Death wobble almost killed me!


Information and questions on GL1500 Goldwings (1988-2000)
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NOVAwing
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:54 pm
Location: Manassas, Va
Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade

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



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MikeB
Posts: 2116
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:54 pm
Location: Tacoma, WA
Motorcycle: 1998 - GL1500 Aspencade.
2003 - GL1800A

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
Tacoma, WA, USA

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RockportDave
Posts: 154
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:39 pm
Location: Rockport Texas
Motorcycle: 1999 GL1500 SE

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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Location: Lake Oologah Indian Territory USA
Motorcycle: '02 GL1800

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
Posts: 950
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:27 pm
Location: Tampa, Fl
Motorcycle: 1997 Goldwing GL 1500 SE

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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themainviking
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Motorcycle: 2009 GL1800 AD
1987 Harley Softail Custom
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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.
It ain't about the destination - it's all about the journey

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minimac
Posts: 590
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:25 am
Location: Oswego, NY
Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade
2006 Burgman Executive
2007 Yamaha Majesty
2006 Yamaha Morphous

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
Posts: 473
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:07 pm
Location: Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Motorcycle: 1985 GL1200A
1997 GL1500SE Lehman Trike

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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Location: Kapunda, SouthAustralia
Motorcycle: 1997 GL1500 Spectre Red Aspencade

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.
Len in Kapunda

The world is not going to finish today, as it is already tomorrow in Australia and New Zealand, and other islands of foreign nations such as Guam and Samoa.

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NOVAwing
Posts: 147
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:54 pm
Location: Manassas, Va
Motorcycle: 1993 GL1500 Aspencade

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

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AZgl1800
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Location: Lake Oologah Indian Territory USA
Motorcycle: '02 GL1800

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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