Death Wobble


Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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Rusty Bike
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Death Wobble

Post by Rusty Bike » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:01 pm



Hi all, been a while. I managed to ride my SEi a couple of times this winter. Plenty of warm days but salt on the road is a limiting factor. I will only ride this beauty on salt free roads.

Anyhoo, I swapped out my left front brake rotor (hand lever operated only) with a nice Ebay rotor. Mine was warped. Now I have seriously increased the tendency of the bike to go into wobble. The replacement rotor is true. Rotor was properly torqued using OEM specs and a criss cross tightening pattern with incremental tightening. This bike only wobbled once and that was at 40 mph, no hands on rough road. Now it wants to wobble all the time. WTF. Front wheel and steering head bearings have been checked and are good. Bike has new Michlins front and rear, also has new Progressive front springs. Calipers have been flushed, serviced and new pads installed. I can feel the front tire squirming at slow turns in a parking lot also. Something is wrong! Any suggestions??? Thanks folks...Rusty



sportsfreaked
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by sportsfreaked » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:06 pm

Are both rotors the same thickness? If one side is thicker then the other I am assuming that this could cause an issue. I don't know for sure just throwing it out there as a possibility.
Thanks to all who answer and help. It is greatly appreciated!
Ed

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CrystalPistol
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1997 GL1500SE Lehman Trike

Re: Death Wobble

Post by CrystalPistol » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:42 am

You had everything apart to swap that rotor. I'd go back step by step and do the wheel mounting all over. Do it in sequence by the book. Look at the lower clamp halves on the fork lowers, I have seen one cracked.

Also check that tire for and bulges indicating hidden damage .... and air pressure.

There should be no "tire squirming" as the front tire has nothing to fight against.
Image

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Goofaroo
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Goofaroo » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:57 am

Yep. Also lift the front wheel and spin it to see if the tire is mounted correctly and runs true.

You stated that the steering and wheel bearings have been checked. Did you check them or did you have someone that mounted the tires check them? While you have the front end lifted and the wheel off check the steering bearings very closely for tension and indexing.

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Rusty Bike
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Rusty Bike » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:12 pm

I checked all those bearings myself when I put this bike back together last fall. Have only put around 2,000 miles on it since then. Bike was good before I installed left rotor. I do work using the OEM manual at my side. The "spin the wheel" suggestion has merit. The front brake lever does feel different, not only does it not pulse as it did with the warped rotor but it feels firmer. I wonder if the resiviour is over full due to a thicker ( less worn) rotor. Hmmm. I'm going to dig into this, this weekend. I also plan to loosen everything including the after market Super thick fork brace and fender. I'll tighten the Axle clamps first, then the fork brace and fender. I'll check all parts closely for any defect. No doubt that whatever it is, I caused it. :roll: I'll keep you folks updated. Thanks All...Rusty

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Goofaroo
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1992 Kawasaki KDX200
1987 Kawasaki KDX200
1985 Honda XR350R
1971 Honda CT90
1984 Honda NH125 Aero
2008 Yamaha Vino 125

Re: Death Wobble

Post by Goofaroo » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:44 pm

Your brake is most likely not related to your wobble but the firm lever could be caused by a few things. Have you disassembled and cleaned the m/c and the caliper? If not it would be a good time to do a rebuild. If your caliper is not floating properly that would explain the warped rotor and possibly the firm lever. The pistons could also be seized in the caliper. I just fixed the same problem on my 86 model. The front left rotor was warped, the lever was stiff, the brake lever pulsated horribly, and there wasn't enough stopping power to slow down a bicycle. I replaced the rotor and rebuilt the m/c and the caliper and greased the caliper floating pins and I can now easily make the front wheel chirp with just the brake lever and the feel is excellent. In other words, the system is more than adequate but 30+ years of age and it is time for a bit of maintenance.

As for the wobble, it sounds like you had this problem before you replaced the rotor but now it is more pronounced. Did you install the aftermarket fork brace? Did it help or make it worse? Can you put on the stock brace and try that? How many miles on this bike? How long since the steering head was serviced and tensioned? When you put in the fork springs did you also service the forks? New seals and bushings? Did you service the TRAC systems? Do you have proper sag with the new springs? Are you still using air in the forks? Are the axle clamps oriented correctly and tightened from the front first? Are you holding your mouth just right? What are you calling a wobble? Do the bars start shaking like it's going to cause a tank slapper or does it wander while trying to run a straight line?

We aren't talking about a twitchy sport bike with a steep rake angle. A GL1200 in a reasonable state of tune will run a straight line with ease. The problem is right in front of you so keep at it.

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Rusty Bike
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Rusty Bike » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:08 pm

Thank you for all the input folks. I went thru the front end of this bike very thoroughly when i restored it last summer. Tires are new Michlins and were mounted and high speed balanced by the Honda shop. ( Small Mom and Pop shop that is good!) Front wheel bearings were checked by me, and are good. I did not tension test the front steering head bearings but there is no play. MC was cleaned and flushed. Front calipers were free as i could depress pistons by hand so I did not open calipers. I did clean and lube all mounting pins and pivots along with replacing rubber bits. New pads were installed. Forks were rebuilt including all bushings, seal, and new Progressive springs. Track system was cleaned and new O-rings installed. Air ride was rebuilt and new O-rings installed on the equalizer tube on top of the forks. Air ride is functioning and holding air very well.

OK here is what I found today. I loosened the axle caps, fender, and after market fork brace. Then retorqued the axle caps with a good torque wrench, front nuts first as per Honda manual. Next torqued fork brace then fender bolts. Checked triple tree clamp torque. checked caliper clearence to rotor. Front wheel spun free with no brake drag before I did anything. No front tire wobble and bead runs true with the rim. Front wheel was still good after retorque, no drag. I cracked the front brake bleeder and bled it a couple of pumps then topped off MC. Fluid is clean. Checked tire pressure and found front tire low at 30 PSI. Aired it up to 38 PSI. Rear tire was at 50 PSI :roll: , now at 41. Set air ride to 50 PSI rear and 4 PSI front, I weigh 280 lbs. Previously air ride was at 36 rear and 0 front. Track system is set on two, both sides. Changed the oil and filter while i was at it. 5 W 40 Rotilla T6 was used, not that that maters. Took the bike on a 60 mile ride. Did get it to wobble one time with no hands at 40 MPH but the situation has definatly improved.

So what changed, Tire pressure and air ride settings! I found nothing wrong mechanically. Brakes feel good and strong. This bike did wobble on me once before, after the work was done last summer but it was not a recurring problem. It was way worse before I tore it down last summer but the bike was in dire need of maintenance then. I bought it like that. I do feel that the steering head tension needs set but I do not have the required measuring device. The old girl felt good and ran strong today. I do have a question that I will put in a new thread. I feel the wobble problem is lessened now and I feel safe to ride again. Thanks for the help folks...Rusty

PS: If you do the research on the older Goldwings, you will find that they ARE prone to wobble. Honda's cure is a 5 lb hunk of steel bolted to the front forks. My bike does not have this installed. I do wonder about the effectiveness of an aftermarket steering damper??? Ride safe folks. :)

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Rednaxs60
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Rednaxs60 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:45 am

Rusty Bike wrote:PS: If you do the research on the older Goldwings, you will find that they ARE prone to wobble. Honda's cure is a 5 lb hunk of steel bolted to the front forks. My bike does not have this installed. I do wonder about the effectiveness of an aftermarket steering damper??? Ride safe folks. :)
I had the suspension upgraded on my '85 LTD to Race Tech suspension in the front forks and Progressive shocks in the rear (non-air) when I bought my bike 16 months ago. The fellow who did the service mentioned that "5 lb hunk of steel" and suggested I replace it. Hasn't affected the ride so it is still there.

Had a wobble develop in the late fall last year. Knew it was the front tire, and since it was now and then I left it and replaced the tires a few weeks ago with Michelin Commander II. No more wobble. I also use Ride-On Motorcycle Tire Balancer and Sealant to balance the wheels. Product works well and gives puncture protection as well. You can use this product even if your wheel(s) have external weights. I also like the fact that over the life of the tire, this product will balance the tire to compensate for how the tire wears. Static weights do not do this, ergo the need to have tires balanced again as the tire wears.

Your problem sounds like a tire balance issue to me. I would recommend buying an 8 ounce bottle of Ride-On and put it in the tire - can leave the external weights on. Won't hurt the tire and could take up that small amount of unbalance that could still be present. Not a huge investment, think about $15.00 USD. This product does not make a mess of the inside of the tire like the green slime product.

Before I'd start on the aftermarket add-ons as a fix, I'd want to get the tire balance straightened out first, maybe even find that 5 lb hunk of steel called a fork brace and put it on.

Just my thoughts. Good luck.

Cheers
"When you write the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen"

Ernest

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Goofaroo
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2004 Kawasaki Concours
1978 BMW R100S
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2007 Kawasaki KLR650
2002 Kawasaki KLR250
1992 Kawasaki KDX200
1987 Kawasaki KDX200
1985 Honda XR350R
1971 Honda CT90
1984 Honda NH125 Aero
2008 Yamaha Vino 125

Re: Death Wobble

Post by Goofaroo » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:34 pm

Are you sure that the springs are correct for your weight and preloaded properly? Where's the static sag sitting? You said it handled better at 4psi than it did at 0. Have you tried 10 lbs? I'd be tempted to give that a whirl and maybe a bit less air out back.

It sounds like you've been very thorough. You'll figure it out eventually.

By the way- we like pics.

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julimike54
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by julimike54 » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:51 pm

Rusty Bike wrote: I did not tension test the front steering head bearings but there is no play.
Mine did wobble, 3000 miles after replacement! Raised front end to test for play, didn't feel loose. Ordered a pull scale and tested with front end up in the air, I had half the preload they want. Re-adjusted the head bearings and the scale said it was within spec. Went for a ride and couldn't get it to wobble, still hasn't wobbled since!
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Owl
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Owl » Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:14 pm

I had the same problem with my '84 Asp. It wobbled on the low speed, also when i make a sharp turn at a speed of about 5 mph i feel heavy runout. Runout disappear when i up the speed to 7-8 mph. The problem was in the front tire air pressure. When i increased front tire air pressure up to 45 PSI the symptoms disappeared

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ekvh
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by ekvh » Sun Jul 02, 2017 7:53 am

I don't think anyone mentioned checking swingarm. If one side has a little play it can cause this. I chased everything I could think of on the front end. I had never done much to the swingarm, but when I finally pulled it, the left side bearing was quite warm and loose. This could be greater with the 1200's with the tires being in separate planes.

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Charlie1Horse
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Charlie1Horse » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:03 pm

Did you replace the tires at the same time as the rest of the work, or before, or after? If before, did you ride with the new tires before you did the rest of the work? If not, you could have purchased a defective tire and all the work at the same time would leave you wondering. This is partly why I change tires, and only tires at one time. And then do other work. This way I can isolate each problem singularly without guessing about everything together. I have bought defective tires before.
Russell

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jwebfournow
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by jwebfournow » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:50 pm

Was going to also mention the swingarm bushings also plus the rear shocks rubber bushings

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Malm
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Re: Death Wobble

Post by Malm » Sun May 06, 2018 8:31 pm

Rusty Bike wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:08 pm
Took the bike on a 60 mile ride. Did get it to wobble one time with no hands at 40 MPH but the situation has definatly improved.

So what changed, Tire pressure and air ride settings! I found nothing wrong mechanically. Brakes feel good and strong. This bike did wobble on me once before, after the work was done last summer but it was not a recurring problem. It was way worse before I tore it down last summer but the bike was in dire need of maintenance then. I bought it like that. I do feel that the steering head tension needs set but I do not have the required measuring device. The old girl felt good and ran strong today. I do have a question that I will put in a new thread. I feel the wobble problem is lessened now and I feel safe to ride again. Thanks for the help folks...Rusty
Rusty... Same bike, same issue... Did you solve it or just learn to live with it?

Mine seems to be at about 20-30 mph, right side.


Common sense is NOT so common....

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