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"Wobble" Causes...

16724 Views 51 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  Vinish
So, I keep seeing a large number of posts about the "death wobble". Having working with several other bikes, the bearings are not always the reason for the issue. I just wanted to throw in my experience on the matter to give other troubleshooting to people in case the bearings don't fix the issue.

The death wobble is caused by one thing: the wheels not being perfectly aligned with each other both vertically and horizontally. You have two gyro's with the wheels. The larger is it is even slightly off from the smaller, it will always win. So, since the rear tire/wheel is larger, heavier than the front, and is much more ridgid (being mounted to the swing arm which in turn is mounted to the frame it has no horizontal movement) it will always win the fight to go where it wants to go, hence the front wobbiling.

So, if there is anything causing the two to be out of alignment it will cause the wobble. Here are a few things I have seen and known to cause this:

- rear bushings being out will cause the wheel to move at a slightly different angle.
- the rear shocks not having even amount of preload will could cause a slight torque of the rear end.
- forks being out of alignment: the top and bottom of the tripple tree being slightly off. I am not sure if the forks in our bikes are able to have this but any info would be good.
- (on chain bikes) alignment from adjusting the chain
- Wheels not being true
- Steering bearings allowing the forks to not hold the frontend straight.
- Bent frame
- Flat spotted or bulging tires can also cause something similar but it is more of a vibration than a wobble...

And any other items that could cause the wheels to be even slightly off from each other. Less than half of a degree of angle off could cause it.

A couple of notes:
- Tire pressure can cause the issue to become more apparent.
- It can cause a tank slapper... If you want to find out what that is search for videos on youtube.
- The "death wobble"... Not really unsafe unless it escalates to a death wobble.
- It can cause uneven wear on the tires (mainly the front) usually cupping of the tire. The tread will not feel even. (Thats the best way I can put it)

If anything here is incorrect or you have anything to add let me know. I am thinking about setting up a wiki to put info like this since the stickys can only hold so much.
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The big issue with the steering bearings is with the 1300 and Honda evidently realized it since the 1300 has ball bearing like a bicycle and the 1800 has roller bearings. I replaced mine at 8,000 miles and just like rs42sport they were shot. At the same time I do agree that the other things mentioned can cause the wobble but the bearings are a known issue not just a "maybe"
Have to ask, did you have a stealer replace the bearings?? If so and you didn't specify the roller bearings used in the 1800 I bet they only tightened or replaced with the same ball bearings. Also try 40 in the front and have you replaced the shock bushings; if not with 20,000 they are totally shot and will cause wobble.
Not sure to whom you are posing your question, but I'll answer. I did have the Stealer replace with the All Balls everyone uses. I have not replaced the rear shock bushings.
Yes, was asking you. Check your rear shock mounts and I bet you can see the rubber bushing is bulging in places, when you remove them probably you will find they are even split. Most replace them with nylon

Also a thread on bushings at

Ask me or anyone that has installed them for tips before installation; very easy once you get some guidance. Took me less than an hour and wow what a difference in the ride, especially cornering.

Look at your shocks from the rear and you should see numbers one-five and an arrow pointing to the number of those that you are currently on. May be a spanner tool in your tool kit as some years did have them, if so connect each end into one of the holes around the shock and turn to your desired number; lower the number softer the shock, be careful if you ride a passenger a lot as most find 1 or 2 numbers will cause bottoming out. If no spanner, jack bike up to take weight off shocks and you can probably turn with your hand, I personally use a rubber lock strap like used in the kitchen to open stuck jars. You may even be able to turn them with out jacking up.
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You need to do top and bottom and yes the shock comes off. The bushings are a little difficult to get into the shock as they are tight; best way I found is a vise with a 2x2or 2x4 on one side protecting the shock and one on the other against the bushing. As to putting them back on the bike once pressed in the shock, sometimes you can use the SHORTER (very important cause if you use the longer you may twist it off in the hole when it bottoms out) of the two shock bolts to pull the shock on then replace one with the longer, i think the longer is top but not certain so be sure to notice on disassembly; another way is to use a drill bit that will barely slide in the bushing and very lightly hone the bushing out. No, it will not hurt the bushing function if you just do a very small amount at a time until you can force them on using either the bolt way or a 2x4 and a rubber malet to tap the shock mounting area. The nylon is hard not like the rubber so a thousandth of an inch or two will not affect the function. Sounds like a little work but if you follow the above, have the tools ready, then I would say an hour maybe.
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Cruzer Dude, the earlier the better since you will need too; additionally more miles out of your tires if you switch to dynabeads instead of weights on the wheels (search dynabeads, many articles)

Tony, I would guess from what I have heard around $300-400 from a dealer. In your area I bet there are people that would love to do a small tech session and some that have done the replacement that could help you thru it. Last tech session in NC I think they did about 4 bikes. Put the word out for help and I bet someone steps up in the area.
Two things I fully believe in to extend tire life; dynabeads, 2 oz each motorcycle tire (if running car tire (darkside) on the rear then 3 oz there) and inflation to 38-40 pounds pressure. If you run tires at the Honda recommended you might get a little softer ride but 30% or less tire wear, that could be the difference in 13,500 miles vs 9,000. Also you can adjust the ride with the shock settings, I am 250# and sometimes ride with a passenger and I like the 4 setting, a little stiffer but dont' ever bottom out on big bumps. Hope all this helps and welcome to VTX land!!
Yes, the wobble is usually cause by steering bearing problems (replace with either the 1800 verison roller bearing or "all balls" roller bearinging, a lot of work but can be done by owner with a helper and info on this site), also dynabead for balance and make sure you are running 39-40 psi in the tires. Running the 32 or what reccomended will cause wobble but mostly early tire wear. Finally as Charlie D says above if you are getting one side wear on the tires recheck fork tree placement and axle alignment. All can be done by yourself if you take your time and follow examples/directions in threads on this site.
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