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Handlebars go out of alignment while riding

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For some reason, my handlebars go out of alignment as I am riding it feels like. I could have them dead on straight. After a couple laps, they kinda get turned. I took off my front wheel, removed and reinstalled the forks. Cleaned the triple clamps where the forks go. Took off my bars and bar mounts. Put it all back together. It was straight, but the damn things went wonky on me again! Just enough to bother me and not feel comfortable at speed. Bike is a 2008 KTM 200 XC

Edited by Lahms

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You think your forks are rotating slightly in the triple clamps? This happens on trials bikes, guys put blue thread lock on the fork tubes when installing them, this is can help. 

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This can be a problem with the oem triples, particularly for mx racing. SXS, XTrig etc aftermarket clamps tend not to do this. If you start from fresh, loosen the pinch bolt on the top clamp at the steering stem and loosen the top steering stem nut a little. Put your fork legs in - the clamps should be so aligned then that the legs will want to fall back out. Torque them up then tighten the stem nut a little bit at a time until you cannot feel play in the stem when you pull/push the TOP stanchions back and forwards. Just enough that the bars turn side to side freely. Threadlocker on the stem pinch bolt and torque it up.Wheel back on, nip up a couple of the bottom clamp bolts, torque up the axle nut, loosen the axle clamp bolts, brake on and bounce the suspension a few times for final alignment of forks. Torque up the bottom clamp bolts and that's you. This may also be part of your issue, remember with bolts in line, as in your bottom axle clamps and triples, you have to torque each bolt around 3 times, as the action of tightening the second one 'loosens' the first one you have done. The only bolts you must have threadlocker on (we use Loctite 243) are the steering stem pinch bolt and the 2 brake calliper mounting bolts. Hope this helps. Bob.

Edited by 7Tktm
  • Like 2

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Well, I did not know I should be putting thread locker on the bolts. I do take a torque wrench to all the bolts and go back over them to make sure they stay tight. 

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5 hours ago, Lahms said:

Well, I did not know I should be putting thread locker on the bolts. I do take a torque wrench to all the bolts and go back over them to make sure they stay tight. 

Only thread locker on the center pinch bolt on the upper triple, thread locker on the others would be no good.

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Question, would a half of 1mm difference between the 2 forks cause a steering tweek? I noticed that my right fork was about half a mm or more further down in the Triple clamp than the left fork. I fixed that and re did my wheel alignment. Torqued everything down evenly with a wrench.

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Forks should be same height in the triple tree. "Torque" means using a torque wrench to set to a prescribed manufacturer's value.

Slipping clamped parts can be treated with rosin (get it at music store) to give more grip. 

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I know this. I was just wondering if the slight lowering in the clamp would cause a tweak to my steering. I didnt know it was like that till I gave it another look

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1 hour ago, Lahms said:

I was just wondering if the slight lowering in the clamp would cause a tweak to my steering.

No, it's not that critical.

So this is all by feel? You haven't taken any measurements before and after to see if they've actually tweaked.

Edited by Trailryder42

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The general rule of thumb - set the top of your legs flush for sand racing and go down as far as 3 rings for hard pack.

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Ok, after a long while I took a 2nd look at my forks/wheel/handle bar setup. The stem pinch bolt was loose, so I took the front end apart. Did some measuring and lining up the top and bottom trees of the clamps. The forks go in a little better now and want to fall out more easily. I have a Scotts damper and the black mount piece was kinda messed up so it would make my bars crooked when compared to the top tree. After I made the forks the same height I slid in the front axle with no tire..... and it crooked. With the tire on its even more obvious its not straight. I made a diagram to show what I am seeing. Are my triple clamps messed up and bent? Or could it be the axle thats out of shape? I also measured the distance in between the bottom and top trees on both sides. One side was just a few thousands of an inch off the other. Can't remember the numbers right now but it wasnt crazy.

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Nevermind I fixed it, I adjusted the bottom tree again and it resolved it. I guess the first time I adjusted it got bumped back to its bad alignment. I thought for a moment I had bent forks but no. 

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