Head Shake?? Help

Im not to sure what causes headshake? what are some causes, I noticed my bike shakes a bit sometimes when accelerating on straits on rough hydro field roads, small rocks and a bit of lose dirt with small ruts. I can usually keep it under control but today I was on some hard packed soil running threw the gears and when I got to the bottom of 3rd all the sudden I was over the bars the bike tossed me off from what Im thinking is head shake. The wheel went hard left and I went off and broke my stock bars and my new hand gaurd cause the stock bars are weak! it was scary and an hard hit, thank god for AVS balistic suits and helmets!

do I really need a steering damper or is there somthing I did wrong.

please help! :)

It would help if we knew what you were riding - but this is the basic thing about head shake. The first place to look is steering neck bearings, then look at wheel bearings. I would also look at wheel alignment, then swing arm bearings. The key to head shake is something is out of spec. Finding it is can be a complicated trip so start at the most common areas. A steering damper is not a Band-Aid.

Dutch is right, check the head bearings and things like that.

A damper is a good thing. I have one on both my bikes. It makes a difference. If you hit a rock it could kick your front wheel quick. A damper would help keep that from happening again.

Now is a good time to get pro-tapers and a damper package from Scotts.

I have a late 02 BRP ... I had the same problem as you, and yes it did hurt, wheel locked to the left and threw me off. I have also been riding a XR600 for years with no problems. Headshake happened to me on a very familiar piece of track. I bent my front wheel and twisted my forks. I reset my forks, set my sag and then install a steering damper. The damper is a cool device & I would recommend one. I'm not sure if I’ve cured the problem but it’s a better ride now and feels steadier over bumpy terrain.

The other guys already nailed down the most common reasons, but here's a few more less common things to check. In addition to the steering head bearings, make sure your steering head nut is properly torqued. Another thing that can cause problems is if one fork blew a seal and leaked out some of the oil. If the front suspension is unbalanced, then you 'might' have a little bit of headshake at times. While you're at it, you may as well check your spokes and make sure your front wheel is aligned and somewhat balanced.

Your problem most likely lies with the steering head or wheel bearings as already mentioned or perhaps even with your steering head nut not being properly torqued. Glad you weren't hurt :)

Now's the time to upgrade to some ProTaper bars since yours are bent and maybe even a steering damper :D

A steering damper is a real nice thing to have when you hit something unplanned the wrong way, especially at speed, but the stock XR650R is pretty stable for the most part at speed.

A few months ago I was riding some nasty whoops that seemed to go on forever. I was so beat that I couldn't hang on much longer, so I made a choice to shift down from 3rd and was going to pull over and rest, but in doing so I was getting out of the rythm of the whoops. Then all of a sudden while coming down from 3rd to 2nd gear there was this nasty whoop spaced much differently and inside it was a large rock that I seen at the last second. I had no choice but to nail the throttle and hope for the best. My front wheel hit the top of the rock hard and I could feel the bars jerk hard, but only for an inch or so thanks to my stabilizer. A few other guys that hit this rock weren't so lucky. One guy on a quad blew his tire and wasted him rim and another guy on a bike damaged his front wheel and was ejected off his bike, but fortunately he was not hurt. Some of the other guys just danced over it nicely, but I'm darn glad I had my stabilizer cause I need all the help I can get and this was definitely a case where it saved me and my bike some pain.

"when I got to the bottom of 3rd all the sudden I was over the bars the bike tossed me off "

Bottom of 3rd, sounds like you were decelerating. From what I have read, most headshake is most often caused by letting off the gas. The front end gets heavier (more compressed) when you do this. I think steady throttle and sliding back on the seat in these conditions is the first step. If the front end gets twitchy, slide back a little more and accelerate enough to lighten the front end.

I'd buy the Scotts Stabilizer, Clamps and ProTapers (CR High Bend works great) as a package deal ... I'd bet my last $1 that you're crash wouldn't have happened with this setup. The stock bars are too low and too far back and that greatly diminishes your leverage and abilty to control the bike. I also think that these bars may be indestructible... I rode yesterday's Vikings National and put the bike down in some big rocks 4 times (very rocky course) and they didn't bend. The stabilizer saved my tail countless times... :)

after you check all the recommendations above, please tell me what is your "rider" sag set at? it needs to be any where between 95mm and 100mm. "free" sag should be around 25mm to 30mm. this is important because this dictates how is the bikes position with respect to a horizontal reference. also, have you moved the rebound setings on your front or rear suspension? if your rebound is to slow (hard) your suspension will "pack" under consecutive bumps and therefore this can cause headshakes at speed...


thanks you guys are the best!

well as it stands I have just got some CR High bend Renthals. My bike is new and the suspension it stock settings, and I weigh about 160lbs ready to ride.

I have been told to tighten my head bearings a bit.

It would cost me like $900, to get a Scotts Damper in Canada! so thats not an option for me right now. I would love one but thats alot of money. Thanks again guys

I will check my sag and stuff this weekend.


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