Ohlins Mechatronic Suspension Install

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by aGremlin, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    735
    Location:
    New Zealand!
    Since I was the first to install the Ohlins EC Suspension in NZ I figured it would probably be helpful to write up how it was done, and provide some details along the way, for anyone interested. This was done on my 2010 R1200GS Adventure, fully spec’d with both factory packages so has ESA, RDC, ASC etc. It also has plenty of aftermarket accessories so this made the job harder than it would be on a stock bike. I recommend having the factory workshop manual available as it details steps required to do things etc, and it was how I figured things out.

    I presume you have already removed the fuel tank, or are comfortable doing so and will start the process there. To read up removing the tank, I wrote this:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=799137
    Or here is another write up by someone else:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=808727

    Yes, my bike will appear dirty in the photos and this is mainly because I ride it. It also just so happens that during the weekend before doing the install in Robert Taylor’s workshop that some mud jumped out and threw me off my bike… uh, several times.

    With the fuel tank removed, go ahead and remove the lower crash bars including the middle section (I also have the AdvDesigns extension crash bars and these have to be removed as well). Only one bolt on each side at the bottom needs to be undone, the other hole is just for lining things up. Be aware that now the upper bars are hanging on by some flexible mounts under the radiator so try not to move them around as it will be harder to get the bars lined up when completing the re-install.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The belt guard must also be removed, it has 5 bolts on its face and mine came away quite easily once nudged. Removing it gives more clearance around the shock and the Ohlins spring is a larger diameter so you need all that space. BMW recommends you remove the skid/bash plate as well. I have the larger BMW plate fitted and while it made things a little tighter, it doesn’t HAVE to be removed (but you will need to encourage things into place later, but not a major).


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So by now you already have an impressive arrangement of parts and bolts. In front of my laptop is the Ohlins installation document. A little lacking for a GSA and not a complete how-to but still a decent overview of the process, as the suspension is probably targeted to a GS instead.

    I did the front suspension first so the next step is the cutting of several zip ties. Trace the cables from the front spring, one at the bottom and one at the top back to the plugs, which side by side behind the top bolt of the spring. Cut all zip ties along their lengths and then unplug the cables and pull them out through the frame (they will be removed with the spring).


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The next job is to tackle the mounting frame for the front ESA motors. There are 2-3 bolts each side, one each side is very fiddly and behind a triangular section of frame which was quite difficult to get to. I found the spanner to go onto the nut had to be put in from the front and pointed backwards and even then it was tight. With all the bolts removed the motor and frame should be loose and ready to be removed.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You can now loosen the bolts holding the spring in. At the top you need an allen key into the centre of the thread to hold it in place (I braced it against a metal part) while you undo the nut. At the bottom there is threadlock on the bolt but a breaker bar was sufficient for me to get the bolt out. Removing the shock is mostly likely a two person job. You’ll need to pull up on the bars or pull on the front wheel, basically extending the forks which gives you more room to work. Pay attention to the assembly of the rubber parts at the top of the spring as they are re-used on the Ohlins spring. A rubber collar on top of the shock is in a wave formation and mates to the frame and has a small bit that goes into the frame mount and meets the top rubber collar which comes down to fill the oversized hole as the thread goes all the way through. You’ll need to line this all up correctly when installing the Ohlins spring.

    A rough weighing of OEM shock against Ohlins revealed the Ohlins weighs 1.5-1.7kg less than the OEM, so you’re getting a weight saving. The OEM shock weighs about 4.7kg while the Ohlins weighs 3.05kg, but the scales varied their weight a little each time I measured.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Install the bottom rubber collar on the top of the spring and install the Ohlins shock. I put the bottom in first and ran it past the bolt hole as far down as it would go. I still didn’t have quite enough clearance to get the top into the mounting hole but we had the bike on a big box and ended up dragging it backwards, hanging the rear wheel off the end to extend the forks enough to get the shock in. Make sure the collar is rotated to the correct position and the shock aligned correctly otherwise the thread won’t go all the way through and out the top.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I tightened the bottom bolt most of the way first to hold it in place and then got the top lined up, the top collar inserted and tightened up the top then the bottom again. You can go ahead and install the belt guard (this will require a bit of pushing to squeeze it between skid/bash plate and spring but it’s plastic and flexible. The crash bars can also be installed but do not replace the tank as you still need to run the Ohlins wiring loom through the bike.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Next up is the rear shock. Remove the rear wheel (5 torx bolts) and the exhaust (loosen the rearward clamp). I also removed the actuator thing between exhaust and mid pipe to give me a little more room, simply moving it to one side as it has the cables attached to it. Brace the swingarm in preparation for removing the shock, I used a tie down around the rear frame.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The rear shock is removed by removing two bolts, one in the swingarm and one under your seat behind the battery. Next to this bolt under your seat are also the two ESA plugs which you need to un-do. With all that undone you should be able to easily pull the shock out from the bottom and you can go ahead and put the Ohlins shock in. From my weighing, the OEM and Ohlins shocks are basically identical in weight, again the scale varying slightly between measurements.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    My bottom eye in the Ohlins shock had to be machined down just a fraction as it was too large to fit into the swingarm, but Robert handled that with ease (very handy having him there with all the tools). The reservoir is larger than I’ve seen on any other Ohlins shock and mounts to the sub frame in a fiddly arrangement of some very nicely machined metal parts. The Ohlins book describes how to assemble the components, but check the picture for the how it all goes together. It took me a couple of attempts to get it all in place correctly and seems to be designed to wobble a little on the rubber mounts between reservoir and sub frame brackets.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I also had a rear splash guard installed but this isn’t able to be fitted because the reservoir takes up sub frame space the guard used to have. I may cut it up a bit and see if I can get it back in… We bolted up the top of the shock first, then the bottom adjusting the swingarm until everything lined up. The suspension needs to have a test run without the bike starting (process is in the installation book) involving the ESA and Info buttons but first the wiring loom needs to be installed.

    The Ohlins suspension is controlled by an Ohlins ECU and all the wiring is advised to be installed as per the book, with front shock cables on the right side of the bike and dash interface on the left side of the bike. Cables have clearly been cut to the correct length for installation on these bikes so you are left with minimal options in changing the set up as the cables simply aren’t long enough (but makes for a cleaner install).

    It was here that we hit another issue. Many of us have used the tool tray for something else, myself included. I use mine for my Baehr communications box which handles my GPS, Radar and CB Radio. Ohlins wants the ECU taped down to the tool tray (tape included in box) but the Baehr had nowhere to go, so for now the Ohlins ECU sits on top of the battery on a rubber pad and wrapped in foam and my seat must be in the high position on the front (and putting the seat on is a little fiddly). I feel it’s important to note, as I hadn’t realised Ohlins wanted to use the tool tray and obviously caused issues for me.

    The shock cables are easy to installed, each labelled with a C or R and matches to a RC or RR (additional R stood for rear I figured) on the other cable which makes it obvious. I ran the dash wiring up the left side as advised and up behind the clocks. There are 3 plugs on the lead, two for plugging in between the dash and OEM loom and the third is the diagnostic plug for Ohlins tools. I figured the plug should be easily accessible and there is space around the screen sub frame so poked it out there for easy access. Ignore the extra wiring, it’s for the Touratech dash surround.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The final step is connecting the Ohlins ECU to power and the two leads already have circular terminals on them for running to the battery. Since I have accessory hubs (with the one under the tool tray thankfully having one spare slot) I took the circular ones off and put the spade type ones on instead and connected to the hub.

    At this point you can run the self-test of the suspension. Running it as per the Ohlins instructions will simply run through the full range of rear preload and you will be able to see and hear the Ohlins motors compressing the spring. From here we used the supplied zip ties to secure all cables and also ran the front shock cables up almost to a bolt hole and looped a zip tie through to stop the cables flopping around. I’m not sure whether the front shock is too exposed as mounted for rougher stuff, but only time will tell.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Ohlins also supplies thick heat shrink tubes for sealing up the OEM plugs left behind but with careful use you only need 3, using one for both rear plugs. However, at this point, I suggest you go through a full test of the suspension before sealing up the old plugs. This will require the fuel tank so re-install it. We didn’t, figuring it was fully functional and put the bike back together only to find the riding modes 1up, 2up etc that adjust preload were not available.

    Ohlins is aware of this, and the recommended solution is plugging the OEM suspension in, unplugging the Ohlins suspension, running through a test and then removing OEM and plugging Ohlins back in. From there, the Ohlins suspension should work perfectly. Since we hadn’t, and it was now evening with no time to take the bike apart (as the front plugs are under the tank) I had to do this the following weekend… so take the time, and test it fully before re-assembly!


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Remember to remove the fuel tank and put the OEM suspension plugs in the heat shrink tube. Once done, you can add the fuel tank and all the other panels and enjoy your new suspension!

    All up, the install started at 0900 and we rolled the bike out of the workshop at 1930, but for the most part I was doing it single handedly, as Robert said, the more you do, the less we do, the less you pay. I stopped once briefly around 1400 to have a drink and a quick bite to eat. However, I rate my mechanical skills off the bottom end of the scale with retarded chimps (they probably beat me actually) so would think someone adept at holding those spanner things would do it quicker. Robert also wanted to do/observe the first install to see how it went, but I would say it will be a shop install for the rest (his estimate of 2-3 hours was also slightly off once he saw the amount of work required). At least the faces he pulled when he poked his head around the corner several times was worth a few laughs.
    #1
  2. Beemerlover

    Beemerlover Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    334
    Awesome writeup & pics!! :clap

    Plus, the new shock is the only clean thing on the bike - even better!!! :lol3
    #2
  3. RobStar

    RobStar Still On Training Wheels

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    437
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    Las Vegas Baby!
    Worth the work! I've had my Ohlins Mechatronic for about four months now and it really transforms the bike into an entire new handling experience.

    RobStar
    #3
  4. rmcc

    rmcc Adventurer

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    Jul 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    SLC, UT
    I have a opportunity to buy a set for my 2012 GSA for a GREAT price. Been researching and this has been very helpful... Has this been worth the work/money so far?
    #4
  5. hillbillypolack

    hillbillypolack Grumpy Old Goat

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
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    7,725
    Location:
    Lidsville
    Thanks for the post, especially the level of detail and estimated time spent. I've been considering the upgrade and seeing the details gives me some confidence I could do the install myself (given enough time).
    #5
  6. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    735
    Location:
    New Zealand!
    First up, for me in NZ, the Ohlins Mechatronic is $5k inc tax, plus fitting. The BMW ESA replacement shocks are about $4800 plus tax plus fitting, so Ohlins is actually a cheaper option for me and then it means it's serviceable instead of buying another set in a year or two. Financially it makes sense.

    Performance wise, a couple of weekends ago Auckland, NZ hosted the grand final of the International Triathlon series. I was a support motorcycle, carrying officials, medics, photographers etc. Most demanding was either catching up to or escaping from the peloton. 2up, the bike, gear etc and you're looking at something like 450kg (about 990 pounds?). It was only on reflection afterwards that I realised how brilliant the Ohlins had been. The bike was always planted and the handling crisp and responsive. The arse didn't sag, feel lazy etc.

    On the flying lap at the end of the last group racing to find the last bicycle I'm travelling at up to 100kph (60 mph?) along city streets intended for half that. Even the official commented how well the bike handled and remained smooth.

    In short, if your OEM suspension is on it's way out, hell yeah, I'd definitely do Ohlins again as I'm loving the performance!
    #6
  7. rmcc

    rmcc Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    SLC, UT
    Got a set for my 12' GSA, will be installing myself this week and posting up my experience with it.

    Thanks again for posting your pictures and tips, it will be helpful I am sure!
    #7
  8. Bobthelawyer

    Bobthelawyer Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    18
    I found this post to be really really helpful. One not is that no machining is necessary for the bottom mount of the rear shock. There is a sleeve on the side of the swingarm where the head of the mounting bolt goes through. That sleeve can be moved out a bit and then it moves back in as you tighten the mounting bolt. A light tap with a brass drift was all it took to move it.
    #8
  9. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    308
    Great write up! I just got mine installed last week on my 2011 GSA.

    Curious... The front now moving the wiring to the bottom of the shock and facing the front.. Am I being paranoid in thinking this looks very vulnerable to damage?

    Thoughts? Was thinking of fabricating some sort of protection for it.

    Thanks
    #9
  10. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    735
    Location:
    New Zealand!
    Thanks Bob, I had the suspension out a little over a month ago for servicing and this collar did indeed move. Thanks to your comment I wasn't left scratching my head wondering how the hell it had gone in previously. Whether or not it was required the first time around... no idea.

    I've zip tied the wiring in a loose loop up to an existing mount point for the old suspension unit. Also worried about all that gold and wiring, I took a piece of motorcross tube, roughly the shape of a rectangle and put it in front (hiding all the fancy gold, but oh well). Zip tied in the four corners, bottom 2 are around the triangle (I've got one of those Touratech stoppers). Being rubber, I made it long enough to not stretch at full extension, but it's also able to compress and bunch while in use. Initially I only tied at the top, but the bottom flew up while riding...

    So, in June it was back down to the suspension specialist, except this time on the back of my ute (pickup?) partially dis-assembled as the suspension had to be removed for servicing, having done the interval of 30,000km. I pulled the bike apart (most of the process above, except no wiring to mess with), handed off a unit at a time, then re-installed.

    During the course of usage, I've found the setup a touch soft on 1up w/ luggage (I weighed, and realised I can hit 40-50kg of luggage quite easily across panniers and top box) and in 2up, I can grind the stands in certain dipping corners, even in Sport mode, so much so I had to back off and make allowances. Seeking to eliminate this while not make the bike too stiff otherwise, the rear spring (original) was replaced with the unit 1 higher (from a 14 to a 15 from memory, but don't quote me). This was an initial option, but the advice from Ohlins was that the original should suit.

    The result is a much more sporty profile to the bike. The arse sits higher, altering the geometry a little, making turn in sharper. The arse doesn't squat under acceleration like it used to, also meaning the weight shifting that was noticeable between 1st and 2nd with heavier acceleration is much reduced. Basically, the bike has gone from a comfy couch to a couch with sporting ambitions. :evil

    Now, it means that it's tolerance on bumpy roads isn't quite as complete and the ride is firmer, but when you're stepping up the pace the bike is better for it and more planted and positive. I haven't used Sport mode at all yet, so I think the bike is more mid range now for my needs so I've got Soft and Sport either side for adjustment. The moto season doesn't start for another month or three, and that's when 2up really gets a work out. The one negative is that the bike as a package is very tall for pillions to mount, but then they're not getting on and off every few minutes.
    #10
  11. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

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    Jun 17, 2008
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    308
    Good info! Thanks! I also have a spring one size bigger in the rear. :D
    #11
  12. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

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    Any chance you could post some pics of this?

    Thank you
    #12
  13. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

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    Mar 26, 2012
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    735
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    New Zealand!
    No problem, hadn't got around to re-fitting it, so I've done today.

    The shape of rubber. There are two slits at the bottom of it, so the middle section goes between the wires. The centre of the rubber is the inside of the tube, hence how the shape is slightly concave, which suits the front area a little better. Slits top and bottom for zip ties.
    [​IMG]

    Before and after fitting:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    308
    PERFECT! Thanks! Great idea! Simple and effective! I dig it.

    The one thing i noticed when working on the bike yesterday, was the rear shock canister mounted on the left side of my subframe.

    The wires coming out of it were pretty low and close to the swingarm. A good compression of the suspension would of possible snapped em off!! Yikes!! :eek1

    Just loosened the screws and slid the canister up a little. :clap
    #14
  15. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

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    Mar 26, 2012
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    New Zealand!
    I've also wrapped the two rear cylinders (reservoir on frame and the other at the top of the shock) in a layer of tube as well. Yes, it hides the cool bling, but also protects it, as I don't think the finish is particularly robust to the hits of stones.
    #15
  16. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

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    Jun 17, 2008
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    Good call! Mine is hidden behind the Wunderlich bags that mount under the seat. I wrapped some rubber around the brackets because they rattled a bit.

    One more question please....

    Im about to install the FZ1 Fuzeblock to clean up my wiring.

    Right now the Ohlins ECU is wired straight to the battery. I already have a battery tender lead and a couple other things mounted there, so i am consolidating it to a fuse block to clean up the mess.

    What are your thoughts on moving the ECU leads to the fuzeblock (setup on a constant on circuit) instead of having them mounted straight to the battery?

    If i disconnect the ECU am i going to have to go through the whole hellacious setup process again???

    Thanks!
    #16
  17. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

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    Mar 26, 2012
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    735
    Location:
    New Zealand!
    Mmm, a few things, so I'll split the answer apart.

    Not sure it should be rattling? The mount for the reservoir has rubber, which means it wobbles, but the theory there is that it allows some movement. Only time will tell how durable that is.

    My Ohlins wiring has been wired to a Touratech argh, TPS15 something, since Day 1, so no problems there. Just make sure the loading on the fuse block is within tolerance. I've got two of the accessory blocks - and uh, one is full and the other now has one space after I removed something :lol3

    I can't comment with too much authority, however, both of my accessory blocks are ignition live, ie, no power when the bike is off, therefore, the Ohlins ECU would be off whenever the bike is off (not sure if yours has any residual drain since it's direct to the battery). As long as you keep the bike completely off while sorting out the wiring, I wouldn't imagine the ECU would even know anything has happened. Only problem that could occur would be when you power on the bike, and the ECU hasn't been connected, doesn't power on etc.
    #17
  18. Boston Mangler

    Boston Mangler I Just Don't Care!

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2008
    Oddometer:
    308
    Thanks. Yeah, mine was just the reservoir making contact with the sub frame due to poor positioning in the first place. Just needed minor adjustment, all good now.

    :D

    Thanks. I removed all the wiring and redid a lot of it today, to install my Fuze block. Took most of the day, but got it in and install came out clean!!

    Even thought it was totally disconnected, i just re-installed the Ohlins ECU wires back to the battery, and crossed my fingers.

    HUGE sigh of relief when i fired it up, and the Ohlins worked perfectly, and went through all the different cycles!! :clap:clap

    Gotta admit, was a tad nervous! :)

    Good to go now! Woohoo!

    Thanks
    #18
  19. aGremlin

    aGremlin Been here awhile

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    Mar 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    735
    Location:
    New Zealand!
    Glad it worked out :clap
    #19