Front End Wobble~!


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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faithtalker1
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Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:30 pm
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Motorcycle: GL1500se

Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 5:27 pm



Okay so last season I get a late start and we do a trip to Ocean City Maryland me from Ohio, meet my friend in Wva 347 miles, then to Ocean City, his bike broke down on the way back, and I ended up driving nearly all the way back from Ocean City to Ohio by myself. Several times on the way there I noticed a front end wobble I had never felt before at 40 to 50mph then it goes away. It was intermittent depending on my speed, down shifting etc... So, just had it out and it is there nearly everytime now. But, here is the scoop. It only has about 40,000 mi on it and is a 1995 the front tire was changed 2 seasons ago and has had a very slow leak in it since I have owned it. So every spring it is notoriously 20lbs or under so is this more than likely a flat spot in the tire? I don't move it much if at all during the winter months. Now I would take this somewhere to get it checked, but two local bike shops have shut down in the last few recent years and the one that is left I do not trust. I had asked about this the end of the season last year and read some articles about head bearings, and sway bar bearings or bushings? What is the easiest way to check these please? Other that that wobble either on the up acceleration or deceleration the front seems extremely stable, and when I first had the tire put on (again a couple seasons ago) I could ride without my hands on the handle bars at all, now I wouldn't let go for dear life lol. Any help or pointers would be appreciated, thought about just having the tire changed as I could probably trust the shop enough to do that, but man, I only got less than 3000 mi on my front tire, if that. Oh, I forgot to mention it is a GL1500 1995 anniversary edition. Thanks again for any input. If I can check head bearings and sway bar easy enough, if not Tire? One other thing that might be worth mentioning is when I had these tires installed to balance them they put in dynabeads. I had up to this point never had any experience with these, can these be a culprit for problems like bunching together or sticking, clumping together. below and above 40-50 mph I feel completely safe as machine seems really sound. I mean I drove back 600+ miles from Maryland with just the occasional wobble at the speeds mentioned above and while accelerating if I do it aggressively I don't notice as bad either. But, it is still there.



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bntyhntr6975
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby bntyhntr6975 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:31 pm

If youve ran it low a few times, its probly started cupping.

faithtalker1
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:33 pm

I wouldn't say I ran it low for any distance, I usually check the air pressure before I ride a distance, or if I haven't ridden it for awhile, but it does sit in one location all winter on the regular kick stand not the center stand and then it goes down gradually, I last rode in November, and just got out today and tire pressure in the front was a little below 20lbs. So I rode about 3 mi and aired up at a local station.

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WingAdmin
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Mar 24, 2016 4:54 am

Is it a vibration, or a wobble (where the handlebars are actually moving back and forth on their own)?

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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Thu Mar 24, 2016 9:43 am

It's a definite wobble. Might be a little vibration at higher speed. just a little but it was a little windy yesterday and I didn't notice that coming back from the last trip. It doesn't happen if I have a tight grip on the both handles and I accelerate into it hard, and it appears to happen more on decelerating to slow down for speed limits and then lightly accelerating to hold speed. once it steady's out at those speeds it seems alright also as long as I am holding on to both grips.

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Happytrails
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby Happytrails » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:44 pm

Wobbles can be caused by a few things. Tires could be cupping, air pressure may be too low (wouldn't go by what the manual says, its too low. I think it says something like 36psi up front but 40-42 is more like it), have you checked the steering head bearings, could be wheel bearings or swing arm bearings. I've even heard that a badly cupped rear tire can cause front end wobbles. Or some brands of tires are slightly more prone to cupping and causing wobbles. As for the slow leak it could be caused by corrosion along the bead of the rim so the tire leaking air at the bead, or a tire valve that needs replaced (which is real dangerous and should be done as soon as you can) or maybe its the tire. Suggest trying the easy cheap things first. Check for cupping on both front and rear tires. Check the tire pressures. :D :D Then go for a spin.
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Dusty Boots
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby Dusty Boots » Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:26 am

A front end wobble at +/- 40 mph when decelerating is usually caused by a front tire that is cupped, or a badly cupped rear tire.
Run your hand over the front tire to see if you can feel any 'edges' on the tire tread, or if it is completely smooth. If you can feel any edges, then the tire is cupped and is causing your wobble!

Make sure you air up the front tire to at least 38-39 PSI.(I run my Dunlop E3 @ 41 PSI) Bike will handle better and the front tire won't cup as quickly.
A new tire will cure your problem if the current tire is cupped.
Make sure who ever installs the new tire that they clean all the dirt etc from the rim's inner beading surface and replaces the air valve and air's the tire up to 39 PSI

To check to see if head bearings need replacing, place a scissor jack and a piece of 1" x 2" under the engine and raise it up so the front tire is off the ground. Then turn the front end slowly side to side to see if there is any notchiness , or binding (especially near the centred position) and that everything is smooth.
If not, then you need to replace your steering head bearings

faithtalker1
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Fri Mar 25, 2016 9:30 am

Thank you guys I am suspecting the tire currently, I do usually on air to factory specs, the slow leak has been there from day one even with the older tires. I put quite a bit more air in it on my way back from OC last year and didn't notice much difference, but I had another friend of mine here that has a wing that says the tires are notorious for cupping. I do run Dunlop Elites. Gonna get it checked today or tomorrow and try and get this issue resolved, I have always felt so safe on a wing, it's out of the norm for me to be so apprehensive about riding the way I always have. Thanks again for all the great info. I will check her out and report back on the problem as to hopefully helps a fellow rider out in the future who may be experiencing the same thing. Don't think the back tire is the problem but could be wrong.

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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby cwgreen1938 » Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:44 pm

I had a 1500 that had the same exact problem but around 55-60mph. I took it to the local Honda dealer in Laredo where I lived at that time. The dealer first told me it was my tires. He replaced the front, then I rode it and it still had the same problem. Then he told me that it could be the rear tire because having bias type tires that the cord could be broken and you couldn't tell it by looking so he put on a rear tire. Same thing, still got the wabble at 55-60mph. He said, that eliminated the tire problem so he said I must have bad swing arm bushings so they replaced them. No change. He said that there was only two things left that would cause this and that would be worn fork bushings or bad steering head bearings. By that time I had spent lots of money and I'm
not happy about this whole deal so I told him to replace the bearings in the steering head and the bushings in the forks and if that did not fix the problem he was going to have to pay me back for all the parts and labor and take the new tires off and put my old ones back on. He said oh this will fix it. Well, he did the bearings and bushings and guess what, still had the same problem. My problem would only happen if I were only holding the handlebars with the throttle hand with a light touch an decellerating or accelerating through the 55-60 mph zone. Ok, now I'm pissed, I told him to get all that s--t off my bike! He said let me call Honda and see what they say. He called Honda and they talked a while then he said Honda wanted to talk to me. I got on the phone and Honda wanted to know exactly how I was handling the bike to make this wabble happen? I told him exactly how it always happened and when I mentioned the fact that I only had one hand on the bars he threw a fit and wanted to talk to the dealer again.
After they talked he hung up the phone and said "you ain't going to like this" then he said the factory rep said the motorcycle was not supposed to be ridden with just one hand so if it did not wable with both hads on the bars that there was nothing wrong with the bike.
This a long story but I thought it might make you feel better to know that someone else had the same problem as you and how to fix it. I spent over $800 on the bike then Honda tells me there is nothing wrong with the bike??????? I almost give up on Honda motercycles at that time but I thought about it for a while and decided that the factory guy had a point (don't ride with one hand if your bike wabbles). Just an $800 lesson.

faithtalker1
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:06 pm

I did see a video where these bikes and bikes like them could be made to wobble. But, I am pretty sure at this point that my is that the head bearing needs adjusting. Talking to a local guy who had a certified Honda shop for years that closed due to illness, now runs his own shop and he said 95- 99% of the time the problem I describe is just slightly loose head bearings. I do keep both hands on the handle bars 95% of the time, I say 95% because I think we all know there is a time on long rides where a hand has to leave one of the handle bars even if it's just to scratch an itch lol. But, for three straight years I rode this bike without an issue at all like this so I know that something has had to have changed. When I first noticed the problem I was on my way back from a long trip, by myself as my buddies bike had broke down and had to be towed home. So, I was pulling up to a gas station on a dark stretch of road somewhere in Va. and my hands were just lightly on the bars, as I had just came through about a 75 mile stretch at 3:00 am and it was pretty chilly, and my hand was somewhat falling asleep. So from there on out, I found that when both hands are tightly grasped no problem but maybe a vibration still., but if slightly loose grip there it is. I know that letting go of the bars is not safe especially on highway travel, gravel travel etc.. but there are people who stunt these bikes all the time. While a front end wobble can happen, I honestly don't think it is in anyway normal, oh and BTW it does sound like the guy from the company was an @$$ I think just about all of us as kids rode our bikes with no hands, dirt bikes, no hands etc... As well made as these machines are they are for the most part very safe and dependable. And when whatever is causing this is fixed, I won't hesitate to scratch my @$$ when it itches, right now I might just have to let it itch until I get off for a break in the ride lol. Thanks for the story, I actually hope you did get the wobble taken care of. This is the fourth wing I have owned and the only one to ever do this. After applying more air pressure to the front tire, as per another post, all it did was change the wobble from 45-50 to 35-45 so it did change the speed at which it becomes more noticeable. And again if I grip the bars firmly it is only a noticeable vibration.

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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby Happytrails » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:50 pm

cwgreen1938 wrote:Just an $800 lesson.
Sorry you went thru all that and still no fix. But for all the work they did I think $800 is a heck of a price although they never resolved the issue.
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
Sun Flare Gold Metallic
Vallant Brown Inset

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Happytrails
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby Happytrails » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:02 pm

faithtalker1 wrote:I did see a video where these bikes and bikes like them could be made to wobble. But, I am pretty sure at this point that my is that the head bearing needs adjusting. Talking to a local guy who had a certified Honda shop for years that closed due to illness, now runs his own shop and he said 95- 99% of the time the problem I describe is just slightly loose head bearings. I do keep both hands on the handle bars 95% of the time, I say 95% because I think we all know there is a time on long rides where a hand has to leave one of the handle bars even if it's just to scratch an itch lol. But, for three straight years I rode this bike without an issue at all like this so I know that something has had to have changed. When I first noticed the problem I was on my way back from a long trip, by myself as my buddies bike had broke down and had to be towed home. So, I was pulling up to a gas station on a dark stretch of road somewhere in Va. and my hands were just lightly on the bars, as I had just came through about a 75 mile stretch at 3:00 am and it was pretty chilly, and my hand was somewhat falling asleep. So from there on out, I found that when both hands are tightly grasped no problem but maybe a vibration still., but if slightly loose grip there it is. I know that letting go of the bars is not safe especially on highway travel, gravel travel etc.. but there are people who stunt these bikes all the time. While a front end wobble can happen, I honestly don't think it is in anyway normal, oh and BTW it does sound like the guy from the company was an @$$ I think just about all of us as kids rode our bikes with no hands, dirt bikes, no hands etc... As well made as these machines are they are for the most part very safe and dependable. And when whatever is causing this is fixed, I won't hesitate to scratch my @$$ when it itches, right now I might just have to let it itch until I get off for a break in the ride lol. Thanks for the story, I actually hope you did get the wobble taken care of. This is the fourth wing I have owned and the only one to ever do this. After applying more air pressure to the front tire, as per another post, all it did was change the wobble from 45-50 to 35-45 so it did change the speed at which it becomes more noticeable. And again if I grip the bars firmly it is only a noticeable vibration.


Its a possibility that it could be the steering head bearings but you can check that yourself. Its not very hard to do and doesn't require any disassembly. Just be careful. There is a guide to this on the DIY section.

Its interesting that the change in air pressure changed when the bike wobbles. Makes it seem like its a tire issue and not a mechanical issue. Just an observation. :D :D
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
Sun Flare Gold Metallic
Vallant Brown Inset

faithtalker1
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Re: Front End Wobble~!

Postby faithtalker1 » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:28 pm

I kind of thought that myself about the tire, but then again with more air in the tire, it would lessen the resistance or the drag on the steering bearings even more. Less of the tire hitting the actual pavement. With less air and the weight of the front end puts pressure on the tire and flattens it more to the ground,. if that makes sense, then with more air and the tire being harder a smaller portion of it actually contacts the road which lessens the resistance. Tires still have the little nipples on them and I can't see any noticeable cupping at all. Planning on checking it tomorrow or Thursday. I am about 95% convinced right now that the steering bearings are just a little loose. Talking to the service guy who is in his 60's and been around these things most his life, he said that it's a pretty common thing, and because of the lower miles he is pretty confident that they aren't worn to need replaced, but just a tad loose. He said the bearings are tapered so it makes sense that just a little loose could cause it to wobble pretty easily and then again with the fuller tire more pronounced and happens sooner.




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