Shimmy at low speed - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 9:28 am Thread Starter
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Thumbs down Shimmy at low speed

I am a new owner of an 05 LT. The other day I experienced a low speed front end shimmy. Hasn't happened since, but I am still concerned about it.

What may be the cause of this??
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post #2 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 9:40 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Classic front end shimmy. Usually happens at 42 MPH when slowing down. Sometimes it can be cured with a good wheel balance, new tires, or replacement of the steering damper. Most motorcycles have some type of shimmy/harmonic imbalance at some speed. The Lt just does it at 42 MPH. There's a big after-market in steering dampers out there that can help. The simplest solution is to just keep at least one hand on the bars at all times.


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post #3 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 9:41 am
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Wink Re: Shimmy at low speed

Welcome Chris! If you are experiencing this wobble as you decelerate through 40 mph or thereabouts, it is probably your front tire. The rear tire can also cause some strange actions up front as well, so check both tires for wear. The common pressures for most folks on the list here is 42 front and 48 rear. Also check that you do have the correct tires mounted for the weight and speed range of the LT.

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post #4 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 9:55 am Thread Starter
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Thanks for the help. Where can I look for replacement steering dampers??
By the way, the bike has 20K miles, and replaced rear tire less than 1,000 miles ago. Front tire looks good.
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post #5 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 10:21 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

I bought a new off the floor 09 LT about a week after I had it the Shimmy started and grew progressively worse with time both Front and Rear Tires were of course New and showed no flaws. The point here is internally tires can fail the dealership replaced both with a different brand then what came with the bike originally. This bikes seems to be rather hard on the rubber which may have to due with its weight and Rake. With 20K on the on the bike I really doubt its the damper and you can check that easily enough by shaking the front tire to see if its working or not.


Quote:
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Thanks for the help. Where can I look for replacement steering dampers??
By the way, the bike has 20K miles, and replaced rear tire less than 1,000 miles ago. Front tire looks good.

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post #6 of 11 Old Nov 12th, 2009, 10:50 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwo
I am a new owner of an 05 LT. The other day I experienced a low speed front end shimmy. Hasn't happened since, but I am still concerned about it.

What may be the cause of this??
With over 180K under my belt on two LT's, and being a VERY unhappy customer when my brand spankin' new '01 LT started with the "shakes" at a few hundred miles I may have a handle bar (groan...) on this issue.

1. Buy two new tires, this is probably the last thing you want to hear - but if you have the shimmy the tires are worn (even at 1000 miles) and NOTHING you can do at this point will correct it. You've probably been riding around at low speed with under inflated tires getting a feel for your new steed, making lots of low speed turns. You can hope, pray, mess around with the inflation, re-balance them, change brands, suspect the tires of belt separation, change the damper, accuse BMW of inferior components and terrible engineering, change the shocks, and 100 other things - but it won't help. Sorry. Too late.

2. Keep the new tires at 42 psi front and 48 psi rear and check them EACH TIME before you go for a ride for this cold inflation.

3. Never, ever, make any more left turns.

4. Read this article in full to why I said never make any more left turns:

Motorcycle Tire Wear

5. Or, just learn to live with it and keep your hands on the handlebars - which is the official BMW line. Eventually, if you push your current tires to their limits you will get a nasty tank slapper at speed with your hands off. Which is kind of fun with an 800 lb. motorsickle.


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Last edited by RonKMiller; Nov 12th, 2009 at 11:08 am.
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post #7 of 11 Old Nov 13th, 2009, 2:45 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonKMiller
With over 180K under my belt on two LT's, and being a VERY unhappy customer when my brand spankin' new '01 LT started with the "shakes" at a few hundred miles I may have a handle bar (groan...) on this issue.

1. Buy two new tires, this is probably the last thing you want to hear - but if you have the shimmy the tires are worn (even at 1000 miles) and NOTHING you can do at this point will correct it. You've probably been riding around at low speed with under inflated tires getting a feel for your new steed, making lots of low speed turns. You can hope, pray, mess around with the inflation, re-balance them, change brands, suspect the tires of belt separation, change the damper, accuse BMW of inferior components and terrible engineering, change the shocks, and 100 other things - but it won't help. Sorry. Too late.

2. Keep the new tires at 42 psi front and 48 psi rear and check them EACH TIME before you go for a ride for this cold inflation.

3. Never, ever, make any more left turns.

4. Read this article in full to why I said never make any more left turns:

Motorcycle Tire Wear

5. Or, just learn to live with it and keep your hands on the handlebars - which is the official BMW line. Eventually, if you push your current tires to their limits you will get a nasty tank slapper at speed with your hands off. Which is kind of fun with an 800 lb. motorsickle.
That was a great tip for putting a tire plug in correctly in that article.

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post #8 of 11 Old Nov 13th, 2009, 8:49 am
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Shimmy at low speed --> tire (BTDT)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwo
...low speed front end shimmy...
I am voting for tire as well. Had a similar problem on the LT a couple of seasons ago with the ME880 and earlier this year on the GS with a Trail Attack.

At first, I tried re-balancing - even had the GS spoke wheel rebuilt at Woody's. Nada.

New front tires fixed the problem in both cases. Must have been an internal fault in the carcass. It was not the wear: the Metzeler had a couple of thousand miles on, the Conti was brand new when it failed. You cannot judge this problem by looking at the tire thread.

Been There, Done That.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwo
...Where can I look for replacement steering dampers??...
Steering damper will not help for low-speed wobble. It is to prevent rapid movements of bigger amplitude (like a "tankslapper") - the small movements must not be attenuated, otherwise you'd have no road feel and no control. While it's good to have a damper in a good condition, it is not your problem. I had faulty dampers on last three of my K12-series bikes, did not affect driveability and did not cause any wobble.

BTW, I found that the only source for the dampers was BMW (I guess, too small volume for aftermarket) - cost was about $200, as I recall.

Robert in Northern NJ

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Last edited by rdwalker; Nov 13th, 2009 at 9:01 am.
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post #9 of 11 Old Nov 13th, 2009, 9:53 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Ohlin makes an aftermarket. I think you'll find the cost to be above 200 with the Ohlin or the BMW.


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post #10 of 11 Old Nov 13th, 2009, 10:16 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed

Hyper Pro makes a dampener also.

I think it is tires though. These things are persnickety when it comes to tires.

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post #11 of 11 Old Nov 13th, 2009, 11:12 am
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Re: Shimmy at low speed --> tire (BTDT)

New front tires fixed the problem in both cases. Must have been an internal fault in the carcass. It was not the wear: the Metzeler had a couple of thousand miles on, the Conti was brand new when it failed. You cannot judge this problem by looking at the tire thread.

I've put about 15 sets of tires on my LT's - and hundreds on my other bikes over the past 40 years. I've NEVER had an "internal fault" in the carcass of any of them except a rear Bridgestone that delaminated. I've had tread chunk off but 99% of the time I've had uneven wear caused by simply spending more time in the arc of left hand turns than right. No way to avoid this, but you can delay it by religiously keeping up on tire pressures every time before you ride.

You may not have casually been able to see this wear pattern - known as scalloping - and the attendant shimmy or shake it causes - but it IS there - as evidenced by the chalk highlights in the following picutures. If the tire is under inflated from new - which happens since BMW specifies such low pressures in their manual - the pattern gets "established" and will do nothing but get more pronounced as time goes on. It is indeed a slippery slope.

Ever since I've run 42, 48 - and checked my tires for this inflation before I ride I've held off the shakes until late in the tread life. Prior to that I would get things going within a few thousand miles. It took me a couple of sets of tires and the help of this board to figure it out. The dealer techs would make things WORSE by DEFLATING my tires to the "PROPER" inflation every time I would take it in to whine, since they were required to by the shop manager. The LT is a VERY heavy front end bike. Between that, city riding (with LOTS of left hand turns) and poor braking technique such as braking through a curve instead of in front of it - scalloping will start to show immediately.

I know newbie LT riders that complained about this issue within 500 miles of putting on a new set of tires. When I ask them what tire pressures they run they gave me answers of 36 or so, and in the real world they were probably running much less since they didn't check frequently.

Keeping on top of inflation from the get go is the ONLY answer.
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