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Old 11-15-2012, 12:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Front End Handling Problems

I am having handling issues with my 2008 FLTR which I purchased in January. The handling issues began after having some work done on the bike following a slow speed spill. I do not think it was the drop that caused my issues since I road the bike for two months after the spill until my 'custom paint' parts arrived. All work was done at the shop.

My current symptoms are that the handle bars turn whenever I have the slightest imperfection in driving conditions. For example, a longitudinal crack in the road surface causes the fork to actually turn back and forth sending the bike into a swerve all over the road.

This morning, with strong gusts of wind, the front fork (ie handle bars) actually turned the direction of the wind sending the bike swerving all over the road. Scared me so bad I went right back home and parked the bike. I have ridden in high winds and this is NOT what a bike should do.

The shop has tried tightening the head bearings (too tight according to the manual). I've tried loosening AND tightening with no change in handling. I've checked the engine mounts and wheel bearing free play, front and back. I'm at a complete loss.

It's as if the front end is doing it's own thing independent of the rest of the bike and I cannot control it. I have been riding for 23 years and ride about 10K miles a year. I have ridden Hondas, an old Evo Tour glide and a Buell, so I know how a properly handling bike should feel.

Any suggestions are welcome. I'll even re check things I've already checked. Thanks.
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Old 11-15-2012, 01:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brscott73 View Post
I am having handling issues with my 2008 FLTR which I purchased in January. The handling issues began after having some work done on the bike following a slow speed spill. I do not think it was the drop that caused my issues since I road the bike for two months after the spill until my 'custom paint' parts arrived. All work was done at the shop.

My current symptoms are that the handle bars turn whenever I have the slightest imperfection in driving conditions. For example, a longitudinal crack in the road surface causes the fork to actually turn back and forth sending the bike into a swerve all over the road.

This morning, with strong gusts of wind, the front fork (ie handle bars) actually turned the direction of the wind sending the bike swerving all over the road. Scared me so bad I went right back home and parked the bike. I have ridden in high winds and this is NOT what a bike should do.

The shop has tried tightening the head bearings (too tight according to the manual). I've tried loosening AND tightening with no change in handling. I've checked the engine mounts and wheel bearing free play, front and back. I'm at a complete loss.

It's as if the front end is doing it's own thing independent of the rest of the bike and I cannot control it. I have been riding for 23 years and ride about 10K miles a year. I have ridden Hondas, an old Evo Tour glide and a Buell, so I know how a properly handling bike should feel.

Any suggestions are welcome. I'll even re check things I've already checked. Thanks.
What front tire do you have? Air pressure? Tread left? Is it worn more on one side?



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Old 11-15-2012, 02:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Agree with webco2.

Check both front and rear tire pressure, uneven tread. Then progress to balance, wheel bearings, and look at every component that was touched by the shop right before this started.

You checked the fall away on the steering head, might want to revisit that...bearings could be bad preventing it from being able to be adjusted properly.

What you describe is generally tire or steering head related.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Make sure the front/rear wheel bearings are not loose.
A 2008 FLHX that had rear tire replaced felt just like what
you described, the rear bearings were bad! 20,000 miles
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Old 11-15-2012, 03:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I totally agree with all the above, and I have one more suggestion.
Block the bike, loosen the triple tree bolts. Put the front tire between your legs and turn the handle bars left to right a few times. Then straighten everything out and torque the triple trees.

I understand it's a big bike and you may need help with it.

Tire preasure, head bearing, and triple tree alignment are the usual causes of what you explained.
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gaff View Post
I totally agree with all the above, and I have one more suggestion.
Block the bike, loosen the triple tree bolts. Put the front tire between your legs and turn the handle bars left to right a few times. Then straighten everything out and torque the triple trees.
.....


Although I don't remember if that was the correct way to adjust them...

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Old 11-15-2012, 06:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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LOL....But it seems to work pretty darn good....
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Old 11-16-2012, 12:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re-check of Stearing Head

Seems pretty good consensus on what to look for.

I've checked tire pressure but I'll check again tomorrow. I'm running the OEM tire (can't recall the numbers off top my head). The tread is wearing evenly and there is plenty of tread, front and back.

I put the bike the stand and checked head bearing fall-away, which was only going one swing. That's too tight according to the manual. However, the techs at the dealership say the manual sets the head too loose.

Anyway, I tried loosening it, but not matter how loose I got the adjuster nut, whenever I torqued (80 ft/lb) down the steering nut and did the fall-away test, it would stop at the end of the first swing. Is this indicative of something with the bearings or the triple trees/forks?

I have next week off, so I'll also take wheels off and check wheel bearings.

-Br-
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Somebody else had a similar problem on the forum and chased phantom issues for months all when it turned out to be the tire(s). Anything from different levels of fork oil in the legs, to steering head issues, motor mounts, swingarm bushings to tires can cause it. I think the guy looked at and changed everything mentioned and it ended up being a front or rear tire.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I didn't see it mentioned, but do you have spoked wheels? If so, check the tightness.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Update

Took the bike back to dealer and they said they could find nothing wrong. Was riding home today from work, second time out with bike since before holidays. Bike started to lean to the left, as if I was getting hit with hug gusts of wind. Problem is, there was almost no wind.

Mag wheels. I have front wheel balanced, checked bearing play and tire pressure, all OK. Stearing head 'seems' fine. Rear wheel tire pressure is fine. Haven't detail checked the bearings or anything else on rear.

Maybe it's all in my head, but I'm sure I also hear a solid clunk whenever I go over major bumps or holes in the road.

Any ideas? Thanks.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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In situations you describe, symptoms occurring after work being performed, I would bet on something being not reassembled correctly at that time. Fairing, fenders, anything associated with those parts being re-installed. You need to retrace those steps.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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What was the custom parts installed, less info on your skill level, more info on the bike. I'm gonna assume u can ride until u prove otherwise, but what got hurt in the fall and what parts were installed is really important if u want real help I would say..?
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Old 11-29-2012, 11:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Check alignment. Your dealrr knoes the wheel bearings are junk and sit straight on da seat.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Details on Slow Speed Spill

In June, a concrete pumping drump dumped contents of fule tank on the road, creating 'ice' slick. Of course, I wasn't expecting and went down before I know what happened. Was only doing about 20 mph. (FWIW, the concrete truck ins. is paying for bike and should damage). Not sure if my current issue was related to the spill

Damage sustained was cosmetic: front fender, engine guard, saddle bag guard, primary cover, foot board. By custom parts, I mean HD 105 Anniversary painted parts (HD calls them 'custom'). All parts are actually OEM.

When I took the front tire in to be balanced, I took it to a different bike shop. They said the bearings were tight, no free play.

Is it possible a mount could have bent, come loose or broke? I've checked the ones the manual shows, but don't know what damage to look for after a fall.

Thanks.

-Br-
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