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Thread: How do I know when I need new struts on my 08 RT?

  1. #1
    Jeff cookie's Avatar
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    How do I know when I need new struts on my 08 RT?

    I have read through the search results and some folks say the stock shocks are wore out at 20,000 miles.
    I have the ESA system and I haven't looked into a new replacement set but I know several thousands of dollars will be involved.
    So, how do I know when I need to do something? I have 25,400 miles on my bike right now.
    I feel like bumps are harsh even on the normal setting.
    It seems to dampen OK. When I switch to comfort it is pretty boat like. Sport is a harsher ride.
    I just stick to normal. Maybe I need to let the tech. at the dealer ride it.
    What say you?
    Jeff Anderson
    I ride a 2008 R1200RT

  2. #2
    GlenFeld
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    When to perform suspension maintenance

    Maybe I need to let the tech. at the dealer ride it.
    That would seem like a good idea, but unless the tech has taken to independent study of the black art of suspension setup, he won't know - but they do know how to replace the parts. They'll have an opinion, but do they have the same viewpoint as you.

    My 07 RT, non ESA has the same miles, and the shocks are ready to be pitched. RaceTech's founders quote is 'you only know the best you've ridden' - meaning that unless you've ridden a well sorted bike, you don't know how good a bike can ride and handle. It can be transformational.

    You can spend a significant amount of $ on this path. What your goal is, can seem to be different depending on whether you tour or you tend to be 'sporty'. My thought is that it's really the same - you just need to have adjustability. The Honda ST I came off of was drastically changed after a total upgrade and it improved solo, two-up and sporty riding overall. Within the parameters of that 700# pig. 1100 mile days weren't an issue

    ESA - I witnessed a suspension expert show how useless ESA can be when it's worn - there's little tests to show how it's really working vs. perception. Since then as the suspension person at my Total Control classes, I've found some ESA to work decently (kinda fresh), and some to not matter what mode the settings were in (some miles). Fortunately, RaceTech, and other companies now have the ability to accommodate ESA. Meaning you can get that suspension dialed in perfectly for you, and with a toggle of the switch, accommodate the different settings allowed by ESA. But, you still need to have the shock rebuilt on a regular basis - it's just the way it is - these things wear. Or you can simply forget the ESA part and get setup with a quality shock that's configured for the riding YOU do the most.

    I plan to swap out the stock shocks when the weather turns cool this year. Either RaceTech, Ohlins, whatever. Spend time researching your own goals in ride quality - separate perception from reality. Invest time talking with the shock guys and you should end up very happy. Also remember, that a good quality shock is adjustable - if it doesn't do what you want now, it can be adjusted to what you do want.

  3. #3
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Oil change places will tell you you should change oil every 3000 miles.

    Suspension guys will tell you your stock suspension wears out really quickly.

    Lots of guys get 20K miles within their warranty period--is BMW replacing lots of shocks for free?
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  4. #4
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by cookie View Post
    I have read through the search results and some folks say the stock shocks are wore out at 20,000 miles.
    I have the ESA system and I haven't looked into a new replacement set but I know several thousands of dollars will be involved.
    So, how do I know when I need to do something? I have 25,400 miles on my bike right now.
    I feel like bumps are harsh even on the normal setting.
    It seems to dampen OK. When I switch to comfort it is pretty boat like. Sport is a harsher ride.
    I just stick to normal. Maybe I need to let the tech. at the dealer ride it.
    What say you?
    I too am struggling with same question. I currently have 70,000 Km (45,000 miles) on my 2008 R1200RT and am wondering. I have no reference point and really can't tell if the Telelever system is worn and don't have twisty roads to check performance in a meaningful way. I do have a spare set of never used OEM Telelever units from my wife's bike so could use them for only the cost of install. If anyone can suggest some empirical way to test the performance for the OP it would be great. Is it more reasonable to assume 'x' miles (no matter how ridden or road type) is time to replace them as we do brake fluid, air filters etc.?
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  5. #5
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
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    There is far more to this than simply stating, XX number of miles and they have to be replaced. Things like routine load, two-up riding v. solo, types of roads ridden, very dirty/dusty areas v. sanitary environment and weather, as well as manufacturing quality are all factors that impact how long shocks last.

    The shocks may wear out very quickly - or last a long time. If they aren't leaking, the HYD cylinder dampens rebound properly [normally] and the sag of the springs at rest is correct - there's no need to replace them. Then again, if only the sag is a problem, then there are choices - you can replace the spring or shim the one on the shock.

    You can also tell when handling is noticeably degraded. For example, the bike exhibits a wallow in wind blasts or you can feel the bike wallow when ridden hard on a fairly smooth curvy road. It starts subtly.

    In my case, my RT has roughly 97,000 miles on it. I replaced the front spring at about 30,000. It's still doing it's job. The rear is still unchanged from new but is now just starting to indicate it needs replacement. I've already started keeping an eye out for a low mileage take-off.

    The shocks on my 93/94 RS were replaced under warranty twice in less than 15,000 miles. Once a good set went on, that set lasted until I traded the bike at 183K with only a couple shims on the front shock.
    Nom de Plume:
    Steve Aikens, Clovis, NM
    BMW MOA #6218
    IBA# 442

  6. #6
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quick and dirty damper check. Put your bike in a wheel chock or have a friend hold the bike upright. Push down on the rear of your bike. Let go. What does the rear end do?

    1) Bounce up and down like a pogo stick? If so the damper is either badly misadjusted or quite worn.
    2) Return to its starting position very, very slowly? The damper is misadjusted in the other direction -- over damped.
    3) Quickly return to its starting position without any overshoot or extra bounces? Your damping is just right for normal use.

    If it is 1) or 2) play with the damping adjustment to see if you can get closer to #3. Ideally with ESA the damping will be roughly correct for all three pre-load settings. On a worn damper you might find that the "hard" setting is needed to get normal feel. If that is the case you're damper is worn, but useable, and should be re-built/replaced sometime in the future.

    If you can adjust the front damping --- something you can not do with many (most?) stock shocks --- repeat the test on the front of the bike.

  7. #7
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Oil change places will tell you you should change oil every 3000 miles.

    Suspension guys will tell you your stock suspension wears out really quickly.

    Lots of guys get 20K miles within their warranty period--is BMW replacing lots of shocks for free?
    No - if you read your warranty - shocks are considered a wear item, and BMW thinks it isn't unknown for them to be worn out within the warranty period - that's why they are labeled "a wear item" (such as brakes, clutch, suspension, tires..)
    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

  8. #8
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bogthebasher View Post
    I too am struggling with same question. I currently have 70,000 Km (45,000 miles) on my 2008 R1200RT and am wondering. I have no reference point and really can't tell if the Telelever system is worn and don't have twisty roads to check performance in a meaningful way. I do have a spare set of never used OEM Telelever units from my wife's bike so could use them for only the cost of install. If anyone can suggest some empirical way to test the performance for the OP it would be great. Is it more reasonable to assume 'x' miles (no matter how ridden or road type) is time to replace them as we do brake fluid, air filters etc.?
    Actually - measuring them on the bike is very subjective. As mentioned - having experience with well setup suspension will tell you if your suspension is sub-optimal. If it is - then it's a question if you can adjust it to be better. On some shocks yes - on some no.

    If you can dismount the shocks - and remove the springs - you can try stroking the shock (moving the piston shaft in/out) and feel if the shock is still doing what it should do as far as damping. Again - some experience with how a fresh shock feels make this test a lot more accurate. A good suspension shock will also hopefully have a machine used to compress the springs and see if they've weakened (it happens with inexpensive springs, much less so with good quality springs.) This is a direct measurement and numbers can be compared.

    Not such a simple thing IMHO. Some people are quite sensitive to suspension setup, some people ride like the wind and have no clue if their suspension is setup correctly.

    Are stock shocks worn at XX miles? Well - yes - they start wearing as soon as you start using them (clearances may increase and the oil starts to break-down in viscosity.) There can be more or less wear over XX miles depending on what the riding conditions are.

    Can you improve your suspension with aftermarket - in general - yes, but despite having the best shocks in the world - a big part of the improvement will be the ability to set them for your riding style. That requires either learning about suspension setup, or having someone who does know it help you out.

    It can't be done in 10 minutes, I usually dedicate at least several hours to setting up my suspension, and I can feel very small changes I make, but that's probably due to having experience doing it.

    For a somewhat simple writeup on suspension setup, I'll refer you to my website: http://www.eilenberger.net/Suspension/suspension.htm

    I'm sure there are much better writeups on setup, but in this case, I was trying to KISS it (keep it simple stupid) and make it understandable. Many of the writeups I've seen are written by one suspension expert for another suspension expert, and will just confuse the average rider.

    I tend to adjust my shocks whenever I feel they need it and the "feel" gets to feeling wrong to me. This generally involves restoring a bit of damping as the oil in the shock wears (by increasing the damping settings.) I can usually feel 1-2 clicks difference quite easily. I did get a full rebuild of my rear shock done this spring, but that was prompted by the loss of gas pressure in it, not due to any specific wear (I still had adjustment available to make up for oil sheering.) The Hyperpro shock had roughly 50,000 miles on it at that time. I'm hoping it goes another 50,000 before needing another rebuild.

    I also DO adjust my rear spring preload to conditions - when touring with a full luggage, I add some additional preload to the rear shock. Front doesn't need it since the luggage weight is concentrated on the rear suspension. Happily with a hydraulic preload adjuster that only takes a few minutes to do.
    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. #9
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    Good comments..

    For a normal rider who hasn't ever personally tuned a vehicle to a specific performance goal, there are really only two ways you'll be certain you shocks are shot and by then they'll really be shot- first is floaty over undulations and second is feeling like you need to turn up preload to restore handling. (or maybe you have and ran out)..

    There is no doubt that first class shocks are the single best handling improvment you can make. If you upgrade you will very likely be surprised at how big the difference from even new stock stuff is, and then you will be a believer pretty much like everyone else who has done it. There are folks who ditch stock shocks for Ohlins or some other upgrade on delivery of a new bike..

    Still living with the ESA on my RT - but I've got Ohlins on the K-RS. The K-GT needs ball joints so I can ride it hard enough to see whether I want to keep it berfore I worry about shock upgrades- though its shocks aren't stellar either..Been working on the SO's bike and my Transalp- too many projects..

  10. #10
    Registered User wvpc's Avatar
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    I am no expert but a new set of shocks and fresh rubber will make that RT feel like new. You can always switch to a NON-ESA shock to save a few hundred. Call Ted Porter at the Beemershop. No affiliation.
    12 R1200 RT
    83 R100 RT

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    At least 10 hundred in fact
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  12. #12
    Grampa Tumbleweed
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    New Struts?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveAikens View Post
    There is far more to this than simply stating, XX number of miles and they have to be replaced. Things like routine load, two-up riding v. solo, types of roads ridden, very dirty/dusty areas v. sanitary environment and weather, as well as manufacturing quality are all factors that impact how long shocks last.

    The shocks may wear out very quickly - or last a long time. If they aren't leaking, the HYD cylinder dampens rebound properly [normally] and the sag of the springs at rest is correct - there's no need to replace them. Then again, if only the sag is a problem, then there are choices - you can replace the spring or shim the one on the shock.

    You can also tell when handling is noticeably degraded. For example, the bike exhibits a wallow in wind blasts or you can feel the bike wallow when ridden hard on a fairly smooth curvy road. It starts subtly.

    In my case, my RT has roughly 97,000 miles on it. I replaced the front spring at about 30,000. It's still doing it's job. The rear is still unchanged from new but is now just starting to indicate it needs replacement. I've already started keeping an eye out for a low mileage take-off.

    The shocks on my 93/94 RS were replaced under warranty twice in less than 15,000 miles. Once a good set went on, that set lasted until I traded the bike at 183K with only a couple shims on the front shock.
    Steve is right on the money as far as I'm concerned.

    My 2010 RT was starting to get just a tad loose at 95k but definitely NOT shot. I sent my ESA units to Works, about 1/2 the cost of new BMW units. $1800 vs. $3500. My use of the bike is touring, sometimes a bit frisky but I'm no Ricky Racer.

  13. #13
    Proud Veteran SteveAikens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveAikens View Post
    There is far more to this than simply stating, XX number of miles and they have to be replaced. ...

    In my case, my RT has roughly 97,000 miles on it. I replaced the front spring at about 30,000. It's still doing it's job. The rear is still unchanged from new but is now just starting to indicate it needs replacement. I've already started keeping an eye out for a low mileage take-off..
    This turned out to be a surprisingly well placed post. I just located a lightly used [8K] set of Ohlins [503 - 504] for my RT for under $900. Previous owner bought them for his 06, riding weight of 200 - slightly more than my 175 riding weight, but I run a fuel cell all the time putting me at 200ish. Perfect!

    BTW - 96,956 actual miles. Again, front is fine, rear does need replacing. Since a rear Ohlins 504 alone is $954, this is a good deal for me and I can replace them as a pair.
    Nom de Plume:
    Steve Aikens, Clovis, NM
    BMW MOA #6218
    IBA# 442

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