What are my rear strut options?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by RaystheBMW, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    After 27 years of faithful service, the R 65 just puked the contents of it's back shock on the driveway. I just checked online for prices. and after getting my jaw bone back in alignment, am looking for reasonable solutions for a bike that's treated with appropriate dignity but is by no means a garage queen.

    I presume, from pictures and what-not, that the shock can be r&r from the strut but that it's not a DIY project without the right equipment. Will a BMW dealer do that work or will they insist on selling me a whole new strut? Spending $800 for an Ohlins part just isn't happening. But It looks like $300 or so is the cheapest its gonna get. Not looking for racing performance, just stock or a little better.
    #1
  2. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

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    I would suggest that first you enquire with your dealer about the price of a new standard shock, I have sometimes been pleasantly surprised about the cost of OE parts for older BMs and they are not bad. Do ask if just the damper is available, a few years ago they sold me a new spring for my '83 R80G/S.
    #2
  3. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Not for shocks though. BMW shocks are expensive and really NEVER the best option. Better (and rebuildable) aftermarket shocks can be had for a lot less. Which R65 are we talking about here?
    #3
  4. Beemerguru

    Beemerguru Beemerguru...G/S guy

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    A stock BMW shock is good for about 20K miles unless you do a lot of 2 up and dirt roads...then maybe 15K..and they are not rebuildable. One time use than trash.

    After that, you're riding in the spring(s) only. It's a gradual reduction so you won't really notice how bad the ride has been until you replace it with a good one.

    Yes, the aftermarket rear shocks are expensive but they last longer, give a better ride, are adjustable, and are rebuildable so the cost can be spread over a long period of time and help with the resale later on.

    Go find a used one on Ebay if you want to save money but remember what you did when you unintentionally go hot into a corner and the back end starts pogoing on you before the bike throws you off in the ditch.
    #4
  5. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    Plain Jane monolever 1986.
    #5
  6. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    mmm..them's coil-over shocks, not struts. Different beast.
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  7. Tim - DO THE TON

    Tim - DO THE TON Adventurer

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    I know I haven't posted much, but I can without reservation point you to my friend Doug at DEK Performance for a rebuild option or replacement options as well.

    In terms of my credibility, having only posted a few times here, I run www.dotheton.com - an online community for cafe racers / vintage bike restorations.

    I've got a 1975 R75/6 (I'm likely picking up a pair of Hagon 2810 shocks for it) and a 1972 XS650 cafe racer with a 750cc race motor, which has RAM Shocks (Realm Engineering) from the UK. Comparable to Works etc.

    DEK Performance is in PA. Again, not 'plugging' DEK Performance - just a solid motorcycle suspension professional who is never about simply selling the most expensive replacement possible.
    #7
  8. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    The online fiche calls it a Spring Strut, either way its that doohickey holding the back wheel on the ground. :D I read some good reviews and ordered a Progressive 465, with an extra bonus is that its made in the USA!
    #8
  9. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    Here's my $0.02 cents (worth much less) about Progressive...

    All of the good reviews I have read about Progressive have come from people switching from worn-out stockers to Progressives, which obviously will be better than the worn out stuff they are using.

    I have never read nor spoken to anyone who replaced another brand shock (WP, Ohlins, etc) with a Progressive that gave them good reviews.

    I've used stock, Ohlins, WP, Progressive and Koni and prefer Ohlins myself..
    #9
  10. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    Sounds like something got lost in translation.

    Having been an American Worker all of my life I can't say I'm overly impressed by American labor or American management. But I've worked for some superb companies also. They do exist here...and indeed even a few that aren't frantically copying the Japanese in some effort to get a clue.

    Your telescopic front forks are struts.

    I've used Progressives springs. Worked well. Glad to see they are doing well and getting into more and more products. I think I'm fixed for shocks for the next couple hundred thou...but I'll keep them in mind.
    #10
  11. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    My hope is now that some industry is returning to the US, they will take the competition more seriously and not f- up so much. Once I install and ride with the Progressive for a while, I'll post my review.
    #11
  12. Zodiac

    Zodiac loosely portrayed

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    Progressive 465, you can get on anywhere for around $300, maybe a bit more.
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  13. Plaka

    Plaka Brevis illi vita est

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    A nationalistic ethos (Buy American!) works against that. They figure a Made in USA sticker will offset poor quality and value to get sales. And a lot of stuff with that sticker are actually only assembled in America---out of components made on the pacific rim. And they hide this crap. Bought a half dead Dewalt router for cheap and went to overhaul it. Big MADE IN THE USA! stickers all over the damn thing. But the inside of the cases had "Made in Taiwan" molded right into them. Fuckers. They did some final assembly here---probably enough to beat some duties or other import costs.

    The quality of Anthol Starrett products in undisputed worldwide. But Mitutoyo stuff is every bit as good and costs less. The Japenese standard of living is not so low they have a cost-of-labor advantage. They simply have more efficient manufacturing---by a long way. They don't pay for being stupid (and pass the cost to the customers) like so many American Companies do---and I'm talking about the good American Companies.

    I'd have to look over progressives facilities to be sure, but I bet they are outsourcing plenty of componets to places where you can get a cost-of-labor advantage. I watched the last company I worked for do that crap. Huge medical device outfit. Wildly profitable. Plants all over the world. But they were closing plants in places like Britain (Everybody laid off) and moving them to places like Indonesia. Cheaper labor, cheaper costs for things like workers comp, safety initiatives, hazardous waste management...Classic mega-corp evil stuff. But they don't exist to be nic, they exist to make money for the owners. Welcome to capitalism.

    /rave off

    Back to bikes...
    #13
  14. DaveBall

    DaveBall Long timer

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    Myself, I don't give a damn where something is made. I care more about the quality of the item. If the item has a sticker saying it is made in USA or Canada, I am very suspicious of it. Especially if it is competitively priced. Labour costs alone should price them out of the market.

    As to Progressive shocks, I have used them and find that they work just fine for what they were meant to do. They were designed as a reasonable replacement for the OEM shocks. They were not designed to be used by Joe-Sunday-Racer, nor by the 400 pound rider with his mama on the back. They are what they are.

    I always figure that shocks are like any other part on a bike and due to it's moving parts, they will wear out. Just like tires, oil, bearings, etc.
    #14
  15. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    Every little bit helps - The information based economy was a bust and I want to see my fellow countrymen thrive in sustainable industry. I agree about the false advertising - to a point. Harley does the same thing as many of their components come from overseas, but the end result is that H-Ds are much better bikes than they were 10 years ago. Why not pick the best that the world has to offer and build it into your product? It's better than giving up and closing the doors, which was a very real prospect for H-D, or else going broke trying to out-engineer the rest of the world. American business managers aren't the only idiots. The Europeans and Japanese who found business opportunities here in the States are some of the worst hard-asses around.

    There are some online videos of Progressive's facilities and they appear to be doing their own stamping, machining, and assembly in the US - might be a big ruse though, who knows.
    #15
  16. RaystheBMW

    RaystheBMW 1986 R65

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    I've had the Progressive 465 on for a few days. Here are my impressions so far.

    Installation:
    It's the usual Chinese jigsaw puzzle where the shock can only be installed by roughly lining up the top end with its mounting location while attaching the lower end first, and then push the bolt through to attach the top. The ball socket ends on the shock help in lining everything up, but the washers and o-rings that are used on both sides make it a little more tricky. A helper would be good to have for moving the wheel up or down while lining up that top bolt.

    Observations:
    The shock itself is very pretty with a golden anodize finish, but I doubt long term it will remain pristine looking and rust-free like the original shock did. The basic layout is upside down compared to the stocker in that the piston end now connects to the hub, meaning theoretically there is less unsprung weight bouncing around - a good thing.

    Ride:
    The bike rides a lot better. (Of course!) For example, I used to avoid certain pot holes and ruts in the road because they would upset the bike. Now I just bound over them. Also, stability at extra-legal speeds is much improved.

    For a while I rode it unadjusted with 1" of sag and it felt too high and rigid. So I relaxed the preload a few turns to get 1.5" which is roughly the recommended 1/3 of suspension travel of ~5 inches. The rebound setting is at 3, and I might play around with that over time. So far, so good.

    Maybe I got over confident in my bike's new abilities. Taking a 90 degree turn yesterday on a smooth paved country road, it suddenly felt like the rear tire hit an oil slick in the middle of the turn. I got out of it, but it was a scary moment. I was re-reminded of that one inch patch that connects us to the road.
    #16