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Discussion Starter #1
Hello folks. I was hoping someone out there could try something for me. I have a 2007 R1200RT and my ESA suspension problem is a bit different from most of the ESA issues that I have found on this forum. I have the same problem adjusting my preload that others have had but with a twist.

I took it to the dealer to diagnose the problem with the preload adjustment (one helmet, two helmets etc.) and was told the rear shock would need replacing. Yes, they even tried connecting 12 volts to the shock and it would not budge. On the way to the dealer, I also tested the damping adjustment (normal and sport) and they worked fine. When I left the dealer, it felt like the damping was not working either. I could set normal, comfort or sport on the screen, but it seemed to only be adjusting the rear suspension and not the front. I just remembered sport mode pounding me more on the freeway.

When I got home, I closed the garage door so I could listen carefully to the bike. I am 95% sure that I remember being able to hear (with the engine off) the transition from comfort to sport modes coming from the front shock. This can be adjusted with the engine off unlike the preload which requires neutral and the engine to be running. The sound I think was very quiet but a light clickety-click sound for about half of a second going from normal to sport or sport to normal.

The dealer states that if the display changes, the suspension is changing but I think they are wrong on this one. I think the rear is changing from comfort to sport but not the front. I want to be able to tell the dealer with 100 percent certainty that there should be a slight sound from the front suspension when switching from "comfort" to "sport" or "sport" to "comfort".

It would really help me out if someone could confirm the faint sound from the front suspension that I am almost sure I remember from when the bike was working. I am not talking about the transition from 1 helmet to 2 helmets but from "comfort" to "sport". It is not that hard to hear but it must be in a quiet garage with the engine off. I think that any 06 to 09 bike with ESA probably would make the same sound.

By the way, the sound occurs a few seconds after you release the esa button. I can still hear the faint sound of the rear suspension adjusting its damping, but the front makes no sound at all.

Thanks for all the great advice this forum has to offer. I will be sure to post what ultimately happens with this.
 

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OK, well since the roads are covered with salt and it's freezing over hear I can't really ride the thing so I've been to listen to it instead.

Yes, BOTH front and rear ESA suspension units do make the very faint noise exactly as you describe. I could only hear the front one at first, but taking the seat off and sticking my ear right next to the rear unit, I could hear that as well.

Hope that helps - after telling the wife to be quiet so I could listen to the bike without the engine running she thought I'd lost the plot :)

Late 2005 RT BTW
 

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Try a long handled screwdriver, handle against the part of the skull behind yer ear and the tip of the blade on the shock body. Might help with hearing the parts moving.
hth
\v/
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks JonA, that's exactly what I needed to know. Like you, I could not hear the rear at first either because it is quieter than the front. I only heard the rear shock adjust after the front one failed.

I remember the front shock making a sound while adjusting its damping that was loud enough to hear without the screwdriver trick but I think I'll try that anyway just to be sure. I actually have one of those cheap automotive stethoscopes that I used to find worn bearings in my car's alternator recently. Also a good suggestion.

Thanks folks; and I'll post here what I ultimately find out in case it helps anyone else.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sorry for the long delay in response. I've been busy lately and was hoping to resolve this problem before posting, but as yet, my ESA still does not work.

There is a little more to this story, so I'll start at the beginning. I initially brought the bike to the dealer with a month or so left on the warranty because the preload failed to adjust. It was the same symptoms that many others have had on this forum. When I held down the ESA button, nothing happened on the screen and the preload did not raise or lower the suspension. The dealer did what BMW tells them to do and reprogrammed the bike with their computer. As I understand it, the new software adds a little extra voltage to the shock to make the stuck parts begin turning again and after the new software the suspension worked perfectly.

Unfortunately, it failed again in the same way about 4 months later (this time out of warranty). Now the shock is really stuck so even the new software with its increased voltage does not make it adjust. When I took it to the dealer the second time, they charged me about $85.00 to diagnose the problem, (perfectly fair.) They said the rear shock needs to be replaced at a price of $2300.00. On my way to the dealer, I checked both the preload and the damping functions just to be sure and as I expected, the preload was not working but the damping was working fine. I opted not to replace the shock since that is quite a bit of money for a feature (albeit a cool one). On my way home, I tested both ESA functions again and now the front shock does not change its damping but the rear shock still does.

I checked it again and again and there is simply to damping adjustment on the front shock on the road and indeed, there is no sound coming from it like there used to be on switching from sport to comfort and back again. when I took it to the dealer the third time, I told them the front damping is not working after they looked at it and they reluctantly told me they would hook it up to the computer to check it out again. So I took it to them and left it for a few hours. When I got back they told me the computer showed no errors and that the damping was working fine in the front. They even showed me that when you sit on the parked bike and rock back and forth with the front brake on, the rocking changes when you switch form comfort to sport mode and back again. I explained again that the rear shocks damping was still working and that is what they were feeling, but that the front shock is still not working. I explained that on the road, you can clearly feel the front does not stiffen up, only the rear end of the bike and you should be able to hear the front damping adjustment but you can't.

The dealer is wrong in this case, the front damping is not working but they choose not to believe me and they refuse to try to fix it (since it isn't broken).

Has anyone heard of ESA functions being damaged simply by being hooked up to the BMW computer system and having diagnostics performed? I removed all the body panels myself to see if the dealer just left a connector loose or something, but threre is nothing obviously wrong.

By the way regarding the preload problem, BMW did offer me $1000 toward the price of the suspension as "goodwill" but if I understand the problem correctly, there are parts in the rear shock that can stick with age or inactivity. It seems to me that upping the voltage to the shock is more of a band-aid than a real repair. With most mechanical systems, if something is sticking, it usually gets worse over time. In my case anyway, upping the voltage just put the real problem (the sticking parts) off outside the warranty period when it should have been fixed properly the first time I brought it in. I don't fault the dealer for this because it is what BMW directs them to do if the damping fails in this way.

I really love driving my RT (and I'm still driving it regularly) but I am a bit dissapointed in BMW.
 

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flytailheavy, Here is one for you to think about, I have just had my front ESA shock replaced (05 1200RT) as it stopped working. It would cycle thro the different modes but no response from the shock. But at a cost of £1,050 + labour. No more ESA for me thanks.
 

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Further note to my last post is that the new ESA shock is fitted and everything is working just fine. Brought it home via the Motorway (Freeway) on Comfort (one helmet & case). I had forgotten how sweet these bikes run, It just glided up to far in excess of legal speeds. Can't wait to take it out on the twisties and try out the Sport setting.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hello Casamere. I just noticed your posts when I was going through the forum. Funny you mention your fun ride through the twisties. I never did fix my ESA but I am still riding my 07 R1200RT. It currently has about 36,000 miles and even with the ESA not working, it still feels better than any other bike I have ridden in twisties and pretty much anywhere else. I recently test drove a 2015 Yamaha FJR 1300. I loved the low end torque and smooth engine that it has, but that is about it. I like everything else better on the RT. Even stuck in one rider on the comfort setting, it still feels better in the corners than the brand new Yamaha. Go figure!
 

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Thanks for the follow up post. I always like to hear what has transpired since an original post. So many times there is a problem and you never hear if it was fixed or not. Looks like you are OK with not fixing it and still riding.
 

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My rear ESA strut failed last fall. It would cycle in the display but nothing would move.
I brought it to the dealer and was told that it had to be replaced ($$$$)
One forum member happened to have a used one and sold it to me. I replaced it myself and saved a lot of $$$.
Everything works perfectly now :dance:
Maybe you can find a used one in good shape also. There is also the Wilbur WESA option which is much cheaper than the OEM.
 
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