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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 24th, 2010, 1:04 pm Thread Starter
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Ball joint question

The slant4 1200GT service schedule says to grease the ball joint and clamp at regular intervals.

I've seen recent threads on "ball joints" being replaced in the front suspension due to notched balls etc that affected the handling.
I've also seen recent threads where the "ball joints" and clamps are referenced as the exhaust connection to the end of the header pipe. It is not really a ball joint here (just a clamp).

There is mention of an Optimoly grease being used when replacing the top and bottom leading links which go over the ball joints on the front suspension. This seems to be an onerous task (heat nut to remove the leading link etc) as per the service schedule but would have more of a long term benefit that greasing the exhaust clamp.

What is the service schedule referring to? The front suspension ball joints or did they mean to say the exhaust clamp?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 24th, 2010, 4:30 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LesterV
The slant4 1200GT service schedule says to grease the ball joint and clamp at regular intervals.

I've seen recent threads on "ball joints" being replaced in the front suspension due to notched balls etc that affected the handling.
I've also seen recent threads where the "ball joints" and clamps are referenced as the exhaust connection to the end of the header pipe. It is not really a ball joint here (just a clamp).

There is mention of an Optimoly grease being used when replacing the top and bottom leading links which go over the ball joints on the front suspension. This seems to be an onerous task (heat nut to remove the leading link etc) as per the service schedule but would have more of a long term benefit that greasing the exhaust clamp.

What is the service schedule referring to? The front suspension ball joints or did they mean to say the exhaust clamp?

The exhaust clamp.

I do not believe the ball joints at the front suspension are serviceable.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 24th, 2010, 11:45 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bandera
I do not believe the ball joints at the front suspension are serviceable.
Nor is it necessary. 135K on my original ball joints without any extra greasing and they still feel fine.

Ken
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2010, 5:34 pm
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While we're on the subject of ball joints let me throw something out there for opinions...

I had read with interest the recent accounts of handling issues due to bad ball joints since I was experiencing what felt like the exact same thing on my 2007 GT (with about 30k miles), i.e. a very notiable slow-speed (30-50 mph) weave, especially obvious on smooth pavement. So bad in fact that at one point I even got off the bike and inspected the front end because it felt like something was coming apart! But at that time the front tire was extremely worn and was scalloped with very sharp 'corners' due to nomal wear, so I figured I really couldn't be sure of anything until I replaced the tire.

After replacing the tire the problem was dramatrically reduced, probably by about 95%, but some weave is still definitely present... but now I can't tell if it is abnormal or just a result of my looking for the problem. Maybe what I'm feeling was always there but just unnoticed, I can't be sure since I'm aware of the madness that comes when you look for a minor problem... meaning if you look hard enough you can almost always find it. The only bike I can directly compare it to right now is my 1100RT, but that bike is the most stable I've ever owned (almost to a fault) and the GT steers a lot faster, so maybe what I'm perceiving as a weave is simply a result of a quicker steering geometry?

What do you say, can you all notice any slight weave or instability at slow speeds on your bikes? I need to get this settled in my mind as I only have about a month of warranty left. I don't think there's much point in taking it to the dealer until I feel sure because at this point I have no doubt that I'd shoot an entire day and 200 miles of interstate riding only to hear 'feels OK to us...'
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2010, 6:12 pm
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smiller, can you get the front off the ground and detect any wiggle in the front forks? If so, maybe the u-joints are bad. Dunno if it would be warranty as u-joints are a wear item, I think.

Mack
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2010, 6:40 pm
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I couldn't detect anything abnormal when I had the front wheel off the ground when changing the tire. I don't think the ball joint problem shoes up as outright looseness, but rather they get notchy which causes the instability. But not sure about that.

I don't know if I really have a problem or not but for those who do I wouldn't consider this a simple wear issue but more likely improper installation or manufacture, although agreed that BMW does have a habit of not seeing it that way.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2010, 3:30 am
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From time to time I have something similar. O put a few drops of graphite penetrating oil on the steering damper and the "boot" around the ball joint. Seems to cure if ... sometime I must apply it to just one to narrow down the actual problem.

I first did the damper because it seemed like a possible culprit, then as I had the front wheel off the ground to check things out the boot did seem to be causing a little resistance to the turning (I could see it twisting slightly... then "catching up"... so I did that too?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2010, 9:07 am
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After some more analysis I think I'm just freaking out. The worn front tire was clearly causing the major part of the issue and seemed to exacerbate what is probably just a normal handling characteristic of the bike. That, and the GT's inherent sensitivity to wind, which we have a lot of around here. On a rare windless morning on the ride in today the issue was virtually nil. I think the duolever just has a tendency to exhibit a slight instability at certain speeds. If it were up to me I might engineer in a little more of an on-center characteristic to the geometry, but otherwise I'm just going to chalk it up to 'character' and an over-sensitive rider... for now, anyway...
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2010, 1:46 pm
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My 2 cents.

When my ball joints were recently replaced it was the final straw, even after trying a new set of tires with no change in bad handling. I think you are correct and could be looking for a problem that does not exist.
One of the other things they replaced was the steering damper, though I am not sure why.
One thing that is very different with the new damper is how the bike makes little changes such as changing lanes on the freeway and not hitting any of the Botts Dots seperating the lanes. (something I always try to do just for fun) The new steering damper makes this a bit harder to do as it wants to slow those quick steering inputs down. I do expect this will get better after some miles are put on the damper, loosening it up a bit....

Scott
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2010, 8:55 pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottsGT
When my ball joints were recently replaced it was the final straw, even after trying a new set of tires with no change in bad handling. I think you are correct and could be looking for a problem that does not exist.
One of the other things they replaced was the steering damper, though I am not sure why.
One thing that is very different with the new damper is how the bike makes little changes such as changing lanes on the freeway and not hitting any of the Botts Dots seperating the lanes. (something I always try to do just for fun) The new steering damper makes this a bit harder to do as it wants to slow those quick steering inputs down. I do expect this will get better after some miles are put on the damper, loosening it up a bit....

Scott
You haven't said what model and year GT you ride. There was a recall for 2007 K1200GTs made in a very narrow period. Only a handful of bikes was affected. Of course, mine was one of them. Perhaps your steering damper was one of the recall ones, but it is very unlikely.

http://thekneeslider.com/archives/20...ering-dampers/
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