How long does stock suspension last?

Dirt_Dad

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#1
Yes, I know for many of you it last as long as it takes to get the bike home and change it. I've done the searching, we have a lot of threads here about upgrading the suspension. I didn't find anything about the normal lifespan of the stock suspension. If I missed it, please point me in the right direction.

If it's not here, I'm wondering about my stock ES suspension. I generally consider suspension to be a dark art that I will never understand, or truly appreciate. But I'm starting to think I may have a suspension issue, and I'm wondering if it's due to my bike being over 39K miles and time for spring replacement. My 2015 ES is just 9 miles short of where my 2012 was when I hit the deer and totaled it. I hadn't noticed any issues with my 2012, but I was also over 5K miles into a cross country ride and maybe it would have started to show up soon.

Why I'm suspicious: In July, during our ride out west, the bike started to have a small left/right steering wobble as it was coming to a stop. Just at the last 1 or 2 mph to 0 mph phase, and not every time. I chalked this up to either the warped brake disc, or possibly the steering which has not been torqued to specs since the last steering lube at 20K miles. You could not pull on the forks and feel any play. The bike was fully loaded for the trip and set to 2-helmets + luggage. and Standard on the suspension. I was concerned enough that upon getting home I took the bike straight to Romney to have them lube the steering and get things re-torqued correctly. I ordered a new front disc and took care of the warped one.

This weekend took another fully loaded ride. Bike was initially in just 2-helmets and standard. Got the wobble again. Went to 2-helments + luggage. Still wasn't fully happy with this setting. So took the bike to Hard + 3. Everything seemed to settle down and be normal. I kept those settings in place the remaining 400+ miles of the ride.

I've never needed to keep the bike at Hard when fully loaded with just me and the cases. But I'm wondering if I'm I getting to the end of the useful life of stock suspension. Of course I could also be missing something that I don't even realize.
 

EricV

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#2
I don't have any experience with the ES. On my '12 I noticed the rear shock degrading at about 50k. A stiffer spring helped, but was really a bandaid to the shock wearing.

Have you changed the fork oil? I need to do that at the moment. I've done it before and it did seem to improve handling.

Some people I've spoken with feel the OEM shocks start to degrade around 25k or so and most of us just don't notice. I fully admit I'm not very sensitive to suspension changes and rarely fuss with it once I have it set up.
 

Dirt_Dad

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#3
I did change the fork oil for the first time at about 28K. Dumped out the old into a measuring cup and put that much fresh back in. I really don't know %$& about suspension. That is the total extent of what I've done to this point.
 
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#4
When I had my new ES at Race Tech the service manager suggested 5000-10000 maximum miles for refresh. This is under normal street riding conditions. (oil, bushings, seals, shims and other wearable parts). Of course bringing it in brand new for a quality oil in shock and fork will make a big difference in longevity of the bushings.

For that wobble the first thing I suggest is removing your front wheel and grab each leg at the lug. Try to rock them front to rear/side to side. Any kind of play at all indicates your bushings are shot. Most of the time you will get just front to back play. If you have any side to side play then it's way past the need of service.

IMO keeping fresh suspension is a must.
 

Don in Lodi

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#5
Have you done anything with the tires in the same time span? Twice now, with the same brand of tire, I had a rear tire issue in the last 10-20% that caused a weird front end wobble.
 

Dirt_Dad

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#6
I have 14K miles on the front E-07 Dakar. Still look pretty good. Closing in on 10K on the rear E-07 Dakar.

How do you diagnose a rear tire causing a front end wobble?
 

Don in Lodi

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#8
I have 14K miles on the front E-07 Dakar. Still look pretty good. Closing in on 10K on the rear E-07 Dakar.

How do you diagnose a rear tire causing a front end wobble?
That was the problem, did a bunch of chit to the front end (really needed the work anyway) before I 'needed' to replace the rear tire and the wobble went away. Thought the tire issue was a one-off thing, but it happened again with the same brand tire waiting in the wings. The tires weren't Mitas. All I could figure the tires had a small belt slip, wasn't visible on a free spin.
 

Dirt_Dad

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#9
When I had my new ES at Race Tech the service manager suggested 5000-10000 maximum miles for refresh.

For that wobble the first thing I suggest is removing your front wheel and grab each leg at the lug. Try to rock them front to rear/side to side. Any kind of play at all indicates your bushings are shot. Most of the time you will get just front to back play. If you have any side to side play then it's way past the need of service.
5000 miles? I'm glad I'm not a good enough rider to be able to feel difference when not changing that frequently.

Next time I get the bike up on the table I'll see if I get any play.

That was the problem, did a bunch of chit to the front end (really needed the work anyway) before I 'needed' to replace the rear tire and the wobble went away. Thought the tire issue was a one-off thing, but it happened again with the same brand tire waiting in the wings. The tires weren't Mitas. All I could figure the tires had a small belt slip, wasn't visible on a free spin.
It would be astonishing to think the new K60 I have sitting in the garage could potentially fix anything. Like you said, I'll assume you had a one-off and not get my hopes up.
 

Sierra1

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#10
I'm with Don. I'd look at tire issues before the suspension at that mileage. For two reasons: 1) tires are likely to be cheaper than new springs. 2) you've said that you have 10k miles on them; and if putting on fresh rubber, which you'll need soon anyway, fixes the problem....

I've had front tires that get cupped, and "shimmy" at a certain speed. Plenty of life left on them, it's not a bad shake, it doesn't effect handling, and it doesn't bother me since I know why it's happening.
 

gv550

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#11
I bought a Hyperpro shock for my bike and the selling/service dealer recommend it to be overhauled every 20-25,000 kms, and I have nearly that on it now only 2 months in. It replaced the stock shock at 100k due to a leaking seal and I could feel a huge improvement with the new shock so the old one was really shagged. I've replaced fork oil 3 times and seals once and every time I service them I can feel a marked improvement, so I have to agree with the experts..... Replace or service front and rear suspension no later than 25,000 kms. (15,000 miles)
 

holligl

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#12
Ok, you made me check the manual. Both front and rear: Check operation and for oil leakage every 4k mi. Replace if necessary. I guess operational check could include yea old butt test...

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#13
Ok, you made me check the manual. Both front and rear: Check operation and for oil leakage every 4k mi. Replace if necessary. I guess operational check could include yea old butt test...

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The suspension service is lacking in the factory service manual. If running on smooth pavement and mellow fire roads, it's hard to notice how bad the suspension degrades. It's always good to freshen it up with good oil and replace wearable parts frequently. Of course a whole bunch of guys just ride the piss out of these bikes and never touch a clicker or do any kind of service until they get a leak at the seals.

Checking operation at every 4K miles is crazy. I check suspension operation and for leaks before each ride. At oil changes I grab the front wheel and slowly rock it to make sure the bushings are intact.

But I'm starting to think I may have a suspension issue, and I'm wondering if it's due to my bike being over 39K miles and time for spring replacement.
5000 miles? I'm glad I'm not a good enough rider to be able to feel difference when not changing that frequently.
I can say for certain 100% that at least your fork bushings are shot even with frequent oil changes. I would also recommend pulling off the swingarm, linkage and steering head for lubrication. Even if you cannot tell a difference it's a very important part of maintenance. While you are at it have the all shims replaced and revalved if you go with stiffer springs.
 

jrusell

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#19
Your fork oil should be done at least once per year. If you put on a large amount of miles (20 000miles) I would consider twice a year.

I know many will scoff at this and repeat they have no issue with the stock forks and they have never been serviced. Well when you do you will be horrified to see the condition of the oil when you finally get around to doing it. Old fork oil is a horrific thing. Springs are constantly rubbing on the inside of the tubes creating a thick paste of fine metal particles that are suspended in the oil and also settle in the bottom of the fork.
Remember your bushing are lubricated by the oil and those same metal particles are not good at lubricating. Your bushing are going to wear out faster. Your chrome tubes are going to wear out faster and the metal paste is going to settle in the bottom of the forks where your compression damping lives.

Here is a link to a video showing some old fork oil.
watch

You can see the metal particles in the oil and when he removed the cartridge you will notice it is even thicker at the bottom of the cartridge.
To be honest I would say that oil is probably not even that old. I have seen some that the oil looks like moly grease but only in liquid form.
Shocks should be refreshed every couple years. Maybe 3 if you don't put on big miles.

I have not seen an ES shock but it is my understanding they are built in such a way as they are more service friendly. I would do some research and find a suspension shop in your area that has experience servicing the newer electronic shocks and forks.

A suspension shop that works on BMW's and Ducatis will be familiar with ES suspension and can probably sort you out. I know up in Ontario Accelerated technologies in Buckhorn has worked on lots of ES suspensions from different brands. If I was a Canadian looking to get my ES looked at it would go there.

Ted Porters The Beemer shop deals with lots of BMW es suspensions so he would be somewhere I would look if I was south of the border. I am sure there is someone closer to you who can give you a good estimate on how much a refresh would be on your stock stuff.
 
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#20
Well said Jrusell!! There is a theme on this forum to just run these bikes into the ground with very little maintenance. When I joined the Super Tenere forum I was still rolling on my Ninja, KTM, and Beta. After I purchased my Super Tenere I was pretty much laughed at for suggesting some tips on keeping this bike safe and road worthy. Flushing brake fluid every season? hell no!! Typical response is " I have over 50,000 miles on my bike with no fluid change and the brakes are working like new".

It's really hard to get anyone here to describe handling characteristics on anything from ergo's, tires, or suspension. There are a few members that are good at it. The statements you and I are making on suspension degrading is far beyond opinion. It is fact and proven by just some simple testing. Here is something to think about: 10,000 miles at let's say an average speed of 65mph. That is 154 hours. The suspension is pretty much well beyond service at that point.

As I stated a very simple test is to grab a fork leg and rock it. Anyone with over 10,000 miles on their machine is riding on degraded oil, worn bushings in the forks and shock shaft bushings at the very least.

FWIW I rarely go beyond 50 hours dirt bike/ 100 hours street bike before servicing my suspension. At that point everything from the oil to the wearable parts are ready for replacement.
 
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