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CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 9:44 PM
So, I've been riding the freeways here in LA for a little while. Now, way back when, I rode them all the time and didn't have any issues. These days, though, at almost any speed I start to experience a sort of "flicking" of the front wheel. Not really a speed wobble, but an almost uncontrollable side-to-side movement that comes and goes. Obviously, it disappears whenever I hit a (rare) patch of dead-smooth road, and I almost never experience it on surface streets.

Is it the road, or is it something with my bike? Anyone else ride the LA freeway system (10, 101, 110, 118, 134, 2, 405, 5) regularly and experience anything like this? The bike is a '91 FXR, so if anyone knows anything that might need to be checked, please let me know.

Regarding the bike, the tires are in good shape, the wheels appear to be in good shape, the front end isn't in need of anything as far as I can tell, and the shocks and swingarm are all OK, too. The neck bearings are a little questionable, and I have replacements that I will get installed in the next week or two.

ChoppyGee
09-03-2009, 9:48 PM
fork arms loose in the trees?

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 9:51 PM
Not at all, but I like your thinking. I just tightened up the neck stem a few weeks ago, and that helped tremendously. While I was doing that, I checked the upper and lower tree clamps. All tight.

NoNothing
09-03-2009, 9:55 PM
Ha, come out and ride in Hampton Roads Virginia. Bottoming out, being thrown from your seat, tooth jarring pile ups of asphalt that are there for no reason whatsoever, steel grating, tunnels in disrepair galore, crappy bridges, the list goes on and on. I though I'd died and gone to heaven when I came back to California on leave and remembered how good the roads are.

ChoppyGee
09-03-2009, 10:00 PM
Not at all, but I like your thinking. I just tightened up the neck stem a few weeks ago, and that helped tremendously. While I was doing that, I checked the upper and lower tree clamps. All tight.hmm...there's gotta be some play somewhere hahah I know you said your tire was good but have you tried roll'n on different air pressures?

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:03 PM
Yeesh, that sounds like the roads here. Most of them, anyway. I can't imagine how bad the roads are in VA for you to think the roads here are good.

I've thought about the rain grooves in most of the freeways, but they don't always give me the shakes or whatever.

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:06 PM
hmm...there's gotta be some play somewhere hahah I know you said your tire was good but have you tried roll'n on different air pressures?

Mr. Gee, sir, that's what I'll be tackling after the neck bearings. The thing is, though, the bike really handles well in the curves. Doesn't bounce around or anything. Totally sticks.

crownmotorz
09-03-2009, 10:09 PM
when was the last time you had the wheel off? i just changed my rear tire and put the wheel spacers in on the wrong side. only like 1/16 to an 1/8 different and i got nasty head shake on the freeway. rode fine on the surface streets but on the freeway was a different story

ChoppyGee
09-03-2009, 10:11 PM
well shit, maybe it is just the roads. have you tried going freeway speeds somewhere other thanthe freeway? if thats even possible in LA. cause you said your bike smoothes out when the roads do. Good luck dude! hopfully it is just shit roads.

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:12 PM
I've never had the wheels off. I bought the bike from a dealer in July, and it was completely serviced before I bought it. I realize that doesn't truly mean anything, but it's an interesting thought. I suppose that it wouldn't hurt to take off the wheels and have a look at the bearings and spacers.

Thanks!! Something else to add to the checklist.

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:16 PM
well shit, maybe it is just the roads. have you tried going freeway speeds somewhere other thanthe freeway? if thats even possible in LA. cause you said your bike smoothes out when the roads do. Good luck dude! hopfully it is just shit roads.

As a matter of fact, I haul ass all over the place. There are quite a few long straights near here (near LAX), so I get it up to 70-80 pretty regularly on those, and on my way to work at 5:45-6:00 every morning, I get it up to 50-60 through Hollywood. Typically, there are no issues on blacktop.

Oh God!! I hope it's not shit roads. Seriously, that weird shimmy is, um, disconcerting at 80+ MPH. (Add smiley face here.)

Jared
09-03-2009, 10:16 PM
Possible loose or destroyed handlebar bushings.

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:19 PM
Possible loose or destroyed handlebar bushings.

Hey, there's something I hadn't thought of. Thanks!!! I just put new handlebars on, and they helped a little bit with the issue, but the bushings have never been out of the top tree as far as I know.

CreepyJack13
09-03-2009, 10:46 PM
What does everyone think of polyurethane or aluminum bushings? Aluminum bushings would be damn near free, because I could whittle those out at work on Tuesday.

Jared
09-04-2009, 1:12 AM
I prefer polyurethane bushings. I rode a couple of my buddies bikes with aluminum bushings and the little extra vibration turned me away from them.

CreepyJack13
09-04-2009, 8:29 AM
Good to know, thanks!!!

Faust
09-04-2009, 8:48 AM
It's the Rain Grooves in the road...

CreepyJack13
09-04-2009, 9:24 AM
Faust, if that's the case, then my hat's off to anyone that can ride that fast for longer than 20 or 30 minutes. Like I said earlier, it's pretty unnerving.

justin
09-04-2009, 10:00 AM
I build roads for a living (asphalt ones) but you'll get the shimme on the concrete ones because those little groves are about 1/2" apart & they are applied by a machine with what is pretty much a metal garden rake so it moves back & forth a little. In a car you get a little whine but on a bike it'll move you around pretty good, especially L.A. the last time I was there about 6 months ago.

oildevil13
09-04-2009, 10:01 AM
Did you remove the front fender? How about wheel bearings? My trumpet got a little looser w/o the fender, and I never noticed the wheel/axle bearing going... just found it when it was gone. Well, gone enough to scare me. It was kinda doing the same thing.

Motorradfahrer
09-04-2009, 10:59 AM
When I visit my buddy in LA (710, 5, 101) I hit areas that are like that and my bike handles like you described. It's just the roads.

JaySco
09-04-2009, 11:14 AM
I never noticed it till I got my sporty. My old 9' long chop and my crotch rocket were straight trackers, but my Sporty shims back and forth. The first time it happened i was a bit unnerved too.

gilbygtr
09-04-2009, 11:44 AM
what tires you running ? avon mk2, shinkyo all wobble on the califa rain grooves...

B
09-04-2009, 2:12 PM
hey jack, the harley tires we run are not exactly the best... they almost feel like bias tires to me. make sure your axle is tight but not too tight. put solid bar mounts. then try again after you change the neck bearings. other than that, the only time i get that is with those little grooves in the cement that justin was talking about. see you tomorrow.

Revelator
09-04-2009, 5:36 PM
are your tires balanced? If you have the stick on weights, They sometimes fall off,
I lost the weight on my 21" front one time & handling went to shit. You might want to check yours.
Probably just the road though. My bike handles good on the regular asphalt roads, but absolutely
sucks on LA's freeways, especially 110, 710, & 405., (21 speedmaster & 16x5.0 firestone)

CreepyJack13
09-04-2009, 6:26 PM
I build roads for a living (asphalt ones) but you'll get the shimme on the concrete ones because those little groves are about 1/2" apart & they are applied by a machine with what is pretty much a metal garden rake so it moves back & forth a little. In a car you get a little whine but on a bike it'll move you around pretty good, especially L.A. the last time I was there about 6 months ago.

Yep, that's pretty much it. Totally stable on the rare patch of completely smooth asphalt.


Did you remove the front fender? How about wheel bearings? My trumpet got a little looser w/o the fender, and I never noticed the wheel/axle bearing going... just found it when it was gone. Well, gone enough to scare me. It was kinda doing the same thing.

Nope!! Still have the front fender, and as far as I know my wheel bearings are still good. As an aside, I know that someone used to make a bitchin' sealed bearing kit for FXRs, but it's been discontinued.


When I visit my buddy in LA (710, 5, 101) I hit areas that are like that and my bike handles like you described. It's just the roads.

Again, if that's the case, my hat's off to all the guys that pass me on the freeway. WAY bigger balls.


I never noticed it till I got my sporty. My old 9' long chop and my crotch rocket were straight trackers, but my Sporty shims back and forth. The first time it happened i was a bit unnerved too.

More trail might be the answer. At one time, I did consider raking this bike a little. Hmm...


what tires you running ? avon mk2, shinkyo all wobble on the califa rain grooves...

Dunlops, front and rear. I can certainly see how ribbed tires would play hell with those grooves, though.


hey jack, the harley tires we run are not exactly the best... they almost feel like bias tires to me. make sure your axle is tight but not too tight. put solid bar mounts. then try again after you change the neck bearings. other than that, the only time i get that is with those little grooves in the cement that justin was talking about. see you tomorrow.

Yep, it's all good front and rear. See you tomorrow, homie!!


are your tires balanced? If you have the stick on weights, They sometimes fall off,
I lost the weight on my 21" front one time & handling went to shit. You might want to check yours.
Probably just the road though. My bike handles good on the regular asphalt roads, but absolutely
sucks on LA's freeways, especially 110, 710, & 405., (21 speedmaster & 16x5.0 firestone)

I'm gonna guess that the problem is the roads. DAMN!! I'm gonna need more Xanax. Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions and theories.

RockinRyan
09-05-2009, 1:02 PM
I build roads for a living (asphalt ones) but you'll get the shimme on the concrete ones because those little groves are about 1/2" apart & they are applied by a machine with what is pretty much a metal garden rake so it moves back & forth a little. In a car you get a little whine but on a bike it'll move you around pretty good, especially L.A. the last time I was there about 6 months ago.

Bingo. If you ever get the chance to look closely at the concrete on an average Ca freeway (especially new sections) you'll notice that the road is in fact make up of grooves running parallel to the direction of travel. Basically water will flow in them leaving the upper part of the road relatively dry. A four wheeled vehicle will hardly notice or be affected but a two wheeled vehicle, especially if you have narrow tires, will tend to want to track in the grooves. These grooves are not perfectly straight, so it it makes your bike want to move around a bit.

CreepyJack13
09-05-2009, 10:16 PM
Yep, narrow (ish) 19" front. Has to be the grooves...

Hauled ass home from the valley tonight on Sepulveda. No issues at all. This morning, though, on the 405 North, I couldn't go any faster than 60 without getting the feeling that I was going to completely lose control. I need to get used to it...

RockinRyan
09-05-2009, 11:04 PM
Yep, narrow (ish) 19" front. Has to be the grooves...

Hauled ass home from the valley tonight on Sepulveda. No issues at all. This morning, though, on the 405 North, I couldn't go any faster than 60 without getting the feeling that I was going to completely lose control. I need to get used to it...

Getting used to it is really all you have to do. It's a little unnerving, but I've never heard of anyone actually losing control of their bike.

CreepyJack13
09-05-2009, 11:08 PM
Then that's what I'll do. It just blows my mind that the roads have changed that much in 17 years...

crownmotorz
09-05-2009, 11:17 PM
i have had that problem here in vegas with my avon speed master on the front. i just got a steering damper to put on and i will see if that changes anything.

RockinRyan
09-05-2009, 11:22 PM
I would imagine a steering dampener would solve the problem pretty well. You guys might even try tightening up you steering heads. Either way, the tighter you front end is, the less impact road grooves will have on your handling.

CreepyJack13
09-05-2009, 11:22 PM
That was something else that I considered, but figured that I'd get the neck bearings sorted first. Let us know if it helps.

CreepyJack13
09-06-2009, 9:55 AM
Well, here's some interesting news: apparently, my speedo is a bit off. I just got a speeding ticket for doing 54 in a 35. The speedo showed that I was doing 45. (As an aside, there's no excuse for going that fast in a 35 MPH zone, but the radar gun showed that I was.)

So now I have to wonder if all those people that I've been stuck behind, doing what I thought was 20 MPH, actually were going the speed limit of 35. And if that's the case, and if speedometer error is exponential, then I have to wonder just how fast I'm going when I'm on the freeway.

I guess the I'll pull the front wheel next weekend and see how the bearings and speedo gear are doing. The speedo needle doesn't jump around or anything, so it'll be interesting to see what's going on in there.

FWIW, the last ticket I got was in 2000 or 2001, and again, it was for speed. The cop wasn't a jerk or anything, and actually thanked me for pulling over as quickly as I did. I saw him lower his radar gun and kick his bike into gear, so I knew that I'd better pull over.

CreepyJack13
09-07-2009, 12:08 PM
Some friends and I went for a bit of a short ride yesterday, which resulted in about 160+ miles ridden. Zero problems, but then again, we took roads that we knew would be a hassle free.

We went to the Old Gold Garage Company in Ventura. We started on the 118 West, and then took Los Angeles Avenue (Hwy 118) which is all two lane blacktop. Same route to get home, and no problems at all traveling between 50 and 65+ there and back. After a quick trip down the 5 to the Big Foot Lodge, I rode home on the freeway with few issues as long as I kept my speed between 60 and 65 (according to my speedometer).

I'll still get my wheels/tires balanced, and I'll replace my neck bearings and riser bushings. Hopefully all that will help with the shimmy shakes that I feel. If all that fails, then I'll look into getting a steering damper.

CreepyJack13
09-12-2009, 4:10 AM
Update: last night my brother Jai and I went for a for a ride, and I had the same problems as always. My bike was all over the place on the freeways (118, 5, 170). I took surface streets home because I was still a little shook up from the ride.

Tonight, though, was completely different. Me, Jai, and Joe went to the Bigfoot West in West LA from Northridge. We took the 118 East to the 405 South, and had no problems whatsoever. I mean no shaking or shimmying at all. WEIRD, right? 70+ at least part of the way, mostly 65 the whole trip, and my bike rode straight as an arrow. Am I just used to it? No idea. All I know is that it was actually a pleasure versus the nerve wracking ride that it usually is on the freeway.

The only drag is that I just dropped $250 on swingarm bushings and polyurethane riser bushings. I'll still install them after I get the wheels/tires balanced...

Oh yeah, and I'm just over 2000 miles since July. Stoked!!!

CreepyJack13
09-14-2009, 5:40 PM
And, I'll reply to myself again. (Insert smiley here.) I was talking with the master machinist at work today, and described the problems that I've been having, and then told him that the problems seemed to just "go away" on their own. He said that he thought maybe I had just ridden the tires round.

His thinking is that because the bike sat for so long without being moved much, if at all, the tires might have developed a flat spot or two, and that could have been the problem all along. I suppose it's possible, and I do have just over 2200 miles on my bike since I started keeping track in the middle of July. Anyway, weird...