Steering damper? - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 11:34 am Thread Starter
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Steering damper?

I ride a 2004 K1200GT and am running Dunlop RoadSmart tires that have served me well. My bike has 23,500+ miles and just came out of a BMW Dealer performed 24,000 mile service.

My tires are pretty worn with about 9,000 miles and are almost to the point the center tread will be gone. The front tire has some light cupping. I am holding off buying new tires as long as possible because I am riding to the BMW MOA Rally in Redmond this July from Houston, TX and my planned route is just under 5,500 miles.

The Issue. This weekend at the beginning of a 300 mile ride there was no issue. However, later in the trip if I attempted to set the cruise control for no hands riding the front wheel (handle bars and all) shook violently back and forth. With my hands one or both bars there was slight vibration but in no way dramatic.

Is this a symptom of a worn-out steering damper?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 2nd, 2010, 5:19 pm
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No... Sounds like a wheel or tire.. or tire weight issue. Check to see if you've thrown some tire weights off...it happens...

FYI.. the factory dampers are generally good for 30-35K....

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Is this a symptom of a worn-out steering damper?
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 5:26 am
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The 'standard test' to induce steering wobble I came across on a site where a guy deliberately introduced front steering wobble was to accelerate to around 60mph, take hands off the bars, let the throttle roll off and during the decel phase, if the front was going to wobble it would do so.

Now that sounds a bit hairy so 'don't try this at home'! But he was testing shorter wheelbase ricers that had to have working dampers to keep them stable - a bit like fly-by-wire planes.

The heavy K bikes are longer wheelbase and not usually known for front steering wobble instability, even though BMW fit a wobble stopper (which isn't the same as a progressive 'damper').

Even though I know my damper is ok and only comes in at about +/- 10 degrees of 'wobble', I've never had what I could say was a wobble with decel or side winds and even with a good damper I would have felt the onset. My tires are never down to the chords - that would be illegal over here.

BMW probably fitted the wobble stopper for some rare event that it might happen.

I'd suggest that rare event could be badly worn tires and it would be unfair to blame the last resort action of a working steering damper to put that right. If you put the bike on the centre stand then move the steering rapidly from side to side and feel no resistance the damper isn't doing anything. You can get more 'feel' if you get the front wheel off the ground an inch, straddle it and move it lock to lock.



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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 3rd, 2010, 3:58 pm
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Re:

Back off and look at the front tire, the cupping makes the middle of the tread look like a zig-zag ridge of rubber. Road imperfections cause the tire to wander around. Mine usually act up around 25mph, 50-60 they will still track true.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 4th, 2010, 12:04 am
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Well you said the front tire is cupped, so that could cause the wobble.
New balanced tires should take the wobble out.
But I have also found that this bike’s shocks are worn out at 20,000 + miles. and if after you put a new set of tires on and the bike still does not handle well it may be the shocks.

I chased that bad handling on my first bike and it was the shocks. So when my 2004 got to 22,000 mile and handled like a HD I got me an aftermarket set of shocks.

One more point; I run Mich PRII and after 11,000 miles the front was worn to the wear bar.
I replaced with the same make model tire and I had a steering wobble a 45MPH with no hands on the grips. Result bad tire!!!

Pat Clark motorcycles of Las Vegas check the wheel and tire out and found nothing wrong. I just said to the manager, “I will have to buy a new tire because that one is no good”.
The manager gave me a new tire “no charge” and the wobble is gone.

Pat Clark Motorcycles is a stand up company!!
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old Jun 4th, 2010, 5:52 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMAlley
I ride a 2004 K1200GT and am running Dunlop RoadSmart tires that have served me well. My bike has 23,500+ miles and just came out of a BMW Dealer performed 24,000 mile service.

My tires are pretty worn with about 9,000 miles and are almost to the point the center tread will be gone. The front tire has some light cupping. I am holding off buying new tires as long as possible because I am riding to the BMW MOA Rally in Redmond this July from Houston, TX and my planned route is just under 5,500 miles.

The Issue. This weekend at the beginning of a 300 mile ride there was no issue. However, later in the trip if I attempted to set the cruise control for no hands riding the front wheel (handle bars and all) shook violently back and forth. With my hands one or both bars there was slight vibration but in no way dramatic.

Is this a symptom of a worn-out steering damper?
there are many things to look at...tire weight missing?...wheel bearings worn?....pinch bolts loose?....a bad belt?...tire press?......dragging caliper?.... ect ......A worn tire shouldn't cause what you describe...
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2010, 6:30 am
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Shock question -

My 2004 K1200GT has the OE shocks - I noted in this thread that the stock shocks are frequently 'toast' after 20,000 miles?

1. Why? Automotive shocks often last 100,000 miles or more?
2. If this is true - which aftermarket shocks have been found to be optimal for this bike?

Still learning......

"What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact. However, it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It's not very factual on motorcycles, either."

Robert Persig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old Sep 1st, 2010, 8:42 am
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My '97 still has the oem original shocks at 38K, but I do have a second pair of oem take offs waiting for me in my workshop.

They still 'work', I am mainly a street/city rider. There is no oil leaking, no rattles or play, they hold up the weight of this heavy bike and the tires wear OK. The bike still goes around corners as fast as I want it to. If I rode the bike a lot harder (difficult in UK), was a heavy burger eating guy, or put it on tracks, I'd probably go with the crowd on replacement shocks.

Now many will say my shocks were toast several years ago!

The aftermarket shocks of choice are Ohlins and Wilburs. Both have the advantage of being able to be repaired/re-built and I guess if you are shocks picky and sensitive, that could be important. When I am riding with a pillion, I am not sure if hot shocks would make that much difference. If it's a softer ride you want, then just get gel pads put in the stock seat.



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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old Sep 9th, 2010, 5:06 pm
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I wonder if it depends on the riding and manufacture time. I changed out my OEM rear at about 50,000 miles. It wasn't bad but I was starting to get a bottom out on some bridge edges that I hit everyday that I didn't remember the "bang" of that happening. I bought one off a wrecked bike with 5500 miles. There was a nice improvement. Now 12,000 miles beyond that switch, (supposedly total of about 18,000 on this rear shock) the bike lacks that super solid line feeling in wavy corners. Of course the front has 62,000+ on it now. This isn't a bad insecure feeling at all, just not an on rails feeling. So among other things this winter, figure I will renew the front and rear shocks. Considering Hyperpro at the moment.

As for the steering damper, I still have the OEM one. This past winter on 20 -35 F degree days, doing a box turn into where I park you could really feel the resistance of the oil when moving the bars lock to lock quickly. However, I had to re fasten a glove the other morning going 45 mph. I set the cruise on our dead end road going out. As I was doing this there is a dip I hit every day. There is never a quiver etc. However, with hands off the bars an oscillation started and quickly built bigger rather than stop.It stops as soon as one hand is back on the bars. It was time for new tires etc and new pivot bearings in the rear. So I played to see just how this could be reproduced. It centers right around 45. I hand slap the bars kinda on top at 45, no hands on bars and the movement begins and builds. If at 40 or 50, there is a quiver that stops in about 6-8 cycles. At other speeds none.
I changed the tires and bearings. No change in the quiver. One of the guys at the shop says his GS has the same thing at the same speed. I have played some with the shock setting but it really hasn't changed it. I guess if we had a 20 degree morning this week that would help. Since it is only at one speed I most likely will consider changing it after the weather cools and begins to warm again.

NCS

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Last edited by NCStephen; Sep 9th, 2010 at 5:20 pm.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old Sep 10th, 2010, 3:42 am
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You are doing the things to set up a wobble, although I also read a decel. from those speeds can bring it on - but mostly on lighter short wheel base sport bikes.

However, It is unusual to hear of this happening and be repeatable on K bikes. I don't think the oem wobble stopper is mean't to smooth out a regular event wobble, but to take care of a combination of rare events that could set one up.

I think I'd still keep looking for something else, because there are many who choose to ride without the damper and I haven't read they can repeatedly set up a wobble. Do you have any bags or cases and is the rear wheel stock size with the spacer fitted?

The oem wobble stopper has a centre dead zone where it does nothing. If yours has lost some oil, then I suspect the dead zone could get bigger, but as far as I know it's unusual to read of any wobble effects.



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