2016 KLR Low Speed Off-road Front Tire "Wobble" - Page 4 - 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 #31 of 34 Old 08-10-2019, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
1st Gear
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 30
Originally Posted by pdwestman View Post
Even going back to your original posting I wonder if even your new steering bearings are adjusted TOO Snugly. This will cause the bike to Wander at low speeds, because the rider has to slightly over-correct because of the slight friction. You have always referred to it as "wobble", but I wonder if it isn't actually "wander"?
Too soft & spongy of front tire might even exaggerate the problem in dirt.

I once had a young dirt bike customer who went thru about 6 pair of handlebars, because he kept crashing in the corners. One trip down the alley behind my shop was all I needed to be able to feel his bikes problem.

I wish you were closer to Tom Schmitz, who is in Redondo Beach. But member 'campfire' is somewhere near the Bay area, maybe you could send him a PM and ask for a little personal assistance. Some members only need an excuse to go for a ride!

pdwestman, when I installed the new bearings and races I followed the manual procedure for torquing them to seat, backing off, and then torquing them to 4.9Nm. That is less than hand tight, actually. I also lifted the bike and did the "clear the cables and lightly push on the bars", and it met that requirement as well. That said, it is easy enough to loosen the castle nut under the upper triple clamp a smidge and check. I will do that after I get the forks together with some 2011 springs and 5W fork oil, and pull off all the racks and crash bars. Thanks for the reference to campfire...I'll check it out.

I call it an "oscillation". At its worst, in non-flat dirt environment with full camping load, i have to cycle the bars back and forth about 4-6 inches (at bar ends) to counter the "fish swimming" motion of the entire bike. I have to cycle them about 2 times a second. Quite quickly....different symptoms to the overtightened stems that I have experienced in the past. Imagine a 4 foot bar extending horizontally straight out from the back of the bike at seat level, with a 50 pound weight on it. As you ride in dirt this weight would pull side to side of course, from the motion of the bike. (let's ignore vertical movement). As the weight oscillates side to side it would pull the rear end with it and flex the frame, and the rider would have to compensate with the steering. Now speed this up to 2 times per second and you have my problem. Frankly, the closest thing to this I have ever felt is a motorcycle with a cracked frame....but I have checked and found none. After I get the forks on and guards/racks stripped off, I will check the frame and subframe again (having eliminated the stem and swingarm).

Originally Posted by Moto71 View Post

I have a 2015 with 4k miles. I also get a weird hunt or wander in the front end. I just ordered the Cogent DDC and springs for the forks(they were wonderful to deal with BTW). I am hoping this is a drop in a solution I will let you know. After reading this thread I will check the steering head per DXKLR adjustment specs. Might as well check the front rim run out, spokes and balance. I will not get to it for about 3 weeks.

In your post, you mentioned a few times about stiffness in fork travel. I have ridden several different years on all kinds of terrain and I could never say the fork travel was stiff. You might remove the fork brace if you have not already and see if that helps. Please let s know as yo find things.

I am really hoping not to go thru all these gyrations in getting the bike correct.

I also hope you don't have to go through what I am going through. I suspect most people would just get another bike. I may as well, but I wanted to give the KLR a chance first. I bought the bike at ~800 miles. It is possible that the PO put stiffer fork springs than stock in it, but I have no way to know. I put my spring dimensions (# of coils, length) and wire thickness in the thread above, but no one was able to confirm that their NE front springs had these same dimensions. Wire thickness being the most important parameter..these are the thickest fork springs I have ever seen, street or dirt, in my 45 years of wrenching.

At static rest, my forks are extended 2" more than my friend's 2009 KLR. That is a LOT when the total travel is only 7.9", My fork sag with geared rider (220#) and camping gear (110# including racks) was only ~1.6" no matter how much I bounced on it. Add to this that the damping is such that the fork hydraulically locks on any relatively-high-fork-speed impact like small rocks or embedded logs and the result is I couldn't bottom these if I tried. Thus my current effort of putting softer 2011 springs and 5W oil in the forks....I am trying to get them to move, sag down a bit to change the geometry, and see if this eliminates the oscillation. :-)

I had an EM brace on my first trip, as I thought originally thought the forks were flexing. I took it off for my second trip. It made no difference at all with or without.

I spoke with Terry at Cogent for an hour about this problem...he was very helpful and generous with his time. He noted that they haven't had any NE owners come to him with this issue when buying CD suspension, so it seems it is indeed not common, at least at my level of severity. He also thought, as did I, that I needed to get this sorted out BEFORE dropping coin on a new suspension. Let us know how the Cogent install goes. I have decided that if I can't eliminate the oscillation under a no-racks-no-camping-load scenario I will spend no more time and money on this bike. Working 55 hours a week I don't have much time for total teardowns on a 3 year old bike, and summer's passing too quick! (Of course I live in CA so east coast riders would laugh at what I call "winter") ;-)

Last edited by Yeravener; 08-10-2019 at 11:30 AM.
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post #32 of 34 Old 08-11-2019, 01:40 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Texas is home but I turn up everywhere
Posts: 2
I can't help you on summer passing, but I will Mic my springs. If it looks like yours are larger, I will ship you these old ones. Like you, I'm busy as well and it will be Sept 1 ish. Almost everyone has swapped the front springs surely someone has a set they can measure the coil thickness. I would think cogent would know the stock spring specs. If I recall they are .40 kg/mm. I do not recall a length or coil dia spec in any of the reading/research. All the straight aftermarket rate springs are around .60 to .70 kg/mm for the klr application( at least the ones around a 200# rider from an actual suspension specialty shop).
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post #33 of 34 Old 08-18-2019, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 30
Originally Posted by Moto71 View Post
I can't help you on summer passing, but I will Mic my springs. If it looks like yours are larger, I will ship you these old ones. Like you, I'm busy as well and it will be Sept 1 ish. Almost everyone has swapped the front springs surely someone has a set they can measure the coil thickness. I would think cogent would know the stock spring specs. If I recall they are .40 kg/mm. I do not recall a length or coil dia spec in any of the reading/research. All the straight aftermarket rate springs are around .60 to .70 kg/mm for the klr application( at least the ones around a 200# rider from an actual suspension specialty shop).

My NE fork springs are 4.5mm dia and I found out the 08-14.5 fork springs are 4.2mm dia. Thank you for the offer on the springs, but I have a set on the way. Cogent did not know the stock NE fork spring rate, by the way.

However, I have made progress. I rebuilt the forks with 5W oil and I put the stock springs back in, as my older springs won't be here for a week or so. Stock springs with 5W made a great difference in fork plushness, as we would expect. Having now changed all the stem, suspension rocker arm, and swingarm bushings/bearings/bolts/washers, and rebuilt the forks, I put the panniers, drybags (350, 260), and topcase fully loaded on the bike and tested it on my street's sloping curbs. It oscillated like a fish in the first four feet of ride. I pulled the top case and drybags off and tried it again. It was worlds better with just the loaded panniers. The panniers loaded are 60# total combined plus racks, the drybags total 31# (and are on the passenger seat), and the top case was 16#. It was surprising that the relatively light topcase could make such a drastic change, but it is located high and behind the rear axle so it does make sense that it would have an impact disproportionate to its % contribution to the total load weight. These quick tests told me that the problem was on the subframe somewhere. I pulled off the panniers, racks, drybags, and top case mount and other parts and inspected the subframe. No cracks and the subframe bolts were solid. Interestingly, I was able to grab either handle on the stock rack, standing behind the bike and facing forward, seat off, and move them up and down and make the horizontal subframe bars between the tank and the stock rack flex...ever so slightly. This isn't the problem, though, just an interesting observation.

I then tested the bike, now with only front SW Motech crash bars and no racks, drybags, panniers, or topcase/topcase mount. No oscillation whatsoever when I rode diagonally up and down my sloping "test" street curbs. Also, the static oscillation I described in posts above, where previously when stationary I was able to cycle the bars back and forth quickly and the entire bike would oscillate for several seconds, was totally gone.

I will now take it to the local dirt bike area in this "naked" configuration and do a several hour ride to confirm the elimination of the oscillation with no panniers, drybags, racks, or topcase. I will then put the racks and panniers on with current load in them and confirm the degree of oscillation, if any, in that configuration. Then I will add the drybags and check the degree if oscillation.

1. If the naked test and the rack/drybag/panniers tests *all* have no oscillation: it is my topcase/topcase mount. Note I am using an EMGO topcase that clips to a plastic mount that is screwed on to the stock plastic rack and stock puny steel plate . Possibly there is a lot of side to side flex in all those plastic parts. A more solidly mounted top case (and properly loaded) may cure the topcase problem. For now, though, I will just not use a top case.

2. If the panniers as currently loaded, with drybags and with no top case, cause any oscillation, I will weigh the front/rear of the naked bike with half a tank of gas and get the actual front/rear weight distribution as the bike came from Kawi. I will then winnow down my camping load from the current 110# and try to create a camping load distribution that allows me to retain the front/rear weight % distribution, via some or all of: swapping the Tusk panniers for soft bags, loading heavy items in my crashbar SW Motech 8L bags, installing my tool tube on the frame down tube and actually putting tools in it, or possibly using tank panniers (though I admit these look goofy).

Pictures attached because this thread is wordy! Fully loaded near Bodie, CA, and also now with panniers, drybags, and top case stripped...and a bunch of invisible new bolts, washers, bushings, and bearings!

Onward and upward.....
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post #34 of 34 Old 08-18-2019, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 30
One thing I did not mention...the tusk pannier racks were/are putting strain on the rear rack (possibly the subframe, therefore). When I pulled off the stock top rack (the plastic center part) the pannier racks pulled the top rack side handles apart. This meant that I had to push both top rack side handles in toward each other (very hard) in order to get the plastic center part holes to line up with the threads in each of the side handles. I don't know if this contributes/ed to the oscillation problem, but it sure wouldn't help. I am pretty motivated to get different racks, technically speaking, but not very motivated financially speaking. We'll see...maybe some well placed washers in the right places could alleviate the strain.

Also, if it seems like this is a loading issue, why didn't I just adjust loads and distribution from the get-go? Good question, but the answer is simple. There seem to be about a billion KLRs out there that are/were hideously (similarly) [over]loaded that don't seem to have this problem, including my friends 09 he rode on both my trips. His bike was loaded similarly to mine though his total load was 90# whereas my was 110#. He even had the same Tusk racks and EMGO topcase and topcase mounting system. He had no problem at all. Both these facts indicated that there was something wrong with my bike...not that it was just over- or mis-loaded. However, I have found out that there is nothing wrong with my bike. Why is his so different? I donít know, but:

He has HT crash bars that do NOT tie in to the subframe mounts. My SW Motec crash bars DO tie in to the subframe mounts. Obviously the SW Motechs would transfer forces from the downtube to the upper subframe, and vice versa, by their very structure. Combine that with Tusk racks that would transfer forces from the lower subframe bolt to the rear top rack, and vice versa. Like two unbendable supported frame sections with a single point in the middle that is NOT support by a crashbar or rack. Hmmmm, like a big hinge in the middle. Perchance it is the *combination* of the SW Motech and Tusk rack that causes the oscillation problem when overly weighted? We'll find out!

Time to take off the crashbars and start testing offroad 1. naked, 2. panniers/racks, and 3. panniers/racks/drybags, and see how it goes!

And I'll try not to crash with no crash bars installed. Ah, the sacrifices of the test pilot.

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