differ.

    It happens over big enough bumps, but many people don't realize it (the rubber bumper on the bottom of the shock softens it a bit.) They mistake the shock of full compression for a harsh ride caused by too stiff a spring, or too much preload. I made the same mistake when I first started tweaking my shocks. I was getting what felt like a hard/harsh ride. I (logically to me) thought that lessening the preload would make the spring softer and improve the ride. Instead of making things better, it made it worse. What finally made it better was increasing preload and eventually getting a higher rate spring.

    Does it happen due to cornering forces? Depends on how enthusiastically you corner, and/or if you hit bumps or undulations in the corner. It could, but a conservative riding style makes it much less likely.

    In practical terms this seldom happens and in practical everyday riding the lowered suspension merits warnings--as BMW publishes in the owners manuals.
    I agree the warning should be there, but I don't think it's as big a concern to the average rider as to the average attorney at BMW. While you start out lower on the lowered suspension, if the spring is a higher rate and ideally a non-linear (progressively wound) spring, the more you compress the suspension, the less it will be different in clearance from the stock suspension. Could someone get in trouble? Sure. Are they likely to? I doubt it if the lowering isn't extreme or done wrong. Some aftermarket shock vendors make a progressive spring as standard just for this reason.

    I recently had a friend (Hi Jim!) who bought a used R1200R, identical to mine except that the suspension had been lowered about 2"+. It had linear wound springs on the shocks. The way it was done made the bike almost unrideable due to the lack of travel and the suspension bottoming out. The bottoming out caused the suspension to be harsh and lose traction over bumps. We swapped bikes a number of times on a short ride, and I couldn't wait to get back on mine. He also couldn't wait to get back on mine.

    This was done with shocks (I measured them) where the minimum fully compressed length was the same as the stock ones, in order to maintain the standard minimum ground clearance. This is a case where the fully extended shocks were too short - the former owner was trying to lower the bike too much, and the shock maker didn't try to keep any semblance of the standard suspension travel. The front forks only had 2" of travel left after the lowered shock was installed, the rear probably had less. IMHO - that was a dangerous bike to ride, not due to ground clearance issues, but due to an almost non-functional suspension.

    BMW doesn't offer that low a suspension - for a reason, it just won't work well. What they do offer is about what I achieved with the Hyperpro suspension I installed. 3/4-1" lower. I went a step further and had shocks made that allowed me to maintain the stock suspension travel, accepting that this also meant under full compression I might touch down hard bits sooner then BMWs design. That was a compromise I could live with knowing how I ride. So far my peg feelers are untouched, I suspect if I ended up with fully compressed suspension while cornering I would already be in rather serious trouble.

    People who regularly replace their peg feelers should consider sticking with the stock suspension.
    In all cases the basic design assumes normal suspension. The "lowering" is, again, a compromise of that design that merits warnings.

    It does not serve well to promote ignoring this.
    I don't think anyone promoted ignoring this.

    What was said - at least by me - was very specific and carefully worded. I don't believe I made suggestions as to how this would effect anyone else's riding. I did express the opinion, that at my riding level it has never been a problem for me. Others of differing riding level or ability may have different experiences.

    Any suspension design is a compromise of some sort. Ideally perfect suspension would have infinite travel and provide infinite ground clearance. Since these two can't actually co-exist, the compromise to try to reach this ideal is to make the suspension taller. Unfortunately for many people, taller suspension simply isn't ideal, so they accept a different compromise, of less cornering clearance with less suspension travel. Or the same suspension travel with less fully-compressed cornering clearance.

    BMW recognized this, and in their own way tried to explain that this could compromise cornering ability. That hasn't been my experience, but as usual - YMMV (and probably will.)

    Life is risky, so is riding.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  9. #24
    Registered User Firenailer's Avatar
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    I bought a Low Model 2012 last November and have no regrets at all. I put over 6000 miles on it last season and never scraped anything. I don't push the RT like my full blown sport bike but I ride at a very "enthusiastic" pace.

    I actually like the low seat as far as comfort, and find it to be much more comfortable than the seat on my 2004 K1200GT. It doesn't force that forward lean angle that crushes the "boys" after a few hours in the saddle.

    My thinking was very simple, after riding both I liked the Low model better. It fit me better and I was more confident riding it. Here in NY as in PA where you live, the roads are far from perfect and crowns are not always as flat as in some other States, and it's nice to put your foot down and find solid ground without over reaching. Additionally, if you decide on going with an aftermarket seat, adding a little height won't be as big a deal as it might be if you go with the standard model.

    When it comes time to sell (as I probably will do this year or next, I just don't tour enough anymore to keep 2 bikes), it may very well help as many shorter riders are looking for these specific models. I've heard many times at rallies and gatherings, how folks would have considered a BMW if they knew there was a low model. Lighter, older, shorter or aging riders very often stick with cruisers for the seat height alone, this gives them another option.

    Go ride both and then decide for yourself, you really don't give up anything as far as ridability with the Low model and I think its a much more comfortable motorcycle after full riding days. Good luck with your search!
    Ride Safe,
    Bob
    '12 R1200RT

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    "When fully compressed" is mostly a theoretical concept.

    In practical terms this seldom happens and in practical everyday riding the lowered suspension merits warnings--as BMW publishes in the owners manuals.

    In all cases the basic design assumes normal suspension. The "lowering" is, again, a compromise of that design that merits warnings.

    It does not serve well to promote ignoring this.

    The only compromise is in shock travel not in design.

    BMW could have just as easily came out with the shock travel of the low suspension first then added the taller bikes for taller riders. Not practical but
    would then the low suspension not be "normal"
    Anthony S.
    2012 R1200GS

  11. #26
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sloride View Post
    BMW could have just as easily came out with the shock travel of the low suspension first then added the taller bikes for taller riders.
    No, BMW is not in the "fat bob" business. (anymore--good riddance R1200C)

    They don't make bikes for "taller riders," rather they make normal bikes and then some lowered models for "shorter or less confident riders." (Quoting the website) They make way way more of the former. The warnings--ALWAYS composed by engineers and only reviewed by lawyers--are for the lowered bikes.

    SORRY ... if there are warnings there are compromises.

    FWIW I'd in fact venture to say the average German/European isn't as tall as the average American in any event. You only have to be about 6-3 like me before headroom in a BMW car is at a premium. Our local CCA chapter president is a few inches taller than me and special-ordered one without a sunroof ... which wasn't easy. I'd conclude the lowered bikes really special-case items.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  12. #27
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    Tim

    I hope you get a chance to test ride a low RT .

    I've been looking at the R1200GS bikes and got a test ride on a lowered one. Loved it. It's going to be delivered maybe next week. I doubled my collection
    Anthony S.
    2012 R1200GS

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