Author Topic: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening  (Read 8487 times)

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Offline David_C_TX

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Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« on: June 03, 2012, 01:44:14 pm »
     I am so excited.  My spanner tool just arrived and I put it to good use.  I was not exactly sure what I was getting into but I actually spent more time digging through my toolbox hunting for tools than I did in actually working on the bike.  For anyone that may be unfamiliar with this, apparently Connies are notorious for developing a handle-bar wobble on deceleration.  In most cases the wobble can be fixed by tightening the bearings in the triple tree.  On my C-10 this was done by:

- Putting the bike on it's centerstand
- I then raised the front tire of the bike off the ground by using a small hydraulic jack placed under the oil pan (be careful with placement and use a piece of wood or something between the jack and pan if you have one)
- Removing the seat
- Removing the gas tank
- Removing the little plastic cover the covers the stem head nut (2 Phillips screws)
- Loosening the stem head nut (I used a 1 1/16" socket as my Crescent wrench was being allusive)
- Loosening the two bolts on top of each of the two forks (4 in all (umm, 10mm I believe they were))
- Inserting the spanner tool directly below the brace around where the stem head nut is and rotating wrench clockwise to tighten
- Reverse the steps to complete the job
Note: I found no definite way to know how much to tighten with the spanner so I used a method that was in another post on here in which the front of the bike was raised from the ground and then I tightened with the spanned wrench until when I made the handlebars fall to one side they did not bounce back.  I had a good bit of resistance from cables and hoses so I then tightened a bit more.  I had already read that if bearings are tightened to tightly the bike will steer itself (For anyone unfamiliar with this, this is a very uncomfortable situation in which the steering is too tight and the handlebars do not respond as freely as expected. 
     All in all, including hunting for tools and all I was done in about an hour and the test drive was impressive.  I immediately headed for the interstate, attained a speed of about 82 MPH and set the throttle-lock and reluctantly released the handlebars.  The bike tracked beautifully.  I then disengaged the throttle-lock and from that same speed again released the bars and began to exit (no hands); the bike performed excellently with zero wobble nor tracking issues.  I allowed the bike to decelerate on it's own from 82 to 30 MPH where I then did my happy dance and went back home.  I hope this may help anyone who is needing to do this but may be reluctant. 

Offline Cap'n Bob

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2012, 07:54:19 pm »
Glad it worked out for you. It can make a big differance (as you can see). I'm still waiting on my Yamaha spanner to come in for my FJR. It's been on order since the beginning of last week. I missed a ride yesterday because my bearing is loose.

Offline GregP

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 12:43:37 am »
Sounds great!  I had this wobble at about 60mph on the decel.  A new front tire fixed the problem.  The tire that was on it was cupped pretty badly.
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Offline odie

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2012, 04:06:52 pm »
I've had a lot of bikes with the wobble...

I have to wonder if it's really something loose, bad tire, or just a kinda normal thing for 2 wheelers...

can't say I like it but it just seems about every bike I've owned or ridden has it....
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Offline turbojoe78_MA

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2012, 07:17:10 pm »
Did you ever try tightening the steering stem bearings on any of those bikes?
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Offline Bergmen

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 07:54:18 pm »
The steering bearings need to be tighter than seems normal. Just a skosh this side of adverse handling because of being too tight.

Drop it off the center stand and while sitting on the bike (this places a load on the bottom bearing), squeeze the front brake. With one of the fingers or thumb of your left hand bridge the gap between the sheet metal cup shaped bearing shield and the frame. This will be easier with the tank off.

Now rock the bike back and forth gently. If ANY movement is felt at all with the finger of your left hand, the bearings need tightening. Once tightened to eliminate all movement with this test, the forks will drag a bit lock-to-lock if on the center stand and the wheel off the ground. This is perfectly normal.

Doing this (along with proper static and dynamic wheel balance, tight engine mount bolts, proper tire pressures, tight swing arm bearings + both wheel bearings in perfect condition) completely eliminated all hints of a decel wobble. High quality tires in good condition (I have Storm 2 Ultras front and rear) are also essential.

Comprehensive chassis integrity is essential for handling accuity as well as safety regarding wobbles. You do not want to get into a tank slapper causing complete loss of control. Any decel wobble is not normal and can be corrected with a complete chassis integrity check.

Dan
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Offline odie

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2012, 04:14:20 pm »
wow, some good gouge...No I have not tightened any of those other bikes...so I guess i'll be trying Bergman's test methods as they make a lot of sense to me...most bikes that I have aquired seem to always be around 30K miles when I become the owner...Both Connies, VMAX, Nighthawk

strange how I never had a wobble on my Harleys...Softail I've had since new and now well over 50K on it and never a steering head bearing adjustment....but now will check it too
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Offline Bergmen

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 04:43:51 pm »
wow, some good gouge...No I have not tightened any of those other bikes...so I guess i'll be trying Bergman's test methods as they make a lot of sense to me...most bikes that I have aquired seem to always be around 30K miles when I become the owner...Both Connies, VMAX, Nighthawk

strange how I never had a wobble on my Harleys...Softail I've had since new and now well over 50K on it and never a steering head bearing adjustment....but now will check it too

Most Harleys have rake kicked out to 30 degrees or so which is extremely stable (not so good for flicking back and forth in the twisties). Concours is 28.5, ZRX1200R is 25. The crotch rockets are steep also.

The Concours suffers from weak torsional strength of the front forks. This can contribute to a wobble tendency but is not the source. When I replaced my front forks with the Rex forks, all decel wobbles were eliminated (along with the full chassis integrity check mentioned above).

Dan
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Offline Alekkas

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2013, 11:17:47 pm »
Revival!

This is the most comprehensive "how to" on this I was able to find with my search.  So rather than start a new one, think it is better to ask on this.

I get it all except for loosening the two bolts on top of each fork.  Yes?  Why?  If so, just a little or enough for the forks to slide?

Finally, with the stem head nut loose (not off), is a spanner needed or will a little tap with a hammer / screw driver do?  Not sure what kind of torque we are looking at here....

Thanks
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Offline Outback Jon

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 11:44:14 am »
I get it all except for loosening the two bolts on top of each fork.  Yes?  Why?  If so, just a little or enough for the forks to slide?
Why?  Because as you tighten (or loosen) the bearings, things have to move.  Even slightly.  The top and bottom of the triple tree will move together (slightly) relative to each other.  If the clamps are holding tightly onto the fork tubes, this won't happen like it should.

Finally, with the stem head nut loose (not off), is a spanner needed or will a little tap with a hammer / screw driver do?  Not sure what kind of torque we are looking at here....
It can be done by tapping, but some folks will tell you that you risk damaging the nut.  Alternatively, I've done it with a shock absorber adjusting tool from an early 80s Honda.  Or with a set of large slip-joint Channellock pliers.  You aren't looking at applying a lot of torque, but I found that manual turning, as opposed to tapping, gives a better feel for how loose/tight things are.
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Offline Hazy

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2013, 04:14:09 am »
I tighten the nut this weekend and it really made a difference. The problem I'm running into now is after just a few days, the nut is loose again. Did I not tighten the top nut tight enough or is something else afoot? I did tighten with the forks loose.

 :(
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Offline SmokinRZ

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2013, 01:26:04 pm »
Sounds great!  I had this wobble at about 60mph on the decel.  A new front tire fixed the problem.  The tire that was on it was cupped pretty badly.

+1 A new tire has always cured my wobble with no need to preload the steering bearing.  I had the dreaded wobble for the last 5K miles and two new tires cured it. 

Offline WillyP

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2013, 02:01:13 pm »
Probably should sticky this thread.
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Offline Jorge

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2013, 02:00:28 am »
David,
Can you post the size (or part number or McMaster cat #) of the spanner wrench?
I've tried the "hammer on screwdriver" method and was not able to get the feel for it; I think I will get the wrench.
Thanks!
Jorge

Offline Hazy

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2013, 08:07:24 pm »
You want...

P/N: 6975A16
Product: Fixed Hook Spanner Wrench for Slots, for 1-37/64" to 1-21/32" (40MM to 42MM) Circle Diameter
Price: 19.07

The hokey thing with their website is they don't give you the shipping cost when you order. Luckily for me it was $4.00 because they shipped from Ohio and I live in Ohio. The tool fits like a glove. Perfect for the job. Seems a little pricy for what ya get. It's essentially a flat piece of metal with a hook. It was made in Germany so there's that.  :-\

http://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/119/2731/=nfpybo
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Offline ron203

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2013, 09:20:17 pm »
+1 in Atlanta area, but I actually got same day delivery.
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Offline joliver

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2013, 12:54:33 am »

+1 A new tire has always cured my wobble with no need to preload the steering bearing.  I had the dreaded wobble for the last 5K miles and two new tires cured it.
[/quote]

+2 Just got new tires and there is no wobble. Felt like a new bike. Thought the tire was not that bad but upon closer inspection, it was past time to change it.
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Offline tdbru

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2013, 03:38:46 am »
+1 on the sticky
thanks,
Brian

Offline GeorgeRYoung

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 01:42:56 pm »
+1 A new tire has always cured my wobble with no need to preload the steering bearing.  I had the dreaded wobble for the last 5K miles and two new tires cured it.
When a tire is worn, it's thinner and offers less damping to the wheel unbalance that causes the wobble.

Offline Bob_C_CT

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2013, 02:15:11 pm »
+1 what GeorgeRYoung said. Plus when a new tire is installed it will either mask or make worse the wobble attributed to an underspec'd front end that was used on lighter model kawis. The steering stem needs to be adjusted on the tight side for our C10s IMHO. Don't just live with the deacceleration wobble when you don't have to. This maybe a contributing factor of front tire tread cupping, but I'm not an expert on tire wear pattern causes.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 08:41:20 am by Bob_C_CT »
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Offline Jorge

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2013, 10:56:10 pm »
Hazy, thank you for the details on the spanner wrench. I've order from them in the past, and never felt their shipping charges were bad. I'm also amazed by how quickly they get the stuff to you, without premium charges.
Jorge

Offline Derick

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2014, 01:30:57 pm »
Reincarnating an old thread, but I too want to shout out a thanks to Hazy....that spanner was perfect. While I would have like a socket type unit so I could measure and record the torque, this solution was simple, cheapish and fast.
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Offline Hazy

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2014, 01:37:36 pm »
Reincarnating an old thread, but I too want to shout out a thanks to Hazy....that spanner was perfect. While I would have like a socket type unit so I could measure and record the torque, this solution was simple, cheapish and fast.

Excellent! Glad it worked out. I plan on using my spanner again in the next few weeks. Just upgraded my brakes and I think the head bearings may have settled a little more.
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Offline Jay

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Re: Handle-Bar Wobble / Stem / Bearing Tightening
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2019, 02:37:07 pm »
Hey Group.  I know its an old thread, but a reminder of this great resource.  I went through the steps above to tighten my stem bearing and WHAT a DIFFERENCE.  Solid from 0-100 and back.   I had that wobble and thought it was a tire or balancing.  Thanks for posting this.