R1200GSA Wilbers Front Shock installation

R1200GSA Wilbers Front Shock installation

See also: Rear shock installation instructions here

BMW R1200GS suspension / shocks / shock absorbers / struts
This article refers to Wilbers shocks easily applies to Ohlins, WP, HyperPro, Hagon etc aftermarket suspension.

AndyW – usual warning, refer to the BMW workshop manual.
Torque values

R1200GSA Wilbers Front Shock installation

Author: ‘cookie’ ukGSer.com 20/03/2007
View thread for additional comments:
Fitting wilburs to a GSA (external link) [wilburs = wilbers;-]

This is the promised thread on how I fitted my shiny new Wilbers shocks to my BMW R1200GSA. Hopefully I can point out some of the pitfalls that I found. I think I avoided most of them.

Tools – usual selection of spanners, socket set, screw drivers plus the following Torx bits: T20, 25, 30, 45, 50 all get used and are essential. You should also look at the bit marked ## lower down.

Read this whole article before starting if you’re choosing to use this as a guide. It is just a guide. It’s not the 10 commandments. It’s not “the right way to do it”, it’s a record of the way I (cookie) did it.

A good look at the “disclaimer” might be a good idea at this stage too 

Note: the bike is in “winter trim” i.e. covered in ACF50 then ignored, so is a tad grubby. never mind, makes the shiny blue shocks stand out more!


After removing the riders seat

Remove tank cover
Tank side covers off – rear bolt (20mm).

And the front bolt, just behind forks (12mm).

You can now pull the cover off as it’s now just held by the push fit thing into the grommet shown on frame. Use silicone grease on reassembly so it doesn’t pull the grommet out next time!

Beak to tank top cover screws (16mm).

Remove tank cover
Undo the tank filler cap bolts and remove the fuel filler cap. Take off tank cover and place somewhere that you won’t step on it!

Stick a bit of rag or similar in the open tank filler neck to reduce fuel fumes and stop spillage.
Remove crash bar cross brace to get the front shock out, you’ll 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.

For the next step the back wheel should be in (you need the weight at the back of the bike). 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

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

Remove alternator belt cover
Undo the 5 screws holding the black 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 and pull the rubber noise damper thing out from inside if installed. The cover will then have room to be removed.

Shock top mount
Little bit more tricky this one. When you attempt to undo the top mount nut the shock body will try and spin inside the spring so you can’t hold it. You might just get lucky and undo it by getting a socket on it and turning quickly. I cheated and put the windy on it (air gun), which still spin 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.
NB: BTW the tool pictured is not the one for the job, it’s a bigger one I made for something else. I’d recommend using a 12 point 15mm socket as against a hex (six sided) socket as it would allow better/more positions to access the allen socket in a tight space.

This ‘special tool’ 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 won’t cover that as I didn’t actually need to do it 

So, you’ve removed the shock top mount nut. You can now move the bottom of the shock back and down then bring the shock out top first between the fork legs.

Next problem is that the new Wilbers shock is a different shape and 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. (Edit=AndyW: or get someone to sit on the bike, compressing the rear suspension and lifting the front?) Needless to say there may be variations when installing Ohlins, WP, HyperPro, Hagon or other aftermarket suspension.

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

NB: don’t forget to transfer the rubber washer and spacer from the old front shock to the new one before fitting.

The new shock will now slip in easily. Fit top and bottom mounts as per torque values required. The top nut is easier to do up than get off as the Wilbers unit has a 19mm hex underneath the 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 standard 15mm socket. A deep socket would be better but I didn’t have one.

The bottom mount is straightforward. No Loctite in spec but Optimally TA paste is called for on the bolt head.

Rear shock installation instructions here

Cookie’s Disclaimer
This is not what I’d call an easy job. Be sure you can do it and do it right. If you get it wrong, the mistake 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. If in doubt get someone qualified to do the job with/for you. This is not a guide as such, more a record of how I did the job on my bike. Maybe it will just tell you, that 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! :-0