2016 KLR Low Speed Off-road Front Tire "Wobble"
I purchased a 16 KLR last year used with 850 miles on it. Spent some time kitting it out for long distance ADV in NV (and anywhere else I want to go:-). The front felt a bit flexy when hitting the brake stopping at a fuel pump but I chalked it up to gallons of gas sloshing back and forth in the tank. I put an EM fork brace on it just in case, even though I don't like fork braces because they force a certain distance between the tubes along the entire travel (good or bad, that's a different topic:-). My bud and I did a 732 mile circle route Sacramento to Lovelock to Middlegate to Markleeville back to Sac. (Now have 1900 miles on it) When offroad in the soft stuff, I had a wicked "wobble" in the handlebars at slow speed...if felt like the wheel was turning left or right when the handlebars were not and I ended up turning the handlebars back and forth cyclically in order to keep the front wheel moving in a straight line. Downhill in soft dirt with no brake was ok, but the minute I hit the front brake going downhill (been riding dirt bikes for 45 years...a properly used front brake is useful offroad:-) the wheel and handlebars started the oscillation. I tried the downhill with 21 # in the front and it was bad, then tried it with 18 # in the front and it was seriously "white-knuckle" with higher magnitude oscillations. It felt like the forks were flexing 30 degrees back and forth and I had to cyclically turn the wheels the opposite way to compensate. They weren't, it just felt that way (all this with the EM fork brace installed, even). I felt this same "wobble" when doing a sharp u-turn at 3 miles an hour on pavement and, if I was on an aggregate cement, the type with little rocks on the surface, the u-turn wobble was so bad that it was difficult to keep the bike upright.
Steering stem bearings were fine, swingarm bearings were fine, rear tire was aligned properly, and the bike did it with or without load: higher load did make it worse, likely due to more weight on front end. On pavement in normal turn or straight line it didn't wobble at all. Zero wobble on road and smooth (i.e. KLR's version of smooth) all the way up to top speed with no wobble.
Turns out the original owner, in 850 miles, had worn the stock front tire such that alternating knobbies were different in height by 3 mm!
I put new TKCs on the wheels yesterday. The front was toast, as mentioned before, and the rear was already worn out at 1900 miles. I suspect the egregious differential in front tire block wear caused the problem, but will find out from a test ride.
I'll report back on the results.
Anyone else have a similar experience with the type of handling anomaly I described?
Last edited by Yeravener; 05-19-2019 at 02:33 PM.