Having used several different aftermarket shocks over the last five years for my R1150GS, I always found myself disappointed with how they performed and ultimately failed. Even sprung for weight, riding style and gear, the seals, among other things, would ultimately fail in less than 4,000 miles.
Attending the IMS Long Beach show, I became aware that Touratech had developed suspension engineered and built for our overloaded GS bikes that so many of us push to their limits on our journeys. The Touratech Explore Shock is built from the ground up, including an oversized piston, Teflon seal with backup ring, floating piston to prevent oil foaming and a 15mm preload – 50 percent more than most. These are just a few of the features these shocks have over the competition.
After loading my bike for a short shake down ride, I could feel a definite difference in how the front and rear felt over my previous setup. Up and over curbs and sidewalks in my urban test arena, it was now time to hit the road.
The true test came on our 1,500-mile trip through the varied terrain of Baja. In January, I set out loaded two-up with my 11-year-old son riding pillion and almost 100 lbs. of gear. Hitting the first dirt roads in Mexico was where I began to experience the real difference. The road from San Felipe to Gonzaga Bay, although paved, was a good Phase 1 test. The topas and vados came sometimes without warning, startling in the moment, but a good test nonetheless. From Gonzaga Bay through to Highway 1 was yet again a stretch where I worried about the strain put on the shocks. Soon after completing the “School of Baja,” I knew the Touratech Tractive suspension could do the job without much thought. Although not too stiff, I could feel the proper spring rate and valving doing its best to manage our heavy rolling load. Where previous setups would bottom or feel squishy, the Touratech Explore Shock had a solid, managed feel.
Back home riding solo along lesser loads, the ride was a bit on the hard side. I did, however, opt for a heavier spring rate, as I was on the cusp of two different settings. I pushed the bike to its limits through the twisties, carrying just my everyday kit of tools and spares. It felt good, never feeling overdone; all the while I was waiting to see the puddle of oil as I had before. But, the suspension just takes it! With well over 4,000 miles on the Touratech Explore Shocks, I no longer think about it.
From Paul Guillien of Touratech USA: “Many aftermarket shocks choose the materials and components required to hit a target price. At Touratech Suspension, we simply build the best possible shock using the highest quality materials and best technology. We put function, reliability and customer experience ahead of everything else. We never cut corners to hit a price point and it shows in the way your bike rides with our suspension.”
The build quality, options, features and ultimate performance show Touratech’s dedication to once again fill a void in the adventure touring market. When heading out to explore the unknown, I can’t imagine rolling with any other suspension system.
Price as tested for the Touratech Explore HP rear shock is $1,095, and the Touratech Explore front shock is $795 for the R1150GS Adventure. A full list of available shocks for BMW applications can be found at http://2rtec.us/TouratechSuspension or by calling Touratech USA at 1-800-491-2926.