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.

Short trip, new tires

We went playing in Luxembourg for our annual Ascension Day weekend, and we had a blast. Weather was ok: mostly dry, but a bit chilly. Only really had some rain on the way home. The other times we had some rain, we were having a break and were able to sit inside.

I didn’t do much photography this time. I have been there so many times, it’s like being at home. But I do have one here for you from the hotel we were staying at, down in Kautenbach.

Before the trip, I had to replace my tires. I went with the Bridgestone BT016 Pro front and rear, and I have to say I like these tires. Very grippy, even in the wet, clear feedback and very easy handling. They’re also very cheap - about 100 euro’s cheaper than the S20 for a set.

Fixes and repairs

Well, last week I finally received the right side panel for the K1200S. This was ordered early June after some douchebag ran into my bike in Andorra (see elsewhere on the site). That’s almost 7 (yes, seven) months it took to get a simple fairing panel. Thank you BMW, for your wonderful service. Read More...

Clutch repair

Well, BMW NL is friendly enough to determine there is nothing wrong with the clutch on my K1200S without even removing the clutch cover or any other sensible diagnostics. Needless to say I am rather annoyed (understatement) and unimpressed with the way BMW handles this.

For those not knowing: a normal K12/K13 clutch engages in the last quarter of lever travel from full out. As annoying as it is, it is the normal designed behavior of this clutch.

My clutch on the other hand requires the clutch lever to be adjusted outward to the maximum distance from the bars (fortunately I have big hands), and then the clutch will engage within 1cm from the bar. This also means with the lever adjusted to a normal distance from the bars, it will not disengage completely. This is obviously not normal.

Oh yeah! Finally done!

FINALLY! Yes, it has been a while but I finally managed to put my travel report of my motorcycle trip to Scotland online. You can read all about it here! Enjoy. Happy

More crap from BMW

I have to say, I really like this BMW K1200S because when it works well, it is simply mind blowing. However, after the clutch, and the fueling I am getting really tired of seeing this thing in bits in the shop. Now it doesn’t want to stay cool, it is over heating. Turns out, the thermostat is broken into 3 pieces and partially blocking the radiator. Not the best situation to keep the bike cool. Also, it is giving some intermittent headaches with the idle running. Sometimes it is running high (1500-1700rpm) and taking several seconds to drop back to 1100rpm. This makes it completely undriveable at low rpm. Other times, it just stalls. This is 99% sure caused by the airbox and idle control valve. There is a modification for that, but since my bike is out of warranty and I don’t want to shell out $600 for a new airbox, I am hoping cleaning and polishing the ICV will do the trick. At least temporarely. If it works, I don’t mind doing it at every service.

After this, it better be right because I am getting fed with this crap. If not, I am buying a Honda again.