TFX Suspension

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by michaeln, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    I have a new to me 2009 R1200GS, with the stock Showa suspension. Unfortunately I am too heavy at 250lbs without gear for the springs so I am going to upgrade to aftermarket stuff. The bike has 19,000 miles on it so the stock stuff is likely pretty clapped out anyway.

    While the bike does have factory ESA, I don't really think it is necessary for me. My loads won't vary much, and I don't mind adjusting preload manually (with a hydraulic adjuster) occasionally. I also enjoy fiddling with damping clickers.

    Due to all the recommendations I have read here, I called Ted Porter at the Beemer Shop and we discussed my needs at length. I was surprised to hear him recommend the TFX Suspension (http://www.tfxsuspension.com) over the Wilbers which I had thought I would end up with. Ted feels the TFX is a step up from the Wilbers for anyone who intends to ride Forest Service roads and rough paved roads (which is my favorite stuff). He said the HPA has almost twice the range of other brands at about 15mm, and the overall design and construction is stouter than the Wilbers.

    When I search on this site for the TFX stuff I don't find much. Wondering why. What I did find was overwhelmingly positive. The TFX stuff is made in Holland / Netherlands where a lot of top end suspension seems to come from these days.

    Opinions before I commit to this?
    #1
  2. Trussmky

    Trussmky Adventurer

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    I will let you know what I think when I get mine. They talked me into them in-place of the set of Wilbers I was looking at getting. I will be putting them on an '05 GS, so the ESA was not involved in the decision. I liked that the preload adjuster was mounted on the shock, like the stock it will be replacing, where the Wilbers have to be mounted separately. I also liked that the piston shaft is 2MM larger in diameter than the Wilbers. It seems like it will be a more rugged piece, for non-street riding.

    I am looking forward to the ride compared, what I believe to be the original shocks with 45000miles on them.
    #2
  3. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Thanks. I too like that the HPA is mounted on the shock, and the 2mm larger piston shaft is a plus too. My only concern really is that I don't see many mentions of the brand. Most folks here seem to go with Wibers or Ohlins or Elka.
    #3
  4. rckendall

    rckendall Adventurer

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    I recently purchased TFX shocks for my 2007 R1200GS from Ted Porter at the Beemer Shop. I was disappointed originally because the rear was quite stiff. I finally arranged to have Ted's shop look at it themselves. They found the same condition and proceeded to remove the shock, disassemble it, and revalve it.

    Now, it works as it should and I am very happy. My specs were very light and I don't know why they were not set up properly from the factory, but Ted stood behind the purchase 100% and followed through with the service that was required.

    Good luck with your purchase.

    Richard
    #4
  5. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Thanks. Since I only live about 2 1/2 hours ride away from Ted's shop, I will just ride over there and have him install the stuff. That way I know it's done right and no questions later as to installation having anything to do with any problems. I sent him a deposit this afternoon.

    I decided to go with the standard 130 shock for the front (manual preload and rebound only), and the 141 shock with the remote reservoir, high & low speed compression damping clickers, rebound damping clicker, and hydraulic preload adjuster (HPA).

    Should be a pretty good setup for me. I won't be doing hardcore off-road, but I do love tight rough twisty patches on patches pavement and forest service roads.
    #5
  6. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Pretty impressive demo of these shocks, by a WAY better rider than I will ever be:



    ... and another:

    #6
  7. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    I had an appointment with The Beemer Shop to have this TFX suspension installed tomorrow, but cancelled today. I live almost 3 hours from them in light traffic conditions, but it is supposed to be raining for most of the next week. Couple that with their installer not coming in normally until 3PM, I would be riding 3 hours or more in the rain to get there, and lucky to get out of there by 6PM... which would then have me riding back across the south bay area during peak commute hours. I figure 4 hours to get back home, again in rain most of the way. Didn't make sense.

    So, I paid for them and they shipped them today, and UPS says I will have them tomorrow. I'll install them myself, saving $360 labor as well. I'll give a report after I get to ride them.
    #7
  8. Trussmky

    Trussmky Adventurer

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    Mine are scheduled to be delivered by the brown truck of happiness tomorrow as well.

    I know what I am doing this weekend...

    Will post pics.
    #8
  9. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Shocks arrived late yesterday. Because I had already removed the stock ESA rear shock, installation of the new TFX shock took only about 15 minutes. Here it is, left side showing the Low and High Speed Compression adjusters on the piggyback reservoir:

    [​IMG]

    And the right side with the Tractive hydraulic preload adjuster. I like the way it is mounted solidly to the shock and is in an area where it is easily adjusted. No hunting around for a place to mount a remote reservoir or remote adjuster with these!

    [​IMG]

    Here is the front one waiting to be installed. Have not gotten the stock ESA front one out yet. It is all disconnected including the bracketry for the ESA crap, but I have to remove the alternator cover and the crash bars before I will be able to get it out of there. Hopefully I will accomplish that today.

    [​IMG]

    More pictures later when I get the front one in.
    #9
  10. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    At long last, got the front ESA shock out and have the front TFX installed. It is a simple shock, with manual preload and rebound adjustments, no adjustment for compression (but I don't usually need that in the front anyway). So it's in and torqued down, now I have a bunch of reassembly work to do (replacing a lot of zipties I had to cut to get the ESA wiring out, putting some kind of covers over the now unused ESA connectors, installing new air filter, re-routing a bunch of accessory wires back to the fuse box I am installing, etc.).

    But the worst is behind me. Changing out those shocks turned out to be a way more difficult job than I had envisioned, but I am confident I did the work correctly and it's gonna work great!

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    One other thought. Not that it matters much on a porker like a 1200GS, but I think this shock swap probably dumped 25lbs of ugly weight from the bike. Those ESA shocks are complex and HEAVY.
    #11
  12. Trussmky

    Trussmky Adventurer

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    Nice job. I got mine in over the last 2 days as well.
    image.jpeg image.jpeg
    I had a bear of a time with the rear. I ended up having to remove my headers to be able to access the lower bolt, after fighting with the adaptor for my Jesse boxes, between the headers and the muffler.
    I will be replacing the front brake line. When fully extended, there is a bit of pressure on it, but it will work until I go off roading
    #12
  13. LVmotorcop1

    LVmotorcop1 Adventurer

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    Those are pretty sweet. I was planning on getting a set when my stockers give up the ghost. I also plan on removing the ESA option and going for the hydraulic preload. Great information and pictures.
    #13
  14. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Just took a short (very short, about 15 minutes) test ride. It is way firmer, yet more plush feeling. Sits a tad higher, but I have not yet set the sag precisely. Feels like The BeemerShop got it damn close. I expected it to be a little higher because it is now sprung for my big butt, and it is, but I can still have the balls of both feet on the ground with pressure on them with the stock seat in the high position and I can flatfoot it with the seat in the low position.

    I will take it on some of my favorite patches-on-patches goat trails tomorrow, but so far it feels terrific, well worth the money spent.
    #14
  15. DaveCR

    DaveCR Been here awhile

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    did any warning light come up as you have removed the ESA shocks?

    how do you know if it's time to replace shocks? I have a '08 GSA with 47k km.. sometimes I think the rear bounce but I don't know how normal or not normal is it ..
    #15
  16. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    No warnings. In fact the ESA switch still works, changing from COMF/NORM/SPORT and one helmet, one helmet plus luggage and two helmets, etc.. So you can still pretend if you like to push the button. ;-)

    You're asking the wrong person. I think the stock BMW shocks should be replaced with something decent before it rolls out of the dealership.

    But in answer to your question, if the spring rate is right for you (180lbs or so) then it is the damping that will deteriorate over time. You will have less and less damping available. One indication of too little rebound damping in the rear is when your rear tire hits a bump and the suspension compresses but then uncompresses so fast the seat comes up and whacks you in the butt. Another indication of not enough damping is kind of a hobby horse feeling where the bike kind of wallows up and down in a rough corner.

    With an '08 that has 47k kms, I think it is pretty likely you would notice a big improvement with new premium quality suspension like the TFX.
    #16
  17. DaveCR

    DaveCR Been here awhile

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    Thank you Michael! appreciate your response! I think it'll be worth it to get new suspension.. just need to save some more :)
    #17
  18. beemerphile

    beemerphile Unreconstructed Southerner Supporter

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    That is what I was going to do until I spoke with Ted and it turned out that keeping the ESA was less expensive. I always say I am going to keep a bike forever, but then I don't. I expect the resale value would be better with ESA retained. I do dread packing all that stuff back in there though and almost talked myself back into dumping the ESA.
    #18
  19. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    Keeping the ESA is sure less expensive, unless you have to replace it. I think it is over $4000 for the front and rear ESA, and you still have crappy shocks, just with a switch that changes them from one crappy setting to another.

    I kept my ESA stuff, if I ever sell the bike I will have it to give the buyer, but I will strongly recommend they don't reinstall it.
    #19
  20. michaeln

    michaeln What're YOU lookin' at? Supporter

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    After my rides of the past few days on the TFX suspension, it has absolutely transformed the bike. I have hit several chuckholes when I was not being attentive enough, and the TFX stuff just goes WHUMP and sucks it up, the bike doesn't get out of shape at all. My favorite patches on patches roads are still rough, but the tires stay hooked up through the corners instead of bite & jump, bite & jump. Overall the ride is cushy but controlled. I have ridden the bike on every kind of surface I normally ride on, and this stuff works great everywhere.

    I haven't even touched any of the adjustments. The sag was set right when I installed them, and the only reason to mess with the compression and rebound clickers would be to attempt to adjust for some anomaly, and so far I have not encountered any behavior I wanted to adjust out. Just might be the best suspension I have ever ridden, and I *always* upgrade suspension n my motorcycles.
    #20