Loss of Steering Control

Not sure if this is the right forum to ask this question, but I am looking for a technical explanation of what may have happened. Last Sunday I was driving dual-up with my wife on some Adirondack back-woods paved roads. We probably shouldn't have been out riding because I was tired from the day before. Moot point now. In any case, we drove about 15 miles out and was on the return trip about 5 miles from home. We were coming down a long hill, not really too steep, but it did have somewhat of good left turn. But plenty of time to make the turn if everything was done right. Coming down the hill, I steered to the left but the front wheel moved back to the straight-line position on it's own. Then the front wheel went into a wobble which lasted a few seconds. It then returned to the straight-line position and it seemed like I couldn't move it back to the left. Maybe my imagination, maybe not at that point. But the first two definitely did happen, i.e., front wheel moved back on it's own from the left position to the straight-line position with the wobble occurring shortly after. After that it seemed like I was unable to move the front wheel back to the left. I did get a little panicky because I felt like something had taken control of the bike from me. I then just resigned myself to let the bike go on it's own until we spilled in the dirt. I've got a detailed description on the Dual-Sport Forum of what happened when we spilled. I don't want to call what happened paranormal so I am looking for a logical explanation. Some considerations which may have caused this to happen. Could this happen if me and/or my passenger failed to lean into the turn? Could it happen if my passenger shifted weight to the wrong position? Or perhaps a combination of wrong moves by one or both of us when attempting to make the turn? The bike is a new DR650 with less than a hundred miles on it so it shouldn't have been any failure in the bike. I drove the bike before and after this with no problem. So I believe the answer lies somewhere in the dynamics of the bike going wrong after me and/or my passenger did something wrong. If anyone has a technical explanation for what may have happened it would be appreciated.

only thing that springs to mind is a possible fault with the steering head bearing, with the bikes front jacked off the ground and your wife holding the bikes frame, slowly turn the handlbars left to right, backwards & forwards,with yourselve in a squat in front of the bike, hold one forkleg plus the wheel, push the wheel up while doing it, if theres a damaged roller in the steering bearing you may be able to feel it, or take it to the bike shop you bought it from to check

only thing that springs to mind is a possible fault with the steering head bearing, with the bikes front jacked off the ground and your wife holding the bikes frame, slowly turn the handlbars left to right, backwards & forwards,with yourselve in a squat in front of the bike, hold one forkleg plus the wheel, push the wheel up while doing it, if theres a damaged roller in the steering bearing you may be able to feel it, or take it to the bike shop you bought it from to check

Thanks for the information. I'll give it a check. But if there is damage to the bearing would the effect show up intermittently or most of the time? We took several winding roads before the hill descent and didn't notice any steering problem before the spill or on the drive home after the accident. I drove the bike around the yard yesterday in tight loops and didn't notice any problem in the steering. In any case, I won't go dual-up with the wife again until I find a plausible explanation for what happened.

Not sure if this is the right forum to ask this question, but I am looking for a technical explanation of what may have happened. Last Sunday I was driving dual-up with my wife on some Adirondack back-woods paved roads. We probably shouldn't have been out riding because I was tired from the day before. Moot point now. In any case, we drove about 15 miles out and was on the return trip about 5 miles from home. We were coming down a long hill, not really too steep, but it did have somewhat of good left turn. But plenty of time to make the turn if everything was done right. Coming down the hill, I steered to the left but the front wheel moved back to the straight-line position on it's own. Then the front wheel went into a wobble which lasted a few seconds. It then returned to the straight-line position and it seemed like I couldn't move it back to the left. Maybe my imagination, maybe not at that point. But the first two definitely did happen, i.e., front wheel moved back on it's own from the left position to the straight-line position with the wobble occurring shortly after. After that it seemed like I was unable to move the front wheel back to the left. I did get a little panicky because I felt like something had taken control of the bike from me. I then just resigned myself to let the bike go on it's own until we spilled in the dirt. I've got a detailed description on the Dual-Sport Forum of what happened when we spilled. I don't want to call what happened paranormal so I am looking for a logical explanation. Some considerations which may have caused this to happen. Could this happen if me and/or my passenger failed to lean into the turn? Could it happen if my passenger shifted weight to the wrong position? Or perhaps a combination of wrong moves by one or both of us when attempting to make the turn? The bike is a new DR650 with less than a hundred miles on it so it shouldn't have been any failure in the bike. I drove the bike before and after this with no problem. So I believe the answer lies somewhere in the dynamics of the bike going wrong after me and/or my passenger did something wrong. If anyone has a technical explanation for what may have happened it would be appreciated.

mc turn by lean angle. TEST, ride your bike on straight road/paved, go 15 mph push handle bar left, what happens, push handle bar right what happens, figure it out from there. Be carefull at first.

Sounds like how guys ride street bikes right off the road on easily doable corners, often with the feeling that the bike just locked straight.

The more you try and turn the bars into a corner, the more the bike wants to lean the opposite way. So trying hard to turn the bars left to go left will make the bike want to stand up. This normaly is pretty transparent, unseen. But when someone gets in trouble amd gives that extra effort suddenly the bike seems to fight them. Panic begins to set in, they try harder, which causes the problem to become even worse.

At any sort of speed countersteering is how to corner a bike. It will litterally fall into the corner for you with just light pressure on the bars opposite of the way you wish to corner.

Probably not what you want to hear. But not that uncommon of an occurance.

Sounds like how guys ride street bikes right off the road on easily doable corners, often with the feeling that the bike just locked straight.

The more you try and turn the bars into a corner, the more the bike wants to lean the opposite way. So trying hard to turn the bars left to go left will make the bike want to stand up. This normaly is pretty transparent, unseen. But when someone gets in trouble amd gives that extra effort suddenly the bike seems to fight them. Panic begins to set in, they try harder, which causes the problem to become even worse.

At any sort of speed countersteering is how to corner a bike. It will litterally fall into the corner for you with just light pressure on the bars opposite of the way you wish to corner.

Probably not what you want to hear. But not that uncommon of an occurance.

Thanks for the input. I was thinking along the lines that the problem was really caused by not leaning into the corner when turning the handlebars to the left because I've had no problem before this. Could failure to lean cause this problem? And what would account for the front wheel wobble? I was extremely tired at the time because of late night hours the night before. Not hung over, just tired. I really didn't feel like riding that day but felt compelled to get some more dual-up experience with the wife. I suppose anything is possible from lack of sleep, age 64 and not being on a bike in 39 years. I never really wanted to go back to the street but the wife wanted dual-up and the compromise between dual-up and dirt had to be a dual sport. I really wanted to go with a 125cc dirt play bike in the first place and in retrospect probably should have done that. We acquired a used ATV about three weeks before the bike so the wife could have rode that and me the dirt bike. Didn't get the ATV because I wanted it for recreation. Only got it because it came with a good price, was in good shape, and came with a winch and plow. Would never have got the ATV if it didn't come with the winch and plow. But after 39 years of not riding I suppose you have to take a reasonable stab at what you think might work and see what happens. So not really a bad decision to go with the DR650. Was a good learning experience. I've confirmed now that I never want to ride the street either solo or dual-up with either a street or dual sport bike. Will ride the DR650 solo on benign dirt from here on out until the hunting season starts (October 10), put the bike up for the winter, and make a decision in the spring where to go from there. Wouldn't want to go dual-up with the wife until then anyway because she's still healing up from the spill. Actually both of us healing up but she got the worst of it.

Probably, best I can imagine to make sense of it, You and your wife both on your bike created a weight distribution condition in which the front end was significantly lighter than the rear.  At some point, you either simply lost front end traction altogether for a second, or you make actually have bounced the front off the ground slightly.  If this loss of contact/adhesion in the front was brief enough, the fact the the front was no longer turning the bike may have been seen as a loss of steering. Then, the reaction the chassis had when contact was regained would have normally been for the front wheel to jerk toward the centered position as the tire touched or bit in again due to the effect of trail, same as it would have if you had lofted the front and cocked the wheel off center while it was off the ground.  Since the bike would have been going very nearly straight forward, even though leaning some, the wheel would naturally "snap straight" as it touched down or hooked up.

 

Otherwise, it makes no sense to me.

Probably, best I can imagine to make sense of it, You and your wife both on your bike created a weight distribution condition in which the front end was significantly lighter than the rear. At some point, you either simply lost front end traction altogether for a second, or you make actually have bounced the front off the ground slightly. If this loss of contact/adhesion in the front was brief enough, the fact the the front was no longer turning the bike may have been seen as a loss of steering. Then, the reaction the chassis had when contact was regained would have normally been for the front wheel to jerk toward the centered position as the tire touched or bit in again due to the effect of trail, same as it would have if you had lofted the front and cocked the wheel off center while it was off the ground. Since the bike would have been going very nearly straight forward, even though leaning some, the wheel would naturally "snap straight" as it touched down or hooked up.

Otherwise, it makes no sense to me.

This. Coupled with you going down a hill and turning at the same time, problem, if you aren't ready for it.

This. Coupled with you going down a hill and turning at the same time, problem, if you aren't ready for it.

Add to that being half asleep at the time. But it did seem that after the wobble I couldn't turn the wheel back to the left and had the feeling that some entity other than myself had taken control of the bike. This coupled with the facts that I actually did think of contact with a telephone pole before we left the house, we spilled within feet of the telephone pole, and the bike tracks before the spill were on a dead center line to the telephone pole. There is a fair amount of paranormal activity in this area. I've only had two of what I would truly classify as paranormal experiences and a few other maybe's in my lifetime and everyone of them occurred after I moved here permanently two years ago. My wife grew up in this hamlet and said she has had them along with a few others around here. You can't truly believe in paranormal until you've actually experienced it yourself. But we're talking about hearing voices and doors and cabinets opening with no one there, not something trying to take control of a vehicle you're driving. I'll never know what truly happened that day but I did learn never to go out tired again. Also made the decision not to go dual-up with the wife except for very short trips around the immediate area. In any case, bad scene what happened regardless of the cause.

For piece of mind I would have a compitent bike mechanic pull it apart and see if there's anything wrong with it just so I didn't have that feeling in the back of my mind as I'm about to enter a corner that something could go wrong again.

If it checks out then at least you can chock it up to user error or some strange paranormal activity,

We had a farm house 10 years ago where strange things would happen at all times of the day or night we weren't long selling that place even our German Shepard would get up in the night and growl at empty rooms with his hair standing straight up like there was someone there

Spooky crap whatever it was,

For piece of mind I would have a compitent bike mechanic pull it apart and see if there's anything wrong with it just so I didn't have that feeling in the back of my mind as I'm about to enter a corner that something could go wrong again.

If it checks out then at least you can chock it up to user error or some strange paranormal activity,

We had a farm house 10 years ago where strange things would happen at all times of the day or night we weren't long selling that place even our German Shepard would get up in the night and growl at empty rooms with his hair standing straight up like there was someone there

Spooky crap whatever it was,

Actually, I'm not really worried about a problem in the bike because I won't take the wife dual-up anymore and will only drive solo on flat pavement for less than a mile to get to dirt. So this takes care of peace of mind. But I really think the bottom line is that I'm just too damn cheap to pay a mechanic to look at the bike. But the spill is probably a blessing in disguise. I never really wanted to go dual-up with the wife or go street in the first place. I only wanted to go dirt solo only so I couldn't ride on the street whether I wanted to or not. So now I have a convenient excuse not to do so. The wife agrees not to go dual-up with me the rest of this riding season to get a chance to heal up but she definitely wants to go riding again. I'll be riding solo on dirt for about a month until hunting season begins. That will give me time to plan what to do in the spring. My ideal, at least at this time, is to get the wife a motorcycle license and a dual-up of her own for the sole purpose of riding from home directly to the dirt. I'm 64 and she's 60 so it's not like we're going to be tearing up the track, just slow and fun riding on easy dirt Easy only if we get away from the Trail Wings. Nothing wrong with the Trail Wings. They're doing exactly what they're designed to do, i.e., 80% street and 20% dirt. As far as paranormal, you can't predict where and when you'll see it. Prior to moving to NY for retirement in my wife's home hamlet, we lived in an old farm house in VT (renovated of course over the years) that dated back to at least 1806 because we found remnants of newspapers in the walls during renovation that dated back to 1806. Living there for 5 years we never had a single paranormal experience. We built a new house to code on undeveloped land in my wife's hamlet and to the best of our knowledge there never was a structure here, with the exception of an old hog pen on the wooded part of the lot. Yet I've had one paranormal experience in the house and she's had two since we've built the house. One I had in the house was when I was alone. Was coming out of the den into the bedroom and heard what sounded like glass breaking followed by a garbled voice about two feet away. Went all over the house but couldn't find anyone there. The second one I had was in the Catholic cemetery in the hamlet. Can't see it from the road. Have to drive up a hill to get to it and it's surrounded by woods. Was about 3:00 in the afternoon and a light rain was falling. Wife wanted me to put a photoelectric light on one of her uncle's graves. As soon as I entered the cemetery I heard the voices of two elderly woman talking. Couldn't make out what they were saying but I knew it was two elderly women having some kind of casual conversation. Thought it might be the radio but it wasn't on. Thought it might be the automatic transmission but I've driven the vehicle many times. Turned the vehicle off and the voices stopped. I've probably been in cemeteries in my life over 200 times and never had this happen. My wife and I visit the family cemetery at least once a week to pay respect to friends and relatives, plant flowers, water flowers, and decorate the graves for birthdays and every holiday under the sun, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, just to name a few. Also cemeteries all over northern NY trying to locate her ancestor's graves. Nothing ever happened except for this one time. Wife has had two paranormal experiences in this house and a few more when she was growing up here. But neither one of us are bothered by it. In fact, we feel very privileged to have experienced these events. If you ever think something is trying to get you to leave your home, the best thing to do is to let them know in no uncertain terms that you're not leaving. I told whoever was there that I didn't mind if they wanted to stay but as long as I was paying the taxes I owned the house and wasn't going to leave. As far as what caused the spill, will never really know and maybe don't really want to know. The important thing is that my wife will be safe now. No more dual-up and no more street except to get to dirt. Time to move on.

Glad to here you's are playing it safe, hope you's both have a speedy recovery and many many years of safe trail riding ahead of you's

Sounds like how guys ride street bikes right off the road on easily doable corners, often with the feeling that the bike just locked straight.

The more you try and turn the bars into a corner, the more the bike wants to lean the opposite way. So trying hard to turn the bars left to go left will make the bike want to stand up. This normaly is pretty transparent, unseen. But when someone gets in trouble amd gives that extra effort suddenly the bike seems to fight them. Panic begins to set in, they try harder, which causes the problem to become even worse.

At any sort of speed countersteering is how to corner a bike. It will litterally fall into the corner for you with just light pressure on the bars opposite of the way you wish to corner.

Probably not what you want to hear. But not that uncommon of an occurance.

^ this.

 

In a corner that bends to the left, you need to turn the bars to the right if you start to run wide.  If your bars had locked straight, it would feel like a low-side that you couldn't correct, as if someone was pushing you down by your right shoulder.  

 

When you first switch to riding on the road (I had the same thing 4 years ago when I got my KLR)  the speeds are so much higher and the turns so much wider that all of the things that feel like instinct are backwards from motocross or trail riding.  Hope you guys heal up quick and don't give up on dual-sporting, it's an incredible way to see areas close by you that you never knew existed.

^ this.

 

In a corner that bends to the left, you need to turn the bars to the right if you start to run wide.  If your bars had locked straight, it would feel like a low-side that you couldn't correct, as if someone was pushing you down by your right shoulder.  

 

When you first switch to riding on the road (I had the same thing 4 years ago when I got my KLR)  the speeds are so much higher and the turns so much wider that all of the things that feel like instinct are backwards from motocross or trail riding.  Hope you guys heal up quick and don't give up on dual-sporting, it's an incredible way to see areas close by you that you never knew existed.

The more I think about it, the more I lean toward operator error. Wasn't on a bike in 39 years, extremely tired that day and wasn't mentally into it. Never should have been out. I had misgivings before I went. Am not really comfortable in the first place with my wife on this bike as a passenger. More comfortable with her as a passenger on the 175cc Honda street bike 39 years ago. All of the areas I've been to on this bike and ever will be I've been to many times either by vehicle or on foot when hunting. Nothing new to see or explore. What is different is seeing these same areas from the vantage of a bike. That's what's new and that's what's it's all about. Will never give up bike riding in the Adirondacks,either by myself or with my wife. It's just a question of what form it will take.

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