Bike setup

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Frans Reinke's picture
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Joined: 2009/07/06

Points: 0

Guys and Girls,

I missed the communications regarding your bike setup!

Where can I have mine done?

Any idea what the costs are involved?

Time frames of doing it?

My trip is this coming weekend with Warren.

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14
We can help

Frans, there is no need to run off and have work done on the bike.  You can do most of the setup yourself and even during the ride you can adjust things to your liking.

What bike do you have, and what do you feel needs setting up?

Committee: Website Administrator

Frans Reinke's picture
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Joined: 2009/07/06
Set up

Charles,

1200GSA.

If I recall correct someone mentioned the setup being very important for of road trips.

I did not read the complete write-up but it was mentioned that it should be done by someone competent!!!! And that's......not me!!!! Smile.

Hence my reason for asking.

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14
Ah, OK

At the Country Trax training they do a short bit about setup, and typically it involves setting the suspension to be quite firm, and letting down the tyre pressures.  I can cover some basics here.

Other things to consider is raising the handlebars if they are too low for you when you stand (and you should stand when riding tricky bits at slow speed).  I am not tall, and for me it was sufficient to roll the handlebars forward a bit so that they were a bit higher (and further forward, which is also good).

Suspension

Preload

  • Preload has absolutely nothing to do with the 'hardness' of your suspension.  The hardness is determined by the strength of your spring, which you cannot adjust other than by fitting a different spring.  Preload is about adjusting the sag of the bike depending on the load (rider weight, panniers, pillion etc).  Bear in mind the bike standard setup is for a rider of about 75kg.  If you are lighter than this, leave the rear preload on the normal setting.
  • If you are heavier, turn the preload on the rear suspension to be a bit harder.  The Country Trax suggestion is often along the lines of '5 turns back from maximum', but that is a bit extreme and does not apply for lighter riders.  The preload should be set so that the back of the bike sags by about 30% of its full travel when riding on a level road.
  • The front typically gives great offroad qualities on the second-softest setting - but if you are heavy then use the middle (3rd softest).

Damping

Only the rear suspension has a rebound damping screw.  This is at the base of the rear shock where the shock attaches to the swingarm.  You need a long medium screwdriver to get to it.

  • Rebound damping controls how quickly the bike bounces back when the shock is compressed.  It is designed to prevent the bike from oscillating after you hit a bump, but having too much damping makes the back wheel stiff and unresponsive (it will jar when you hit a bump, and bounce in the air instead of following the shape of the ground).
  • Typical settings are around 2-5 turns off the closed (maximum damping) setting, but this is quite sensitive and one usually makes adjustments a quarter turn at a time.
  • Test the rebound damping by holding the bike by the tail (have a friend stand on the side of the bike to catch it should you lose control), and press the tail down sharply, and see how long the bike takes to come up to the normal position.  It should be set just so that you can barely notice a slight retardation in the speed with which it comes up.
  • On my bike, which is quite old and has a fair level of damping due to age, my rebound damping is turned almost fully open, and it has transformed the handling of the bike.  In my salad days I had too much damping and the back was too hard and jumped all over when going over rough ground.

Tyre Pressure for Offroad

  • Around 1.5 bar front and back for most conditions
  • In sand or mud, down to 0.8 - 1.0 bar
  • In sand with occasional rocks, keep it a bit higher (1.2)

KTM riders will often say that they don't believe in letting down their tyre pressures.  Ignore them - BMW recommends it, and it makes a big difference to your traction and the number of bits that rattle off your bike.  The KTM has a progressive spring suspension that soaks up the little bumps, and the BM uses soft tyres to do the job.

 

On the ride will be riders who can help you, and most of them will have the tools to do minor adjustments on your setup as you go along.

Committee: Website Administrator

Frans Reinke's picture
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Joined: 2009/07/06
Setup

Charles,

I am sure that it is not only me that is benefitting from this unbelievable email and information!! Thank you very much!!

Exactly why I should have asked!! As I am "heavy" (fat in normal terms Laughing) I am sure that settings will be important.

I am looking forward to discussing this settings with the experts over the weekend!!!

David Morris's picture
Offline
Joined: 2012/01/13
Bike set up

aunty charles wrote:

At the Country Trax training they do a short bit about setup, and typically it involves setting the suspension to be quite firm, and letting down the tyre pressures.  I can cover some basics here.

Other things to consider is raising the handlebars if they are too low for you when you stand (and you should stand when riding tricky bits at slow speed).  I am not tall, and for me it was sufficient to roll the handlebars forward a bit so that they were a bit higher (and further forward, which is also good).

Suspension

Preload

  • Preload has absolutely nothing to do with the 'hardness' of your suspension.  The hardness is determined by the strength of your spring, which you cannot adjust other than by fitting a different spring.  Preload is about adjusting the sag of the bike depending on the load (rider weight, panniers, pillion etc).  Bear in mind the bike standard setup is for a rider of about 75kg.  If you are lighter than this, leave the rear preload on the normal setting.
  • If you are heavier, turn the preload on the rear suspension to be a bit harder.  The Country Trax suggestion is often along the lines of '5 turns back from maximum', but that is a bit extreme and does not apply for lighter riders.  The preload should be set so that the back of the bike sags by about 30% of its full travel when riding on a level road.
  • The front typically gives great offroad qualities on the second-softest setting - but if you are heavy then use the middle (3rd softest).

Damping

Only the rear suspension has a rebound damping screw.  This is at the base of the rear shock where the shock attaches to the swingarm.  You need a long medium screwdriver to get to it.

  • Rebound damping controls how quickly the bike bounces back when the shock is compressed.  It is designed to prevent the bike from oscillating after you hit a bump, but having too much damping makes the back wheel stiff and unresponsive (it will jar when you hit a bump, and bounce in the air instead of following the shape of the ground).
  • Typical settings are around 2-5 turns off the closed (maximum damping) setting, but this is quite sensitive and one usually makes adjustments a quarter turn at a time.
  • Test the rebound damping by holding the bike by the tail (have a friend stand on the side of the bike to catch it should you lose control), and press the tail down sharply, and see how long the bike takes to come up to the normal position.  It should be set just so that you can barely notice a slight retardation in the speed with which it comes up.
  • On my bike, which is quite old and has a fair level of damping due to age, my rebound damping is turned almost fully open, and it has transformed the handling of the bike.  In my salad days I had too much damping and the back was too hard and jumped all over when going over rough ground.

Tyre Pressure for Offroad

  • Around 1.5 bar front and back for most conditions
  • In sand or mud, down to 0.8 - 1.0 bar
  • In sand with occasional rocks, keep it a bit higher (1.2)

KTM riders will often say that they don't believe in letting down their tyre pressures.  Ignore them - BMW recommends it, and it makes a big difference to your traction and the number of bits that rattle off your bike.  The KTM has a progressive spring suspension that soaks up the little bumps, and the BM uses soft tyres to do the job.

 

On the ride will be riders who can help you, and most of them will have the tools to do minor adjustments on your setup as you go along.

 

Dear Charles,

Does any of the above apply to bikes with ESA?

Rgds

Charles Oertel's picture
Offline
Joined: 2007/04/14
Not really

With ESA BMW decides what you should have and you go with that.  But it is still useful to understand what the system is doing to your bike.  Each of the ESA settings is just a particular combination of preload and damping, dialled in by the computer.  I don't know what the different options on ESA are, so can't tell you more than that.

Committee: Website Administrator

David Morris's picture
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Joined: 2012/01/13
Bike set up

aunty charles wrote:

With ESA BMW decides what you should have and you go with that.  But it is still useful to understand what the system is doing to your bike.  Each of the ESA settings is just a particular combination of preload and damping, dialled in by the computer.  I don't know what the different options on ESA are, so can't tell you more than that.

 

thanks Charles

The ESA options are numerous, normal, sport, comfort, single rider, pillion, luggage, enduro light, enduro heavy.  I think I have covered the main options. 

I was also advised to adjust them while the bike was on it's main stand to reduce wear & tear on the system.

Rgds

David

Charles Oertel's picture
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Joined: 2007/04/14
Ok, thanks David

Here is my take on what they all do:

normal, sport, comfort - these are damping settings.  Sport would have more damping (a harsher suspension), and comfort less (a softer suspension) - and normal would be in the middle.

single rider, pillion, luggage - these are preload settings.  As the bike gets heavier at the back, you up the preload to keep the bike level.

enduro light, enduro heavy - these could be combination settings.  Probably up the preload to raise the bike (for ground clearance and less bottoming out on big jumps), and a normal damping setting to absorb bumps but not be too soft.  Unless the 3 first options can be applied to all 5 of the other options - in which case you can have a softer ride with a high bike by choosing comfort + heavy enduro for example.

Bear in mind, the settings are limited (for example there is only compression and rebound damping in one setting, not separate rebound and compression, and not separate high and low-speed damping settings).  Also, ideally for a heavier rider or load, you should have a heavier spring - increasing the preload does not make the spring harder, it only reduces the sag.  Still, the compromise is good enough for most dual purpose stuff.  KTM have better suspension for off-road, but have made trade-offs in other places.

Committee: Website Administrator

Andyman's picture
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Joined: 2007/06/22
David, Once you feel you are

David, 

Once you feel you are comfortable handling your bike on unsaved roads, then try all the settings, over time, one by one.

What you will find, is that some work for you, some make you feel distinctly uncomfortable.

but over time, you find that sweet spot that makes you feel the bike is just "on the bubble" perfect and you are a good rider.

it differs with the terrain and the gear you have on the day adding mass to the tail of the bike.

only by trying the settings do you get to realise they do make a difference and the sweet spot makes you. A better rider and reduces rider fatigue and enhances your concentration envelope.

conversely, having the wrong set-up leads to less comfort, demands more concentration, drains you faster, you fatigue quicker...... All the ingredients for a late-in-the-day incident.

this is why riding on club rides increases your learning curve steeply, you talk to the others, garner the good, learn from their mistakes, observe others.

by asking and querying, you bank lots of useful data that really enhances the user- experience.

a well set up bike makes you a better rider. FACT!!!

Andyman
Committee: Off Road Captain / Training
Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

Andyman's picture
Offline
Joined: 2007/06/22
Fran's,run through this

Fran's,

run through this teaser, it explains why ergonomic set up is important.

 

Check out this video on YouTube:

 

http://youtu.be/gp3zL9fzlZM [the aunty strikes again, and wtf is Fran's]

Andyman
Committee: Off Road Captain / Training
Anyone can ride a bike fast....   But can you ride your bike real slow???

David Morris's picture
Offline
Joined: 2012/01/13
Setup

A huge thank you to our Aunt & Uncle

Lots of great advice, time to play with the settings

Andre Cornelissen's picture
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Joined: 2012/06/14
Tyre pressure

In letting my tyre presure down my tyre warning flikkers. Do i just ignore it or is there a way of seting it lower?

Andre

Tony's picture
Offline
Joined: 2008/08/24
Just

ignore the flashing warning lights - or maintain pressure above the cutoff 1.8 front, 2.0 rear (I think).

A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn. ~Author Unknown

PeterO's picture
Offline
Joined: 2007/09/11
Tyre pressures

Charles is spot on about lowering tyre pressures offroad, in fact on the track too; tyres are a part of the overall system that makes up suspension, a few further observations:

In general you improve traction with softer tyres and improve comfort too, but they get warmer and therefore wear faster on tar so it's not a good idea to ride long distances on tar with soft tyres.

If you are going to be travelling long distances on tar with knobblies, pump them up even harder than normal ... as much as 3 Bar.

If you ride an 800, I would recommend from others' experience that 1.8 bar it's as soft as you should go if the road is rocky, to prevent damage to the rims.

In the long run it's as Andy says, personal preference and experience will dictate your settings but the advice you get here it's a good place to start.

Committee: Training Coordinator
If you can dream it you can do it!

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