2004 400, Freeway White Knuckles

First post, hello TT!

I bought a full-of-character 2004 DRZ 400 in the SF Bay Area recently. Whenever I cross the Bay Bridge I stuff some coal up my rear and spit out a diamond on the other side; it's pretty much white knuckles going 40+ mph. This from a 6' 170 lb guy.

Around 40 ish I get rocked around by the wind pretty easily. I can feel the effects of the road grading more. The bike isn't weaving; I just feeling everything. I noticed some very slight front end oscillating if I'm going 50+. Also it seems more pronounced the longer I'm on the bridge.

I saw some posts stating any tight grips on the handle bar makes the ride less smooth. So I ease up whenever I notice this. But that doesn't seem to be the reason for the initial rockiness.

While the bridge gets some strong cross winds and the grading isn't perfect, should I expect white knuckles whenever I get about 40 ish? I still have the stock knobbies on the front and back. Air is slightly above rating when cold. I haven't looked into anything else like suspension. Would I get a smoother ride with a street tire in the front?

Cheers!

Only happens on the bridge, correct?

I wouldn't expect anything less when crossing the bay or Golden Gate Bridge.

you may need some wheel balancing...

Get your wheels ballanced. I had the same problem with my dirt wheels,not any with sm wheels. After having knobbies ballanced I can cruse at 70 with no problems. I'm 6' and 230lbs and the bay area bridges still push me around but I think that it's because of the upright riding position of the bike.

First post, hello TT!

I bought a full-of-character 2004 DRZ 400 in the SF Bay Area recently. Whenever I cross the Bay Bridge I stuff some coal up my rear and spit out a diamond on the other side; it's pretty much white knuckles going 40+ mph. This from a 6' 170 lb guy.

Around 40 ish I get rocked around by the wind pretty easily. I can feel the effects of the road grading more. The bike isn't weaving; I just feeling everything. I noticed some very slight front end oscillating if I'm going 50+. Also it seems more pronounced the longer I'm on the bridge.

I saw some posts stating any tight grips on the handle bar makes the ride less smooth. So I ease up whenever I notice this. But that doesn't seem to be the reason for the initial rockiness.

While the bridge gets some strong cross winds and the grading isn't perfect, should I expect white knuckles whenever I get about 40 ish? I still have the stock knobbies on the front and back. Air is slightly above rating when cold. I haven't looked into anything else like suspension. Would I get a smoother ride with a street tire in the front?

Cheers!

for everyone not familiar with that bridge, are you riding over steel mesh or rough asphault, the kind left after stripping the top layer off ?

either one of those makes the bike squirm around. its really fun with mountain roads and some gravel on top.

relax, let the bike flow around, and give greater following distance. it will be fine.

for everyone not familiar with that bridge, are you riding over steel mesh or rough asphault, the kind left after stripping the top layer off ?

either one of those makes the bike squirm around. its really fun with mountain roads and some gravel on top.

relax, let the bike flow around, and give greater following distance. it will be fine.

The bridge surface sounds as dodgey as the roads around South East Queensland...LOL

The bridge surface sounds as dodgey as the roads around South East Queensland...LOL

Yeah about as good as the roads in the southern highlands, south of Sydney.

Which part of S/E QLD, I did some work at Enoggera a couple years ago. Stayed at Twowong, I mean Toowong…?

Yeah about as good as the roads in the southern highlands, south of Sydney.

Which part of S/E QLD, I did some work at Enoggera a couple years ago. Stayed at Twowong, I mean Toowong…?

Narangba, near Caboolture....About 45 kms north of Toowong.....I often ride thru Twowong as a part of my cycling route...

Edited by Craigo 485sm

Narangba, near Caboolture....About 45 kms north of Toowong.....I often ride thru Twowong as a part of my cycling route...

Wow, nice part of the world up there…As I recall its pretty hilly, windy and plenty of roundabouts in and around Toowong.

I was staying at Toowong inn and at the shopping centre was a Chinese takeaway called "Twowong", I thought it was piss funny. Also watched Lockyer get the golden point against the dragons great game. Enjoyed my stay.

Thanks all. I'll get them balanced as soon as possible and see if that's it. The bridge surface is a mix of steel in some spots and textured / combed concrete.

I usually exit the bridge on either side pretty quickly. If it feels the same on the interstate does that further support the idea the wheels are unbalanced?

Thanks all. I'll get them balanced as soon as possible and see if that's it. The bridge surface is a mix of steel in some spots and textured / combed concrete.

I usually exit the bridge on either side pretty quickly. If it feels the same on the interstate does that further support the idea the wheels are unbalanced?

at speed, say above 40 mph:

squirm = bad road surface, or low tire pressure, bad wheel bearings

bounce/hop/skip/vibration = out of balance, bad tire, out of round wheel

squirm is almost always a road surface problem, or very low air pressure.

it would prolly be a good idea to check things instead of testing by riding at this point. balancing wheels is very simple. slide the axle through the wheel and center on two jack stands. slowly rotate wheel until it finds the heavy spot for you. mark it and repeat 3-4 times. if there is too much resistance in the bearings, they either need warming up (ride) or are shot.

i live in the north bay, and i have yet to build up the nuts to cross the GG or bay bridge on the Z, on windy days i get tossed around on regular roads. the high winds on those bridges is intense. only advice i can give is try squeezing the tank with your leg thighs and putting your elbows out like you are in a motocross race. it helps. maybe a Steering damper would help if you got loot. also have noticed the supermoto wheels and Supermoto fender does much better in the wind. be safe!

I cross the bridge daily going to work and my ride isn't anywhere near as scary as you describe. On the way back in the afternoon, I am cursing around 65-75mph. We had those really windy days the last couple weeks and even that wasn't bad. Stay loose on the bars and you're fine, i didn't even have issues splitting with the wind.

With that, it seems like something is wrong with your bike. Mine isn't in the tip top shape and I rip across that bridge, I actually enjoy it.

Also, if you want to go for a ride, message me!

Thanks all. I'll get them balanced as soon as possible and see if that's it. The bridge surface is a mix of steel in some spots and textured / combed concrete.

I usually exit the bridge on either side pretty quickly. If it feels the same on the interstate does that further support the idea the wheels are unbalanced?

Depending on where you will be mostly riding you may wish to re think the type of tyres you wish to run...

If you are mostly on road an all terrain type tyre would be more appropriate...

For on road run the knobbies at a higher pressure than what you would use for off road....say 24psi F and 28 psi rear, depending on type of knobby ...

I live in the greater further East Bay (Danville) and have ridden over that bridge quite a few times on all of my bikes. I've never had any issues. Now, you want to feel some wind, ride it over the Golden Gate! In addition to the guesses above, perhaps your front tire is badly cupped. Or, I wonder if your steering head bearings are OK? With the bike on it's wheels, stradle the bike, apply the front brake and rock the bike fore and aft. Any knocking, bumping, etc . . . ? Also, put it on a lift stand with the front wheel off the ground and turn the bars feeling for grinding or looseness.

Last, I keep knobs on my DRZ and usually ride it not much higher than the low 80s. At speeds above 65 or 70, I sometimes get oscillation in the front end, depending on road surface, wind, front tire wear pattern, and how much weight I have on the back of the bike. When this happens, I just gently press forward with both hands while steering the bike down the road and the oscillation goes away. YMMV.

Let me know if you want to meet up some time to take a look at the above possibilities or whatever.

J.

Altering the geometry could maybe help here. If e.g. your rear suspension is adjusted high, the front is going to be angled steeper, less rake/trail, and steering therefore less stable.

If you sit back further on the bike, the steering will become a little slower and more stable due to the geometry change.

Then something to do is maybe to set your sag - my guess is you'll be lowering the rear a little if it's flighty now - and then you can adjust the position of the forks in the yoke a little bit to "speed up"/"slow down" the steering, as you choose.

+1 on the steering dampener, Without it on my bike does the same on windy days still get blown around the lane but it deff helps with fatigue.

Other solution, if the problem is in the front end, just wheelie, always.

Altering the geometry could maybe help here. If e.g. your rear suspension is adjusted high, the front is going to be angled steeper, less rake/trail, and steering therefore less stable.

If you sit back further on the bike, the steering will become a little slower and more stable due to the geometry change.

Then something to do is maybe to set your sag - my guess is you'll be lowering the rear a little if it's flighty now - and then you can adjust the position of the forks in the yoke a little bit to "speed up"/"slow down" the steering, as you choose.

I find that the light front wheel from sitting too far back makes things worse. You are right about the geometry but I always sit up against the tank when the bike wants to get wobbly.

Steve

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