2018 GT - ESA question - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Do I understand correctly that ESA on my soon-to-be-delivered '18 GT eliminates the need to set preload and damping manually (as was required on my '16 GT without ESA)? For those with ESA, how good is it?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
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    ESA enables adjustment of the rear suspension DAMPING via a handlebar mounted selector. There are three settings, Comfort, Normal and Sport. Most of my riding is on country back roads which, like so many in UK, are bumpy and potholed so I tend to use Comfort setting most of the time which gives a good ride. Effectively, ESA replaces the small damping control knob on the rear suspension unit of non ESA bikes.
    ESA does not control the rear suspension unit PRELOAD---- you set that manually via a control knob and you will find forum threads giving guidance on preload setting in addition to info in the BMW manual.

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    Daboo's Avatar
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    You'll have to be careful in evaluating our replies. There might be a difference in your suspension since you have the 2018. Europe (and maybe the USA) got the version like you have in 2017...I think. I'm not positive. Anyway, you might have a slightly different suspension than I do for instance.

    As for the difference, I didn't think there was much of anything till I took my post-retirement ride. Normally, I just left the suspension on Comfort. When we hit some horrendous side winds, I found that putting the suspension on Normal really helped. If I'm doing any twisty roads, putting it on Normal really helps for having the suspension respond. I find that Sport is just a little too rough for the roads we have.

    Chris
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    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

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    flyrider's Avatar
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    OK...got it. I'm familiar with the preload adjustment from my '16 GT. Now that I think about it, the '16 must also have had ESA, because I recall being able to set "Comfort/Normal/Sport" with it. I usually left in in "Normal" and had good results. What I didn't have on the '16 were the ride modes (Rain/Road/Dynamic); I'm guessing this is similar to "Rain/Sport/Race" modes on my RR.

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    Not wishing to hijack this thread - (BTW Chris f - perfect explanation!) - but this is suspension / controls related. The other day I used the rear brake hard enough to 'slightly' lock the rear wheel. I felt a vibration through the brake pedal similar to that when you have ABS cutting in on a car. Now, was that the ABS or the ASC system activating - or both?

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    I would say ABS.
    On the ESA front - I really can't tell the difference between the three settings.... all feel the same to me.
    I can hear the motor noises from the shock (stationary, engine off, ignition on) so I guess it's working. As the bike is now out of warranty it's not going back for BMW to look as it.

  10. #7
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    I was an ESA skeptic until I realized Comfort made a noticeable improvement on rough roads. I'm no longer stingy with the selector.
    2012 BMW R1200R Classic | 2015 BMW R1200RT 

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  12. #8
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    I still have the stock shock with ESA adjustment for damping on mine, and can tell the difference between settings, but ordered a replacement Wilbers. Just haven't had time to install it yet as I'm out of the country. I found the stock shock very harsh on NORMAL or SPORT, only COMFORT was reasonable on roads in my area. I would move it to NORMAL when riding fast on twisty roads.

    I love the bike otherwise so I talked at length with Ted Porter at the BEEMER Shop and he explained that the stock shock doesn't have much travel due to the swingarm geometry - as a result it is wound very stiff and has a lot of compression damping to control the rear wheel. I could definitely feel that over large sharp bumps as the rear end will practically jump into the air.

    The other point he made was the three damping settings are not very granular compared to the 20 or 30 clicks of adjustment on the Wilbers, with both compression and rebound being separately adjustable. When I'm back this Spring I can't wait to get the shock mounted up and try it out. If it doesn't smooth the ride out adequately I will move back to an RT or GS.
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  13. #9
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinAZ View Post
    I still have the stock shock with ESA adjustment for damping on mine, and can tell the difference between settings, but ordered a replacement Wilbers. Just haven't had time to install it yet as I'm out of the country. I found the stock shock very harsh on NORMAL or SPORT, only COMFORT was reasonable on roads in my area. I would move it to NORMAL when riding fast on twisty roads.

    I love the bike otherwise so I talked at length with Ted Porter at the BEEMER Shop and he explained that the stock shock doesn't have much travel due to the swingarm geometry - as a result it is wound very stiff and has a lot of compression damping to control the rear wheel. I could definitely feel that over large sharp bumps as the rear end will practically jump into the air.

    The other point he made was the three damping settings are not very granular compared to the 20 or 30 clicks of adjustment on the Wilbers, with both compression and rebound being separately adjustable. When I'm back this Spring I can't wait to get the shock mounted up and try it out. If it doesn't smooth the ride out adequately I will move back to an RT or GS.
    I'm surprised you find the ride harsh. When I had my '16 GT, it was really nice and comfy, no matter the road...highway or twisties...in the "normal" setting. How much preload are you using? Could that be the issue? What's your body weight? Just curious, because this bike shouldn't be riding "hard". If you want to experience "hard" try a pre-DDC S1000RR; I had a '13 RR with analog suspension and hitting a small bump sent bad vibes right into the bones, to say nothing of my "nether regions"!

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    Weight is 185, plus riding gear, and I always leave the bags on with a few things in them, so it's certainly not a matter of inadequate load. I have not formally set sag or anything but I do have some when I sit on the bike. Preload adjusted part ways in but not too much. I checked the operation of the ESA and it appears to be functioning properly.

    In the past 6-7 years I have owned two R1200RT's, a V-Strom 1000v2, a Yamaha 1200 Super Tenere and a Versys 650 (briefly). The GT rides worse than any of them. It's the only one with noticeable harshness, but it probably has the shortest suspension travel of the bunch so that's probably part of it. And, it's the only one I've had in Arizona (Tucson).. the others were all up in Oregon so it could also be a statement about the quality of the pavement in the Southwest, lol.
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  16. #11
    Daboo's Avatar
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    Try adjusting your preload to zero. It works for me.

    Chris
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  17. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    Try adjusting your preload to zero. It works for me.

    Chris
    Zero seems a bit too soft, given his weight and luggage on with some stuff inside. I weigh maybe 155 with full gear and on my '16 (with panniers installed and a bit of stuff in them) I went full counter-clockwise to the stop on the adjuster, then dialed in 8 turns preload...ride was nice and mellow, so I don't get how his could be harsh. Something's not adding up.

    I just looked in the manual for the '18 GT and regarding preload adjustment, it says "without ESA". But they say nothing about adjustment "with" ESA. Does that mean you don't adjust preload if you have ESA? Not clear on this...

  18. #13
    Daboo's Avatar
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    Try it before knocking it.

    I wish I weighed 155. I'm closer to his weight and need to lose a lot after the fall feasting. I also have two 37 liter aluminum Trax side cases and a 46 liter Givi top box that I leave on all the time. And because I ride in any kind of weather (except for the rare occasions like now with snow outside right now), I'm carrying around clothes to be comfortable in a wide range of conditions.

    I can adjust for my riding conditions just fine with the ESA. It works.

    Chris
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  19. #14
    Richard230's Avatar
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    I can't say I am all that thrilled with the "semi-active", computer-controlled, ESA system on my R1200RS. It too is very harsh over sharp bumps, with way too much compression damping, plus, it only has two settings, "road" and "dynamic" and I can hardly tell the difference between the two. Also, the push-button preload adjuster randomly doesn't always function. The non-"semi-active" ESA system that was on my 2007 R1200R worked much better and had a wider range of damping settings.

    The latest ESA suspension units on the R-bikes are made by Sachs and I don't think they quite have things worked out yet. Either that or BMW has been dipping their ore into the damping adjustments of the Sachs design in an attempt to get their bikes to be stable when carry heavy loads. They certainly don't work well with a light solo rider and no luggage.
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  20. #15
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    Flyrider

    Get them to explain it when you pick up the bike.

  21. #16
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiffa View Post
    Flyrider

    Get them to explain it when you pick up the bike.
    Bike being shipped. Anyway...I had a '16 GT and now recall the preload/ESA routine. It's interesting, though, that the manual (for the '18 model) on page 66 discusses setting preload "without ESA"...as if there is no adjustment if you have ESA. I'll know when the bike gets here, if there's a preload adjuster, but if it's the same setup as the '16, there will be. It's just that there is no preload adjustment instruction for bikes "with ESA". Can you comment on that?

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    Hey Fly,
    Check out a guy named Dave Moss. He has a web page and has al kinds of videos on suspension setup.
    My guess is the preload is just for spring adjustment, which gets your bike at the right setting for your weight. The ESA is for the damping rate of the gas or oil inside the shock body.

  23. #18
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Banus View Post
    Not wishing to hijack this thread - (BTW Chris f - perfect explanation!) - but this is suspension / controls related. The other day I used the rear brake hard enough to 'slightly' lock the rear wheel. I felt a vibration through the brake pedal similar to that when you have ABS cutting in on a car. Now, was that the ABS or the ASC system activating - or both?
    This brings up a good point. I, too, have "locked" the rear wheel using the rear brake only, when slowing at the side of the road where some fine "gravel" existed. The rear wheel actually slid a bit. The question occurs to me that the rear brake alone may not have ABS...would that be correct? There's no ABS "rim"/disk (not to be confused with the brake disk) on the rear wheel as there is on the front. And if I'm not mistaken, when the front is activated, it also activates the rear ("linked" brakes), so in such an instance you WOULD have ABS function...but when rear brake only is activated, there is no ABS.

    Correct, or not?

  24. #19
    Daboo's Avatar
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    There's an ABS disk and sensor on the rear wheel.

    Chris
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  25. #20
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    There's an ABS disk and sensor on the rear wheel.

    Chris
    Time to go look...but why would the rear wheel "lock" and slide in gravel if it is ABS-capable?

    LATER: I checked and you're right...there is an ABS ring on the rear, but it's well hidden. Again, though, why would the tire slide in gravel using the rear brake? Wouldn't the ABS keep that from happening? And if there were an ABS fault, the ABS warning light would be lit...correct?

  26. #21
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    The F800GT doesn’t have linked brakes.
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  27. #22
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    Compared with other bikes I have ridden the GT's rearbrake is weak with little effective stopping power above walking pace.
    The ABS is easily triggered - without it great care would be needed to prevent a skid at almost any quick stop.
    It good at low speed to help manovering but has little effective braking bite once above a fast walking pace.
    Mind you one bike I had (non ABS linked brakes ST1100) would lock and slide the rear wheel at the mere hint of pedal pressure. That would routinely slide on all but the best dry road surface.

    The GT's front brake works very well and is easily controled with plenty of power.
    The front ABS works well - I have tested it in earnest from 30mph -- thank you Mr. Audi Driver for giving me the opertunity
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  28. #23
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emlevy View Post
    The F800GT doesn’t have linked brakes.
    Just looked over some old posts on the subject and, you're right...not linked. My mistake.

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    The GT could really do with linked brakes, imho.

    Anyway, my ESA suspension settings seem to be what everyone else is using: I use 'Comfort' if the road is busted up, 'Normal' other times. I don't use the sharper setting at all. I can feel the difference.

  30. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bogbody View Post
    Compared with other bikes I have ridden the GT's rearbrake is weak with little effective stopping power above walking pace.
    The ABS is easily triggered - without it great care would be needed to prevent a skid at almost any quick stop.
    It good at low speed to help manovering but has little effective braking bite once above a fast walking pace.
    Mind you one bike I had (non ABS linked brakes ST1100) would lock and slide the rear wheel at the mere hint of pedal pressure. That would routinely slide on all but the best dry road surface.

    The GT's front brake works very well and is easily controled with plenty of power.
    The front ABS works well - I have tested it in earnest from 30mph -- thank you Mr. Audi Driver for giving me the opertunity
    this is what i'm finding too - i have seldom used the rear brake on any of my last 4 bikes, including the GT - but in the last week i have been at least exploring the use of it - adjustment (if available) is on the docket for today -
    '13 F800GT
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