Self Centering Steering Head not self centering

Discussion in 'Touring Models' started by Elmosac, Nov 15, 2010.

  1. Elmosac

    Elmosac Active Member

    174
    26
    0
    2007 FLHR

    The front wheel used to self center when I jacked the bike up on a lift, but now it always turns to the right about 30 degrees. When I ride with a tour pack or passenger and let go of the handle bars they start to go into a tank slapper.

    Any ideas? I checked the manual and only see a swing test for the steering head. I makes 3 swings from both stops but settles 30 degrees to the right.

    I have turned the bike 180 degrees on the lift and it still stops to the right so the issue isn't a slop in the garage floor.
     
  2. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

    18,544
    153
    399
    Adjusting Fall Away (front end) - Harley Davidson Community have you had a look at this
     
  3. btsom

    btsom Active Member

    341
    38
    6
    My 08 RKC pretty well did the same thing including coming to rest at about 30 degrees to the right. The fall away check was as desired according to the manual and I still got the wobble at around 35 mph. I checked balance of the front wheel and even after optimizing balance, I still had the wobble. I also had a front end clunk going over bumps and it remained even after I tightened the steering bearings. Someone here mentioned loosening the fork clamps to avoid stressing the fork brackets. After that, all the parts aligned themselves and the clunk was gone. To get rid of the wobble, my steering head bearings had to be tightened until they show too tight based on the manual but now there is no wobble and handling seems unchanged. I still have no idea why my steering "centers" 30 degrees to the right nor do I have any idea how to correct it. I have never disconnected the clutch cable from the lever so the spring in the cable won't influence where the steering self centers, but before you get too deep in other things you might want to recheck the centering with the cable not attached to the handle bars. I get a swing and a half-from full one way, it swings past center, then swings back to its resting position.
     
  4. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

    7,198
    0
    34
    Which means when you do not have a passenger or tour pack the bike is stable under all conditions?

    Realize that having neck bearing play should not ON IT'S OWN cause a bike frame to oscillate. Excessive play in the neck will help to INDUCE or start a feedback induced oscillation but the reason why the phenomenon exists is not due to a loose set of neck bearings.
     
  5. btsom

    btsom Active Member

    341
    38
    6
    Hoople is absolutely correct. We have little background info to know where to start, such as how many total miles, miles on front and rear tires, driven mostly on smooth roads or rough county/country roads, stored inside or outside.


    Almost anything that moves could contribute to your problem. Front or rear wheel bearings, cupped tires, wheel balance, health of fork bushings, swing arm bushings, engine links, and perhaps things I haven't thought of. How deep are your pockets,a nd do you want to cure the symptoms or dig for underlying cause?

    Mine had low mileage, sane driving, and inside storage going for it so I checked more for adjustments than for worn parts.

    There are a few things you can do for free or for not much shop time. A shade tree check for front wheel balance can be made by removing the calipers and spin the front wheel slowly by hand. Without the brake drag, it will spin quite freely and if the same part of the wheel always stops on the bottom, you have a balance problem. If it stops randomly, balance is OK, not as good as it would be if optimized on a real balancer, but you can at least see if you need to take the wheel to someone or buy your own balance gadget. Next if you tighten the steering head to the tight side of the tolerance, that wouldn't hurt.

    If your front tire is approaching needed replacement, perhaps now is the time to eliminate irregularly worn tire as contributing to the problem.

    By having someone hold the front brakes, or use a bungee cord or the like, you can push and pull on the front wheel to check for play in the fork bushings and perhaps find any looseness in the wheel bearings. Having someone hold the steering firmly against one stop, pushing the wheel from one side, then the other might also show wheel bearing or fork bushing problems.

    If you have a level which indicates inclines, you can check vertical alignment of the engine swing arm with the frame by centering the steering and measuring and comparing the angle of the front and rear brake disks. Two long straight edges laid against the tires from back to front will check chassis alignment. After this point, I'd have to take mine to the shop.

    Good luck, hope you can get satisfactory performance before you can no longer afford to buy gas for it. The details of most of what I have mentioned here are contained in the appropriate shop manual, it would be a good investment.
     
  6. Elmosac

    Elmosac Active Member

    174
    26
    0
    Hoopie,

    I can ride no handed for miles if I am solo without the tour pack on.

    But if I have a passenger on and let go for just a second it starts oscillating real bad. It seems that having the center of gravity moved back with a passenger or tour pack on makes the front end light enough for this to happen.

    I have the service manual and it isn't helping me on this one, that's I why I brought the issue to the forum.

    The bikes is an 07 FLHR with 43K on it. It has always been garage kept. The rear tire has about 3K on it and the front about 13K. Had this issue prior to putting both tires on. Most of my riding is on interstates and state highways, not very much rough rode riding.

    I want to correct the problem not just mask the symptoms.

    I'll try adjusting the steering head bearing and see if that makes any difference.

    Thanks for your input.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2010
  7. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

    7,198
    0
    34
    There are a bunch of things to check and improve upon that can help with your issue.

    Since the problem only seems to manifest itself with a passenger and tour pack, it may be an investment (time & money) that won't pan out,,,but my guess is,,it WILL help. It will take several hours of work & measuring on your part, along with about $500 in parts. This is not something a dealership or Indy will perform for you the way you want it done. I feel it is something that must be performed yourself.

    Most people stop here because they would rather buy chrome. :) Do you do your own work and have a bike jack.
     
  8. siitman

    siitman Member

    14
    0
    0
    My New Classic doesn't have this problem but A Goldwing I had did this. I checked and replaced everthing, tires, wheel bearings nothing helped. Finally I replaced the steering bearings and that solved it. Just make sure your torque to Specs.
     
  9. Elmosac

    Elmosac Active Member

    174
    26
    0
    Hoopie????

    $500 for what parts? I don't believe in just randomly replacing parts until the symptoms seem to go away or get slightly better. I am trying to determine the root of the problem and then fix that.

    By the way, I hate Chrome. It takes away too much riding time to try to keep it clean.
     
  10. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

    7,198
    0
    34
    If I was just changing parts in a random fashion, how could I come up with the figure of $500?:) No shot-gunning here. Maybe on a couple of parts, but not on $500 worth. It would require buying a True Track linkage system to stiffen up the front to rear wheel tracking. Stacking that along with performing a perfect alignment of the front & rear wheels in BOTH planes is a MUST. By alignment I do not mean just using a bent coat hanger to compare the left to right side. I mean a true front to rear offset and 2 plane alignment. It is a lot of work but it can be done at home.

    You have to fix the inherent problem that we all have with our frame design.
    Use some other "3 link system" along with a coat hanger and I don't think you will accomplish very much. But that is your decision.

    Until then, perform the triple tree adjust of the neck bearings. Maybe even replace them along with the cone races and actually set the pre-load correctly with all the cables set aside instead of using the "fall away" adjustment.

    As long as the bearings are Good and you have adjusted them properly (they must have some "minus end play" or preload), you should be fine in that department. See what the results bring you when you ride the bike.

    Would you have a parts manual for your bike and can you upload a few pages? There are some frame/engine related parts & exploded views I would like to see.