Skip to main content
MENU

News / Articles

See ya later, Telelever

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

BMW has always been on the forefront of suspension technology. In the early days, they were the first to introduce telescoping forks (now the most prevalent form of front suspension).  In the 90's with the advent of the first oil cooled boxer motors, they introduced a variant of the Hossack design that was different enough to avoid patent conflicts. They branded that Telelever. 

In contrast to telescoping forks, Telelever could eliminate brake dive as it shifted the forces into the frame. This enabled great compliance over rough surfaces and made ABS (also released around the same time) less likely to cause bouncing as it cycled. 

Telever became a mainstay becoming the default on all boxer bikes and also on all K bikes. Later K bikes use Duolever, which is the full Hossack design. 

2015 marks the beginning of the end for the Telelever.  As BMW first started expanding beyond the Boxer motor in the 70’s, BMW now has no less than 5 different engine configurations, which has allowed BMW to offer a huge range of bikes to cater to every niche.  There are opposed twins, parallel twins, thumpers, inline 4s, inline 6s making up the line.  But, beginning in 2014 with the Nine-T, and with the new 2015 R1200R and R1200RS, marks the first time a non-HP model drops the Telelever in the Boxer line since the 90’s. 

Looking at the 2015 US lineup for BMW:

S series (inline 4)

  • S1000RR - forks
  • S1000R - forks
  • S1000XR - forks

R series (parallel twin - boxer)

  • R1200R - forks
  • R1200RS - forks
  • R1200RT - Telelever
  • R1200GS - Telelever
  • R1200GSA - Telelever
  • R Nine-T - forks

K series (inline 4 or 6 cylinder)

  • K1600GT - Duolever
  • K1600GTL - Duolever
  • K1600GTL Exclusive - Duolever
  • K1300S - Duolever

F series(parallel twin)

  • F800R -forks
  • F800GT - forks
  • F800GS - forks
  • F800GSA - forks
  • F700GS - forks

G series(thumper)

  • G650GS - forks

C series (scooter)

  • C650GT - forks

Out of 20 models available in the US, just 3 for 2015 have Telelever.  K bikes are only Duolever, and every other series plus half the boxer series uses forks.  Contrast that with 1997, when only the F650GS had forks, and every other model in the line had Telelever.

 

So what does this mean?  15% of their models still have the Telelever.  20% still have Duolever.  If we consider those similar, about 1/3 of the models have Hossack inspired designs, while the remaining 2/3s are standard forks.  One of the oldest models in the lineup, the K1300S is probably in it’s last year of production, so expect that to be gone in 2016.  The remainder of the K series are really the same bike with minor changes in features, included bags and seat and handlebar, but the same motor and chassis.  They came out in 2011, so will be due for a refresh in a few years.  The remaining bikes with Telelever are the new Boxer GSs and RT.  Expect these models to be around at least another 5 years.  But after that, what will come of the Telelever?  Expect the next generations of those bikes to be forks.

Why?  When the Telelever was released, forks tended to have a lot of brake dive and a wallowing feeling as the tubes weren’t as solid and would flex.  Many would describe that as having better road feel, which they felt the Telelever lost, but in truth the Telelever was the more solid system.  As metallurgy has improved, the ability to tune the fork flex has eliminated much of the advantage of the Telelever, save brake dive.  With the added weight and cost of the Telelever, it’s advantage has fallen.