Replace bent triple tree? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 10-26-2015, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Replace bent triple tree?

Four weeks ago I went down doing 60 mph. The bike developed a severe wobble that quickly got worse and I went down.

I haven't determined what caused the wobble yet. That's something I'll do more looking into once I fix some damage from the crash.

Most of the damage from the crash is cosmetic, stuff I'm not worried about fixing. However, the front wheel is misaligned with the handle bars and front fender.



I tried the easy stuff first. I loosened all the bolts on the front and compressed the front forks to see if things would line up. That didn't work. I got more aggressive by securing the front wheel and twisting the handle bars to try to get things to line up. That didn't work.

Over the weekend, I pulled the front forks. One of the forks was easy to remove. The other fork would not turn and was difficult to remove. I was able to finally remove the fork by using a rod and tapping on the top of the fork until it was out of the top tree and then it was easy to remove from the lower tree.

Since I had so much trouble removing the fork, I expected it to be bent. I checked both forks by rotating them on a piece of plywood and then using a straight aluminum bar. Neither fork is bent.

I cleaned up the forks and triple trees. I was able to install the forks relatively easily. No sticking when putting the forks back on.

After reinstalling the forks, the wheel is still out of alignment. Now I figure one of the triple trees is bent.

How do I check a triple tree to see if it is bent? I'd prefer not to buy replacement parts unless I need to. At this point, I'm thinking I'll buy a replacement bottom triple tree and see what happens.

Any advice?

Thanks in advance.

BTW, I came away from the crash with some rash on my knees, some bruises, and a severely strained wrist. I was wearing all the gear. The rash occurred because the knee pads in my pants twisted out of the way and the pants wore through. The jacket is also toast, but did it's job in protecting my upper body. I don't think any amount of armor could have prevented the twisting injury to my wrist. After 4 weeks, the road rash is almost healed and the wrist is coming along nicely. I'm in the process of purchasing replacement gear. I was lucky.

Last edited by tjduexjr; 10-27-2015 at 05:28 PM.
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post #2 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 04:39 PM
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tjduexjr,
If the upper fork legs are Not bent or bowed it seems very unlikely to me that the triple clamps, either upper or lower would be bent.

I can only suggest that the top and bottom clamps are slightly twisted out-of alignment. You may have to slightly loosen the Top Nut under the handlebars and start over.
(Notice the arrow on the handlebar clamps? Points forward/up, tighten completely, then tighten the rear bolts.)

ps, Glad you were able to sort of walk away. I've been pretty lucky myself, several times.

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 84,000+ miles & counting

Last edited by pdwestman; 10-27-2015 at 04:50 PM. Reason: ps added
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post #3 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 05:00 PM
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Maybe the steering bearing adjuster nut Under the top triple clamp is a little 'slack', that could be part of/ all of the reason for the wobble in the 1st place.

Most likely they need a little more grease anyways, so I've read.
It has been called the "Asian grease shortage".

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 84,000+ miles & counting
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post #4 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 05:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdwestman View Post
tjduexjr,
If the upper fork legs are Not bent or bowed it seems very unlikely to me that the triple clamps, either upper or lower would be bent.

I can only suggest that the top and bottom clamps are slightly twisted out-of alignment. You may have to slightly loosen the Top Nut under the handlebars and start over.
(Notice the arrow on the handlebar clamps? Points forward/up, tighten completely, then tighten the rear bolts.)

ps, Glad you were able to sort of walk away. I've been pretty lucky myself, several times.
When I had the forks off, I looked at the alignment of the triple trees. The top and bottom move independent of each other without an issue. I did briefly check the steering head nut just because I think it being too loose may have contributed to the original wobble issue, but I didn't spend too much time on this yet since the wheel is still out of alignment.

Since the upper and lower trees move independent of each other, I didn't think about them needing to line up in any specific way prior to installing the forks. Are you saying the upper and lower trees need to be in some type of alignment prior to installing the forks?

I apologize if I'm asking a super basic question. While I'm an engineer by trade, I'm a noob when it comes to working on the front end alignment of a motorcycle, so I'm still building my mental understanding of how it all works.

Thanks.
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post #5 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 05:47 PM
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I agree with pdwestman; highly unlikely you did anything to the triple clamps. If the fork tubes aren't bent, then it can't be anything serious. Are you SURE it's not just some bent bars and tweeked fender? .....that'd be my bet.

Dave
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post #6 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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I can't say for sure that the bars are bent and the front fender isn't tweaked. Here are my observations, though.

I use the bar risers and the top triple to determine when the bars should be straight. When I have the bars oriented to what I believe is straight, the front fender also points straight. The wheel does not.

When I point the wheel straight, the fender does not point straight and the bars, through the risers and top triple, also do not point straight.

When I pulled the front fender off this weekend to remove the front forks, there is no indication of stress on the holes for the bolts, meaning it doesn't look like any of them have been stretched. The fender itself doesn't look like it is out of alignment with itself.

If there is another way to tell if the bars are on crooked, or the fender is tweaked, I'm all ears. Happy to try anything to prove that the misalignment is an easier, less expensive, fix.

Can the bar risers get out of alignment with the top triple?

I do appreciate the feedback and suggestions.

Thanks.

Last edited by tjduexjr; 10-27-2015 at 07:16 PM.
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post #7 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 08:07 PM
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If the two triple trees are free to move independently of one another, then inserting one fork leg will do the job of properly lining them up.

What would be of interest and possibly helpful would be a picture looking at the forks with the cowling removed (and even the instrument cluster, if you can manage it), no wheel installed, but the front axle loosely inserted through the fork. This should be done with the bump on the ignition lined up with the bracket fitting on the frame, which centers the triple tree pretty well.



Then, without moving anything, take a picture from the side.

Sorry about the quality of my pictures; it's getting dark here, and sorry not to take a photo from the side.

This is one of those situations where, if everything is as you say, it must all work. Since it isn't, there may be something weird going on that a picture might give a clue to.

Tom

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Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 10-27-2015 at 08:10 PM.
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post #8 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 08:11 PM
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Have you closely examined the triple trees for any signs of stress cracks or fractures?

Tom

Tom [email protected]

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” -Philip Marlowe

“'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used.” -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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post #9 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 08:22 PM
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tj,
The pics help. Wish I had camera AND understood how to do pics.

How easily does the front wheel turn from side to side, when front wheel is off of the ground?
I'll suggest that it should not 'Flop' to the steering stop! The tapered steering bearings need 'just a tiny little bit of pre-load'.
Might be a good time to snug the spanner nut under the top triple clamp a smidge. Don't want anymore wobbles.

With all parts assembled, BUT NOT Tight, treat the front forks like your old bicycle! Straddle the front tire between your knees and twist the handlebars in the direction desired.

You need the triple clamps just tight enough to keep fork legs at proper height, front axle not quite tight, top nut not quite tight. Yeap, that means the handlebars may have to come off and on once or twice. NO, maybe NOT, you've got bar Risers. Might have room for a wrench?

Once alignment is achieved, snug the lower triple clamps, Top Nut, top triple clamps, f axle. Then proper torque in same sequence.

pdwestman
Modify at "YOUR OWN RISK"!

Still riding my 1987 KL650-A1. 84,000+ miles & counting
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post #10 of 40 Old 10-27-2015, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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I'll take things apart again and take some pictures. Just to set expectations, I probably won't be able to get back to take things off the bike until the weekend.

I didn't do a close inspection of the triple trees to look for signs of stress cracks or fractures. I looked things over, just not closely.
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