Death wobble almost killed me!


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NOVAwing
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Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by NOVAwing » Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:33 pm



So last week otw to work i was on a back road, straight, rolling hills, doing 30-40mph let go of both handles for a second and before i knew it they were viciously wobbling back and forth.

Felt like the bike was going to come apart.

Somehow i managed to grab the handles and with all my strength got them to stop shaking. Might have applied a little rear brake to i was panicked.

I wont be doing that ever again.

Is this nornal or a sign that something is wrong with the steering or something else?

My previous bike never did this it was rock solid.

Please advise.

Thanks,
NOVAwing


NOVAwing
1993 GL1500 Aspencade, restored from 4 years rotting outside.

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MikeB
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by MikeB » Sat Aug 04, 2018 2:34 pm

Your bike is a '93 right?

Our GL1500's all have a bit of a wobble between 30 and 40 mph, some more than others.

My guess is the steering head bearings need to be checked and adjusted according to the service manual.

Also, worn tires will exacerbate the issue so keep that in mind. Not just the front tire but the rear tire as well.
MikeB
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RockportDave
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by RockportDave » Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:45 pm

I’ve owned 5 goldwings, 2 would do it and three never did. I have tested this one and it has never done it. One of the others that would do it was a 1988 and if I just put 1 finger on the handle bars it wouldn’t do it. It was usually when off the throttle and slowing when it would occur.
I found if i rolled down on the throttle when it did it, it would stop. I guess taking weight off the front helped. I just never took both hands off the bars again. It will definitely put a scare in you.
MikeB is is on the mark, check the steering head and tires AND don’t let go of the handlebars.
Dave
1999 GL1500SE 5th Goldwing through the years

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AZgl1800
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by AZgl1800 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:22 pm

I had two 1500s, the 94SE would do it, but just one finger would stop it.

the 98SE never did the wobble at all.
~John

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Bluewaterhooker0
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by Bluewaterhooker0 » Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:27 pm

I have a '97 that I thought was exempt from the issue. A few years back, coming home from a hospital at night, mine did it ever so slightly. So slightly that I thought I imagined it. After that, I tested it, trying to make it happen, and sure enough, there was a wobble on deceleration around 30 - 40 mph. It had never done it before, and I was aware that my front tire was getting low on tread, however not at the wear bars. I had seen a video that suggested the tires, and weight distribution were causes for the wobble. So, I replaced the front tire, and sure enough, the issue was gone. The fact that tire wear was the only change in my riding is what lead me to suspect the tires. I also replaced the rear tire about a year later, and have had no re-occurrence of the problem.
BTW, according to the video, an excessive amount of rearward weight was the other cause. I.E. too much weight in the rear of the bike.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by themainviking » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:14 am

I saw some videos made on the track in Britain several years ago to do with controlling this death wobble. Tank slappers is what they were called in the videos. The way to get through it, believe it or not, is to put weight on the FRONT of the bike, as in lean forward and get some weight up there. They showed several renditions of what to do, all with triumph bikes, but the only thing that worked consistently was to lie on the tank. It stopped the wobble right away. Accelerating through it worked, but you still have to get down through the wobble speed again in order to get stopped.
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minimac
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by minimac » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:26 am

That's what you get, for riding with no hands! You won't do that again.... :lol:

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CrystalPistol
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by CrystalPistol » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:44 am

My 1200 bike will do it, so will my '97 SE Trike, but only if I let go both grips. Both have good stem bearings & are properly torqued.

Motorcycles aren't designed for hands off riding.

Just maintain control with hands on controls, it'll be OK.
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redial
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by redial » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:45 pm

You often see MotoGP riders after a race riding with no hands - and for me, no brains.
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NOVAwing
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by NOVAwing » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:44 pm

Thanks everyone for the good advice.

Tank slappers, headshakers, death wobble whatever you wanna call it lol. When the handle bars start shaking left and right all by themselves when you let go of both handles.

I will check the stem bearings when I can. Certainly important.

Best advice, just keep at least 1 hand on the bars at all times lol.

Thanks everyone,
NOVAwing
NOVAwing
1993 GL1500 Aspencade, restored from 4 years rotting outside.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by AZgl1800 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:36 pm

I just remembered that back in 1972 I had a Yamaha 750 Twin 4 cycle shaft drive.
I wanted to see how fast it would go and headed off down the highway towards the lake from where I lived at the time ( West Texas ranching country )..... a downhill slope of about 3 degrees....

when the speedo passed 115 mph, it started the tank slaps and I could NOT get it stopped....

I can't remember exactly what I did now at the time, but I rode it down to around 80 mph before I could grab the handlebars and stop it from slapping the fuel tank. I think that I grabbed the handlebars near the yoke and then started moving my hands outward until I could get it to stop the slapping.

Never pushed that bike over 80 mph again. it was a death trap.
~John

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by WingAdmin » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:00 pm

themainviking wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:14 am
I saw some videos made on the track in Britain several years ago to do with controlling this death wobble. Tank slappers is what they were called in the videos. The way to get through it, believe it or not, is to put weight on the FRONT of the bike, as in lean forward and get some weight up there. They showed several renditions of what to do, all with triumph bikes, but the only thing that worked consistently was to lie on the tank. It stopped the wobble right away. Accelerating through it worked, but you still have to get down through the wobble speed again in order to get stopped.
That might be the case with the suspension geometry of the Triumphs, but you try that with my 1500, and you'll find yourself lying in a ditch shortly thereafter!

If my bike is decelerating through about 35 mph, AND I don't have a hand on the handlebar, AND the front wheel is displaced (i.e. pothole, large bump, pushing the handlebar slightly), it will start into a wobble, and it has negative dynamic stability - i.e. the longer you let it go, the worse it gets. Tires, new steering bearings, wheel bearings, nothing made a difference.

If you get into a wobble on my bike and you put more weight on the front, i.e. braking, it AMPLIFIES the wobble and makes it WORSE. On the other hand, if you remove weight from the front, by accelerating, the wobble stops INSTANTLY.

This was also the case for a GL1800 that I tried that had the same problem, as well as my GL1100 (which had to be REALLY provoked to go into a wobble).

I've spent some time with my bike finding out just what will and won't cause a wobble, and the best way to stop it fast, in a controlled environment, so that if it were to happen unexpectedly, I know how to respond.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by BadMonk » Sat Sep 01, 2018 7:01 am

I had one mild tank slapper in my life. It'll 'wake up' the most seasoned rider. And I witnessed a bad tank slapper on a six lane highway between PA and NJ. I was in my van and watched in my rear view mirror as a sport biker was charging hard from behind. He weaved in and out of lanes moving fast, wearing a t-shirt and jeans with no helmet. By the time I got to my two-lane exit (same posted mph), he was exiting too and maybe two or three car lengths behind. I don't know what he did but the wobble started, got real violent and turned into a tank slapper. It took maybe two seconds until he went hard right and face planted (and I mean face planted) into the raised berm at the side of the road. My guess is he was going 40 or 45 mph at the time. It's one of those things that happens real fast in time but time slows down when watching it or have it happen. I was driving at 65 mph and was around the bend just as he planted himself, cars behind him had already been slowing down as he wobbled down the concrete slab. I doubt he'll do that again either.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by Solina Dave » Sat Sep 01, 2018 1:35 pm

I've got a '78 GL that I bought brand new. It's wobbled, when I've removed my hands from the grips, at slower speeds (mainly under 60 kmh/40 mph), ever since the day I bought it. The first time it happened was a bit of a shocker to put it mildly. But my first instint was to grab the grips again. That fixed it. Now I keep my hands on the grips almost always. Although at higher speeds, I will take my hands off the grips occasionally if necessary, for a very short and very vigilant period of time.
Other times also, I do get rather wobbly. But I don't beleive it has anything to do with my motorcycle. :lol: .........................Dave
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SlowTyper
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by SlowTyper » Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:33 pm

I've had two Gl1200's, and one was more prone to wobble than the other.

Tire wear certainly aggravates it, and I suspect fork alignment and uneven weight in the saddle bags and lots of weight in the trunk also make it much more likely to occur.

As has been noted, steering wobble happens during slight deceleration. That makes me think rake is a factor. Thus, I have put a bit more air in my front shocks -- and it seems to help considerably. I also prefer more air in my front shocks because I do not want them to bottom out during hard braking; when the front tire bottoms out, it is a zillion times more likely to loose traction at that moment of stress.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by rstoops1 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:27 pm

I have a 2001 GL1800A that has tapered roller bearings installed that never wobbles. It is very stable and, if you are so inclined, you could ride it all day and never touch the bars. It has never showed any indication of becoming unstable. I also have had two GL1000's that showed no inclination to wobble. In contrast I have a riding buddy that has a 2005 GL1800 that he is deathly afraid to let go of the bars because of the wobble. Go figure.

**** Stoops

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by yamadeal » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:22 am

Front end shake is a sign of a poorly serviced motorcycle . The three main things that cause front end shake are wrong steering stem bearing preload or bad bearings , fork springs sagged out and or fork oil not replaced as necessary , front tire condition and proper inflation . Who ever services your motorcycle and does not take care of these items properly should be replaced with a competent repairman . It could cost your life !

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by CrystalPistol » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:59 am

NOVAwing wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:33 pm
So last week otw to work i was on a back road, straight, rolling hills, doing 30-40mph let go of both handles for a second and before i knew it they were viciously wobbling back and forth.

Felt like the bike was going to come apart.

Somehow i managed to grab the handles and with all my strength got them to stop shaking. Might have applied a little rear brake to i was panicked.

I wont be doing that ever again.

Is this nornal or a sign that something is wrong with the steering or something else?

My previous bike never did this it was rock solid.

Please advise.

Thanks,
NOVAwing
And with them shorts, gonna hurt good.

With a heavy bike like a Gold Wing, they designed steering angles that are safe when dampened with hands on, but which still allow as light steering as they can for such a heavy bike. Hands on wobbles on slight deceleration is not new on a Wing.
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by WingAdmin » Thu Sep 06, 2018 3:26 pm

yamadeal wrote:
Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:22 am
Front end shake is a sign of a poorly serviced motorcycle . The three main things that cause front end shake are wrong steering stem bearing preload or bad bearings , fork springs sagged out and or fork oil not replaced as necessary , front tire condition and proper inflation . Who ever services your motorcycle and does not take care of these items properly should be replaced with a competent repairman . It could cost your life !
Not necessarily. Many Wings do this from new. But you're correct that there are a tremendous number of things that can cause and influence it.

When my GL1100 developed a serious weave/wobble problem after I put new tires on it, I finally tracked down the problem to the swingarm pivots: a previous owner had installed them backward (left one on the right, right one on the left). The old tire masked the problem because it had worn flat, but with the new tire, it did not have the lateral resistance of the old one, and the swingarm started to move more, causing the problem.

Installing and torquing the pivots properly fixed the problem for good.

That said, my GL1500 is set up pretty much perfectly, everything is fresh, unworn, properly torqued, tires are new and properly inflated, forks are freshly rebuilt, fork oil is fresh, rear suspension is new, steering, tire and swingarm bearings are new....and yet I still get a wobble starting when decelerating through 35 mph or so if my hands are not on the bars (I don't do this, but I did test for it). It's just the nature of the beast.

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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by tamathumper » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:16 pm

Why would anyone ever, ever take both hands off the bars?
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by RockportDave » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:29 pm

It’s not just Goldwings that do it. Had a friend with a brand new 80s model Yamaha 850 Special. He was wearing only a pair of shorts and flip flops. Took both hands off the bars (never knew why) and experienced the death wobble at 80 mph. He lived, but was in the hospital bandaged from head to toe and hitting the morphine button a lot for a week or two.
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by CrystalPistol » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:55 am

themainviking wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:14 am
I saw some videos made on the track in Britain several years ago to do with controlling this death wobble. Tank slappers is what they were called in the videos. The way to get through it, believe it or not, is to put weight on the FRONT of the bike, as in lean forward and get some weight up there. They showed several renditions of what to do, all with triumph bikes, but the only thing that worked consistently was to lie on the tank. It stopped the wobble right away. Accelerating through it worked, but you still have to get down through the wobble speed again in order to get stopped.
Missed this post earlier … reminds me of a day in 1977, tank slapper at 70, bent both fork stops, fork tops dented tank, I did a "get off" and my thought was "this is gonna hurt" … I never felt my a55 hit the roadway, but did spend 2 weeks in hospital on stomache.
I had come through a long left sweeper at 100, then sat upright after rolling off throttle grip … but holding both grips when slapper started. This was on a '74 750 Triumph T150V, the balance between unstable and stable was a narrow area that made the bike so nimble in curves, switch-backs, & etc. I loved that bike, bought another and drove 760 miles one way to pick it up in 1994 when wife OK'd it.

To lay on the tank when it happens would require practice.

I know now and have known, my mistake that day was suddenly sitting up into wind as I slowed. That action increased wind resistance drastically, suddenly above center of mass, shifting weight to rear abruptly, and by geometry of forks, reduced trail.

I have the scarred BellStar 120 helmet (state of art then) as a reminder. My face & good looks were saved.




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NOVAwing
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by NOVAwing » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:35 am

Thanks for all the advice everyone.

I have some things to look over maintenance wise it sounds like.

But also may never solve the issue.

Good to know either way.

I won't take both hands off ever again regardless, just have never experienced that on any other bikes.


It will be awhile before I get to these items, I don't have experience or the tools needed. And I am done working in the heat outside for awhile lol.

Thanks,
NOVAwing
NOVAwing
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by Happytrails » Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:01 pm

My 91 had considerable wobble when I first got it but its gone now. Some brand new bikes come with death wobble. Pretty scary :shock:
1991 GL1500 SE Anniversary Edition
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okie2ee
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Re: Death wobble almost killed me!

Post by okie2ee » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:57 am

I've experienced a minor death wobble after just getting the bike.......it does get your attention. Just curious, does the after market front end brace(bracket) from Blackwing help to reduce this problem?



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