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Thread: Kbike Head Wobble?

  1. #1
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    Rick - Thanks for the suggestions. It turned out with the wet forecast my friends and I were smart and/or chickened out (depending on how you look at it) with the idea of heading south. Instead, I left the R1100S at home and took my '931100LT west and north. We made a loop through parts of WV, OH, MI, around Lake Erie to Niagra Falls, NY, PA, and back home in VA yesterday late afternoon. Totaled about 1450 miles and stayed dry until mid morning yesterday.
    Hopefully later in the year we will be able to make it down that way and check out some of the roads in the area - especially 180 which I keep hearing about.

    I noticed that you ride a '95LT. Have you had any problems with a front end "wobble"? Over the last 1/2 year or so I noticed that primarily between 40-60mph my handle bars have a lot of movement that would result in a tank slapper if I were to keep my hands off. I'm also starting to notice it as I go through some higher speed curves. This used to be a symptom I experienced when the tread on my front tire was on the low end, now it's happening with new tires. I have tried running my tire pressure as low as 34, as high as 39 based on suggestions from others and get the same results regardless. Could this be a sign that my suspension is on the way out? The bike has about 48000 miles on it, 36000 of which I have put on in the last 2.5 years since I bought it. Last time I had my front tire replaced my dealer said the bearings (stearing or wheel) were in good shape. Any insight would be great.

  2. #2
    What's that noise...? basketcase's Avatar
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    (Head popping up!) Did someone say, "Front end wobble?"

    Yes, I do have an annoying wobble on the K11, and it is evident at speeds between 30-45 mph. As a result, I never ride with "no hands."

    On this bike, it is most pronounced when the tires are worn, and from reading and experience, I know it can be aggravated by several other things.

    -Worn rear shock.
    -Loose bolts on rear shock or in the running gear.
    -Looseness in the steering head bearings.

    If I keep this K-LT, I will do some things at the next tire change to tidy it up. Most of what follows has been is what I call "voodoo" tech insight, gleaned from various readings in several magazines (Rider, Motorcyclist, BMW ON, Wing World), and from experimenting on my own bikes.

    My previous BMW was a K75RT, and it too developed the tendency to wobble, and I discovered that blessed trait while riding along in third gear standing up on the pegs and tucking my shirt tail in. Don't ask ... well, on second thought, I better explain.

    Actually, the shirt tail tucking routine was to agitate one of my neighbors who thought it scandelous that the local minister rode a motorcycle, so my typical "leaving town" routine was to be sure my posterior was noticable, with mistletoe affixed to my tag.

    Back to the question. The best "fix" I can offer is what I did on the K75. The goal of this voodoo activity is to be sure everything rests in good alignment at its natural "center."

    1. Strip enough of the fairing to get to the pincher bolts and other fixtures on the front end and steering head bearings.

    2. Put the bike on a jack so both wheels are off the floor.

    3. Remove the fender, brake calipers, fork brace, and front wheel.

    4. While you have it down, check the adjustment of the steering head bearings. Adjust as needed.

    5. As you reassemble, take your time to insure that nothing is "forced," (which would indicate a misalignment of some type), and torgue it down as you go. The goal, as noted above, is to be sure everything is in an unstrained fit.

    6. When installing the front wheel, tighten the pincher bolts only snug enough to hold the axle securely in place, but not tight enough to keep it from moving a bit if necessary. What you do next is very important.

    Tighten the axle cap nut to spec before doing the final torgue on the axle pincher bolts.

    My K75 had been lowered, with the resulting changes in the steering geometry. The steps outlined helped some. But the other factor seemed to be tires.

    "Squiggle" is sometimes the result of different rubber compounds, and in particular, the result of worn tires.

    On the K75, when I got down towards the end of the OE Metzlers, they got absolutely squirrley. A full lock turnout from a parking space was a sensory adventure -- especially if the pavement was wet. My next tires were Dunlop 491's, and they handled much better than the Metz's (IMO).

    Check the tightness of the rear shock bolts, and when you have it serviced (or if you do your own), check and retorgue the other bolts securing the running gear. On my K100, the rear shock gave out, and it felt like I was riding with a hinge at the midpoint of the bike.

    A couple of years back, I read a fine article in BMW ON that noted the need to take a day once a year, strip the body work of the bike, and check all the torgue settings. Essentially, the cumulative effect of looseness in various places in the bike can "focus" at the steering head and result in the wobbly problem.

    Finally, riding the K11, the wobble is more pronounced when leaning to the left than to the right. I can't explain that -- but I know it is the way it is.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by basketcase; 05-19-2003 at 03:32 PM.
    '98 BMW Z3 Roadster, '00 R1100RT

    If you insist on exercising a right to burn our flag, first be so kind as to wrap yourself in it and then douse yourself with gasoline just before you strike the match.

  3. #3
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    i had a 1994 K1100RS that developed a pretty nasty head shake in the 35 +/- range. it was especially noticeable if i accelerated slowly thru that spped, or if i ended up staying there (in traffic, either case), or if packed 2up touring. after checking all the obvious things (steering head adj, head bearings, wheel bearings, swing arm bearings, etc.) a slight ding in the rear rim was discovered. all experts figured that it could not possibly cause a head shake, including the guy who fixed it (Mark at MC Wheels in Keene, NH). but that was the culprit! he does great work. look for a bend, it could be your problem.

  4. #4
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bikerfish1100
    i had a 1994 K1100RS that developed a pretty nasty head shake in the 35 +/- range. it was especially noticeable if i accelerated slowly thru that spped, or if i ended up staying there (in traffic, either case), or if packed 2up touring. after checking all the obvious things (steering head adj, head bearings, wheel bearings, swing arm bearings, etc.) a slight ding in the rear rim was discovered. all experts figured that it could not possibly cause a head shake, including the guy who fixed it (Mark at MC Wheels in Keene, NH). but that was the culprit! he does great work. look for a bend, it could be your problem.
    I'll second this suggestion.. THE K75S had a slight wobble which was most noticable right around 50MPH. I did the usual, and it improved a tiny bit, but was still there.

    Finally - during a dyno run of the bike, I looked and saw the rear wheel was wobbling - side to side bend. About 1/8".

    Sent it off to Tim Bond (WireWheels) - for $75 he strightened it to perfection.

    Now - hands off at any speed, and the bike is overall easier to ride - apparently the effect while not really noticeable, was causing some feedback to me.

    Easy to check - on the centerstand, start the bike, put it in gear and LOOK. If you're really anal - you can measure it.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  5. #5
    On the Road 101897's Avatar
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    front end wobble

    after reading your post I had the same wobble on my 02 LT they got into it with the BMW rep and he had them change the front Wheel said the hole was drilled wrong on some and that would fix it and it did if you just started getting this wobble you might check for some damage form a pot hole or hard RR tracks not a good feeling while ridding that is for sure
    John

  6. #6
    Registered User CA1200's Avatar
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    I have bought a K1200GT and am having a bad time getting a definitive answer to a wobble problem from day one. The shop has done some checking and changes and has noted the problem as being under investigation. They did some alert paperwork to BMW and are waiting for answers.

    If you uncover any answers let me know because it is only 3 weeks old and this is ridiculous.
    JC

  7. #7
    Registered User CA1200's Avatar
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    Wobble

    In my search to find what caused my problem on my 1 day old K12GT and the info I got back from the shop have turned up this.

    I have been told that the specs. for the front ball joints may be wrong and may have to be rethought. The spec range that BMW thought was O.K. is now being questioned. A special set of joints were given to my dealer after mine speced out O.K. according to the book. They sent out a "looser" set and now the shop thinks it fixed the problem. I will see when I pick up the bike later this week.

    The point is that if the bike is loder you may have fallen out of the "real" excepable range. Even though they check out per current specs.

    The shop that is working on my situation is A&S. Tim knows the most
    JC

  8. #8
    Registered User CA1200's Avatar
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    9/20 Update

    See my recent post under " K1200GT wobble problem. Need help"
    JC

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