1100GS - Suspension settings, anyone got any good tips?


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UKGSer Subscriber
Oct 23, 2003
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Brussels Area, Belgium
I am quite pleased with the handling of my 1100GS on the whole, but being a perpetual fiddler I was wondering what the opinions of others are regarding preferred settings.

I do mostly road riding with a (very) occasional bit of off-roading.

Suspension set up has always been a bit of a black art to me and I don't have a technical manual yet (only had the bike 3 weeks) so if you could include some adjustment instructions with any suggestions, that would be great :)

Bike is a '95 GS with ABS and Tourance tyres and I am about 6'3" and fifteen stone (95kgs)

Thanks for any excuse to go out a fiddle around with my bike again.
Assuming the bike is fitted with OEM then the front can only be adjusted for spring pre-load. I would suggest to start at the bottom or one step of pre-load on the front spring for starters.

The rear is reasonably simple. Standing on the L/H side of the bike you will notice a screw at the bottom of the unit. Give or take, the correct position for starting, is about the ½ way mark. If you go off road you could give it a smidge more, just a smidge no more and try that.

For pre-load of the rear suspension try about a ¼ of the way down on the screw in dial, near the footpeg. When you go on dirt I think you'll require the pre-load screw pretty much all the way. It's reasonably primitive, but effective.

The standard shock absorber system will, if used hard on dirt, start to fail after some really hard corrugations at speed. This means you either slow down, or replace the units, however be prepared to spend serious moolah to do this.

I myself have retained the OEM system with 72,000 Klm's on the clock and have done some really serious dirt work, as well as push it on the bitumen. It will respond quite well, but remember, it's not a superbike!

I also weigh 95 Kg but am only about 177cm.

Great, thanks very much. I'll try that next weekend :)

This is definitely the most user friendly bike I have ever ridden, I am well chuffed.
One word or warning about the braking ability of the 1100 bike. You will be able to brake extremely hard without noticing that you are in fact braking hard.

This is due to there being minimal front end dive, because of the telelever on the front.

If your bike has ABS I would suggest that you do a controlled brake test in a straight line at about 80 Kph. After 3 or 4 goes you won't believe just how quickly you can stop the bike, whilst at the same time note how little the bike drops in the front end. Then try the same test from 60 Kph with the ABS off, you'll be surprised at how good you and the bike are!

This ability to brake hard easily leads one to brake quite hard all of the time. There is nothing wrong with this but it comes at a cost of cupping or scalloped front tyres. So when you notice that your front tyre is cupping, then be careful in wet weather as they become reasonably unstable. This is about the only bad handling trait that my 1100 has, something I can really easily live with.

I get something like 18,000 Klm's out of a set of Metzeler Enduro 4 tyres, front and rear, these are 100% road tyres.

With TKC 80's I get about 10,500 - 11,000 Klm's a set, these are 50% road 50% dirt tyres, very good for travelling in my country.

I don't see the advantage of the other tyres as they are 80% road and 20% dirt and as soon as it gets either sandy or muddy, they become pretty useless.


Yes, the paralever is an excellent idea on this bike isn't it, it is one of the main reasons why I chose the GS to begin with. I understand your comments about the hard braking (that is part of the reason why I wanted to get one fitted with ABS as well) as I thought it might be difficult to judge precisely how much grip was available in certain situations.

Brake test ideas are duly noted, I will try that out when I manage to find a road in Holland which is not packed with traffic!! I used to do this type of tests on my previous bikes in the UK to try and familiarize myself with the level of grip available, but as I haven't had the GS long and the weather has been pretty poor recently, I have been a bit lazy!!

I love the mix of good on road handling, kerb jumping suspension and 'some' off road ability, my girlfriend also loves it as it really comfortable for her!!

I am well pleased.
Just one more thing, I noted that you travel with a girl on the back.

I have a set of Wunderlich pillion footpeg lowering kits. My wife reckons it's transformed the way she sits on the bike, so has every other pillion that has tried the pillion seat, testing whether the lowered footpegs do make it better for them.

It lowers the pillions thighs so that they are running slightly downhill from the torso to the knees.

This allows the pillion to use their quadricep muscles in their thighs, to maintain an upright position without putting strain on the lower back which is what gives most taller pillions a pain in their lower back.

Another nice tip, but that one will have to wait until I have a bit of free cash, already bought the bike, a new battery, new rear tyre and mudguard this month, so now I am a bit short!

Do the lower foot pegs, make it awkward for a pillion if you have the BMW side panniers fitted, I don't have these either yet, but I am planning on buying a set so that I can see a bit of Europe next year on it.

David, no the lowering kit doesn't effect the fitting of panniers. We have used them with BMW panniers and now we have Touratech Zega cases fitted.

I would if I were you, seriously consider the Zega cases, or similar, if I was going to travel two up. The BMW panniers have a good volume but because of the shape of the panniers it is really hard to pack a lot of stuff in them.

Touratech is very near Rottweil in the bottom left hand corner of Germany, well worth a visit. A highlight of my last trip to Germany was going there.

Vern, a contributor to this forum, manufactures a set of aluminium panniers which could also be worth considering. I have only seen photos on this board but it would appear that they are value for money.

My wife is German so I go there reasonably frequently, in fact, we will be there in 7 weeks again.

Wow, those also look good! But pretty expensive (That one will definitely have to wait until next year ;))

They look really robust and I especially like the hooks on the top to join extra stuff.

One thing though is that they look like they stick out a lot from the bike, whereas the BMW ones look quite slim (good for filtering traffic), what is the difference approximately?

I might have to take a trip down to the Touratech place one day then, but it's really far from here so I think I will decide what I want first!!
David, my 41 Ltr Zega cases, are about 90mm narrower than the original BMW panniers, from memory.

It's hard to believe, but it's true.

I could send you a picture of us loaded up for a camping trip, with lots of gear but still comfortably loaded, plus another, more spartan, where I travelled solo and into the bush.

If you do go to Touratech the best thing is that they have all sorts of bikes in the showroom with all of their gear mounted and obviously very well used.

Yep, photos are always nice (if it's easy to send).

Thanks for the top advice, when I have a bit of free cash, I will definitely be opting for some of those suggestions, not urgent right now as my girlfriend prefers her peugeot for the European autumn/winter (in fact she looks on in amazement as I ride off in crappy weather with my 15 or so layers of insulation :)) But come spring, her enthusiasm for biking holidays will have increased again!!

Cheers for the advice.


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