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Setting the proper preload for the rear suspension

Svtweb

Moderator
Staff member
Elite Member
Many of the early reviews and many of the first customers have complained about the R18 having a very harsh ride and easily scraping the pegs. This is not indicative of a design flaw on the R18, but a procedural miss by BMW to properly document the unpacking and setup procedures for the customer. During shipping, the rear shock preload is placed in "Shipping" position. That means the adjustment of the rear shock is turned anti-clockwise until it hits the stop. In this position you are basically sitting on the rubber bump-stop on the shock with little to no spring action. During shipping it keeps the bike from bouncing around. The manual mentions setting the preload, but it appears that none of the dealers have been doing that. I have created a chart that gives a breakdown of preload from minimum adjustment (0 Turns) to Max Adjustment (26 Turns).

The process is very easy: With a 13mm 6-Point socket, turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until it stops. Slowly rotate the adjuster clockwise until you feel it engage the spring perch (you will feel slight resistance). This is position "0" Continue turning clockwise until you reach the desired preload based on the chart I created.

I hope this helps everyone out.
 

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Vyk

Member
Site Supporter
Thank you for making the chart!

I was just reading about this in the manual.

It appears that I have the opposite "problem".
I am 75kg / 165lb with gear on.
I'm out of the range of adjustment possible for the bike. I do like a stiff suspension and as the bike doesn't get pushed to it's limits of suspension, it is working for me. I've been doing some spirited rides with a friend on a GS on some technical roads (unmarked mountain back roads) and I haven't had problems with scrapping the pegs.

Of course the R18 doesn't have the lean angle safety margins compared to riding a GS or any non-cruiser, but it was able to go plenty fast enough for the road based on visibility, conditions and braking ability of the bike.
Maybe I'm biased as I like the bike so much but I feel that people shouldn't really have much problem with lean angle particularly keeping in mind what the bike is suppose to be.

I do wish they had provided a wider range of adjustment encompassing lower weight riders.
 

Svtweb

Moderator
Staff member
Elite Member
Thank you for making the chart!

It appears that I have the opposite "problem".
I am 75kg / 165lb with gear on.

My advice would be to take the slack out of the system so you aren't riding on the bump stop to avoid damaging anything. And I'll invite you over for a 32oz Tomahawk Ribeye to get some meat on those bones. ;)
 

Gaylord Poe

Active member
Premium Member
Thank you for the post and the chart Svtweb! I weigh 180 and my first ride on my R18 was 65 miles of spinal abuse!! I found my R18's rear suspension was as you indicated. Using your chart I set mine to 4 turns out and am going to leave it there for a few rides. At that setting the ride is still firm, but still handles quite well and handles bumps and jars MUCH better. I think "big picture" is my K1600B has spoiled me on suspension comfort that I likely won't find on my new favorite cruiser. But if the aftermarket ever presents a more comfortable rear shock/suspension I'm game. Having Harleys for decades taught me that every bike - especially those perfect HDs (although I still love them) - needs a ton of tweaking to get it just right...
 

Svtweb

Moderator
Staff member
Elite Member
Thank you for the post and the chart Svtweb! I weigh 180 and my first ride on my R18 was 65 miles of spinal abuse!! I found my R18's rear suspension was as you indicated. Using your chart I set mine to 4 turns out and am going to leave it there for a few rides. At that setting the ride is still firm, but still handles quite well and handles bumps and jars MUCH better. I think "big picture" is my K1600B has spoiled me on suspension comfort that I likely won't find on my new favorite cruiser. But if the aftermarket ever presents a more comfortable rear shock/suspension I'm game. Having Harleys for decades taught me that every bike - especially those perfect HDs (although I still love them) - needs a ton of tweaking to get it just right...
Glad I could help. I’m 260lbs and I found that playing with it a little makes a difference. I added about 1.5 turns to the setting and that seemed to do the trick for me.
 

kils

Member
Site Supporter
Many of the early reviews and many of the first customers have complained about the R18 having a very harsh ride and easily scraping the pegs. This is not indicative of a design flaw on the R18, but a procedural miss by BMW to properly document the unpacking and setup procedures for the customer. During shipping, the rear shock preload is placed in "Shipping" position. That means the adjustment of the rear shock is turned anti-clockwise until it hits the stop. In this position you are basically sitting on the rubber bump-stop on the shock with little to no spring action. During shipping it keeps the bike from bouncing around. The manual mentions setting the preload, but it appears that none of the dealers have been doing that. I have created a chart that gives a breakdown of preload from minimum adjustment (0 Turns) to Max Adjustment (26 Turns).

The process is very easy: With a 13mm 6-Point socket, turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until it stops. Slowly rotate the adjuster clockwise until you feel it engage the spring perch (you will feel slight resistance). This is position "0" Continue turning clockwise until you reach the desired preload based on the chart I created.

I hope this helps everyone out.
Meaby a strange question but how much is a turn. 180 or 360 degrees?
 
Many of the early reviews and many of the first customers have complained about the R18 having a very harsh ride and easily scraping the pegs. This is not indicative of a design flaw on the R18, but a procedural miss by BMW to properly document the unpacking and setup procedures for the customer. During shipping, the rear shock preload is placed in "Shipping" position. That means the adjustment of the rear shock is turned anti-clockwise until it hits the stop. In this position you are basically sitting on the rubber bump-stop on the shock with little to no spring action. During shipping it keeps the bike from bouncing around. The manual mentions setting the preload, but it appears that none of the dealers have been doing that. I have created a chart that gives a breakdown of preload from minimum adjustment (0 Turns) to Max Adjustment (26 Turns).

The process is very easy: With a 13mm 6-Point socket, turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until it stops. Slowly rotate the adjuster clockwise until you feel it engage the spring perch (you will feel slight resistance). This is position "0" Continue turning clockwise until you reach the desired preload based on the chart I created.

I hope this helps everyone out.
I have one for the day tomorrow and a few weeks ago had the same bike for a short ride . The ride was brutally harsh ... attached is the picture of the shock setting - anyway to know if it was on ‘0’ as you said ... I.e. shipping setting ?
 

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Glad I could help. I’m 260lbs and I found that playing with it a little makes a difference. I added about 1.5 turns to the setting and that seemed to do the trick for me.
Love this bike ... but wondering how to manage the rear suspension. Found it to be extremely harsh
 

Svtweb

Moderator
Staff member
Elite Member
Love this bike ... but wondering how to manage the rear suspension. Found it to be extremely harsh
Remove the right side pod, using a 13mm 6-point socket on an extension, rotate the rear suspension preload screw anti-clockwise until it stops. If it moves less than 1 full turn you were on “shipping” position. Using the chart I posted, turn the screw 1-1.5 turns until you feel the slack removed from the adjustment shaft and add the number of turns as listed on the chart for your weight.
 
Remove the right side pod, using a 13mm 6-point socket on an extension, rotate the rear suspension preload screw anti-clockwise until it stops. If it moves less than 1 full turn you were on “shipping” position. Using the chart I posted, turn the screw 1-1.5 turns until you feel the slack removed from the adjustment shaft and add the number of turns as listed on the chart for your weight.
Hi Svtweb : Thank you for your clear instructions. I did as you said and indeed the bike WAS in "shipping" position - no wonder their demo rides have been bashing and bumping everyone, putting potential customers off. Having said that, I followed your instructions and have set the load to 3 turns clockwise post allowance for slack 97.5 kg as my weight is approximately 95 kg. Very excited to try it out this evening and will also experiment with the 4th turn for 100 kg. Will test it out on 2, 3, 4, on the same run to see how ti reacts to the adjustments and revert. Meanwhile do you know what air pressure is correct for the R18 front and back ? Am planning to pressure it to 36 front and 42 rear (psi) . Cheers and thanks again.
 

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That is a picture of the key fab receiving antenna.
Yes :) I took off the seat to be able to peer at the mounting points .. i also thought the adjustments would be from that spot but thanks to Svtweb I learned it was on the side. My reason to peer at the mounting points ..... hoping to source a spring seat that may be able to mount directly onto those points and further wipe out any chances of shocks to the lower back.... but that still won't solve the issues with pillions ... that is unfortunately totally dependent on the shock adjustment and whether or not it can cope on the kinds of bumpy roads we have my nook of the woods. The Engine is GOLD ... gearbox is slick ... smoother on both counts than my 2017 GS ... engine and gearbox, but GS creams almost any bike on suspension so that's what I am focussing on with the R18. I have this demo for a day and am trying all the possible combinations of setting of rear shock I can before I hand it back today.
 

Tristan

New member
Hi Svtweb. Thanks for the initial post and for posting the chart. The R18 Rider's Manual just covers the basics for setting up spring preload.

I also went over the figures based on the rider's manual.

Stop 0 is based on a rider weighing approx. 85kg/ 187lbs with a full load of fuel (12.4kg/ 27.3lbs).

Every turn adds an additional 5kg/ 11lbs of spring preload according to the manual.

This would mean stop 26 has 215kg/ 474lbs of spring preload which is the maximum payload based on the specs in the manual.

Vehicle kerb weight - 345kg
Permissible gross vehicle weight - 560kg
Maximum payload - 215kg

Not wanting to 'split hairs' but the preload chart would then look as follows:
 

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Hi Svtweb : Thank you for your clear instructions. I did as you said and indeed the bike WAS in "shipping" position - no wonder their demo rides have been bashing and bumping everyone, putting potential customers off. Having said that, I followed your instructions and have set the load to 3 turns clockwise post allowance for slack 97.5 kg as my weight is approximately 95 kg. Very excited to try it out this evening and will also experiment with the 4th turn for 100 kg. Will test it out on 2, 3, 4, on the same run to see how ti reacts to the adjustments and revert. Meanwhile do you know what air pressure is correct for the R18 front and back ? Am planning to pressure it to 36 front and 42 rear (psi) . Cheers and thanks again.
Curious to know your reaction after adjustment. Does anyone know if the recommendations are with full fuel or shud that be added?
 

Tristan

New member
Going by the manual, the maximum “payload” would suggest the preload is purely rider weight and any additional luggage. It would appear it does not include fuel.
 
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Norm

New member
Many of the early reviews and many of the first customers have complained about the R18 having a very harsh ride and easily scraping the pegs. This is not indicative of a design flaw on the R18, but a procedural miss by BMW to properly document the unpacking and setup procedures for the customer. During shipping, the rear shock preload is placed in "Shipping" position. That means the adjustment of the rear shock is turned anti-clockwise until it hits the stop. In this position you are basically sitting on the rubber bump-stop on the shock with little to no spring action. During shipping it keeps the bike from bouncing around. The manual mentions setting the preload, but it appears that none of the dealers have been doing that. I have created a chart that gives a breakdown of preload from minimum adjustment (0 Turns) to Max Adjustment (26 Turns).

The process is very easy: With a 13mm 6-Point socket, turn the adjuster anti-clockwise until it stops. Slowly rotate the adjuster clockwise until you feel it engage the spring perch (you will feel slight resistance). This is position "0" Continue turning clockwise until you reach the desired preload based on the chart I created.

I hope this helps everyone out.
Thanks for the info Svtweb, I need to adjust mine as my niece wants me to take her for a ride tomorrow. My bike is still set at "0" which is how it was delivered from the dealer. I can't wait to see the difference.
 

Norm

New member
I adjusted the preload of mine to 20 turns (180kg) and took my niece for a ride today. The bike handled the bumps in the road great. I will set it to 6 turns to see what it is like with just me on board for my next ride and let you know the outcome. It looks like I am in for a week of rain according to our forecast but I will keep my fingers crossed that I get a few rides in while on holidays. Thanks again Svtweb for the guidance.
 
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