How to Fix Your BMW F800 GS Front Suspension

The simple answer, of course, is to sell your BMW F800 GS and buy a new KTM 990 R. Or at least that’s what Bart says. Seriously, that ain’t going to happen right now. I’ve had some issues with the performance of my F800 GS in the rough stuff. The issues are, it just doesn’t perform the way my previous KTM 640 Adventure did, understandably so, as they are totally different bikes. Lately, I’ve been combing the intrawebs for possible solutions. On ADVrider, there is an extensive thread about the mythic Bitubo fork cartridges, imported from Italy. There’s one guy who actually has them, swears by them, but he does most of his riding in Staten Island. Fuck sake, lads. I need  a better endorsement than that before I run out and chuck a bunch a dough at new cartridges. First step is to get my damn fork seals replaced, not something I planned on doing at 6,000 miles. But my bike has been to hell and back. I’m thinking about doing the Hyperpro progressive spring upgrade front and rear. Anybody out there with some advice or experience in this matter?

The Mona Lisa
DF, Moto, and UK Keith, somewhere near Afton, Wyoming.

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  1. Seriously, sell the F800GS and get a 990R. I had a ’09 F800GS and the suspension was horrible. It was a turd. I replaced the springs with Hyperpro suspension kit and put in a heavier oil, then had a revalve, nothing seemed to help that bike. I sold it and bought a 690 Enduro R. I had a ’08 KTM 990 Adventure I recently sold and get a ’11 KTM Adventure R. I highly recommend one.

  2. The Adventure R is sick. I’m looking back to when I had a 2007 KTM 640 Adventure, nothing went wrong with that bike, and I did all my own maintenance. Your advice is not falling on deaf ears, but I don’t think a new bike is in the cards this year.

  3. I am in the same spot I just got back from an 1100 mile trip in Baja on my F800 I really like the bike but dont know what to do about the suspension. Have you found anything that works? I ride aggressivly and race enduros on my KTM so I agree everyhtin I read is about small amounts of off road but I do a lot and dont want to dum $ in if it doesn’t return in performance. I am looking at the cartridge kit that Race tech offers and think I may go that route.

  4. Cory, same thing. I’m not sure what to do either. I have read countless opinions on ADVrider, and the picture is not any more clear. BMW really F’ed themselves on having a non-adjustable front fork. One of my riding buddies had his F800 re-sprung in the front: not sure if he did Hyperpro, Ohlins, or another brand, but after the local wizards here at did the work, he noticed less bottoming out up front. We did a trip into Colorado this fall, and I was bottoming out while he was not. My sense is, this is the easiest/cheapest and probably the only upgrade you can do right now.

    IMHO, the Ohlins cartridge solution is really overpriced. Maybe there are no glowing endorsements on this because nobody can afford to do it? Let us know how the Race Tech cartridge goes if you do it.

  5. Ya I will for sure I did the trans am trail 2 years ago with the stock springs and the bike made it but was really soft. This year did the hyperpro springs for the front and it made a huge difference but didnt perform well when going thru the chopp of Baja the oil starts to heat up and gets softer as you ride. I had Race tech do the suspension on my Enduro race biek and it made a big difference. I like the BMW a lot just wish it was a little more adjustable suspencion wise. I bought a XR 650 when I got back from Baja but its just not the same as the BMW when it comes to long trips. Have you had any trouble with bent rear suspension bolts that is the other issue that the guys at Ohlins told me to look out for so I need to check they sell a kit to strengten this area that I will probably pick up. Let me know if you come across any good answers and I will let you know if I do it. One more thing I have dented up the wheels pretty bad they are really soft as well have you had any issues with yours? thanks for the info…

  6. Cory, nice. I did a part of the TAT from Utah to Oregon back in 2008, but not on the BMW. I was on a KTM 640 Adventure, which had a great suspension, was a lighter bike, but of course was not as smooth and comfortable as the F800.

    I have not checked the issue you are referring to with the suspension bolt bending, but I have also heard about that being a common problem. Touratech used to sell a stronger bolt for the rear shock, but it is not available on the U.S. website anymore. It would seem to me a stronger bolt that doesn’t bend would create more stress and bending on the frame, which seems to be the main problem. Definitely something to check every now and again.

    My wheels are ok, but again, I have heard others complain.

    Steering dampener, yes or no? It seems like a steering dampener would just be throwing good money at bad without a better solution for the front forks. I’ll likely do the Hyperpro springs this coming spring, as even if it makes my bike a little better, I’d be happy with that.

  7. Thanks for the tip and the link. I have already replaced my springs with Hyperpro, so we’ll see how it goes. I just had it done, and haven’t tested them out yet over stock. I wish I had known about these SKF seals ahead of time. The video is impressive.

  8. Moto said, “It seems like a steering dampener would just be throwing good money at bad without a better solution for the front forks.”

    The steering dampener is not intended to improve front suspension, it is to dampen sudden impacts to the front wheel that cause the front end/handlebars to violently whip potentially causing a crash or injury. It is a safety feature that is especially useful on the F800GS precisely because of the poor front suspension. I run a Scotts dampener on my 8GS and have also on a precious 525EXC. It is the first mod I would do to the F800GS above any other if you ride at all off-road.

  9. Thanks for the comment about the steering dampener. It makes me recall a comment from our intrepid guide Tim in Morocco when asked why our KTM 690 Enduros didn’t have steering dampeners: “because if they had steering dampeners, then you guys would ride faster and hurt yourselves more when you fall.”

  10. IMHO, I think the Hyperpro springs and different weight oil are a good upgrade for the F800 GS. It has eliminated the front brake “dive” when you even touch the lever, which is nice for riding around town. Sadly, the upgrade hasn’t done wonders in the dirt. It’s made the bike less horrible in the rough stuff. My long term evaluation is this: do it.

  11. well all you KTM lovers you suck big time! f800gs is 4000euros cheaper than the 990R. If you can’t ride a bike the springs are not a problem. I am totally satisfied by the f800 and its springs. Ok they are not as KTM but its descent.i made 50000 klm in hard greek terrain with no problems at all.Stay with the same oil and just change the springs.Go hyperpro or ohlins.I put the ohlins and it works great

  12. “Hard Greek Terrain.” What is that like? I put Hyperpro progressive springs in my F800 and it did little to improve. Glad it’s working for you. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Good info! I was about to pull the trigger on a 2011 F800GS this week with 5k miles. I own 3 other BMW and restore airheads. Worked on their front end with springs just for touring. Bottom line, this is sad BMW made a GS with poor front end performance. The Greek Troll may want to read the various 800GS reviews by professional guides in both Europe and US that confirm what you guys are saying, the review was not good on the throttle sensitivity and the bottom out soft front end. I think they know how to ride a bike since they grew up on the dirt for a living.
    Lots of 800&700GS for sell for a reason..ah? The truth is, the 800GS is for old farts like me that 20% hit dirt roads, little sand or mud, it’s not a dirt bike.

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