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Thread: Soft / Normal / Sport

  1. #16
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Central PA
    Quote Originally Posted by bobzeliff View Post
    Yes But the value depends on your riding style and how fussy about handling your are.

    I have a 2016 R1200RS, so I'm talking abut that version of ESA.....there are one should not over generalize.

    I use "Road" mode most of the time. I set the preload at one rider with baggage. The "road" mode provides the softest ride, moderate damping...easiest on the back side! On bumpy (frost heaved) secondary roads it does allow some "pogoing" i.e. post bump up and down motions. If you are riding hard, these motion definitely degrade handling,setting lines in corners, weight transfer, braking, etc.

    This is what the Dynamic setting is for....firms up dampening a fair about..makes riding aggressively in corners more predictable ...a definite plus. It is not so much pleasure on your back side or wrists, riding rough roads in this a relaxed pace. You have the harsh ride down side but do not need the handling improvement provided.

    Note, To my knowledge NO ESA system provide adjustable high speed dampening. Also note adjustable preload is NOT the same as optimizing the spring rate for you and your riding style.

    If you want the "best" handling buy Ohlins or Wilbers and take the time to adjust them (took me a month of riding) to your liking....but understand if you add passenger and or a lot of have substantially knocked your setting way out of whack. ....and new settings take time to find.

    With ESA you push a button....pre load and dampening are change to your new load. Results will not be as good as Ohlins or Wilbers but it only took 5 seconds.
    I'm 6-ft and weigh ~200-lbs. The road mode, single rider, no luggage DESA setting on my R1200RS is pretty much a rock on small bumps. My riding is mostly on the two lane roads of northern PA. The damping on the electronic shock is obviously not functioning in a proper manner.

    Now to your point of adjustment...........It's a "digital" adjustment, not continuous. If one of three preload / two damping modes suits you, then it's grand. If not......then you're unhappy. A "manual" system might take longer to adjust, but it's continuously variable over a range. As long as the shock is properly configured to provide that range, the operator can tune to suit their individual tastes. IMHO.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  2. #17
    Registered User wbrownell9's Avatar
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    Jun 2013
    New Castle, DE
    2015 RT: soft = floaty; road = harsh on expansion joints OK but not great otherwise; dynamic = great on twisties
    2016 GS: soft = well damped for freeways; normal = well damped for general riding; hard = well damped for twisties.

    People ask why I traded a perfectly good one-year-old RT for a GSA, suspension was the main reason. Also longer range, not as hot in the mid-Atlantic summers, and I can open the panniers without everything falling out. Losing the RT radio was irrelevant since I never used it anyway.
    2016 R1200 GSA

  3. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Central Suffolk, Long Island
    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    Now to your point of adjustment...........It's a "digital" adjustment, not continuous. If one of three preload / two damping modes suits you, then it's grand. If not......then you're unhappy. A "manual" system might take longer to adjust, but it's continuously variable over a range. As long as the shock is properly configured to provide that range, the operator can tune to suit their individual tastes. IMHO.
    Both of you (36654 & bobzeliff) are correct (imho).
    I am 5'10.5", 148lbs.
    I pretty much get the same results as bob but certainly agree with 36654's comment above.
    I am in the court of: I feel a difference & that is enough for me.
    So I suppose it all depends . . .

  4. #19
    Registered User jswisc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    2014 Rt here with ESA. I have a Honda VFR with fully reworked suspension and race a Ducati 800ss with Ohlins. Both of these bikes are set to my weight with track gear. Damping/comp is set also and really allows for excellent handling. But if I were to load luggage or a pillion on either bike each would suffer. My RT is pretty good with the stock ESA primarily due to it's great frame. I definitely notice when I change from soft/normal/sport and one helmet/luggage/2 helmet. This allows easy adjustment when my wife might climb on 2-3 days a week, I ride to work alone 5 days a week, and ride twisties with my friends on the weekend. It doesn't give me track level performance in any of those situations, but way better than trying to manually change preload, etc. What I learned from racing is any suspension, no matter how expensive, should be reworked for the specific weight and type of riding you plan to do for the best in performance and ride.
    2014 RT, 2008 Honda VFR, 2003 Ducati 800ss race bike

  5. #20
    Boxers uber alles sagerat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Central Oregon
    '09 GSA and I can tell a difference between the three settings. Bike's handling is firmer in sport and comfort is a cushier ride. But I pretty much leave it in Normal for 99.9% of the time.

  6. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2015
    South Central PA
    I can absolutely feel the difference between soft, normal and hard settings on my GS. I set it up and adjust it the exact same as 58058D - 1 helmet + luggage. I leave it at this setting but change between soft, normal, and hard all the time depending on the road and how I'm riding.

    I eventually upgraded to Ohlins on all my sport bikes and my dedicated track bike. Yes, the suspension performance was great especially after riding 2 years on the stock GSXR 750 (track bike) and then upgrading to Ohlins front and rear. But the springs were dialed in for my weight, fine tuned for high/low speed rebound and compression damping, and road use or track use.

    With the GS, my load changes from full packed luggage to the weight of running a few errands around town to me solo riding. While the suspension is probably not perfect in every condition, it certainly works great across the entire usage profile. I'm very pleased with BMW's suspension and love the on-the-fly adjustability.

    Quote Originally Posted by 58058D View Post
    For me, on the K1300S, I would set the spring at One helmet + Luggage for my solo riding, with no luggage weight. Depending on the road I was on for my commute, I toggled between all three damping settings. For the rough sections I was in either soft or normal if I felt like a spirited ride. For smooth roads in the twisties, definitely I was in Sport mode. Sport mode for Track use. Freeways, normal or soft depending on the quality of the road again. Riding two up, with no luggage, I used the 2 helmets + Luggage, never road 2 up with luggage, so I did not need the extra spring on that. The spring provides the support neccesary for the forces the bike (and you) are experiencing, the damping adjustments determine how rapidly the shock is allowed to react to an impact/bump, etc.

    On the K1300S, there was a significant difference in all these settings. Are they superior to aftermarket dialed in properly? Absolutely NOT. However, for me, they were very 'reasonable' settings and I was able to work with them. They were Very convenient. That is the real key, convenient.
    2015 R1200GSA

  7. #22
    Registered User d martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    "The Gas City" SE Alberta

  8. #23
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Nibley, UT USA
    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    Suspension response should impact handling.

    Personally, have I found the ESA to be of value? No. It's a mediocre quality shock with an electronic farkle that seems to function erratically. Sadly, that farkle limits the owner to only one replacement option at this time. IMHO, a good aftermarket shock without the farkle would be significantly better.

    I have replaced the OEM shocks on my K13GT with HyperPro shocks, with the ESA bits transferred to the HP shocks. All done by Klaus at EPM Performance Imports. They had a rally special at Bozeman that I could not resist, Klaus and company have been great to work with, and the shocks are better than OEM and infinitely rebuildable. So, I qualify as a satisfied customer.

    Having said that, if I were doing it over again I'd skip ESA and buy a pair of fully adjustable HP shocks and start dialing them in. Here's why:

    1. Sorry, BMW, but the design of the Duolever contains an inherent harshness, a lack of suppleness that shocks can't fix. Just stick a fork on it...

    2. Now that we have that out of the way, the root problems with ESA are that you can't set the baselines, and can't set the degree or amount of adjustment that is applied to preload or damping rates at each setting.

    So, you're stuck with whatever baseline and steps the engineering department decided would be useful for the average size/weight rider exercising average skills on that model bike under average conditions. If you and your riding fit nicely within the design parameters you think ESA is better than sliced bread. If you fall outside the parameter window then you don't find much utility in the ESA functionality and would rather not spend the money for ESA but instead put it toward good aftermarket suspension. Unfortunately, getting a non-ESA/DESA version of many of the new models is difficult or impossibile.

    IMHO, of course...
    1983 R80ST 1984 R80 G/S PD 1993 R100GS 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C 2010 K1300GT
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

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