EXTREME SPEED WOBBLE.... any suggestions? or clarifications? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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EXTREME SPEED WOBBLE.... any suggestions? or clarifications?

I was on a camping trip this weekend. I took my klr. it's 2013 klr.


the bike was loaded with stuff, on the way out it was perfectly fine, but our speed never exceeded 80mph.
during the trails it was awesome, love the bike, it handled so well offroad, we did more than 140 miles of offroad loaded with stuff.


on the way back home, i noticed anytime i hit 80mph or 85... the steering would wobble and the bike does figure 8s.. i thought my front wheel is just grabbing the tracks on the highway, so i was not concerned.

right before i got home, the highway is downhill, so i think i hit higher than 80 or 85+mph... and the whole bike started to wobble like crazy, i thought i got a flat tire on the front wheel, i tried to brake on the rear, that made it worse, so i just let go the steering and gas, like LIGHTLY touching it, i let it do what it wants, it was like a 10 seconds earthquake hehe.... then it recovered.


scared the shit out of me...

any ideas? has any one experienced this? ...


i researched a bit and top 5 reasons that i found are these:
- if you are too heavy on the back and very light on the front and going fast, it happens cause the front wheel is lifted and barely have any pressure to maintain traction, and the bike does not have steering damper
- front wheel could be unbalanced or poor bearings or suspension is worn. but the tire is brand new and was balanced and mounted at the dealer, and the bike is not that old.
Do i need to install a steering damper on the bike?


LET ME KNOW! THANKS!

CURRENT BIKES:
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2016 BMW 1200GS ADVENTURE
2015 HARLEY DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM
2009 KLX250
PRE-BIKES:
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2008 YAMAHA FZ6
2006 NINJA 250
2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400
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post #2 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 10:46 AM
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At 30 or 40 mph make big -O-s with your thumb and fingers around the bars, but not gripping them and let off the throttle. If the bike wobbles on deceleration, that is due to loose steering head bearings and the nut on top of the stem needs tightening. That condition is easy to detect and beyond that I have no experience.
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post #3 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoMotor View Post
At 30 or 40 mph make big -O-s with your thumb and fingers around the bars, but not gripping them and let off the throttle. If the bike wobbles on deceleration, that is due to loose steering head bearings and the nut on top of the stem needs tightening. That condition is easy to detect and beyond that I have no experience.
thanks, no the wobble happened at speeds.
many people are telling me it's heavy load in the back is what caused it.

I need to ride the bike again with no load and try to replicate it and see.

CURRENT BIKES:
2013 KLR650
2016 BMW 1200GS ADVENTURE
2015 HARLEY DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM
2009 KLX250
PRE-BIKES:
2015 VULCAN S
2008 YAMAHA FZ6
2006 NINJA 250
2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400
2012 HD IRON 883
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post #4 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 11:17 AM
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Yes you will get tank slap often at speeds on the KLR. The front end is very light and tall making the geometry fairly suited for such a wobble. I have had the same and the main solution would be to make sure your front tire is aired up, add weight to the front if you can, and don't go over 80.

This is not your gs nor your hd, its a klr.

'01 KLR 650, '09 Suzuki DL650, '08 Suzuki Bandit 1250, '16 CRF1000L, '09 KLX 250s
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post #5 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 11:20 AM
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KLR death wobble is like oil threads; you'll get dozens of opinions.

My opinion is that it is primarily a suspension and suspension set up issue.

- start by making sure that your tires are in good shape with the appropriate tire pressure 25psi should be considered the absolute minimum for the highway and 30 is much better. tires aren't perfect even when new so balancing may be necessary to correct a tire balance issue or rim problem.

- check that your steering head bearings are adjusted correctly. Your bike is new enough that condition of the bearings shouldn't be an issue.

KLR650
Steering Stem Nut
By The Patman

The upper t-clamp sits on top of the spanner nut that adjusts the bearings.

The front wheel should be off the ground, so you can adjust it properly. The spec is: the bars, when pushed with your back of your pinky finger should not flop over to one side or the other, if they do, the bearing is too loose. If you can't push the bars from one side to the other with your eyelid, the bearing is too tight. Now that a narrow range.

It's also the difference between headshake, and the ditch. Too loose and you'll ruin the bearings, and be prone to headshake and a crash, and too tight and you'll be prone to the bearings getting hot, swelling up, and not turning...generally this happens exactly when you need too.

Loosen two right and two left upper t-clamp fork tube pinch bolts.
( the t-clamp wont move down if the fork pinch bolts are tight, it needs to slide down on top of the spanner nut after you adjust it, in order to KEEP it tight ...the steering stem nut is what will pull it down...provided that you loosened the pinch bolts on the fork tubes uppers only of course. The dealer often misses this stem and the bearing adjustment comes loose again in about 450 miles )

Mark the bars down at the clamps so you can put them back to a position that will never feel exactly like they were yesterday.

You may have to loosen or remove the bar clamps and lay the bars down on the tank ( use a big fluffy towel to prevent scratches, and to keep the bars from flopping around )

Loosen the top nut a turn or two ( steering stem nut )

Use (the Kawasaki tool) to turn the spanner nut ( under the t-clamp ) to tighten it.

Go a little at a time until a slight resistance is felt when moving the front wheel side to side ( don't screw around and knock the handelbars off the tank ! )

I use one clamp and stick the bars back on for a second to check the bearing tightness.
You should have to push the bars from one side to the other with the bearing at the proper tightness.
But just barely.

In other words, the bars shouldn't FALL from one side to the other when you give them a slight push. If they do, tighten it some more and try again. When it gets to where you have to use the pressure of your pinky finger to push the bars from one side to the other ( I use my eyebrow to push with ) but it wont FLOP over, you've got it.

Note: one side will have enough "cable drag" to make it a little harder to push than the other. I set mine so that NEITHER side ( that is going left or right ) will flop over on it's own. WARNING: If ya get it too tight you WILL crash. Remember JUST TIGHT ENOUGH TO NOT FALL OVER TO THE SIDE BY ITSELF.

At this point use the steering stem nut, to pull the upper t-clamp down on top of the spanner nut and washer assy. ( the washer has two little "teeth" that when squeezed by the upper t-clamp, will hold the bearing adjustment ( spanner nut ) where you put it.)

As you tighten the steering stem nut, tap the two pinch clamps on each side of the t-clamp to help it slide down the fork tubes, and on top of the spanner nut.

Check it again for "not too tight but wont flopedness".

If you find it's too tight. loosen the upper steering stem nut a half a turn, use the screwdriver and mallet to knock the spanner nut loose by about one half of one quater of one millionth of an inch... ( an eigth of a turn...or less ) then retighten the steering stem nut to specs and try it again for the "not too tight, but wont flop over" test.

It should WANT TO flop over, but it's just a bit to tight to fall over on it's own.

Tighten the pinch bolts on the fork tubes.

Adjust the bars back to where you think you had them before.

Tighten the bar clamps.

Ok I added a bit to the post above so ya might wanna refresh and re-read.

Also I just thought of this, if you can hear it twice, indicating an "in and out" movement of the bearings, then you can often feel it in the bars as well and that's almost always a dead giveaway.
Also if you're still not sure that steering bearings are the problem, get the front wheel off the ground, and sitting in front of the front wheel, grab the fork legs close to the bottom, and push 'em forward and back and you may be able to duplicat the noise that way in order to verify.

Make sure you hold the wheel straight as you do this and don't confuse any turning movement that you might be allowing...just straight back towatrd the engine, and straight out toward your ...crotch.



Properly set your suspension sag....which needs to be done for the load you are carrying; Suspension and Springs

KLR suspension; especially pre 2014 NE suspension is typically far too light on spring rates and dampening. Proper sag (often requiring spring changes) is necessary for the bike to work properly. Better aftermarket suspension is a huge change which almost always eliminates wobble; my choice is Cogent DDC's and springs and a Moab or Adventure shock. motocd.com

loading and aerodynamics can have an effect as well. Many people insist that fork braces and fender swaps/lower fenders are a cure....they can help by "closing a path of least resistance" but if everything else is right, I don't think they are required. My Cogent equipped bikes with the sag set are rock solid with the stock fenders and no braces....even with the 39mm long travel Gen1 forks.

lastly, the rider can induce wobble himself (or herself) by having a death grip on the bars.....relax and guide, don't force.


2 cents,
Dave
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post #6 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 11:23 AM
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That was not .02 that was $20 worth of info. LOL!
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'01 KLR 650, '09 Suzuki DL650, '08 Suzuki Bandit 1250, '16 CRF1000L, '09 KLX 250s
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 11:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frostbitevinnie View Post
Yes you will get tank slap often at speeds on the KLR. The front end is very light and tall making the geometry fairly suited for such a wobble. I have had the same and the main solution would be to make sure your front tire is aired up, add weight to the front if you can, and don't go over 80.

This is not your gs nor your hd, its a klr.
makes total sense, thank you!
i love this bike. and i hate to loose trust in it! ...

ill try to post pictures and videos for the trip later, it was awesome.

CURRENT BIKES:
2013 KLR650
2016 BMW 1200GS ADVENTURE
2015 HARLEY DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM
2009 KLX250
PRE-BIKES:
2015 VULCAN S
2008 YAMAHA FZ6
2006 NINJA 250
2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400
2012 HD IRON 883
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 11:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
KLR death wobble is like oil threads;
2 cents,
Dave
great info,

i did add risers to the handlebars which required me to loosen the steering head bolts at the triple tree so that i can reroute some electric cables.. but i re-tightened it.

with everything you said, i'm now thinking to maybe take it to the dealer and have it inspected? but i don't want to get ripped off on something that is actually normal because the bike was loaded in the back and the stock shocks are indeed SERIOUSLY SOFT. so the bike setup seems normal and taking it to the dealer may not really help with anything except wasting money.
i guess I just need to ride it like a klr, and slow down when loaded.
or Replace the shocks...

CURRENT BIKES:
2013 KLR650
2016 BMW 1200GS ADVENTURE
2015 HARLEY DAVIDSON SOFTAIL SLIM
2009 KLX250
PRE-BIKES:
2015 VULCAN S
2008 YAMAHA FZ6
2006 NINJA 250
2009 SUZUKI BURGMAN 400
2012 HD IRON 883
xzatx is offline  
post #9 of 9 Old 05-16-2016, 12:13 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xzatx View Post
great info,

i did add risers to the handlebars which required me to loosen the steering head bolts at the triple tree so that i can reroute some electric cables.. but i re-tightened it.

with everything you said, i'm now thinking to maybe take it to the dealer and have it inspected? but i don't want to get ripped off on something that is actually normal because the bike was loaded in the back and the stock shocks are indeed SERIOUSLY SOFT. so the bike setup seems normal and taking it to the dealer may not really help with anything except wasting money.
i guess I just need to ride it like a klr, and slow down when loaded.
or Replace the shocks...
Yeah a trip to the dealer is probably a waste; I'd check everything and just take it easy.

Dave
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