Nippy Normans supply Touratech, Wunderlich and many other makes of accessories.

Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Fitting Wilbers shocks to a 1200GSA

  1. #1
    Stay Frosty Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    Fitting Wilbers shocks to a 1200GSA

    this is the promised thread on how i fitted my shiny new wilburs to my 1200GSA.

    hopefully i can point out some of the pitfalls that i found. i think i avoided most of them


    this is most of what i used. there's a few more that got put away before i thought of taking the pic.

    don't panic, you don't actually need a windy gun

    torx bits in T20, 25, 30, 45, 50 all get used and are essential.

    you should also look at the bit marked * lower down.

    ************************************************** ********

    read everything before starting if you're choosing to use this as a guide.

    it is just a guide. it's not 10 commandments. it's not "the right way to do it", it's a record of the way i did it.

    a good look at the "disclaimer" might be a good idea at this stage too

    ************************************************** ********

    note: bike is in "winter trim" (jan to dec) ie. covered in ACF50 then ignored, so is a tad grubby. never mind, makes the shiny blue shocks stand out more


    remove pannier rails

    left hand pannier rail needs to be removed, if fitted, or the silencer gets scraped as it comes off.

    remove the larger torx bolts from the main fixing point

    take the loose M6 bolt out from the back of the pannier mount/crosspiece.

    then this one. there's a spacer behind it, so make sure you take it out before it falls out later & gets lost.

    undo this screw and collect the spacer behind it & remove left hand pannier mount.

    remove silencer

    i took the heat shield off, but looking at it now, that might not be necessary. you may want to take the opportunity to clean behind it. if you do, look out for the odd wire mesh spacers that fall out.

    these fit on the 2 forward screws, which are longer than the screw at the back

    loosen the big silencer clamp bolt where it fits to the cat, then take out the silencer mount bolt where it attaches to the frame. wiggle can out & back & it will come free from the cat.

    undo wheel bolts & remove wheel.

    jack up final drive.

    undo lower shock mount.

    this is VERY well loctited in, my windy gun would not move it, nor would the puny ratchet handle shown in the pic. good sized breaker bar is what is needed.
    it makes a horrible creaking and groaning as it comes free. ignore, be brave, press on (or heat it).

    edit: the bmw dvd-rom manual calls for the use of a hot air gun on the swingarm before loosening that bolt. not mentioned in the earlier cd-rom, but a good idea.

    undo top suspension mount & remove strut. replace with new shock.

    slight problem

    wilburs fitting instructions show the remote preload adjuster fitted here.

    this is clearly not possible if you have bmw pannier frames fitted. i tried other places...

    this one,

    but the access to the knob is very limited and i rather think the rear wheel might clout it.

    i nearly fitted it here, which is very neat,

    but the knob would fill up with water.

    there are only a few positions possible due to the length of hose & it's reluctance to twist and i finally settled on this location,

    ...which is fairly neat & the hose is unstressed. note how it goes through the gap in the frame tubes, that keeps it well out of the way of the paralever top strut.

    hose needs zip tying to the footrest hanger.


    remove seat

    remove tank cover

    tank side covers off. rear bolt (20mm).

    front bolt, just behind forks (12mm).

    pull the cover off. it's now held by this push fit thing into grommet shown on frame. use silicone grease on reassembly so it doesn't pull the grommet out next time

    beak to tank top cover screw (16mm).

    remove tank cover

    undo the filler cap bolts & remove filler cap. take off tank cover & place somewhere that you won't step on it

    stick a bit of rag or similar in the open tank filler neck.

    remove crash bar cross brace

    to get the front shock out, you need to remove the alternator belt cover. to do that the OEM crash bar cross brace must be taken off.

    remove the two upper crash bar fixings above the cylinders (one each side).

    then the larger screws holding the bars together at the front.

    then the smaller ones.

    prise the bars apart until the cross piece can be removed. be careful that the cross piece upper fixings don't scratch anything in the process. don't lose the thin plastic separator washers that remain on the main crash bars.

    make sure the back wheel is in (you want the weight at the back). move the jack to under the sump to just take the weight of the front end.

    remove the front shock lower bolt: again, very, very tightly in, but no loctite called for in spec

    shock can now move forward slightly, giving a gnats cock more room to get the belt cover off

    remove belt cover

    undo the 5 screws holding the plastic cover on. 3 machine screws at the lower end, 2 self tappers at the top.

    pull the bottom of the cover away from the engine & pull the rubber noise damper thing out from inside. cover will then have room to get out.

    top mount

    little bit more tricky this one. when you attempt to undo the top mount nut, the shock body will try & spin inside the spring so you can't hold it

    you might just get lucky & undo it by getting a socket on it & turning quickly. i cheated & put the windy on it, which still span the shock initially, but soon got the nut off

    *now i know most people reading this are not going to have access to air impact guns, so you will have to do it differently. i suggest knocking up a replica of what the proper tool probably looks like.

    you'll need a deep 15mm socket and a grinding wheel to cut out a slot like this.

    this will enable you to turn the nut while holding the shock with an allen key through the slot.

    you may also need to move the tank back slightly for access. i can't cover that as i didn't actually need to do it

    anyway, you've removed the nut. you can now move the bottom of the shock back & down, then bring the shock out top first between the fork legs.

    next problem is that the new wilburs is a different shape & will not go in where the old one came out

    to get it in, you need to extend the fork legs slightly. either jack up the sump,or cinch the rear end down with a ratchet strap like this.

    you do not need extend the fork legs much. VERY IMPORTANT keep an eye on the front brake hose, make sure it does not get tight as the legs drop.

    shock will now slip in easily. fit top & bottom mounts as per torque values required.

    top nut is easier to do up, than get off as wilburs unit has a 19mm hex underneath top mount which a spanner can be got on as long as it's thin enough. my manky 7mm thick Bedford fits a treat, my shiny 8.7mm Britool does not.

    torque wrench just gets on the nut with a std. 15mm socket. a deep one would be better, but i don't have one.

    bottom mount is straightforward. no loctite in spec but optimoly TA paste is called for on the bolt head.


    this is not what i'd call an easy job. be sure you can do it, and get it right. get it wrong, and it could kill you.

    these are important components you need to mess with. IT HAS TO BE RIGHT.

    double check the torque values etc. i got mine from an out of date bmw cd rom, they may have been changed, i don't know

    if in doubt, get someone qualified to do it for you.

    this not a guide as such, more a record of how i did the job on my bike. maybe it will just tell you, you don't want to do it yourself.

    most importantly, if you do the job and it all goes tits up, it's NOT MY FAULT. best i can do is make an offer for some of the wreckage. maybe

  2. #2
    Thanks for the great guide. I'm thinking about getting Wilbers myself in a bit.

    Are you really jacking up the back of the bike by the rear disc? I don't think I'd want to put that much weight on it.

  3. #3
    Stay Frosty Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by mbp View Post

    Are you really jacking up the back of the bike by the rear disc? I don't think I'd want to put that much weight on it.
    no. i'm taking the weight of the swingarm, drive box and brake etc. that is unsupported when the shock is removed

  4. #4
    Deadhead Member Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Nottingham England
    Just a wee bump 'cos this is a very useful thread, thanks Cookie

    A couple of further tips:

    My bike is a vanilla GS (not a GSA like Cookies)

    You will need to move the tank back an inch or so - undo the four bolts and lift and pull the tank back, carefully so as not to disturb any fuel lines etc

    Undoing the top nut on the front shock, even my wizzy gun couldn't do it and I didn't have a deep socket to grind so I held the rod with an allen key and undid the nut with a ratchet ring spanner Well, it worked for me

    Doing the nut back up I didn't have a spanner that would fit the shock so used the preload ring spanner to hold the bottom locking collar and thus hold the assembly still. Perhaps not ideal, but again, it worked fine.

    Looking forward to a test ride tomorrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Martel View Post
    One of the five imbeciles of the vainglorious big swinging dick types of the Harley section

  5. #5
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Thanks guys - have just used these tips to do my shocks.

    Couple of minor points to add;

    Firstly, using the pre-load spanner to stop the front shock from turning while you do up the top nut worked fine for me too - so a great tip and very easy to do (once someone else discovers it )

    Secondly, make sure you re-fit the two rubber grommets (and the tube spacer between them) that position the front shock correctly in the headstock.
    I spent ages trying to work out why my Wilbers wouldn't sit right, and even phoned everyaccessory (who were very helpful), before I noticed that I'd left the bottom half of the rubber mount on the old shock

    Lastly, buy some penetrating oil and squirt it in to the mounting bolts before you start - WD40 (as I found out the hard way) is not the same

    I struggled a little with the top mount of the rear shock, but managed to get it undone. The lower front was a complete bast*ard though, and I struggled with it on and off for hours, managing to chew up the torks head along the way

    I tried WD40, I tried a heat gun, I even tried an impact drive.
    It was looking pretty bad, and I thought I might be in real trouble - until I went and bought the penetrating oil, which did the trick after a couple of soakings.

    Anyway, it's all done now - and I am really pleased that I managed to do it myself
    I'm mechanically a complete numpty, but following the instructions given here gave me the courage to try, and I learned a lot along the way

    So thanks for the thread


  6. #6
    Dream Maker
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Worcester, England
    Great thread and removing the torx from the front and rear shocks is quite possibly the scariest thing I`ve ever done with a bike. The rear especially needs a long breaker bar and nerves of steel.

    I would advise getting spares just in case

    "Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope.
    With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream.
    If you have hope, you have everything."

  7. #7
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Bilco View Post
    I would advise getting spares just in case
    Indeed - especially if you need to finish the job on a bike that you use every day.

    As my torxs bolt was looking a bit second hand by the mid point of the trials, I phoned my local dealer to order a new one and they got it in and posted it to my house.

    Ordered on Monday and arrived on Thursday - great service from Bahnstormer once again


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Why heat?

    Wahts the reason behind heating the shock area? It it to expand the metal a bit or to soften the BMW threadlock? Also how warm do you have to get the area and what area is best heated?

    good write up too Cookie



  9. #9
    Deleted account W
    Just a note to say thanks to Cookie for taking the time to post this, better than any Haynes manual write up

    One thing to add after changing the OE shocks for Wilbers on my friends bike.

    The rear shock wouldn't slot into swing arm, the bush on the left side was sticking out just slightly into the gap the lower shock mount slots into. A "G" Clamp was needed to ease the bushing back into the swing arm enough to allow the shock to slide into the gap.

    We didn't need any heat to free the bolts (38k miles) but a day before all the bolts were soaked in releasing oil.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Thanks Cookie

    Just fitted a pair of wilbers with help from Cookies extensive guide,
    could well be the best thread on the forum


  11. #11
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Oxford, England
    I just sat on a comfy sofa drinking tea and eating Jaffa cakes whilst watching MCT fit mine - it looked pretty simple from that angle

  12. #12
    Stay Frosty Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    just an additional note:

    sometimes when fitting the rear shock, i've found it can be a very tight fit getting the lower shock mount into position in the slot in the swing arm, but after a bit of fiddling, it's always gone in.

    speaking with pikey dave the other day, he told me he was unable to do this recently, and traced the problem to a bush inside the swing arm bolt hole moving out of position (head end). with a narrower shock mount, the bush will get pulled into the slot as the bolt is tightened. if you then fit a different shock with a slightly wider mount, it won't fit. in extreme cases like his, a tool will need to be fabricated to pull the bush back flush.

    some sort of stud with nuts and washer thing should work, but it will be made trickier because the open end of the bolt hole is not flat.
    still, i've never had the problem, so you probably won't either. just thought i'd mention it.

  13. #13
    Son of Ah Knah Yee Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    The North East
    Top tip geezers!
    Just put a new Nitron on the front of my 2004 GS - Bit of a faff as the spring is a large diameter than OE, so won't go in the way OE comes out - Cue lot's of jiggling and fiddling.

    Don't think I'll be doing that again in a hurry.

    Doing the rear tomorrow night - Piece of piss

    PUI since 2004

  14. #14
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Off the wall ...On the case
    Quote Originally Posted by Rasher View Post
    I just sat on a comfy sofa drinking tea and eating Jaffa cakes whilst watching MCT fit mine - it looked pretty simple from that angle
    Plan to do the same while Mikeyboy fits mine tomorrow!

  15. #15
    Subscriber Click here to find out how to Subscribe
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Torbay, England
    I took of my OEM shocks and both front & back frames with no fancy tools.
    Anything into aluminium is MUCH easier with heat. Rear shock bottom bolt was tight solid until I heated up the swing arm with hot air gun.
    The front ball joint and headstock nuts (not needed for shocks alone) cannot be shifted without heat. Ditto the front subframe cross bolts.
    Heat softens the threadlock.
    Has anyone stripped the ESA off a shock and recharged the hydraulics? I left it all well alone and just painted the brackets in situ.
    08 R1200GSA
    76 Suzuki GT750

  16. #16
    Thread well worth being woken up for some.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Anyone attending a Ride Out or Event organised through the UKGSer Forums does so at their own risk. or anyone organising an event posted here will not be held responsible in any way for damage or personal injury sustained while attending any such events.

Members attending any such event do so at their own risk.

The text, images, graphics, sound files, animation files, video files, and their arrangement on this Website are all subject to copyright and other intellectual property protection. These objects may not be copied for commercial use or distribution, nor may these objects be modified or reposted to other sites without prior written permission.

Disclaimer: Use or depiction of the BMW logo or trademark throughout this web site is for illustrative and editorial purposes only, and to the benefit of the trademark owner, with no intention of infringement of the trademark.

The UKGSer Forums may include adult content for which it cannot be held responsible. Your use of this website constitutes acceptance of the UKGSER network privacy policy

UKGSer is....

"a pernicious environment of toxic hostility" dean0n0 2019

"I have always known this community is full good people even if most of you cover it up with piss n vinegar" Chad 2018

"Its about being a grown up hooligan - and if that means a dark visor, remus open pipe and a bit of speeding out of town then all well and good" Kaister 2005