What are the Symptoms of Incorrectly Adjusted Steering Head?

Discussion in 'Wheels' started by RibEye, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. RibEye

    RibEye Junior Member Contributor

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    Gents,

    The self-help area is gone. Sad, but, it is what it is. Lets see what we can do rebuild something good, by sharing what we know, and helping each other as we always have.

    I would like to know what you know about how to recognize a mal-adjusted steering head (fall-away).

    What can you notice if set too tight? What damage can occur if too tight? How dangerous is the bike to ride if too tight?

    What can you notice if set too loose? What damage can occur if too loose? How dangerous is the bike to ride if too loose?



    My immediate need relates to a subtle handling issue on my '03 RKC. I has a barely perceptible feeling that feels kind of like I'm riding through an oil patch, kind of swimmy, similar to a low rear tire. I also had a high speed wobble event some time back, but not in a curve. I was going in a straight line, but has a pretty good cross-wind.

    I can re-create the oil patch, swimmy feeling by a gentle and very slight left/right wiggle of the handlebars. In my opinion it is too easy to do this wiggle. I have a Woody's fairing on my RK so there could be some amplification due to the additional weight on the front end, but it seems to be getting worse, and it definitely did not exhibit this when I first started using the fairing, 2 years ago.

    I suspect that a loose front motor mount or vehicle alignment connections, or low rear tire pressure could make a similar feeling. Tire pressure is fine. I'll check the front motor mount and alignment connections in a few days, when I change my engine oil.

    Enjoy,
    Rich P
     
  2. HDDon

    HDDon Experienced Member Contributor Retired Moderators

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    Some of these conditions can also be caused by worn swingarm bushings. As for a too tight or too loose condition in the head bearing both can cause wobble (front end). Have you done a fall away test with the fairing installed? The vagueness in the front end can also be caused by worn out fluid in the forks.
     
  3. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

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    As said there are several items that can cause your symptons and you just have to check each one to eliminate it as the culprit.

    Tire pressure, Tire condition, Wheel condition (do a simple runout of the rim by holding a pencil stationary on the lower fork), Riser bolts loose, Steering stem bearings loose (check fall away, or with some bikes the snap back), Steering stem bearings bad (have dented or galled areas in them, Rear alignment out, motor mounts loose, swing arm out of torque.
     
  4. HDDon

    HDDon Experienced Member Contributor Retired Moderators

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    RWB good point on the swing arm torque. Seems like RedFish Joe had a "wandering" feeling with the new RG and found the swingarm loose.
     
  5. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

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    http://www.glide-pro.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/2009-Steering-Head-Adjustment1.pdf Try this link, it may work for your bike
     
  6. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

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    As far as the neck bearing go=> Taper roller bearings normally are setup with a small amount of endplay. No much but some. Usually in the neighborhood of .0015" to .005". A good example would be boat trailer bearings or front wheel bearings on an old cage that is rear wheel drive.

    Well we have those same taper bearings in the steering neck but HD wants to run a preload or minus clearance on them. Totally opposite of industry standard. Not zero endplay but actually minus endplay.
    So how are you going to do this in the field? Telling someone you want the endplay to be minus .002" is going to open a can of worms. So instead you apply a "controlled bind" within the bearings and indirectly measure it with a fall-away value to overcome the bind.

    I don't know what a controlled bind of a 4" fall away converts to in minus endplay,, but I think you get the idea. When I adjust mine, I don't measure fallaway. I adjust the bearings for zero endplay and then add enough crush that is worth maybe .002" or .003". (pitch of thread vs number of gland nut flats turned= traveled distance)

    The way I see the adjustment,, don't adjust for an absolute number of fallaway inches. It's really adjusting the bearings for a pre-loaded bind that feels right to you.
    My guess if too tight, it's just not the best thing for the bearing life. If too loose, maybe some noise and reduced stability.

    I myself would rather have them a bit tight than a bit loose.
     
  7. HDDon

    HDDon Experienced Member Contributor Retired Moderators

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  8. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

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  9. RibEye

    RibEye Junior Member Contributor

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    Nice input gents. I have not been able to view what appears to be a video (blocked at work). But I did notice that in the service bulletin posted by Jack, that the statement made is:

    Note:
    A steering head that is too tight can interfere with the vehicle's ability to absorb a weave. A steering head that is too loose can interfere with the vehicle's ability to absorb a wobble.

    Hoop makes this statement:

    The feeling I have is not a slap or clunk. It feels kind of like what you would get if you were trying to stand on a yoga ball, only not that intense. Like what you feel when riding a tourer on a dirt road, or if you have low tire pressure in the rear. The scooter does not seem to try to resist me when I wiggle the handlebars left/right. In other words, I intuit that I should get a bit of resistance (pre-loaded bind), like the bike would rather go straight, if it had it's druthers, kind of like toe-in or camber in a car. The steering head does not appear to offer any resistance, very free. I'm guessing that is what I'm feeling, since I can duplicate the feeling as described.

    I thought the problem was in the back, but since I stimulated it with a front affecting operation, too easily, I think I'm on the right track. I'll definitely check everything suggested above. While I'm at it, I'm thinking one notch tighter on the adjuster nut won't kill me, and, since the effect feels pretty marginal one notch tighter should certainly tell me something.

    I'll check back when I have something more of value.

    Thanks,
    Rich P
     
  10. whacko

    whacko Junior Member

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    I'm definately not as experienced as the guys who have responded so far but can offer that on my dyna I had a loose neck bearing and the symptom was a very noticable "POP" when I was breaking into a stop sign or stop light. Could even feel it in my hands when I heard the "pop". I took it to the dealership and they adjusted the fall away and I have not had the problem since........do you ever feel a pop or clunk when breaking?