2004GT unsteady only on highway - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 2012, 4:03 pm Thread Starter
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2004GT unsteady only on highway

My 2004 K1200GT (18k mies) is steady as a rock at all speeds up to 120 on 2 lane roads. But get it out on a multi-lane interstate with other vehicles front, back and on the side, and it's a white knuckle ride, as the bike is unsteady at anything over 50mph; it's just plain squirrelly. I am using the stock OEM GT windscreen with the stock panniers and no trunk. Just had European Cycle inspect the bike again this morning, and nothing wrong with the bike in terms of mechanics, tires, etc.

A bike this heavy should be solid on all roads at normal speeds. Has anyone else had this problem? I have been riding for 40 years, all brands of bikes, but this really has me stumped. It's my only complaint about the bike.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 2012, 8:56 pm
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steady as a rock

04 gt 1200 and my bikes rides steady, though passing 18 wheelers can cause some turbulance. I just wait for the moment hit the accelarator and duck down and I am passed them in no time. I do avoid interstates with lots of traffic.
I read on a post that it could be the steering arm or ot sure of the name, but it is like a piston or shock absorber on the streeing. It can wear out and there are some good upgrades for the replacement. It should not wear out that quickly. Wind turbulance on crowded highways suck, I avoid them at all costs, don't like white knuckles either.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 2012, 10:02 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2004GT
My 2004 K1200GT (18k mies) is steady as a rock at all speeds up to 120 on 2 lane roads. But get it out on a multi-lane interstate with other vehicles front, back and on the side, and it's a white knuckle ride, as the bike is unsteady at anything over 50mph; it's just plain squirrelly. I am using the stock OEM GT windscreen with the stock panniers and no trunk. Just had European Cycle inspect the bike again this morning, and nothing wrong with the bike in terms of mechanics, tires, etc.

A bike this heavy should be solid on all roads at normal speeds. Has anyone else had this problem? I have been riding for 40 years, all brands of bikes, but this really has me stumped. It's my only complaint about the bike.

Thanks.
Check the tire pressure (36 PSI front, 42 PSI rear - or +2 front and rear). Past that, how about excess play in the front and/or rear wheel? The bike should be rock stable whether slabbing or taking back roads.

Not all who wander are lost. Which still leaves room for more than a few lost wanderers...

Red Flash - '03 K1200RS, lightly farkled
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2012, 4:24 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip
I read on a post that it could be the steering arm or ot sure of the name, but it is like a piston or shock absorber on the streeing. It can wear out and there are some good upgrades for the replacement. It should not wear out that quickly.
Commonly known as BMW's wobble stopper, even when new it has a small amount of in built play. It is a very basic unit, has no progressive dampening and is only there to minimize the damage from a catastrophic tank slapper. When worn out, it just gets sloppier. I can honestly say this is not the cause of your problem. Some guys take them off and ride without it as they are not really necessary on a bike like ours although to me its a bit like not putting on a seat belt. Is it worth the risk... I would look at tyre pressures first, and then all the usual suspects like final drive bearing, FD pivot bearings, swing arm bearings and maybe front wheel bearings although I doubt it. Also clip the screen off and go for a blast to see if the same handling issues occur in situations that you know unsettle the bike. Then you can discount the screen and move on. With relatively low miles the shocks are probably fine, but if the PO has carried some big loads, you may need to look at a shocks upgrade to cure your handling, but always check the cheaper and simpler options first. Pivot bearings and the FD bearing are known fails. Finally, sometimes a handling issue can appear to come from the front, but is in fact originating at the rear.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2012, 8:22 am
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Unsteady...yep happened to me and spent a whole summer trying to figure that out. Was much worse with the windscreen up so sent me on the wrong path looking at it. Turns out the BMW specialist where I bought tires after I bought that "previously owned" BMW had installed a lower profile tire in front. Only found out the next year when I went to buy new shoes at a non-BMW shop. As soon as I gave him the tire sizes I had lifted off the tires Ken said........WRONG !!!

So that fixed it. However riding around with the crappy OEM suspension on straight highways.....too much preload (or is that not enough ??? don't remember) and the bike will feel squirelly. BTW if you still have the OEM suspension you may not want to trust the preloader settings in the book, or the ones marked on the preloader, good chance there is not enough fluid inside that preloader and if like mine or others, cranking the knob may not achieve anything for the first half of the adjustment range.

Easy enough to refill the preloader altough I never did, bought some Ohlins instead and never looked back.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2012, 12:10 am
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My K-RS has always been a white knuckle ride on the highways, it wobbles like crazy. I managed to get 14k wobble miles in on it so far since I bought the bike in the winter of 2011. This past winter I put on a set of Ohlins F/R from Dan Kyle Racing, still not happy with the way the bike rides... Sure I can make it as comfy as a Cadillac or stiff as I like. I have adjusted the preload and compression/rebound to my liking and realistically for the 2k bux I paid for the suspension I was expecting a lot more.

I come from a Honda RC51 as my last bike, and at 180MPH my RC was rock solid. I sold that bike as I wanted something sporty, fast and comfy and had no room at the time for 2 bikes in my little garage.

I played around with tire pressures and the bike is tolerable with 38F/44R PSI and I am on PR3s now vs PR2 I had last year. I will look into the rear end pivot bearings.... if that doesnt help, its Multistrada time.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 2012, 11:03 am
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I have been wondering....some of them in that year range came out with too tight a lower "Ball Joint" in the Telelever.Heavy feel to the steering was how the bulletin described it but that could also cause steering wobbles, even a worn one could do the same if the ball/race gets spotted.

I don't think there is an easy check for that just turning the steering or shaking it. Looks like the "fork brace" would have to be unbolted and then the lower ball joint could be carefully felt for play,tightness or roughness.

The top Ball Joint, I checked that one on my bike, but that was incidental when I replaced the fork seals, lowering the fork tubes into the legs releases the top plate/ball joint and then that one can be checked.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2012, 5:16 am
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Can we have a report please with the panniers off and screen set low just to eliminate them?

Hard to think a bike that 'young' would have front ball joint problems. Rear drive and swingarm possibly, wrong tires definitely.

The OP needs to do a few checks in the most likely areas. Even if the results come to nothing it gives piece of mind.

1. Lift the front wheel off the ground, spin and check it runs true. Then waggle the wheel hands across the tire to check for any wheel bearing problems.

2. Undo one end of the steering damperer so it hangs free and does not interfere with checking the steering, Move the steering lock to lock using the front wheel and check for any play front and back - there should be none.

3. With the rear wheel just off the ground, grab it at 180 and test the rear drive output shaft bearing for any play. Repeat 3 or 4 times moving the wheels around each 90 deg. Rotate it and check it runs true.

4. Is the rear wheel/tire stock? Remove the wheel and check the spacer is still fitted on the wheel hub - it can drop off and be left off!

5. Tie up the RD and swingarm to the seat rail, Take off each end of the torsion link in turn waggling the bar to check any play or give at each bush.

6. With the torsion link removed, take out 1 (or both ?) shock bolts so you can get some free up and down movement on the swingarm. Do not let the swingarm drop right down to the ground, else the front tranni boot may pop off. In this situation you can check the RD pivot and swingarm bearings for any notchiness or side play. As well as feeling the up and down movement, try twisting the whole lot clockwise and anti clockwise. Many do not understand that it is virtually impossible to check most suspension systems when they are held under compression or tension. Once you remove that, you see the real issue on bearing and bush wear. There should be no play whatsoever.

This may seem a lot to do and you may not find a problem. But you will have peace of mind that parts most likely to wear or cause problems have been checked.



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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Jul 16th, 2012, 3:25 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voxmagna
Can we have a report please with the panniers off and screen set low just to eliminate them?

Hard to think a bike that 'young' would have front ball joint problems. Rear drive and swingarm possibly, wrong tires definitely.

The OP needs to do a few checks in the most likely areas. Even if the results come to nothing it gives piece of mind.

1. Lift the front wheel off the ground, spin and check it runs true. Then waggle the wheel hands across the tire to check for any wheel bearing problems.

2. Undo one end of the steering damperer so it hangs free and does not interfere with checking the steering, Move the steering lock to lock using the front wheel and check for any play front and back - there should be none.

3. With the rear wheel just off the ground, grab it at 180 and test the rear drive output shaft bearing for any play. Repeat 3 or 4 times moving the wheels around each 90 deg. Rotate it and check it runs true.

4. Is the rear wheel/tire stock? Remove the wheel and check the spacer is still fitted on the wheel hub - it can drop off and be left off!

5. Tie up the RD and swingarm to the seat rail, Take off each end of the torsion link in turn waggling the bar to check any play or give at each bush.

6. With the torsion link removed, take out 1 (or both ?) shock bolts so you can get some free up and down movement on the swingarm. Do not let the swingarm drop right down to the ground, else the front tranni boot may pop off. In this situation you can check the RD pivot and swingarm bearings for any notchiness or side play. As well as feeling the up and down movement, try twisting the whole lot clockwise and anti clockwise. Many do not understand that it is virtually impossible to check most suspension systems when they are held under compression or tension. Once you remove that, you see the real issue on bearing and bush wear. There should be no play whatsoever.

This may seem a lot to do and you may not find a problem. But you will have peace of mind that parts most likely to wear or cause problems have been checked.
I am in complete agreement with all of the above, and the opening line is relevant. As I was rereading this thread, I realised I should have mentioned earlier removing the panniers as well as the screen. I was about to do that... If you have not been for a good blast without the panniers and screen, do so, as if this points to your problem, it will save you many hours of work looking elsewhere for the problem. Making sure you have a balanced load in each pannier can make a difference to high speed stability. On a big road trip I will sometimes throw the bags on the bathroom scales just to see. I have suggested this before, but look to the easy and quick to check possibilities as a cause, discount them and move on to the next more time consuming/expensive possibilities. Nothing to be lost in a quick blast down the highway to find out. My 02 RS will sometimes put up a small shimmie at high speeds (over 200kph) but only with the bags on. Strong side winds don't help either BMW does not rate these for speed. Page 52 of the rider's manual clearly states, Warning: When cases are fitted, do not exceed 130kph (80mph) Now who ever takes any notice of that

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Jul 16th, 2012, 7:17 am
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Something isn't making sense here. I've loaded my '03 RS will all manner of crap on occasion. I try not to get wildly out of balance but I don't put the bags on a scale, either. Big boxes strapped to the back? Yew betcha! And for all of that, the bike still tracks like a charm.

I do pay attention to tire pressure (36/42).

Now, my bike does have ÷hlins, a "present" from the PO. But I've ridden other, non-÷hlin K1200's and they all tracked as they should. It ain't the shocks.

NTL, fretting about the bags and the windshield is a waste of time. Either somewhere in the suspension something has failed or is on its way out, or something was not fitted right. The checks are easy enough to do. For those unable to do the checks, have them done.

Not all who wander are lost. Which still leaves room for more than a few lost wanderers...

Red Flash - '03 K1200RS, lightly farkled
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