I struggled with that decision. In the end the I ended up without it and have no regrets. The idea is cool but being limited in replacement shock choices was a deal breaker for me. The bike handles fine as is and on the rare occasions when I need to make manual adjustments it only takes a moment to do. Others here have removed ESA and installed Wilburs or similar for the ride they wanted.
Anyone who hasn't had it, doesn't know what they're missing. It is the ONLY feature I miss having gone from an '06 GT to my current 2010 Concours14. Having said that, I think Kawasaki's stock shocks are better than BMW's.
It's just like an electric windshield, or cruise control on a bike. It's easy to say, "You don't need it.". Well ... until you've had it. :bmw:
I agree with the first two respondants. I don't have it and don't miss it.........but I bet if I did have it, I would love it until it went belly up and I saw the replacement bill. I imagine its more of a "must have" if you ride two up part of the time.
I bought a used RT with the ESA and loved it.
At first I thought there was not difference between damping modes, 5 thousand miles in and I decided that I could feel the differance between Soft/Normal & Sport, 10k miles later I wasn't using soft very much at all, 5 k later I'd decided they were deteriating a bit to quick for my liking. At 34000 on the bike, I fitted Wilbers.
Would I buy another bike with ESA? Yes if if it didn't cost me any extra, but I would rather buy a bike with Wilbers fitted.
You don't need to buy the BMW sourced ESA shocks when they wear out. Wilbers and Hyperpro are offering replacements that use ESA for prices slightly higher than their standard offerings. The nice thing is these shocks are rebuildable and they can be built with your weight and style considered so they are the last shock you will need. Also Works will build ESA shocks for you using the actuators from your original shocks. You have many options when the original shocks have reached their useful service life.
If you like the concept it is a good option. I had ESA on my 06 and the shocks lasted for 50000 miles with no problems. On my 2011 RT I got ESA again and enjoy the benefits of the new ESA II. Both the earlier and latest ESA shocks are made by WP for BMW so they are better quality than the standard OEM shocks.
I really like the on the fly adjustment of damping the ESA provides. I don't change the pre-load much as I ride solo most of the time. It is nice the adjust when the bike is loaded for a big ride as opposed to a day ride. With the ESA II in addition to the different pre-load you get a different rear spring rate. I like what this does for the handling.
There is plenty of discussion about ESA's merits and drawbacks. There are compelling reasons to go either way.
I have ESA on my 09 RT and I use both the damping and preload adjustments occasionally but usually just run it in 2UP-Standard. If I was lighter (I weigh 225) or rode two up, etc I would probably appreciate it more.
I was amazed when I swapped the stock shocks for Ohlins on my 05 GS. I look forward to doing that on my RT someday in the future (probably distant future at the rate I'm going). If necessary, I would gladly trade the electronic adjustments for the supple ride of the aftermarket shocks. It will be great though to be able to have both.
Question is - Would you buy a bike without not having ESA? For 2008, ESA was a part of a package deal that came on the bike I bought. If I had the choice I would probably pick it anyway. I like having it since I ride two up a lot and my wife can really tell the difference between damping modes and rear spring rate setting. If it were just me I'd be fine without it and a good pair of fully adjustable shocks.
A forum community dedicated to BMW Luxury Touring motorcycle owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about performance, modifications, classifieds, troubleshooting, maintenance, reviews, and more!