Front end play - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 30 Old May 3rd, 2017, 12:18 pm Thread Starter
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Question Front end play

Did a bit of touring last weekend (1100 miles) on winding roads and had a couple hairy situations when braking hard coming into a turn on curvy roads.

It feels like there's quite a bit of play somewhere in the front end and was wishing someone with experience could chime in and let me know where to start. I'm personally leaning towards the head stock bearing being loose but since this is my first Beemer, I could be way off. It kinda clunks when I apply brakes.

I pulled, pushed and yanked on the front fork when I had the front wheel off but I couldn't anything being loose. Checked the brake calibers too, all nice and toight as a toiger (Austin Powers ref.)

Any ideas on what to check next?

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
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post #2 of 30 Old May 3rd, 2017, 8:25 pm
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Re: Front end play

Does your bike seem to wander at 25 to 35 mph, needing constant correction? If so front ball joints are suspect (there are no steering head bearings so to speak)
Have you checked your rear wheel and swing arm for play while on the center stand, grab the wheel at 3 and 9 and give things a wiggle. The back can be wheel bearing (crown bearing), rear swing arm pivot bearing or rear swing arm pivot up front.
Shocks in good order. Tire pressure good, tires good, all that stuff.
Most likely culprit if all seems okay is the pair of ball joints up front. Wunderlich sells them for $100 each if it goes that way. Not that easy to install unless you are proficient with tools and have the Manual.

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post #3 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 6:06 am
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Re: Front end play

The K1300 has 2 ball joints but the LT has only one. Usually the front end "weirdness" is related to a badly worn rear tire and not front end looseness on the LT. It is very rare there is any looseness in the front end.

Also pivot bearings on the rear drive can cause this as well (the 3 and 9 o'clock test mentioned).

John
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post #4 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 9:16 am
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Re: Front end play

Good information, thanks. I was wondering since the OP said tire change brought this on. (I had K1200GT new generation in my mind, rats)

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post #5 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 12:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

Thanks guys.

The rear tire is worn, no rear end play (had the FD out a couple time over the winter, always tightened up to spec)
Will check again since I have to change the tire anyways.

I still definitely feel a clunk whenever I apply the brakes though and it "seems" to come from the front end. Maybe the front wheel bearings are worn? Or the brake rotor mounts?

It goes straight at any speed so I guess the ball joint is good. I have a rebuilt Öhlins at the rear, front shock is still OEM with 40k miles on it.

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS

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post #6 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 12:13 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaL3_SD View Post
Did a bit of touring last weekend (1100 miles) on winding roads and had a couple hairy situations when braking hard coming into a turn on curvy roads.

It feels like there's quite a bit of play somewhere in the front end and was wishing someone with experience could chime in and let me know where to start. I'm personally leaning towards the head stock bearing being loose but since this is my first Beemer, I could be way off. It kinda clunks when I apply brakes.

I pulled, pushed and yanked on the front fork when I had the front wheel off but I couldn't anything being loose. Checked the brake calibers too, all nice and toight as a toiger (Austin Powers ref.)

Any ideas on what to check next?
Can you describe in more detail why you think there is play? Is there noise? Do the bars shake? Does the front end shake? Does the whole bike shake? Does this happen only while braking as your post suggests or while on washboard surfaces?

There are many points that could develop looseness, but all seem fairly uncommon on the LT. You have a "angular ball bearing" at the brace where the upper fork tubes connect. You have a ball joint at the front of the A-arm. You have two bearings at the rear of the A-arm, one "angular" and one common. You have bushings in the fork tubes. You have the wheel bearings. And that is just at the front. At the rear you have two bearings in the FD, two bearings at the FD pivot and two more at the swing arm.

Most of these would be felt by trying to twist the front and rear wheels in appropriate axes. Or trying to move the front axle front to back or side to side. Best to have the bike on a lift tightly strapped down before vigorously shaking the wheels, axle or forks/swingarm or you might find yourself pinned under your LT.
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post #7 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 6:21 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

If I grab the brakes, I can feel something's loose in the front end. The bike also tends to wobble if I have to brake mid turn (like +30mph curve)

I looked at the triple clamp fiche and looks like there's nothing to tighten there.

Oh well, gotta jack and tie it up and do the old "whole lotta shakin' going on" -routine once more.

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
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post #8 of 30 Old May 4th, 2017, 11:49 pm
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Re: Front end play

Jay, had a similar feeling (clunk on braking and slight looseness in front end) on my 2005 for a few years that I couldn't figure out, but didn't want to dive into replacing head bearings/ball joints (just didn't want to go there).
I'd already installed a HyperPro adjustable steering damper, been through a couple of sets of new tyres and not an issue from those as no wobble.
I'd bought some new fork seals (off Ebay) and when I last put a new tyre on front I noticed a leak from the fork... so put new seals and fork oil in while I had the wheel off.
Well the clunk and looseness disappeared.. bike ran truer than it had for ages.

So, if you haven't done it yet... try some new seals and oil... follow Kirk's video, takes about 30 mins once the wheel is off... not hard at all.
https://www.illinoisbmwriders.com/se...200lt-fork-oil
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Last edited by cws; May 5th, 2017 at 12:11 am.
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post #9 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 6:52 am
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Re: Front end play

If you just "grab" the front brakes they will clunk. My 05 has done that for 13 years. The trick is to slowly apply the brakes. I am still on the OEM set of pads on the front @ 102,000 miles and there is still life left in them.
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2009 K1300GT Red Rocket
2009 R1200GS (Gone)
2005 K1200LT Ocean Blue Blue Wizard 110 K and counting...
2006 Bushtec Turbo+2 Spell
2004 330 Ci Convertable
K4AN

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But lack DE, MA, RI and CT with the 2005 LT

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post #10 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 12:53 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzeiler View Post
If you just "grab" the front brakes they will clunk. My 05 has done that for 13 years. The trick is to slowly apply the brakes. I am still on the OEM set of pads on the front @ 102,000 miles and there is still life left in them.
Same on my '07. That servo assist will move things quickly if requested.

I am wondering if the OP is feeling rotor pulsing or front tire scalloping and thinking that is looseness. The brake pad clunk on mine happens only once when the brakes are first applied. So, one clue is whether the "looseness" is a one-time thing or repetitive.
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post #11 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 1:19 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

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Originally Posted by cws View Post
Jay, had a similar feeling (clunk on braking and slight looseness in front end) on my 2005 for a few years that I couldn't figure out, but didn't want to dive into replacing head bearings/ball joints (just didn't want to go there).
I'd already installed a HyperPro adjustable steering damper, been through a couple of sets of new tyres and not an issue from those as no wobble.
I'd bought some new fork seals (off Ebay) and when I last put a new tyre on front I noticed a leak from the fork... so put new seals and fork oil in while I had the wheel off.
Well the clunk and looseness disappeared.. bike ran truer than it had for ages.

So, if you haven't done it yet... try some new seals and oil... follow Kirk's video, takes about 30 mins once the wheel is off... not hard at all.
https://www.illinoisbmwriders.com/se...200lt-fork-oil
Thanks. I did change the fork oil but not the seals since they looked brand new and were not leaking. I'll look into that too.

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
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post #12 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 1:31 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

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Same on my '07. That servo assist will move things quickly if requested.

I am wondering if the OP is feeling rotor pulsing or front tire scalloping and thinking that is looseness. The brake pad clunk on mine happens only once when the brakes are first applied. So, one clue is whether the "looseness" is a one-time thing or repetitive.
I'm not a fan on the servo assisted brakes and swapping the brake lines to steel braided ones just made things worse from the jerkiness point of view.

I tested the clunking & play a bit more on my way home yesterday (low speeds like when coming to intersections) and I'm pretty darn sure I can feel the handlebars move back and forth a little bit when braking. So I'd say something's loose.

I've had a couple bikes with conventional front suspension behave the same way when the head stock bearing was loose/worn but I have no experience with any Telelever systems.

I'm still very much open to any more ideas on what to check (thank you everyone for your input this far) and will definitely report back if I find anything.

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
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post #13 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 1:35 pm
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Re: Front end play

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Originally Posted by JaL3_SD View Post
Thanks. I did change the fork oil but not the seals since they looked brand new and were not leaking. I'll look into that too.
The seals are not load bearing and have no impact on looseness of the forks.

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post #14 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 1:41 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaL3_SD View Post
I'm not a fan on the servo assisted brakes and swapping the brake lines to steel braided ones just made things worse from the jerkiness point of view.

I tested the clunking & play a bit more on my way home yesterday (low speeds like when coming to intersections) and I'm pretty darn sure I can feel the handlebars move back and forth a little bit when braking. So I'd say something's loose.

I've had a couple bikes with conventional front suspension behave the same way when the head stock bearing was loose/worn but I have no experience with any Telelever systems.

I'm still very much open to any more ideas on what to check (thank you everyone for your input this far) and will definitely report back if I find anything.
I really like the servo assist. It is like the transition from manual to power brakes on cars. You simply have to recalibrate your technique.

So, you are saying you feel the "looseness" all the while that the brakes are applied? Is it a rhythmic feeling or a random/sporadic feeling?

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post #15 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 1:57 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I really like the servo assist. It is like the transition from manual to power brakes on cars. You simply have to recalibrate your technique.

So, you are saying you feel the "looseness" all the while that the brakes are applied? Is it a rhythmic feeling or a random/sporadic feeling?
To each his own I guess.

I feel the looseness only when I first apply the brakes and the handlebars nudge forward a bit. I'm thinking that may then cause the "wobbliness" in high speed curves etc. but that may be the result of something else too, like my worn tires (new ones are on order)

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post #16 of 30 Old May 5th, 2017, 2:05 pm
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Re: Front end play

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To each his own I guess.

I feel the looseness only when I first apply the brakes and the handlebars nudge forward a bit. I'm thinking that may then cause the "wobbliness" in high speed curves etc. but that may be the result of something else too, like my worn tires (new ones are on order)
It seems like that much play would be detectable with a vigorous pull and push of the front forks with the bike strapped down solidly and the front wheel in the air.

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post #17 of 30 Old May 12th, 2017, 4:11 am
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Re: Front end play

PERIPHERAL EXPERIENCE: I had two LTs at the same time (don't ask!), an '05 and an '07. On the '05 I had installed a custom-built Wilburs front shock. Wilburs are more robust for this bike than Olins and will be built to your weight and reported riding habits. The -07, with about 11,000 when I traded it, was stock. There was a very palpable difference in the subjective sense of security diving into turns on the '05 compared to the '07 (same tires, all four new). Further, the '07 exhibited a building tank-slapper shake hands off between about 35 and 45, which I have been told by multiple sources is characteristic of (many of?) LTs. No such slap on the '05 -- rock steady hands off at any speed. Both bikes had been dealer-inspected for final drive and rear swing arm pivot issues, all negative.

On both bikes if I shook the handlebars while stationary I'd feel some spring-like wobble while shaking, no difference between the '05 with 77,000+ and the '07 with 11,000 +/-.
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post #18 of 30 Old May 12th, 2017, 11:38 am
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Re: Front end play

Wilbers really are great shocks. I have them on my K13S and they are as you say a stronger shock physically, especially on a GS.
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post #19 of 30 Old May 12th, 2017, 1:10 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaL3_SD View Post
To each his own I guess.

I feel the looseness only when I first apply the brakes and the handlebars nudge forward a bit. I'm thinking that may then cause the "wobbliness" in high speed curves etc. but that may be the result of something else too, like my worn tires (new ones are on order)
I have the same feeling on my 01. It is definitely something adjusting to the brakes being applied and there being some play somewhere either in the top bearing or the bottom ball joint. I just haven't taken it apart yet to examine it. If it was just brake pads shifting around, it wouldn't change the feel and geometry of the bike so much as I go into a turn and tap the front if I am going a little too fast for comfort. I actually feel the movement so I think I have the same thing going on as you do. A front end re-do is in my plans. I should have put jzeller on my bike this past weekend for his opinion.
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post #20 of 30 Old May 12th, 2017, 3:04 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urbanhermit View Post
PERIPHERAL EXPERIENCE: I had two LTs at the same time (don't ask!), an '05 and an '07. On the '05 I had installed a custom-built Wilburs front shock. Wilburs are more robust for this bike than Olins and will be built to your weight and reported riding habits. The -07, with about 11,000 when I traded it, was stock. There was a very palpable difference in the subjective sense of security diving into turns on the '05 compared to the '07 (same tires, all four new). Further, the '07 exhibited a building tank-slapper shake hands off between about 35 and 45, which I have been told by multiple sources is characteristic of (many of?) LTs. No such slap on the '05 -- rock steady hands off at any speed. Both bikes had been dealer-inspected for final drive and rear swing arm pivot issues, all negative.

On both bikes if I shook the handlebars while stationary I'd feel some spring-like wobble while shaking, no difference between the '05 with 77,000+ and the '07 with 11,000 +/-.
Quote:
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Wilbers really are great shocks. I have them on my K13S and they are as you say a stronger shock physically, especially on a GS.
A quick glance at the Wilburs US site shows that front and rear shocks/springs for the LT can be had for the $400-$600 range per end. Are they really that cheap, or did I not dig into it enough? If it is a solid improvement, then that is dirt cheap for a suspension upgrade of that magnitude.
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post #21 of 30 Old May 12th, 2017, 11:35 pm
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I fixed my brakes with new rotors and pads but I also have that clunk. It cant possibly be ok.

Im thinking maybe top shock bushing?
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post #22 of 30 Old May 13th, 2017, 2:30 am
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Re: Front end play

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I fixed my brakes with new rotors and pads but I also have that clunk. It cant possibly be ok.

Im thinking maybe top shock bushing?
It has been my experience that if the last time you braked was going backwards say to get off, the initial first brake application going forwards will make a knocking noise but only once due to the movement of the rotors.

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post #23 of 30 Old May 20th, 2017, 4:43 pm
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Re: Front end play

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Originally Posted by ICT Rider View Post
A quick glance at the Wilburs US site shows that front and rear shocks/springs for the LT can be had for the $400-$600 range per end. Are they really that cheap, or did I not dig into it enough? If it is a solid improvement, then that is dirt cheap for a suspension upgrade of that magnitude.
I paid $909.06 dealer installed. Shock itself must have been a few hundred less.
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post #24 of 30 Old May 20th, 2017, 4:50 pm
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Re: Front end play

ITC, give Ted Porter at the beemer shop a call. He will fill you in about shocks. Wilbers are the way to go. He will ask you many questions to figure out the best set up for you. (weight, two up, how you ride etc.):
https://www.beemershop.com/

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post #25 of 30 Old Jun 6th, 2017, 3:02 pm
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Re: Front end play

My front-end play was mainly due to a loose fork brace. Tightening up the 4 bolts solved the problem. I also torqued the upper shock nut too (I think) 35 ft/lbs. The bike rides sooooooooooooo much better and it brakes in a straight line.
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post #26 of 30 Old Jan 12th, 2018, 5:41 pm
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaL3_SD View Post
I'm not a fan on the servo assisted brakes and swapping the brake lines to steel braided ones just made things worse from the jerkiness point of view.

I tested the clunking & play a bit more on my way home yesterday (low speeds like when coming to intersections) and I'm pretty darn sure I can feel the handlebars move back and forth a little bit when braking. So I'd say something's loose.

I've had a couple bikes with conventional front suspension behave the same way when the head stock bearing was loose/worn but I have no experience with any Telelever systems.

I'm still very much open to any more ideas on what to check (thank you everyone for your input this far) and will definitely report back if I find anything.
I had similar issue. If you feel handlebars movement, most probably the head bearing pin has some play in the main frame hole.

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post #27 of 30 Old Jan 15th, 2018, 5:25 am
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Re: Front end play

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I had similar issue. If you feel handlebars movement, most probably the head bearing pin has some play in the main frame hole.

Wysłane z mojego GT-I9506 przy użyciu Tapatalka
The above is correct had the same problem and the dealership sorted it out. They seemd to think it was caused by poor installation of the front Wilbers shock absorber.
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post #28 of 30 Old Jan 15th, 2018, 7:35 pm
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Re: Front end play

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The above is correct had the same problem and the dealership sorted it out. They seemd to think it was caused by poor installation of the front Wilbers shock absorber.
Anything more specific than "poor installation?"

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post #29 of 30 Old Jan 16th, 2018, 4:39 pm
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Re: Front end play

Based on where the head bearing hole is and the shock hole I don't see how they could interfere with each other.
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John
2009 K1300GT Red Rocket
2009 R1200GS (Gone)
2005 K1200LT Ocean Blue Blue Wizard 110 K and counting...
2006 Bushtec Turbo+2 Spell
2004 330 Ci Convertable
K4AN

Have ridden a Motorcycle in all 48
But lack DE, MA, RI and CT with the 2005 LT

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post #30 of 30 Old Jan 22nd, 2018, 12:15 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Front end play

Quote:
Originally Posted by piootr77 View Post
I had similar issue. If you feel handlebars movement, most probably the head bearing pin has some play in the main frame hole.
Thanks, I'll check that out next time have the fairings off.

Jay - 2006 BMW K1200LT, 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R and 2014 Suzuki Burgman 650 ABS
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