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350 miles, going over 90 mph... i think i need a steering damper

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I have a renewed respect for my DR-Z as do all of my friends. Yesterday, myself and 9 other guys took a ride through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I had to do WOT almost the entire time to keep up with the sport bikes. Top speed with stock gears was 99 mph. I was running D606 rear and a MT21 front. I was impressed.

Anyway, I had some pretty serious front wheel wobble going on at the higher speeds that took a lot of strength to subdue. Would a steering damper be a worth-while investment? How hard is it to install a steering damper on these bikes. I have a stock handlebar setup with the exception of the pro-taper SE bars.

Thanks for the input.

I LOVE THIS BIKE!

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You may want to ask yourself what else could be causing the wobble. Rider position, loose clothing, steering head bearing etc... can cause conditions similar to what you describe. My S is rock solid at any speed on knobbies.

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Typically the head shake is from holding on too tight do to the lack of wind protection. The faster you go the tighter your grip gets. Try to lean into it with your torso and loosen your grip on the bars. I'm not sure if a dampener will help with the top speed head shake, because I still don't have one.

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The front wheel wobble is usually caused or aggrevated by making steering corrections with the handlebars instead of with your body. Suggest you try it and see for yourself.

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Have you balanced the tires?? Out of balance front and/or rear tires will easily cause those symptoms.

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check your wheel alignment ,don't trust the marks on the swingarm .

measure from the swingarm pivot to the rear axle .

make sure rebound and comp adjusters on the forks are set correct

for example both legs have 12 and 12, not 10 clicks on one and 12 on the other .

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If you are going to run with sport bikes then maybe an investment in SM wheels/tires would be better. I read that some riders can change out gears and tires in 30-60 minutes (leaving the correct rear sprocket on wheels). I know that is a good deal of money to spend, but if you want to run at higher speeds with better control that maybe the way to go. :thumbsup:

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TIGHT GRIP = WOBBLE

I have found on my 06 SM at 65 and faster - when it starts to wobble - relax. The design of the steering is to straighten out if you let up on your grip. But if you pull or freeze up on the bars, it'll wobble - check it out on the next ride . . .

PS. it's one of the things i really like about this bike

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if you notice at 100mph the front fender does some weird bending motions :applause: .have the tires balanced and relax the grip on the bars and get a sm front fender,it sure helped stablize my sm at high speed. :ride::thumbsup:

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I did mess around with weight placement and wind interferences. I found putting my feet on the passenger pegs and leaning forward to lower my helmet to the handle bar made a big difference, but it was still there. My tires SHOULD be balanced. I paid them to do so when i had the new tires on. I will try to loosen the grip, but that's a lot to ask for at 100 mph. My suspension definitely isn't tuned at all right now, for anything. I guess that may have had something to do with that.

I'm a little confused about checking the front wheel alignment though. ??? Could somebody please point me towards some more information on checking that allignment.

Oh, and like most, I would LOVE to get a new set of rims with street tires on them. Just wasn't ready to fork up the cash. Looks like these steering dampers aren't exactly cheap though. and I did take about a 1/4 of rubber off the rear tire on that road trip. Might be worth the investment.

Thanks for all the input everybody

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I have a 05 SM and I think the problem is the "dumbo ear" rearviews. They are like sails. They have enough air resistance to cause the problem...try my theory out...take 1 or both off and see for yourself. Cheers.

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I had a similar experience on my SM at 70-80mph. The advice I read was to slide back a bit on the seat and relax grip on the bars. Seemed counterintuitive, but it worked! I think staying forward and white-knuckling the bars imperceptibly feeds wind forces into the front end -- and lightening up lets the front wheel do its gyroscopic duty.

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I just did 300 mi.myself today through the White Mountains and I don't have head shake,steering problems or the like.I always have a light relaxed hold on the bars and let the bike do the rest.What do you expect when you go on a trip like that with knobby tires trying to keep up with sport bikes?Should have gotten an SM for stuff like that.You probably at the very least would have given them a good run for the money if not left them in the weeds on our roads from my experiences.

If you're going to keep the bike for street work a few have noticed quite a difference by going to a supermoto style of front fender,removing or changing the mirrors and trimming the radiator shrouds.The wheel alignment can be checked with a piece of string wrapped around the front tire and the ends brought back along the sides of the rear tire.The gap on each side should be the same if the alignment is right on.

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that's good word zelig

. . . i can't 'splain it but it works. At hi speed - let go and just maintain a finger tip touch, hold on w/ your knees ( even then relax) Of course you have to be ready to brake, etc.

This all assumes that you have a balanced bike, wheels & rider . Mine did this brand new.

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I'm a little confused about checking the front wheel alignment though. ??? Could somebody please point me towards some more information on checking that allignment.

after you have made sure the rear wheel is correctly aligned , use the string line method to check the alignment of the front and rear wheels

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If you tighten the spokes on the front wheel in a "non-sequential" order then it will no longer be true and can cause wobble issues. This happened to me a long time ago and I have yet to get the wheel back to true. I don't have a truing stand and neither does any of the shops in my area.

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There is a usful book by Keith Code titled A Twist of the Wrist II. In it he explains the most common cause of front end wobble (head-shake). He says, "Depending on road surface conditions, speed, tires, and suspension your bike will head-shake, a little or a lot, with some combination of these influences. Any bike will do it. What most riders fail to realize is that this shake is a necessary part of the bike's suspension system". (p. 35) Furthermore, "Essentially, the faster you go the more the bike will tend to head-shake...it only gets as bad as you hold it tight! Remember to relax...Too tight on the bars is the most common source of motorcycle handling problems." (p. 37)

This bears repeating: Wobble is a necessary part of every bike's suspension, and it only gets as bad as you are holding the handlebars tight.

I have trouble reconciling this fact with the number of riders who are pointing you to possible mechanical issues. If someone tells me their bike never wobbles then there are only three possibilities: (1) they are blowing smoke, (2) they seldom ride over 65mph, or (3) they are expert riders who don't overgrip or steer with the handlebars.

I independently discovered (by trial and error) how to stop speed wobble, after trying the commonly suggested (red-herring?) solutions (none of which worked). No one reported actually trying my suggested solution (making steering corrections with the pegs instead of the handlebars) -- so I don't know if it works for everyone. But, so far, it has been working for me:

http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=402321&highlight=death+wobble

:thumbsup:

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My DRZe starts to wobble at around 70

but my old RS125 did not at all. would top out at about 100mph and I never noticed it complain about anything at all. Although it was blowing smoke, being a 2 stroke! :thumbsup:

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You hit 99 on the odo with 15/47 gearing thats the first ive heard that

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