Handlebar shake? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 8:28 am Thread Starter
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Handlebar shake?

In July this year, I bought a 6,000 mile 2008 Lux. It's my third KLT and replaced my 70,000 mile 2005 model, which I'd had from new. Before her, I'd done best part of 100k on a 1999-er.

For all my mileage, I've ridden on Metzler Marathons. The latest bike came with them fitted. First proper ride on the new bike revealed handlebar vibration coming in at about 35mph and lasting to 50mph. If I loosened my grip slightly, there was quite a shimmy going on with the bars. I played around with tyre and suspension settings, but didn't manage to change the shake. I bought the bike over the web, from a BM dealership many miles away and had it delivered, so I'd not ridden the bike before that. It has a BMW used bike warranty for a year.

It's now registered with my local dealership, and I explained the issue to them. They checked the tyre code and said the bike had 2008/9 Metzlers still fitted. To the eye, these looked fine despite possibly having been on the bike from new. The dealership I bought from told me they had never fitted tyres and assumed the previous owner (who they no longer had contact details for) had done these through a tyre specialist - with the possibility that the wheels had not been balanced. Neither wheel had any lead balance weight attached.

So, I was recommended to fit two new tyres. My local BM dealership did this - ME880 front and ME888 rear. They assured me Metzler are happy with this partnership, and that 888 fronts are not yet available, while 880 rears are now just about impossible to source in the UK.

Fitting the new tyres has made no difference to the bar vibration and wobble. It still lasts 35mph to 50mph, despite once again fiddling with pressures and suspension. Habitually I run my Metzlers at around 41 front 46 rear for solo riding.

I was assured that the wheels had been balanced. Rear has a balance weight now, but front seemed not to need one.

I simply do not recall any time when either of my two previous KLTs had this vibration/shake issue. My local dealer is inclined to insult me by saying "they all do that to a certain extent", which I reject.

Any comments. Might the steering damper be faulty, perhaps?

Tom

Maidstone,
England

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post #2 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 9:13 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

You're right, the LT front is not supposed to shake.
It is my observation that the steering damper is along for the ride most of the time.....only there to stop a tank slapper, not for every day wobble.

I would start by putting a block of wood under the engine & lifting the front with a jack. Give every thing a good touchy - feely.

I think something may be loose in the front.

Rand & Susan Hawksworth
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post #3 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 9:22 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Hyperpro Steering Dampers

Steering dampener from Hyper pro, RSC model is adjustable.

I would have the front wheel rechecked for balance and possibility of other issues.
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post #4 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 9:58 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I went through the same thing. Dealer said normal occurrence. I have 4 friends that have LT's and they all do it. It is only at low speed that it happens and even the slightest pressure with hands prevents it.
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post #5 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 10:06 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

in general terms it is difficult to isolate the cause of a shake or wobble, do not ignore the rear suspension, swing arm. as a possible cause.
Hve the rims been checked for true?
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post #6 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 10:23 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I find that the handlebar wobble is most likely to occur while decelerating in that 35-50MPH area. I first had it happen right near my home. I live near steep hill that has a stop sign at the bottom. While decelerating down the hill, I happened to take one hand of the bars to adjust my helmet visor and had only light hand pressure on the other bar. A bit anxious for a moment. I suspect a steering damper service is in order for me.

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post #7 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 5:29 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhawk View Post
You're right, the LT front is not supposed to shake.
It is my observation that the steering damper is along for the ride most of the time.....only there to stop a tank slapper, not for every day wobble.

I would start by putting a block of wood under the engine & lifting the front with a jack. Give every thing a good touchy - feely.

I think something may be loose in the front.
Out of all the posts this post I believe is the best advise, sorry guys, he states accel not deceleration this is not normal its not the damper and anyone who says it is normal is a nut job.

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post #8 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 6:11 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

have also heard good things about dyna beads for balance problems might be worth trying in the tyres

Regards Linton
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and no koalas are not Bears



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post #9 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 6:12 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Discussed ad-nauseum over the years, its a shit problem... took me 2 new sets of dealer installed Metz 880's over a couple of years to get rid of it after it started with a brand new tyre set. Do a search for threads on "wobble" or 'head shake"... mostly cupping on the front tyre can seem to cause it or maybe a badly manufactured or installed tyre, sometimes the rear tyre can cause it.... nearly always comes back to the tyres.

I did put a Hyperpro RSC damper on mine to help as you can adjust the response (stiffness) of the front a little through that...

Also balance my own tyres now after supplier install using a Marc Parnes balancer, and run "Slime" or similar puncture repair fluid inside which also helps to balance.

Chris
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post #10 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 6:22 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I have had at least three self-purchased Metz on the front installed by a multi-brand dealer as well as a Beemer dealer. I have never experienced handlebar shake.
Have 65K on the bike now.

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post #11 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 7:16 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Here is my experience (FWIW) over 10 years and 13 rear tires and 7 fronts. The wobble always went away with new tires EXCEPT one time and that was traced to a new front tire that was out of round. It also went away once with the removal of a front tire for a SmarTire sensor install halfway through the life of the tire and I remounted the same tire and the re-balance cured the wobble. It will always return as the tires wear. Just don't let go of the bars decelerating through 40-35 and it will never happen.

John
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post #12 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 7:47 pm
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Wink Re: Handlebar shake?

Keep the tire pressure to max cold and if memory serves me correctly I have never had this problem with Bridgestone's only with Metzlers.

I think LOL

Later Steve
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post #13 of 34 Old Dec 10th, 2014, 7:47 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

MOST of the time the problem, for me, has been a worn front tire. Replace it and all should be well.

LD Carley

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post #14 of 34 Old Dec 11th, 2014, 6:06 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Do Not overlook the rear tire and wheel. Many times similar situations as yours have been caused by the rear tire and wheel. Look to having your tire/wheel combinations dynamically balanced and not statically balanced.

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post #15 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 5:20 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I wonder if this relates to the offset of the rear tire from the centerline of the bike. Most bikes you can adjust the centering of the swingarm by adjusting the bearings on either side. On our bikes the one side is fixed and the other is adjusted, thus the swingarm/tire is not adjustable.

Mine is offset slightly to the left and seems to have no affect on my 2000 but the OP is on a later model with the revised front geometry.

Something to think about and is easy to check with the string method.

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post #16 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 5:50 am Thread Starter
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Thanks you all, for these thoughts.

I first had the problem, as my post said, on 6 year old Metzlers (identified by tyre code) that looked good but may have done as much as 6,000 miles. My dealership checked out all the obvious causes for me, and had the bike up on the bench, so I'm assuming (but will re-check) that they looked for a loose fork issue, or something like that.

It was the dealership who pointed out the possibility that the wheels hadn't been balanced, and they who arranged the new tyres to be fitted. I cannot believe the tyres are the problem, unless I was unlucky to have a maverick one on the bike when I bought it, and a maverick fitted when they were changed.

Thanks for ruling out the damper, too.

To be clear, the wobble comes in under acceleration and back again as I slow down. Always between 35 and 50 mph. Sure, I can live with it by not loosening my grip on the bars, and it goes away at 50+. However, who is to say it won't get worse, especially at speed, and one does, of course, do a great deal of day to day riding between 35 and 50.

I will be back to the dealers soon to ask for a full investigation under the warranty, and will report back.

Tom

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post #17 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 8:41 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

My 2007 did the front wheel wobble when it was brand new of the show room floor. The later 2005+ models will all do it if the right factors converge when you let go of the bars. It should only occur when decelerating between 35 and 50 mph. When I asked the dealer, the Master BMW tech who also owned a 2006LT said his did the same thing. He said it is most likely due to the more vertical steering head geometry change and will vary in intensity depending on bike loading, pre-load adjustment setting and tire wear (all of which affects geometry/angle of fork contact with road surface) but he also said as long has you have one hand on the bars it will not do it. If it does it under acceleration that is a problem. After seven years on my bike it does not concern me at all. Who rides with there hands off the handle bars anyway?
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post #18 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 8:47 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Was there a warranty with the tires in the event you received a "maverick" tire from Metzler? If not, perhaps you can convince the dealer to install another front tire for a short test ride to rule out a "maverick" tire. It's a long shot, but it would either confirm a bad tire or something is awry with the suspension. A new set of Avons corrected the wobble on my LT.

Rob, 2000LT
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post #19 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 9:12 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I'll just throw in my $.02 worth here.

I've not had it on my bike, but there are really only three causes for wobble regardless of the vehicle and all three have been mentioned in one or more posts.

1) if the tire(s) or wheel(s) is not round, out of balance or weak sidewall, you can get acceleration and deceleration wobble.
2) if the steering parts (damper, shock, bearings, etc.) have a weakness you can get wobble, but generally only deceleration (although not always).
3) if the angle of the caster is not positive enough based on the weight, COG, etc., you'll get wobble on both acceleration and deceleration.

In my personally opinion, you should never have wobble on any vehicle if everything is right. My 2000 will accelerate/decelerate and cruise practically with no hands (it will cruise without hands, but you can't really test it during acceleration/deceleration). If I had a mechanic tell me that wobble is normal, I'd seriously consider not returning to them.

Larry
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post #20 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 9:40 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I guess I'll chime in too...
The wobble you describe was not present on my 2001 when I bought it used with 5K miles on it with the original Metzelers. It appeared on my bike after replacing both tires at around 10K miles. It persisted through another two sets of Metzelers, despite several attempts at balancing, re-mounting, etc. The 40 mph wobble disappeared after replacing the front with a Bridgestone BT-020, but a different slow-speed (1-2 mph) wobble appeared. That slow-speed wobble disappeared after replacing the rear Metzeler with a Bridgestone.

I do not believe that the damper is a factor in this at all.

I am not one to be content with "don't take your hands of the bars, and you'll be OK". It shouldn't happen, and it causes unnecessary wear on my bike and my attitude. I will be sure to post here if either wobble returns.

Good luck.
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post #21 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 10:13 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I fought the same fight a while back. Tried several ways of balancing, sent front wheel to be trued ($200). All the time I thought I had a defective front tire. Turns out I was right. You absolutely can get a bad tire that will have some wobble no matter what you do. I would try a new tire and if that is the problem you might get some relief from the manufacture. P.S. I use Ride-on tire sealer and balancer in all my bike tires and love it. No weights, rock steady, dead smooth at any speed.
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post #22 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 10:30 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Hello,
May I suggest to enjoy this interesting video
Dunlop Wobble & Weave.wmv - YouTube
It will not solve your problem but maybe bring some consolation since the video shows that any bike may be subject to wobble and weave.

Good bye

Bruno

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post #23 of 34 Old Dec 12th, 2014, 11:15 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Interesting video. What I see in the video is (as expected) tires are the main cause for the problem.

Perhaps the age of the video leans towards the "unanswered" question of why weaving occurs and laying down stops it. I'll give you my theory, FWIW. What is happening is similar to a poorly loaded trailer weave. When the rear of the vehicle is going faster than the front, you must have weave. The rear has to go somewhere, so it tries to "pass" the front. When the rider lays down, the wind drag is reduced and the "front" can now go fast enough. When weight is added in front of the rear tire (two up) the additional weight reduces the performance of the bike, changes the wind, etc. just enough to stop the weave. When more weight is added over the rear tire (loaded small trunk) or behind the rear tire you have more mass pushing the front which is not going fast enough. As long as the front can go as fast as the rear, you won't have weave. Today's bikes have a lot better maunfacturing tolerance to design specifications, meaning less free play in the bearings, axles, etc. and smoother rolling of the front. So you have much less weave on today's bikes and tires.

As they say in the video, the wobble is caused by the tires. Can be a bad tire, a mismatched set, improper inflation, out of balance, etc. but it's most often the tires.

(I don't have a PhD in physics, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.)

Larry

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post #24 of 34 Old Dec 13th, 2014, 8:12 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bruno_c View Post
Hello,
May I suggest to enjoy this interesting video
Dunlop Wobble & Weave.wmv - YouTube
It will not solve your problem but maybe bring some consolation since the video shows that any bike may be subject to wobble and weave.

Good bye

Bruno
All I can say is those test riders have very large balls. The video showed that it is not just a tire problem but is also affected by many elements which are constantly changing every time you ride. Weight (one up or two up or to many donuts), Wind resistance (head wind, crosswind or tailwind), Worn out springs and shock dampening (effect on geometry and stable tracking) and tire condition is another factor. So as the video implies it is inherent in all bikes and when the those certain conditions converge you will wobble. Note: when I watch the motorcycle road races you will see the racing bikes wobble when under hard acceleration usually out of the turns. Those bikes have the top engineers and wrenches designing and maintaining them and they still wobble so as stated it is just a phenomenon of motorcycling.
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post #25 of 34 Old Dec 13th, 2014, 2:29 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

It also shows how important the correct preload on the suspension is since all they changed was the weight of the rider (which would equate to a reduction in preload) to regain stability. Once you get over the fear of the acceleration wobble you can really have fun in the twisties.

John
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post #26 of 34 Old Dec 14th, 2014, 2:15 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

The only time I noticed any wobble on my Y2KLT was during deceleration around 40mph, both hands on the bars stopped it immediately. A short time later, I put a new front tire on, and that stopped it, although I am thinking after that experience, that subconciously I always use 2 hands on the bars while decelerating, so that could be a factor. I watched the video, and can say that I have never experienced the high speed wobble as displayed in that video. I also experienced the deceleration wobble on the 2002 GL1800 I used to have, but I don't recall any wobbling on my '79 XS1100.

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post #27 of 34 Old Dec 15th, 2014, 8:01 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

My local BMW dealer (a very good one) asked to borrow my K1200 LT because they had another customer with this wobble and could not find the cause - they swapped front wheels to see if that had an effect.

When they returned the bike they told me that mine also had the shake but I had never noticed it.

After miles of riding I then discovered that I can create the wobble by taking both hands of the bars and allowing to the bike to decelerate at about 40 mph.
(But not if the cruise control is on and maintaining speed).

The lightest grip of the handle bars cures it - which is why I had never noticed the "problem". I tend to ride with at least one hand on the bars, usually both.

It is a "quirk" that one can generate with "odd behaviour". I have also found that if I stop with both feet up the bike will eventually fall over.
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post #28 of 34 Old Jan 18th, 2015, 4:01 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Handlebar shake?

I've been very grateful to all of you who posted comments on this thread I began a while back. At last, I seem to be getting somewhere.

The bike went into my dealers last week - real life has delayed that for a month or two. The plan was that their best mechanic could have a really good look over the bike, do some measurements, and stuff like that.

First off, I got a call to tell me that they'd found a little more play than expected in the rear torque link. Nothing dramatic, but outside BMW tolerances. The mechanic wasn't sure this would have caused a front wobble, and said he was continuing to explore. I was happy to think that he was being pretty diligent.

A while later I got another call to say that the dealership had taken the front wheel off to do a dynamic balance check, and had also put the wheel on a jig to test the run-out (ie how round the wheel is). Result: the front wheel (on a bike that has done just 8,600 miles) is outside BMW's run-out tolerances. Not by a great amount, but possibly the sort of thing to cause the symptoms I'd been experiencing, it seems. There's no sign of damage that might have cause this. The probability is that it's been like it since new. The guy who owned it from new to 6,000 miles possibly fell for his local dealership (different to mine) saying "They all do that, Sir." about the wobble.

The bike is covered by an extended warranty, and I'm now playing a waiting game while BMW UK consider the dealership's case for replacing the wheel under that warranty. I should hear something more about this in a couple of days. Fingers crossed.

Tom

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post #29 of 34 Old Jan 18th, 2015, 9:28 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimbler View Post
I have also found that if I stop with both feet up the bike will eventually fall over.
You must practice balance Grasshopper.
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post #30 of 34 Old Jan 19th, 2015, 8:43 am
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Burgundybus View Post
I've been very grateful to all of you who posted comments on this thread I began a while back. At last, I seem to be getting somewhere.

The bike went into my dealers last week - real life has delayed that for a month or two. The plan was that their best mechanic could have a really good look over the bike, do some measurements, and stuff like that.

First off, I got a call to tell me that they'd found a little more play than expected in the rear torque link. Nothing dramatic, but outside BMW tolerances. The mechanic wasn't sure this would have caused a front wobble, and said he was continuing to explore. I was happy to think that he was being pretty diligent.

A while later I got another call to say that the dealership had taken the front wheel off to do a dynamic balance check, and had also put the wheel on a jig to test the run-out (ie how round the wheel is). Result: the front wheel (on a bike that has done just 8,600 miles) is outside BMW's run-out tolerances. Not by a great amount, but possibly the sort of thing to cause the symptoms I'd been experiencing, it seems. There's no sign of damage that might have cause this. The probability is that it's been like it since new. The guy who owned it from new to 6,000 miles possibly fell for his local dealership (different to mine) saying "They all do that, Sir." about the wobble.

The bike is covered by an extended warranty, and I'm now playing a waiting game while BMW UK consider the dealership's case for replacing the wheel under that warranty. I should hear something more about this in a couple of days. Fingers crossed.

Tom
Good Luck with wheel replacement from BMW. Keep us posted on that. New tire on front will probably fix problem. Just installed new tires on my 02 and it fixed the front end shake, but will probably return if I get any cupping on front tires.
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post #31 of 34 Old Jan 23rd, 2015, 12:57 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Handlebar shake?

An update. I'm told that BMW's maximum tolerance for wheel run-out is 1.5mm. I'm assuming that means this is the max they will accept a wheel being off-round. Mine was 2mm out.

BMW first pointed to the extended warranty small-print and said wheels were outside of its scope. My dealer appealed this decision and I've now heard that BMW will be replacing the wheel with a new one. I'm only going to have to pay the fitting cost. Only delay now will be waiting for the wheel to come from Germany to the UK.

In answer to the last poster, as I'd already mentioned, a new front tyre made no difference whatsoever to the problem I reported. We are, of course, hoping that the new wheel will resolve everything, but won't know until it arrives.

More when it happens....

Tom

Maidstone,
England

Deepest Black 2008 K1200LT Lux
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post #32 of 34 Old Feb 1st, 2015, 4:16 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Handlebar shake?

The story grinds on.

BMW have supplied the new front wheel. My dealers checked it out, put the tyre on it that they'd supplied me in November (only ridden 600 miles on it) and then they found they couldn't balance the wheel properly. Further exploration led them to conclude the tyre (Metzler ME800) was faulty. They are getting a replacement of course, so the betting is that soon (nearly 3 weeks after they took my bike in) I'll be on the road with a new wheel and tyre up front.

Unless they discover something else meanwhile....

Tom

Maidstone,
England

Deepest Black 2008 K1200LT Lux
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post #33 of 34 Old Feb 1st, 2015, 4:53 pm
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Re: Handlebar shake?

Thanks for keeping us up to date.
It will be interesting to see what your resolution is. (Perhaps it is the tyre after all)
There are Very few mechanical problems that cannot be solved.

Rand & Susan Hawksworth
2000 K1200LT
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post #34 of 34 Old Feb 6th, 2015, 2:10 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Handlebar shake?

And... a result!

I collected my steed from my dealer's today. I have a new front wheel, courtesy of BMW. They conceded that if they had a manufacturing run-out tolerance of 1.5mm, and mine (with no sign at all of external damage) was 2mm out, they had an obligation to replace it. I also have a new Metzler ME880 front tyre to replace the near-new ME800 fitted in November and latterly found to be faulty.

Together, these fixes have cured the handlebar shake. I gave everything a good test on the ride home and she's steady as a rock.

All I had to pay was 60 (about $100) for the fitting of the front wheel, which BMW wouldn't cover. I also had three weeks free use of an F700GS!

Thank you , Forum, for your interest. Happy to say, we seem to have a satisfactory outcome.
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Tom

Maidstone,
England

Deepest Black 2008 K1200LT Lux
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