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Old 5 Dec 2008
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Works Performance BMW R80G/S

I have just tried to get hold of a Works performance shock. Unfortunatly they could not provide a shock suitable. They could not supply one with a spring and apparantly seals which they say would melt, if used with a combined rider and equipment weight of more than 250ilbs over certain rough terrain.
So I think my best option is maybe a Wilbers shock. As they seem to cover all the options.

I would be much interested to hear from any personal experiences with Wilbers shocks.
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Old 17 Dec 2008
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Interesting thread.
I'd like to share my small experiences, during a month long 5000 mile trip to Greece, over some poor roads through Albania, riding 2 up with quite a bit of gear (approx 240kgs all in), I upgraded the rear spring to cope with the weight (from 13kg/mm to 15kg/mm). This worked fine.

Bike was a 650 Transalp and the shock was original with 50,000miles and no probs with the damping or handling.

I'd do the same or greater trip with the same setup without hesitation.

I guess bike shocks vary in quality & longevity but they aren't always as poor as what people make them out to be!

650 Transalp
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Old 18 Dec 2008
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So I guess ...

... just a new spring it will be. My Honda TA, model 1991, 50.000km, 400ccm Japanese market engine runs great, but with 2 up plus all the equipment ... well, I am not that much of an expert, but I guess the original spring could be replaced. Any recommendations for a "good one"?? Shouldn't be overwhelmingly expensive either.
Klaus D. Orth
A German in Japan
1992 Honda TA
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Old 5 Oct 2009
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I throught I would add a bit mre life to this thread. I have a 2001 africa twin. replaced rear shock with basic white power unit before I left. Now in Lahore Pakistan waiting for a new one (can only get orignal honda quickly) as the white power unit broke in 2 a couple days ago. leaving me a 700km ride with a jammed rear shock. The Bottom of the piston/body was ripped out threads and all. The insides wer then pulverized by the shaft smashing about inside the piston area.
I was giving it a bit on a dirt road came off a 1ft slope (bike did not leave the ground) and came down a little hard and bang! The shock had done 8000miles. It did not bottom out, I have never bottomed it out as it is correctly set up. So I am not very happy as it is going to cost me a arm and a leg to get this new one out here not to mention the hell it is going to be getting it out of customs!
I fitted the same, basic white power shock on to my TTR600 (not exactly same shock, but same model) and crossed africa 36'000km of very bad roads with the same load as I have now (+/- 50kg) I gave it hell and loved it never let medown, thats why I changed the africa twin to white power. This one however had nothing of the same treatment and is now compleatly knackered. I am going to email WP to try to find out what went wrong with it.
George Guille
I will just have to hope that the standard lasts longer and proforms ok.
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Old 15 Dec 2009
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I know this won't be easy, but is it possible that some one can set-up some type of RELIABILITY league table for all rear shocks used by the guys and gals out there.

I am also stuck as to which one is most reliable and suitable for all terains.
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Old 31 Jan 2010
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The shocker

I have an R1200GSA and have been waiting for the original rear shocker to die ....nearly 50,000 most on rough Alpine roads 2 up with luggage and I am big. Bit surprising after the reports I had heard about the original not lasting long, my thought was to kill it and replace with an Ohlins but now I am not so sure, Getting ready to go to PNG on the begining of my RTW trip
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Old 28 Mar 2010
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Whoops it heard me I am now in Port Douglas FNQ waiting on the arrival of a new rear shock..... I could think of worse places to be stuck. And it is very wet at the moment
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Old 30 Mar 2010
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Shocks / Chris Smith

If no money problem, Buy the shocks. If it is, Change the springs only . For 20 - 30 extra, That should do. Once upon a time I made an trip on Caspian sea area on my 78 CB 750. With my buddy and lots of equipments ( Tent, Oil lamp, tools, Etc ) On the back, Stock suspensions . Many bumps on the road and cruising some places at 140 Km . Total trip of 1000 Km trip ended fine . Wish the best.
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Old 3 May 2010
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I have finally received the shock I ordered ....delayed by a smoking volcano somewhere in the world. It is fantastic a much lighter,stronger than the Showa (original) and works exceptionaly well . Even fully loaded it makes the GSA feel like a sports bike. It is a Wilber.
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Old 5 Oct 2010
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Alot of very good and interresting info here. I ride an 09' 1200GSA, I have 70,000kms on it, from Canada to Ushuaia and now on my way back. I started with the original shock and an overloaded bike, the handleling was terrible, after approx 10,000kms, in Seattle, at Touratec I went for an Ohlins, I calculated my max weight and min weight (including me), with regards to luggage and passengers. I then told them to set the preload and install the correct spring to half of the difference, approx 750lbs. This gave me the flexibility that ineeded. The preload seal blew twice, but with the way it was set up, I only had to adjust the rebound to bring the ride back to normal. For the 1200GSA, I would strongly recommend the "Mudsling" to keep unwanted dirt from covering the shock, just Google, mudsling.
To this day I am still truly amazed at what that shock has been through. The right spring and factory preload will take you to Hell, through Hell and back. If you want to see where I have been, wwwnoboundaries.blogspot.com and I dont like riding slowly.
Ride safe
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Old 14 Jan 2011
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For another opinion, ask Chris Bright about how good stock shocks are - on his BMW R100GS he went through 4 stock shocks before he got wise and installed (I think) an Ohlins.

I indeed broke 4 stock rear shocks (including one that snapped into 3 pieces on the Ruta 40 in Patagonia!). I was riding solo, but with a lot of luggage and also giving the bike more abuse than it was ever designed for.
A long time after this was posted but I hope my reply will explain.

The reason the standard shock wears quickly is because the top and bottom mounts on the R100GS are not in line and the shock has to move in a rather strange way. The stiff rubber bush in the lower mounting on the stock shock acts to restrict this movement and pushes the rod sideways into the bush and seal causing them to wear out earlier than they should.
The solution is a spherical bearing in the lower mounting which allows the rod to align itself with the shock body throughout the full suspension movement. Most top rated shocks like Ohlins and WP plus some others have a spherical bearing fitted. Don't be tempted to buy anything with a rubber bush in the lower mount.
2002 Tiger955i @ 69000 miles.
2011 Tiger800XC @ 26000 miles.
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Old 8 Apr 2011
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AT suspension

Stock shock definitely improved with professional revalve and full rebuild.
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Old 13 Aug 2011
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Originally Posted by Simon Harby View Post
Thanks for the warning about Ohlins....

So, from our experiences, neither manufacturers are reliable!

One thing with the Ohlnis, is at least its repairable, the honda shock (showa) is a sealed unit, unless you can tell me otherwise..

Could you also let me know what weight you were riding with and on what surface?? This may help diagnose a consistant fault?

All sounds like a gamble??
I've had a fair bit of experience with Ohlins and Penske shocks, and the statements above don't take into consideration fitness for use, nor a good suspension shop/expert correctly setting up and configuring a shock for your particular usage.

Take my NT650 for example. The Penske model I've got on there at the moment is sold online via several vendors for use with my bike, as well as many other bikes. But what they don't tell you is that the shock internals are built for loads generated by a swingarm that's hooked up to the chassis via a linkage. The NT650 does not have a linkage, it's bolted straight onto the swingarm. The internals supplied in the shock are provided in vanilla format by Penske for the application they most commonly market that model shock for - bikes with linkages. Penske will advise that for an application where the shock is directly attached to swingarm and chassis upgraded internals are required as forces dissipated through the shock at certain points of the swingarm's travel are MUCH higher.

This is why, with Ohlins, buying over the internet via eBay is not always a good idea. Sure, Ohlins has a shock body they specify for use with 20 models of bike, and eBay seller has bolted onto the shock body the mounting hardware for your specific model of bike, but this is not representative of what Ohlins (or a competent Ohlins supplier) would sell you if they had your bike and usage requirements in front of them when they built the shock.

I get my shocks built by a guy who used to race in both the UK and US, he's built shocks for British Supersport teams and a few Irish road racers. He's got over 70,000 hours of riding/tuning/racing under his belt and he knows shocks inside out. He takes a stock Penske/Ohlins/WP shock, and installs the internals applicable to the usage you will be demanding of it.

I found him because, when I installed the Penske I'd bought off eBay on my NT650, it blew and leaked all down the shaft within a few thousand k's. Once the internals were installed that were suitable to the application, the shock's 16,000 k's in and copped an absolute hiding, and not a peep yet from it. All that was required was the 2 or 3 washers Penske sells to solve the problem my bike causes their standard shock.

Ohlins, Penske, WP shocks are extremely customisable. There's a huge range of shims, bearings, seals available for building a shock that will perform and last.

Even cheap sh*t like Showa is perfectly OK when the internals are correctly specified, which is what BMW will have done when they specified exactly what Showa had to provide for the OEM bike.

Which, would probably explain why many of the replacement shocks are dying so fast - they're probably not built to the exact same specs as the ones that shipped on the bike out of the showroom. You're most likely getting the same shock body, but the internals aren't specifically selected to withstand the sort of abuse BMW would have explicitly specified they should on the showroom-shipping unit.
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Originally Posted by deandean View Post
Just been searching for info about Ohlins rear shocks for my AT.2002 model with 14,000kms on original Showa...no problem with it but i want to upgrade after some recent rough riding in Morocco got me thinking would ohlins or WP be any better.Plan some more African trips soon and i am sure i will be going on rough pistes so would like to go prepared with 'quality' set up.I have no idea of the difference in handling until i actually spend the money and replace the part......i assume it would improve things....(a friend has WP on a small trials bike and said the difference is amazing)even if i am happy with the Showa do you think its worth the money?I very rarely ride 2 up and am of the mind that most of what i need can be bought when i need it....when i get there...and can be given away to someone needy if i don't plan to use it for a couple of thousand Ks....costly but more comfortable i believe(the times i have packed,unpacked then packed things that i have never used is crazy)so generally travel light...no big tank...i'm a light weight 75kilos.....zega full kit and no more on top.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Hi Dean, do you use the rebound and compression adjusters on your standard shock at the moment? Do you adjust the spring preload on it when you ride laden vs unladen?

If not, there's not much point going for an Ohlins. Just get a smart suspension guy to install matching fork + shock springs for your weight, usage and riding style.

Ohlins/Penske/WP will only do what you tell it to do. They are better shocks, yes; but they will only perform based on the settings you select (Comp, Reb, Preload). On my bike, I change the settings of my shock & forks for different temperatures, different surfaces, and when I run different tyres. EG, in hot weather, I up the compression and add a touch of rebound; cold I back both off in the forks as freezing cold air chills the forks, and thickens the fork oil, essentially increasing the damping (comp+reb) settings a few clicks. Rough road surfaces with a harder compound tyre I back off the settings a little to allow for a stiffer tyre carcass; on softer tyres that have more pliable carcasses I stiffen the settings up.

I know what good handling feels like, and I know what the clickers do; so when I'm not happy with the way my bike is handling I know what settings to adjust to get it right. This is the difference between stock stuff and Ohlins/Penske/WP - the stock Showa kit on my CBR600RR & 1000RR was frustrating as it wouldn't stay consistent - the valving, oil passages are made to a price point - when the oil viscosity changes, my damping changes... a lot. This isn't acceptable to me. I don't want to be half way through a track day battling it out having my rear end going soggy on me. I'm not going to pull over to click more compression into the rear and then blast out again. I want the damn shock to damn well stay consistent from beginning to end.

Another thing that annoys me is the rubber membrane in the stock stuff. The gas leaks through it and mixes with the oil, making what we call a 'milkshake' shock. The shock works the gas into the oil after riding for a while and it becomes foam, and voila - you've just lost any damping. The shock body depends on oil for cooling, and the shock piston is thrashing the hell out ofthe gas-riddled foamy mix, the shock body overheats, the piston scores the daylights out of the bore, the shaft welds itself to the seals and blam - bits break.

Ohlins/Penske/WP kit has a metal separator between the gas and oil, this keeps the oil and gas from mixing and your milkshake foamy mayhem from happening. Non-milkshaked oil keeps the shock properly lubricated and cooled, and thus prevents premature failure.

However, bang for your buck, if you don't use your adjusters, and you don't subject the bike to brutal punishment, the best solution is this:

1. Matching springs front + rear
2. Fork oil change
3. Learn to use your standard suspension clickers

If you are an experienced rider, and the stock kit does not offer you the adjustment you want, and (like me) you do notice the difference between the stock kit and aftermarket, then get someone to build up Ohlins/Penske/WP kit. Make sure you fully tell them as much detail about the application you will be using the bike for, the anticipated loads etc, and make sure you get their assurance that the shock is built with the correct internals for the kind of abuse you wish to dish.

If in doubt, email an Ohlins distributor or Ohlins technical support directly. They can suggest shims & bits and you can pass that info on to your Ohlins supplier to order from Ohlins and build you the shock that you need.

Edit: if you can get the stock shock professionally revalved and reconditioned for a cheap price, this is also a good option for the budget conscious. However, if it approaches 2/3 of the price of an Ohlins/Penske/WP, don't waste your money and try to polish a turd. Spend the bit extra and get a quality shock, that's properly set up.
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