Part 2—ESA Front Shock Removal and Ohlin Shock Installation
The front shock removal and installation is a little bit more involved and should take you about an hour and a half from start to finish. The Ohlins front shock is much larger than the stock shock so take your time and do not get frustrated as you attempt to maneuver the Ohlin shock into place—it’s a tight fit.
Gather your tools:
• Torx T-35, T-45, T-50, T-20, T-15 and the T-50 key out of your BMW kit
• 3/8 Drive Ratchet
• Ratchet extension – short one will do
• 15mm socket
• 15 mm offset wrench
• 6 mm hex wrench
• 5 mm hex wrench
• Torque wrench
• Tie clippers
• Blue loctite
• Torch (if smoking cigar)
• Cutter (if smoking cigar)
• Scissor jack
• Short board
Read the BMW manual prior to attempting the installation on your own and refer to it as needed during the process. If you have any doubt as to your ability, spend the money and take it to your dealer or better still, suck up to one of your buddies that does this stuff in his or her sleep and ask them to do you a favor.
Ok, here we go:
Removing the Front ESA Shock
1. Remove the seat.
2. Remove the right side fairing—upper and lower.
3. Remove the tank bag rail.
4. Remove the fuel tank cover—and yes you can get this off without removing the left fairing.
5. Remove the storage bin or radio compartment. All the screws are on the right hand side.
6. Remove the alternator belt cover on the front of the engine.
7. Remove the air box snorkel. Unclip at the air box and pull away from the grommet. Careful not to damage it.
8. Loosen the brake line on the right side of the steering head—needed for slack.
9. Locate the ESA cable leading from the front shock.
10. Clip the zip tie holding it to the frame.
11. Trace the cable all the way up to the plug and disconnect the plug being careful to squeeze the plug while pulling it apart. Pull the plug and not the wires.
12. Locate the nut at the top of the shock just in front of the fuel tank. You do not need to pull the tank back to expose the nut on the R1200RT.
13. Use a 5 mm hex wrench and a 15 mm offset wrench to remove the nut. The hex wrench will keep the shock from spinning when you start to remove the nut.
14. Pull the washer and rubber buffer from the top of the shock and save then for use on the Ohlins shock.
15. Caution--Use a spotter to hold the bike during this step. Use a scissor jack to lift the weight off the front wheel. Slip the jack below the engine and use a board between the jack and the engine and raise it slowly. The use of a proper lift is the preferred method, but I don’t have one and used a scissor lift. Be careful! The bike could topple over if you lift it high enough to raise it off the center stand. Don’t drop your bike!
16. Remove the lower bolt. You’ll need a T-50 torx and a ratchet.
17. You need to lift the bike just high enough to remove the front shock.
18. Once the shock is out remove the spacer and lower rubber buffer for use on the Ohlins shock.
Installing the Ohlins Front Shock
1. Install the rubber buffer and spacer on the threaded stud at the top of the shock. Sorry, picture out of focus, but you get the idea.
2. There isn’t much clearance so you’ll need to raise the front wheel off the ground to get the new shock in place.
3. Use your bike spotter and be careful. The RT could fall over if you are using a scissor jack to lift the motorcycle.
4. Install the upper rubber buffer, and washer.
5. Blue loctite the threads and hand tighten the nut for now.
6. Install the bolt at the bottom of the shock. BMW want you to install a new bolt. I didn’t but will at a later date.
7. You may need to raise or lower the jack to align the lower bolt.
8. Torque the lower bolt to 40Nm.
9. Lower the motorcycle and remove the scissor jacket.
10. Tighten the upper nut to 35 Nm.
11. Install the alternator belt guard—this is a tighter fit with the new shock—keep shoving.
12. Install the brake line screw on the right side of the steering head.
13. Install the storage box.
14. Install the snorkel. Lube the grommet for easier installation.
15. Install the fuel tank cover.
16. Install the upper and lower fairings.
17. Install the tank bag rail.
18. Install the seat.
The Ohlin shock set for the R1200RT has preload and rebound adjustments only. Compression damping adjustment is not offered. If you are shopping for a set of aftermarket shocks you may want to take this into consideration.
The front shock is an Ohlins BM 503 and the rear shock is an Ohlins BM 504. Delivered cost is $1,224 for the set; much less than the replacement cost of ESA.
That’s it. Now you are ready to set the sag—I guess we will call that Part 3. I’ll publish that soon.