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Old 08-29-2012, 10:39 AM   #1
BearII OP
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ESA Question

Well, the time has come, I'm seriously thinking of replacing my '07 GSA with a new GSA. She has been an amazing, wonderful steed and we have traveled many glorious miles together all over North America. But the next phase of my RTW is starting soon by heading south through Mexico, Central and South America. I'm thinking it is time for a new baby for that 2-3 yr portion of the journey.

I have Ohlins on the current GSA and love the system. I'm debating having the ESA option put on the new bike. In talking with a BMW service manager he said there were many problems with the initial ESAs. My questions for you crazy inmates:
  • I get the flexibility advantage of the on the fly adjustments of the ESA but really, how many of you actually use that feature or does it tend to be a set it and leave it reality?
  • How does ESA compare with Ohlins in terms of ride quality?
  • Are any of you experiencing reliability issues with the current ESA?

Thanks in advance for any info you can share. And hey, feel free to chime in with any thoughts you may have on must have options that I should consider. My current GSA is set up perfectly and I plan to transfer most add-ons over to the new one but I am always open to new ideas.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:53 AM   #2
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I scrapped the ESA on my '11 GSA and replaced it with Wilburs components. The ride is plush but firm on bigger hits and handling is superb. I would not want to have to deal with the ESA stuff going out in some remote place. Simpler is far better IMO. I envy you for upcoming RTW continuation. Saludos, Jim
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:03 AM   #3
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Ohlins now makes plug-and-play, electronically controlled replacements for the stock shocks. Fully ESA- and CAN bus-compatible using the OEM switch on the handlebar. If you're doing it, that's the way to go. The stock shocks on my '11 GSA are certainly passable, but the ride quality, tuneability and rebuildability (if that's even a word) of Ohlins is just the best. Combine that with electronic control, and it's all you could ever ask for out of your suspension. I will be upgrading to Ohlins next Spring (no pun intended!).

FWIW, I'm a big fan of ESA. I was initially a skeptic, but could not believe the difference when I took a badly rutted fire road with "Norm" street settings, then midway down the road pulled over and switched to the first of the two off-road ESA settings. It was a completely different bike -- it felt like it lost 250 lbs in a blink. The ride went from jarring and nervous and holy-shit-I'm-gonna-bite-it-any-second, to composed and confidence-inspiring. Crazy to say this about a big, heavy German tank like the GSA, but it actually reminded me of my old XR650 the way it handled the ruts. I was instantly able to add 15-20 mph to my speed.

I also took my wife for a spin a couple weeks ago, and adjusted the suspension for two-up. Then I forgot about it. The following Sunday I left for my morning ride and after a few miles noticed the rear end felt really stiff and "sharp," as if it was over-sprung. I pulled over, put ESA back to my favorite "Sport" setting, and was once again sending silent thoughts of praise in the direction of those German engineers... It really works.

Re reliability, after 3000 miles I'm not deep enough in to comment. But no issues to date.

Fibzzz screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 01:55 PM
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fibzzz View Post
Ohlins now makes plug-and-play, electronically controlled replacements for the stock shocks. Fully ESA- and CAN bus-compatible using the OEM switch on the handlebar. If you're doing it, that's the way to go. The stock shocks on my '11 GSA are certainly passable, but the ride quality, tuneability and rebuildability (if that's even a word) of Ohlins is just the best. Combine that with electronic control, and it's all you could ever ask for out of your suspension. I will be upgrading to Ohlins next Spring (no pun intended!).

FWIW, I'm a big fan of ESA. I was initially a skeptic, but could not believe the difference when I took a badly rutted fire road with "Norm" street settings, then midway down the road pulled over and switched to the first of the two off-road ESA settings. It was a completely different bike -- it felt like it lost 250 lbs in a blink. The ride went from jarring and nervous and holy-shit-I'm-gonna-bite-it-any-second, to composed and confidence-inspiring. Crazy to say this about a big, heavy German tank like the GSA, but it actually reminded me of my old XR650 the way it handled the ruts. I was instantly able to add 15-20 mph to my speed.

I also took my wife for a spin a couple weeks ago, and adjusted the suspension for two-up. Then I forgot about it. The following Sunday I left for my morning ride and after a few miles noticed the rear end felt really stiff and "sharp," as if it was over-sprung. I pulled over, put ESA back to my favorite "Sport" setting, and was once again sending silent thoughts of praise in the direction of those German engineers... It really works.

Re reliability, after 3000 miles I'm not deep enough in to comment. But no issues to date.
Great feedback Fibzzzz (that is if you're not fibbin' - lol). I didn't realize the Ohlins options - like that! Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmex View Post
I scrapped the ESA on my '11 GSA and replaced it with Wilburs components. The ride is plush but firm on bigger hits and handling is superb. I would not want to have to deal with the ESA stuff going out in some remote place. Simpler is far better IMO. I envy you for upcoming RTW continuation. Saludos, Jim
I was torn initially between Wilburs and Ohlins when I put the Ohlins on my '07, decided on the Ohlins due to recommendation of a local suspension specialist in Austin, TX ... glad to hear you like your Wilburs. Have to say that hte Ohlins have treated me wonderfully during the 47,000 miles I've had them in all kinds of conditions. Do you know if they have the same capability like the Ohlins that Fibzzz mentions below?
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:46 PM   #6
bemiiten
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I believe Hyperpro also offers ESA compatible shocks also.
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:09 PM   #7
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I have a '10 GSA (late 09). Mid 2010 the urgh... Showa? I think suspension was replaced with WP components. Bear this in mind for comparison. Bought the bike with 4000km on the clock last January, now has 58,000km on the clock (didn't ride it for 6 months of that time as well). No problems with ESA, I've used all the main settings constantly, but don't often switch between soft/normal/hard. Terrain has been everything from 2up touring to 1up belting along to adventure riding complete with water crossings etc.

I wouldn't go back to standard suspension. How many hop off their bikes as we go from seal to gravel and give a few turns here, couple of clicks there? I sit on the bike, push button, suspension changes - and it really makes a difference.

On the downside, the suspension is not serviceable, so at some point it has to be replaced. Another set from BMW is bloody expensive, and you'll still replace in the future again (I do a few km, so this is a factor for me). There is no service interval so how long it will last is based on usage and guessing. I hoped I would get 70,000km+. After reading some comments by others, it was clear the performance of the suspension was detoriating faster than I thought, most noticeable was the increased dragging or touch down of stands on bumpy roads.

This weekend Ohlins EC is being fitted (first in NZ). On an introductory price it's actually cheaper than a BMW set and serviceable. As far as I can see, it's the most expensive whizz bang option amongst the aftermarket (including speed-based dynamic adjustment if you're on comfort mode) but the others don't have any agents near me, Ohlins has one of the best. You do lose the front preload adjustment (no aftermarket has this), but I've had normal Ohlins before and the performance is head and shoulders above the rest... Full adjustment of Ohlins isn't available yet, Ohlins is releasing the tools to agents later this year. I have gone for a spring one step heavier on the rear.

Have to see how it goes of course...
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Old 08-29-2012, 05:15 PM   #8
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Understanding that the factory ESA is a one-size-fits-all compromise, it's a damn good, damn effective compromise. I've got 12,000 miles on my 2012 Adventure on everything from fast mountain roads, to busted-up urban streets, to rutted-up dirt and sand trails. It's done a tremendous job dealing with varying loads and surfaces.

Get it with the bike, and if it fails during the warranty period, it's repaired for nothing. Once the bike's out of warranty and it's on my dime, I'll look into Wilbur's or Ohlins.
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearII View Post
I was torn initially between Wilburs and Ohlins when I put the Ohlins on my '07, decided on the Ohlins due to recommendation of a local suspension specialist in Austin, TX ... glad to hear you like your Wilburs. Have to say that hte Ohlins have treated me wonderfully during the 47,000 miles I've had them in all kinds of conditions. Do you know if they have the same capability like the Ohlins that Fibzzz mentions below?
Bear,
I bought my bike in Austin and have done business with those guys for a very long time. Yes the Wiburs has what's called WESA. The guy to ask all the question out in CA. The Beemer Shop IIRC. I bet its hard to buy a GSA w/o ESA; probably have to wait forever for a special order. I just disconnected mine.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:24 PM   #10
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Anyone know the cost of the Ohlins aftermarket ESA replacement?

Anyone know the cost of the Ohlins aftermarket ESA replacement?
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmex View Post
Bear,
I bought my bike in Austin and have done business with those guys for a very long time. Yes the Wiburs has what's called WESA. The guy to ask all the question out in CA. The Beemer Shop IIRC. I bet its hard to buy a GSA w/o ESA; probably have to wait forever for a special order. I just disconnected mine.
So did you swap to a wilburs for the ride quality? Esa failure is something i thought about but then again, i dont think its failure is going to leave you stranded.

Personally, i love it. Only 700 miles on the bike but i switch modes depending on the ride and if the wifey is along. I had full ohlins on the tuono and had it setup for me....once u are used to good suspension, its hard to go back. I find the stock setup very good. Maybe my tune will change once i load up for a trip, but so far, i wouldnt go back to standard manual suspension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by longslowdistance View Post
Anyone know the cost of the Ohlins aftermarket ESA replacement?
Salty, around 3200 for the pair.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:53 PM   #12
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The local people here that have ESA on their bikes have a general opinion to always get off of the bike and then make the ESA adjustments (never make ESA adjustments while the bike is loaded) - seems reasonable. 8K miles and no problems yet.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TuonoBiker View Post
So did you swap to a wilburs for the ride quality? Esa failure is something i thought about but then again, i dont think its failure is going to leave you stranded.

Personally, i love it. Only 700 miles on the bike but i switch modes depending on the ride and if the wifey is along. I had full ohlins on the tuono and had it setup for me....once u are used to good suspension, its hard to go back. I find the stock setup very good. Maybe my tune will change once i load up for a trip, but so far, i wouldnt go back to standard manual suspension.



Salty, around 3200 for the pair.
The ESA was pretty good. The Wilburs when set up exactly the way you want them are very good. I think the ESA shocks should be used for at least 12k - 15k miles before you replace them. Just my opinion.
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Old 08-29-2012, 11:42 PM   #14
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I have Ohlins on my '07 ADV(still own it). You can FINE tune the manually adjustable Ohlins or Wilbers infinitely more precisely than ANY 'ESA' shock is capable. The after market shocks (Wilbers or Ohlins, regular or ESA) come with the correct spring for your weight. The ESA, for the most part, simple turns (via the stepper motors) the hydraulic preload nob a set number of turns (5,12, 18?? maybe??) to allow for a more 'correct' sag but not as accurate as is capable with the manually adjustable shocks as you add weight to your ride(luggage +/- passenger).

Call Teddy Porter at the Beemershop in Scott's Valley, CA for the scoop on them, what they do well, and what they don't do well. I'm not related, just a satisfied customer.

I think I've heard the Ohlins ESA has more capabilities than the Wilber's, but that the aluminum Ohlins MUST be rebuilt twice as often as the steel Wilbers.

Teddy put some correctly sprung Wilbers on my '11 ADV and the push button thingy comes in VERY, VERY handy, but they are not as 'fine tunable' as the manual shocks.


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Old 08-30-2012, 03:45 AM   #15
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Oh, it's also probably worth noting I think there are 2 Ohlins options now. It was on here, can't remember the string I used to find it... ooh, Twalcom? whatever that means? Here it is: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=780793

This one only uses the 46DR shocks, basic stuff. The full EC option uses the TTX gear, which is top of the line.
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