Author Topic: Front end wandering  (Read 4341 times)

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Offline Pauljr

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Front end wandering
« on: September 30, 2014, 11:33:01 pm »

On my recent trip to Pikes Peak I noticed that my front end started wandering and was adversely affected my wind and any grooves in the road. It slowly got worse as the trip went on.

When I got home, I replaced both tires, wheel bearings, tightened the steering stem, tightened all motor mounts, replaced the front springs and fork oil, and checked for a notch in the steering stem bearing (didn't find one). Also played with diffrent tire pressures which didn't make a difference.

Now after all this it did get better, but its still not as good as it was before the trip. It feels like the front end either wants to go to the left or right especially when I'm going slow. And it follows any groove in the road even if its slight.

Anyone have any ideas what else I should check? My next thing I was thinking of checking is the swing arm bushings, any tips?

Thanks in advace!

Paul Spero
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline WillyP

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 09:45:41 am »
If the forks were bent or misaligned, I would think it would pull one way or the other not both, but it wouldn't hurt to check, as you seem to have covered all the front end bases other than that.

It is certainly possible that the rear can make the front feel loose... loose axle nut, worn rear tire, wheel bearings, shock, swingarm bearings.
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Offline goatmar

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 04:40:54 pm »
IS this something NEW it's doing?
Dave Muzzey  St. Charles, IL  COG#7957  '01 Connie  100K miles and counting

Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2014, 10:44:42 pm »


Willy, though the forks look straight and I haven't been in an accident, I'm going to pull them again and check.

Goatmar, yes this is something newish. This bike up until a couple months ago rode perfectly straight, the handling was great other then the front springs were mushy. I went on a 600 mile trip to Arkansas in Aug, got home and rode it for a couple weeks, and it seemed like it was handling a little funny but I kinda thought it was in my head. So Labor day weekend I rode to Colorado and it just slowly got worse. I checked that everything was tight on the side of the road and decided that the front tire must be cupped and I rode it about 1800 miles. By the end of the trip it was getting scary when I passed semi's or there were grooves in the road.

So today I pulled the rear wheel and final drive, sprayed penetrating oil on all the shock bolts.

I have a question, do i need to remove the shock and linkage to torque the swingarm bushings? Should I remove the whole swing arm? Is there any tricks I need to watch out for? I read the directions in the FSM and I'm still a little confused on how to torque the bearings, I might just have to dig in and figure it out.

 I found some Bel ray 20W shock oil on clearance at the local dealership for 1$ a bottle, I posted a pic below, think this will work in my shock?

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/3lj6gv7qi0m5hjy/AABaRDla-SNziPKT_p-Ru2Gka

I did notice some up and down play in the swingarm with the tire and final drive removed, is this normal?

Thanks everyone for the help! I'm excited to get this issue figured out, I'm ready for a fall trip!


2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Online ron203

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2014, 10:36:50 pm »
Didn't see where you checked the air in the rear shock. Low pressure made the front wander on my 2000. (Forgot to say don't over fill it).
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Offline zg2002-Murph2

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2014, 10:38:47 pm »
Curious did you buy the same front tire you had previously prior to notice the change starting?

I have made front changes that were significantly different in the way they handled the heavy grooves like when they are shaving down the pavement prior to repave.
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2014, 06:05:11 am »

Ron, pressure in rear shock is good, holds air and set at 30 lbs.

Murph, It originally had a BT45 on the front when it started having this issue, the tire had about 5000miles on it when it started acting up. I switched to a Pirelli sport demon, didn't make any difference.
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1981 CM400T

Offline Mettler1

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2014, 01:24:41 pm »
   Looks like you covered everything. Only thing I can think of is recheck the torque on the motor mount bolts. I guess it is possible you could have a busted bolt.
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Offline notsluggo

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2014, 06:16:28 pm »
Love the title of the post.  A wandering front-end has been contributory to a couple divorces.....  ???   :))
Ride safe(r).
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Offline zg2002-Murph2

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2014, 09:35:28 pm »
Hi Paul,

Not trying to say it is in your head, but I think there may be a chance that what you had was a tire style that didn't try to track to groove, but started going bad and then did.

Then your new tire is the type what will grab a groove a little more than your used to.

At least that might be part of the issue you are feeling.

Tires and tire combos will act a little different on roads that are grooved, some seem to grab them more than others.

Might be part the tire change part some other item needing help.

How many miles do you have on the bike and what year is it?

You may have head stem bearings that are worn but well torqued where they might still have a little slack especially if you think it was ever loose for an extended period where the races are out of round. Hard to detect that type of wear when testing.
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Offline Daytona_Mike

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2014, 10:50:45 pm »
I think Patrick is correct.
Paul,
I think you need to pull the tripple trees off and look at your stem bearings. If you tightened them too tight or they are  worn out and you tightened them then the bike will  track left and right and give a very creepy feeling of not wanting to go straight. That is because the races are notched and you made it worse by tightening instead of replacing the bearings.
That is what it sounds like you are trying to explain. the funny thing is you said you did not find any notches.  Maybe the bearings are good but you over tightened them.. that will make it track wierd. I know because I did it once and it sure is a creepy feeling.
If they were loose then they took a pounding even if the mileage is fairly low.  Sometimes it is just hard to feel those notches but you should see the wear marks.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 10:56:59 pm by Daytona_Mike »
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Offline MAN OF BLUES

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2014, 11:30:59 pm »
 :popcorncouple:
Amazing how this propagates when people read a bit about looking, and maintaining, instead of just tightening..
Thank you guys, you are picking this up well, its my mission...
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2014, 01:54:32 am »


Thanks for all the responses!

 Man of Blues, I just saw that tread last night and decided once I get the swing arm back together on going to pull the triples and check the steering stem bearing.

Mike, I don't think I got them too tight yet, I felt I could have gone a little more maybe. But I think you guys are right I just need to actually look at the bearings before messing with adjusting them anymore.

Murph, my friend was just telling me he thought it was in my head (I do get that way sometimes), but I really feel like something is off. The bike is a 2001 with 31,000 miles. Ive put about 12,000 on since the first of the year. And its not like its scary to ride now it just feels like something isn't right. I had the original tire on it when I got it and it rode really good even though they were pretty worn out,The BT45's felt awesome for the first 5K. It just feels like something has changed.

So I'm going to finish up the rear end since I already have it apart, then on to pulling the triples and actually looking at the steering stem bearings.

Is there any tricks or tips on torquing the swingarm bearings?
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline zg2002-Murph2

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2014, 02:48:24 pm »
Hi Paul,

I can tell you I felt a difference when going from donlop to avon and I think the tread was more similar than the change you made.

I am with you on wanting my ride to feel right. Hope you find something that corrects it for you.

A real pain in the butt to do but you might consider a tire change back to the BT, you just have to feel comfortable when riding on two wheels.
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2014, 02:26:22 am »


Thanks Murph, you know it may well be the tire. I will check and replace everything else possible, then just ride it. At least I will feel better knowing eveything is right.

I have the swingarm back together today, was pretty easy and didnt see anything that looked damaged or loose. Checked and regreased all the bearings,changed the fluid in the rear shock, torqued the swingarm to spec and changed the fuid in the final drive.
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2014, 02:50:35 am »


I'm getting ready to check the steering stem bearings this weekend. If I need to replace the bearings and races do I need to remove the front fairing?
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline connie_rider

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2014, 03:24:02 am »
It can be done without removing the fairing...

Ride safe, Ted
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2014, 03:58:15 am »


Thanks Connie_Rider!
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline connie_rider

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2014, 12:01:56 pm »
If the races are notched, you should be able to feel it.
   Set the bike on center stand,
   Set on the bike with weight to the rear, (front wheel off of ground)
   Turn the bars left and right very slowly,
   If you have a notch in the races, you should feel a slight click as the bearings roll past the notch.....

The reason this Notch makes the bike wander is:
                                                              while riding you make continuous tiny course adjustments.
                                                              the front bearings want to set in the notch
                                                              as you make your adjustments you have to overcome this slight detent...
                                                              So, you constantly adjusting left and right of that detent to make the bike feel right..

I recently did the bearing races in my 2000 for exactly the same reason.
The improvement after replacing the races was significant...

There was a lot of argument on the Forum about removing the races.
I was prepared for a battle to get them out.
It was easy to do. I simply tapped them out with a long punch....

Getting them back in was another matter.
I put the races in the freezer and got them as cold as I could, them tried to push/tap them in.
Wouldn't go all the way in,
So, I built a puller to pull them in and to keep them straight.
Built a basic punch to tap on the edge of the races...
I think I can find them.....
(Assuming I'm successful) I can send it to you (if you'll return it when your done)??

Ride safe, Ted

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Offline Dfresh

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2014, 12:16:16 pm »
Ted your front end wasn't wondering it was just falling asleep due to the lack of action   :nananana: :rotflmao: I joke I joke

Offline connie_rider

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2014, 01:10:12 pm »
Which "front end" are you referring to?
Yea, I know I'm old, but I ain't ded yet...

Oh,, just realized "you" wuz talkin' about my bikes front end....   ;)
I thought you wuz referring to somethin' else...

Nah, it's just my smooth ridin' that makes ya'll think I'm slow and wandering..
I'm just setting up for the next twisty....
By the way, ya didn't realize you were watching me wander and wondering if I was drunk or lost,,,  from "BEHIND" me....  :))
Haa,, haaaa,,,,hoo,, hoo,,,, hee, heeeeeeee,,,,,,,,,


Err, back to the discussion.

Ride safe, Ted
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2014, 08:16:26 am »
If the races are notched, you should be able to feel it.
   Set the bike on center stand,
   Set on the bike with weight to the rear, (front wheel off of ground)
   Turn the bars left and right very slowly,
   If you have a notch in the races, you should feel a slight click as the bearings roll past the notch.....

The reason this Notch makes the bike wander is:
                                                              while riding you make continuous tiny course adjustments.
                                                              the front bearings want to set in the notch
                                                              as you make your adjustments you have to overcome this slight detent...
                                                              So, you constantly adjusting left and right of that detent to make the bike feel right..

I recently did the bearing races in my 2000 for exactly the same reason.
The improvement after replacing the races was significant...

There was a lot of argument on the Forum about removing the races.
I was prepared for a battle to get them out.
It was easy to do. I simply tapped them out with a long punch....

Getting them back in was another matter.
I put the races in the freezer and got them as cold as I could, them tried to push/tap them in.
Wouldn't go all the way in,
So, I built a puller to pull them in and to keep them straight.
Built a basic punch to tap on the edge of the races...
I think I can find them.....
(Assuming I'm successful) I can send it to you (if you'll return it when your done)??

Ride safe, Ted

Thanks Connie_Rider! I did the lift the front end off the ground and turn the handle bars side to side test and I didn't feel a notch, but I have checked and replaced everything else. I'm going to pull them apart and check them, but I have a feeling (hoping) this may be my issue. 

I am a little nervous about removing the races, but Ive seen enough posts from people that have been able to get it done that I think I can figure it out. And I know the great people from the forum will help talk me through it if I have problems.

Connie I appreciate the offer for the tool, I may hit you up after I get it apart and see if I in fact have an issue with the bearing.
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline Bob_C_CT

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2014, 12:54:13 pm »
How easily did the handlebars move stop to stop when the front tire was off the ground? If they fall and bounce off the stops it is too loose. If the races aren't notched and they are smooth I wouldn't replace them. Same for the bearings, clean them up and repack.
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Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2014, 12:02:02 am »
How easily did the handlebars move stop to stop when the front tire was off the ground? If they fall and bounce off the stops it is too loose. If the races aren't notched and they are smooth I wouldn't replace them. Same for the bearings, clean them up and repack.

I already tightened the steering stem bearing and it feels good. If the bearing and races look good I wont replace them, but I fell I need to at least take a look. I didn't get a chance last weekend due to a new job, but I'm going to try to get to it sometime next week.
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T

Offline Pauljr

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Re: Front end wandering
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2014, 08:51:22 pm »


Well finally got time to get to the steering stem bearings. The bearings looked and felt good, and there were some marks on the race. I took a couple pictures. Do you guys think these need to be replaced?

Top race
https://www.dropbox.com/s/pe0i58st6nirvg0/20141106_153754.jpg?dl=0

Bottom race
https://www.dropbox.com/s/e1d274qb23netnx/20141106_153838.jpg?dl=0

Bottom bearing
https://www.dropbox.com/s/66sk85ew5dlkhnh/20141106_154213.jpg?dl=0

Top bearing
https://www.dropbox.com/s/lac37js1adpn55o/20141106_154234.jpg?dl=0
2001 ZG1000
1981 CB750K
1981 CM400T