ESA Rebuild: Initial impressions

On several forums there has been some discussion in the past about ESA, alternative ESA systems etc. Contrary to popular belief, our ESA shocks can be rebuild. And to already spur controversy in sentence 3, despite what some believe, these shocks do not suck and they are not bad quality parts. They are however setup to BMW specifications, which does not necessarily corresponds with the best setup.

My K is from 2007 and by now it has more than 50,000 miles on the clock (most of which are mine) and my shocks were getting tired. Not feeling like spending $2500 per shock to replace them, and not wanting to give up ESA either, I did some investigating on rebuilding my ESA shocks.

As it turns out, about an hour from where I live there is a little company called [URL=""]JJ Suspension[/URL] that rebuilds these shocks. The guy who is running this little suspension shop is actually an ex-WP engineer who was part of the original ESA design team. After WP was bought by KTM and subsequently moved to Austria, he quit and started his own company.

Anyway, first week of January I removed both shocks and drove over to drop them off. A week and a half later, I got the call to pick them up again. Price: 459 euro for both shocks combined, full rebuild, all wearable internals replaced, new shim stacks for a proper setup and of course fresh oil and a new filling of nitrogen. For the last btw, he has build his own tools so he can fill the shocks with nitrogen without needing to uglify the shocks by welding things to the body.

Next step was to put everything back together again and get the bike ready. Let me tell you, BMW does not think up the most user-friendly solutions. I think they do it on purpose.

Today I got a chance to ride the bike for a short while, despite near freezing temperatures. The change is quite apparent. The old Cadillac mode (with free motion sickness), ie 'Comfort' mode does not exist anymore. It is replaced by a setting that is just above the original 'Normal' mode. An excellent and usable setting now.

On the other hand of the spectrum, the 'Sport' mode is much firmer and gives clear feedback from the wheels. At the same time, it does not get harsh or uncomfortable like the original 'Sport' mode and the damper doesn't hydro-lock on you if the roads isn't perfectly smooth like the original makes you feel.

The adjustment range has become smaller, but ultimately significantly more usable. They now feel like proper shocks with a proper setup. As they should have been from the start.

I have only been able to do about 50 miles and mostly highway at that, so this is a very limited first impression, but so far I like what I am feeling. These will hold out a few more miles.