Speed Wobble? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 01:25 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Houston, Texas (Sharpstown)
Posts: 16
Unhappy Speed Wobble?

I have a 2012 KLR I bought a couple of years ago. It had less than 1,000 miles on it then and still has less than 2,000 miles on it now! The front tire went flat on me a several months ago. I wanted a more dirt oriented tire anyways so I ordered a new one (a Continental Twinduro TKC 80) and had it changed out and balanced at a nearby Cycle Gear location here in Houston.

I took it out the other night. It seemed a little dark and windy and I had not ridden in a while but wanted to put a few miles on it at higher RPMs to charge back up the battery. I felt it seemed wobbly at speeds above 60-MPH. I figured it was windy and cold and I was just nervous from not riding the bike for a while and it having a new tire on it and all. I took it back home to test it again when it was sunny outside, not windy and warmer. Today was the day! I took it out and the thing almost threw me off it it wobbled so bad once I got it up to 65-70-mph. I mean it. I thought I was going to die!

Please tell me some scenarios that may explain this. Could it just be a very dirt oriented tire causing this? Could the wheel be bent? Does the bead have to be perfectly seated all of the way around on both sides? I ask that question because I can see the bead line and it is not even all the way around the tire on one side. I forgot to check the other. Wow! I am still shaking a little as I type this. I have been a rider for over 40 years and never had speed wobbles like this. Talk to me Goose! What do I need to do here?
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post #2 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Houston, Texas (Sharpstown)
Posts: 16
A little more info

By the way, on the original tire this bike came with (Dunlop 90/90-21 M/C 54S K750), I have taken this bike up to 85-MPH several times before with no wobble.
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post #3 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 02:17 PM
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Location: Fort Sask , Alberta, Canada
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Your comment about the bead line concerns me and I would be going back and having that checked out. I would also suggest having the balancing re-done. Did you use beads or weights for balancing. Whatever you do don’t ride the bike if you don’t have to and not at speed.


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post #4 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 06:39 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: SW Michigan
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Bead line not concentric? Tire bead not seated correctly all around. Who ever mounted it needs to correct this.

By the way, I never balance my KLR tires. No issues at any speed.
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post #5 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Houston, Texas (Sharpstown)
Posts: 16
I will take the wheel to a different place this time and have them remount the tire. There is a single wheel weight on one spoke and it was there when I got the bike. Trust me when I say, I will not ride the bike at any speed over 45-MPH until it is fixed right. This is very frustrating and scary.

Thanks all for you replies and suggestions. I love this place!
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post #6 of 25 Old 03-08-2020, 10:07 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2020
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I would guess if all was fine with the old tire and now it's experiencing death wobbles It was mounted wrong / not seated correctly / defective Tire / Etc.

Maybe once you get the rim off the bike you can stick it between two jack stands or construct a makeshift balancing post and spin that wheel and see what's up. I think you can notice it then.
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post #7 of 25 Old 03-09-2020, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Lander, Wyoming
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I'll suggest that the shop that mounted that tire did Not spin-balance it. Otherwise the un-seated bead area would have been seen while spinning. If you push back on the brake caliper a bit, the wheel should turn freely enough to see any wobble caused by an un-seated area.

The dynamic spin balancers can not effectively measure the side to side imbalance on such narrow rims as the 1.60 inch used on the KLR. So these normally just use spoke weights in the center line of the rim only.

I'll also suggest that you run 2 psi Higher on the skinny front tire vs the wider rear tire. My usually suggestion is 32 Front & 30 Rear for highway usage and average rider weight.
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post #8 of 25 Old 03-09-2020, 09:49 AM
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Location: Kelowna, B.C.
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It's not that it's a knobbie and though it's a good idea, I don't bother balancing the tires on my dual sports......unless something major is out of whack, that isn't it either.

My "wobble Post"

Way too many people think that addressing the symptoms by dealing with handguards, fenders, fork braces, etc. are the answer rather than dealing with the real issue which is related to suspension setup and loading. I'm not convinced that the KLR is any more susceptible to instability than any other bike with long travel, lightly damped suspension and the Owner's have a propensity for severe and uneven loading.

There are some problems that need to be checked;
- bad/lose head bearings
- condition of wheel bearings and suspension bushings
- wheel and tire condition and appropriate tire pressures.

.....beyond that, It's settings;
- proper sag settings and adequate damping
- proper bike loading
- avoiding inappropriately un-aerodynamic loads

addressing the symptoms rather than the cause can help but IMO shouldn't be done until all the aforementioned items are checked and corrected if necessary. Nonetheless these can help stability;

- fork brace
- smaller fender or lowered fender (I use a polisport as I hate both the supermoto and low mounted fenders)
- consider tank bags instead of putting everything in huge panniers which affects both weight loading and aerodynamics.

My 2001 had some high speed issues that went away as soon as the sag was set properly....and after my Cogent suspension was installed, both my KLR's have been rock steady.....even with full knobbies and low tire pressures (20 - 22PSI). Lastly, as others have mentioned, the rider also plays a part; keep a relaxed light grip on the bars and don't tighten up. Changing your position (move forward/lean forward) can help too.

2 cents,
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post #9 of 25 Old 03-09-2020, 09:50 AM
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....and in your case, I'd start with seating the bead properly.

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post #10 of 25 Old 03-11-2020, 06:32 PM
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Location: Olympia, WA
Posts: 23
re-seat your bead and balance then consider the following:

I have a 2012 that does the same thing since I installed the TKC80's. I found that running higher tire pressure than with the stock tires eliminates most of the wobble. They must be pretty flexible... I have gone from one end of the bike to the other tightening, measuring, etc. I agree with DPelletier and PDWestman that the suspension is the real culprit. Proof of this is as simple as maxing out the rear shock pre-load. It helps but the front really should be stiffened also.

The worst impact on mine is the panniers and tail box. Even empty they add a lot of bulk to the rear of a flexy sub-frame that was not designed for them. If I remove them and air-up the tires mine is acceptable.
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