Squirrely Front End


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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bstig60
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Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:30 pm



I am new to Goldwings, but by no means new to motorcycles. I recently bought a 1988 GL1500 with 56K miles on it. I got it home, changed all the fluids and did a bolt check, then took it for a 100 mile test ride. I noticed the front end seems to be a bit unstable at cruising speed (65-70+). It feels like the bike is running over grooved pavement or steel grating on the roadway. Its the same on blacktop as it is on concrete pavement. I pulled the front wheel this evening and the bearings seem to be tight and smooth. I checked for play in the steering head bearings and there doesn't seem to be any. The bike has new Avon Venom tires on the front and rear that are only a couple of months old. Tires and in balance and the bike is smooth otherwise. I am getting ready for a trip to Utah the end of this week and I would like to find what this is. I have two other bikes and both run smooth at cruising speed. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


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virgilmobile
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby virgilmobile » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:48 am

Only a few things that come to mind....
These relate to different bikes and my 88 does not exhibit any of these symptoms..
The front end of the gl1500..The fork oil....The right fork uses less oil than the left side.There's a reason for that....
Vibrating calipers.....when it's doing it's thing,gently apply the front brake and then the rear brake.viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10975&start=75

Unstable rolling can also be related to the rear end....I did have another year that had badly set swingarm bearings.There specific on lubrication and torque settings.

Another bike was also tracking badly.The tires were fighting each other for alignment.
I used the string method and found the rear end offset by nearly 1/4"..Alignment of the swingarm fixed that one...

Inspect the swingarm inside area for rusting..It happens and can weaken the structural integrity.

Steering head bearings don't last forever,just ask the Admin....Torque settings wrong can lead to drive-ability issues..
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=14161&start=25

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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:26 am

Thanks for the prompt reply. I did notice when I pulled the front wheel, that the left front pads were new and the right front had not been replaced, but the pads still have 1/2 of the pad left. I did also notice a vibration on the front brake when I applied it at speed while the back brake was smooth. I will change the R/F pads, but I won't have time before my trip.
I had looked at the swing arm before and didn't see any sign of rust. But I checked it again last night after dark with a flashlight and there isn't anything I can see. I will check the torque on the rear axle and pinch bolt tonight. Looks like I can get to both without removing the mufflers. I am wondering about tire pressure. I have about 30 in the front and about 35 in the rear. Is this adequate for a single rider of 200 lbs. or should I bring the pressure up to the high speed specs?
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby virgilmobile » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:52 am

I run mine at 36 rear and 38 front.
Some run 40 rear and 38 front...

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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:08 pm

I put the tires up to 38 R and 36 F cold. I checked the torque on the rear axle nut and the axle pinch bolt and both are to spec. I also checked for any play in the swing arm bearings and found there to be none. I will take her for another short spin this evening and see if any of this made a difference.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby virgilmobile » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:37 pm

Let us know.Test the brake to see if it affects the vibration.

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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:11 am

I did a 110 mile loop tonight with about 50 of it twisty mountain roads. The bike definately needs a fork brace, but it will have to wait until I get back from the Utah trip. There is a vibration I can feel in the bars when I apply the front brake, but it is minor and is only there when I apply the brake. I think a new set of pads on that side will correct the problem.
The squirrelly feeling is totally gone. I think the left fork may have been moving around on the axle a little bit due to the pinch bolts only being finger tight. There is some noticeable buffeting that I will have to get used to when behind a vehicle or in a head or quartering wind. But I think that will be less of a bother once I am used to the bike.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby Doug B. » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:59 am

virgilmobile wrote:I run mine at 36 rear and 38 front.
Some run 40 rear and 38 front...


I run about 40 and 42 front/rear riding solo or 2 up. Manufacturers recommendations run them pretty hard as do most other owners reviews I have read.

See attached:

http://www.avonmoto.com/tech/tire-pressure-guidelines
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:59 am

Thanks for the info. I will probably run them at the current pressures for the moment. I have a 300 mile trip on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning. Have to go by the PO's place to pick up another helmet with headset and a headset extension cord he forgot to give me. We will see how the tires feel at the current settings on that trip. They certainly felt OK last night........
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby dingdong » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:02 am

I run my Avons with 43lbs in the front and 50 in the rear. However almost all of my riding with the 1500 is 2 up. You might try upping the pressures in both tires to see if there is a difference.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby ct1500 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:16 pm

bstig60 wrote:Thanks for the prompt reply. I did notice when I pulled the front wheel, that the left front pads were new and the right front had not been replaced, but the pads still have 1/2 of the pad left. I did also notice a vibration on the front brake when I applied it at speed while the back brake was smooth. I will change the R/F pads, but I won't have time before my trip.


The GW has linked front-rear brakes. The hand brake only applies R/F caliper.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby ct1500 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:22 pm

bstig60 wrote: There is some noticeable buffeting that I will have to get used to when behind a vehicle or in a head or quartering wind. But I think that will be less of a bother once I am used to the bike.


10-4 on the buffeting following a truck, there is a lot of plastic to act on.

I was on the perimeter road of an airport at a stop light on a windy day. A big gust came up and I almost fell over. :D When its rolling never a problem just let her do her little dance in heavy cross winds.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:27 am

Half way thru the 300 mile trip. The buffeting was really noticeable with all the traffic . I think I will bring both tires up to 40 cold.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby Wingsconsin » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:07 am

dingdong wrote:I run my Avons with 43lbs in the front and 50 in the rear. However almost all of my riding with the 1500 is 2 up. You might try upping the pressures in both tires to see if there is a difference.

Avon Venom tires like to be run HARD (higher PSI). One of my riding buddies uses only Avne Venom tires and he runs the rear t 50 and the front at 44 ... Tire pressures will make a difference...try pumping them up to MAX COLD PSI...
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:14 pm

Increased the air pressure to 40 in both tires this morning. Can't tell any difference. I did play with the angles of the wind deflectors and noticed a difference. It would seem that perhaps its just the nature of the beastie and I need to get used to it. As someone said, there is a lot of plastic to get up there. I am going to lower the windshield down as low as possible and see it that helps some. It may be that the front end seems loose and I am over correcting and that makes it worse.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby dingdong » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:14 am

Wingsconsin wrote:
dingdong wrote:I run my Avons with 43lbs in the front and 50 in the rear. However almost all of my riding with the 1500 is 2 up. You might try upping the pressures in both tires to see if there is a difference.

Avon Venom tires like to be run HARD (higher PSI). One of my riding buddies uses only Avne Venom tires and he runs the rear t 50 and the front at 44 ... Tire pressures will make a difference...try pumping them up to MAX COLD PSI...


I hope you try this. It "might" save you some time. At the least you will know if there is some other problem.
Tom

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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:31 am

The Avon's are at max pressure cold which is 41 F, 42 R and I lowered the windshield as far down as it will go. Adjusting the wind deflectors seemed to help. Since I am leaving on my trip tomorrow, I won't get a chance to test it before then, so it will have to do. Got to get packed tonight for an early start tomorrow morning.
I have put almost 600 miles on the bike this week, so I don't think there is anything mechanical wrong. I have checked bearings in the wheels, steering stem and swing arm and everything checks out fine.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby waituntilthebeep » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:26 pm

I just recently bought an 88 gl1500 and noticed almost immediately the looser front end feel. I came from an 01 750 shadow and it was so tight that you could steer by shifting your head. On my Wing I even experienced what I will call "belly wobble". You may have experienced what the ass end of your bike feels like when it washes out on you in the rain... the rear of the bike shutters back and forth a couple inches until you get out of the throttle. Well, this felt like the belly of the bike was swaying side to side just a tiny bit at a high rate of speed. I checked everything and it is all tight but there is so much weight hanging down in the motor that this harmonic vibration that I magically caught felt like the middle of the bike was going to fall off at 30 mph. I was riding with one hand and had just come out of hard acceleration when it happened. Has not happened since. Get the bike to 30 or 35 and (carefully) shake the handle bars 1/2". The bike will wiggle from the middle of the body. Weird feeling. Anywho, I believe that it is something that you will adapt to really quickly. 60+ on the freeway and the bike will dance with drafts. Just what it is. Trick is not to try and counter it. Dance with it and the effect is really minimized.

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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:18 pm

The "belly wobble" could be worn or Mal-adjusted swing arm bearings. Also, check your steering stem bearings to make sure don't have any play in them.
As a result of advice from others here and my own experience, I went thru everything that was a possibility and found nothing. A Superbrace or equivalent will help with the wishy washy front end and I have found that keeping the max air cold in the tires also helps. The buffeting is just something one has to get used to. I have put about 1200 miles on mine since I bought it 2 weeks ago. I am 700 miles into a 3000 mile trip. So far the old lady is doing just fine. I am in Utah now and will be heading for eastern Washington on Saturday. A trip I had to take isn't a good way to build trust in a new bike, but it will have to do and so far so good.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby ct1500 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:03 pm

A 1500 is not a Corvette and NEVER will be. :D

It is a fat arsed low RPM touring bike you might fall asleep on.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:25 pm

Mine is a Cadillac. That is what I had to give up to get it.... And IMHO, she is truly the Cadillac of touring bikes.
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Re: Squirrely Front End

Postby bstig60 » Sun Jul 28, 2013 6:57 pm

Ran from Park City, UT to Walla Walla, WA yesterday. Had a good 20 knot headwind yesterday coming up out of the Snake River valley in NE Oregon. The front end was doing its dance, but I am getting used to it after 2000 miles (628 yesterday). The bike is starting to run a little rough at low RPM. Probably need to adjust and sync the carbs when I get home.


Bill


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