Top Heavy - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 3:16 pm Thread Starter
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Top Heavy

Is it just me or are these bikes very top heavy? I own a 2002 1200LT and have had it fall over 3 times now when at a complete stop. I mean I'm 5'9" and 170 pounds but no one is going to stop 850 pounds of steel once it starts to go. I used to ride a Honda VTX 1300 that was a little over 700 pounds and never even came close to having it fall over on it's side.
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post #2 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 3:49 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

At a stop or coming to a stop ?. My trick, when coming to a stop, is to look straight forward and not to where the bike is going to stop. Hope that helps you some.
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post #3 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 4:04 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Quote:
Originally Posted by simoncharles
At a stop or coming to a stop ?. My trick, when coming to a stop, is to look straight forward and not to where the bike is going to stop. Hope that helps you some.
+! I'm 5'7", short inseam. I also keep my head up and look straight ahead. I also do two other things:

(i) if the ground is sloping away to the left, I slide my tail over to the left on the seat so that my leg can reach the ground easier (the primary idea is to always keep the bike vertical, so there's never a need to have to exert a great effort to hold it up -- i.e, keep the weight over the tires so they do all the work of holding the bike up); and

(ii) I control the bike so that my left foot always goes to the ground -- that way I always know where the bike will be leaning when stopping, and I can keep my right foot on the rear brake pedal to control the bike's motions. I know I can always put my left foot down because at just about the instant when the bike reaches 0 mph, I give an infinitessimal nudge on the left grip (i.e., just a hint of countersteering) so that the bike wants to *just* start to lean to the left -- toward my now-lowering-to-the-ground left foot.

HTH,

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #4 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 4:15 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Not top heavy...it's a "light" 850lbs The secret is to keep the bike upright at all times while stopped or while stopping...If you notice, tipover wings are a factory item, not aftermarket Practice makes perfect...I am 6'1", 245lbs of sinuey muscle, and when the big gurl decides its naptime, I just get out of her way cause thats all I can do, shes heeeaaavvvvyyy!!!!! Good luck my friend...

RICH CANNON
2000 K1200LT "a great ride"
2002 GL1800 powerful, but boring..(gone)
1979 XS1100 (gone)
1986 VT500 Ascot (gone)
1972 Honda 500-4 (gone)
1961 Lambretta (way gone)
1962 Allstate Compact (gone but not forgotten)
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post #5 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 4:20 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Don't think of her as top heavy: she's just a little bottom light
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post #6 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 4:52 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

I think we have all felt your pain in the beginning. I know I did and it probably took me 5,000 miles before I was feeling comfortable at low speeds. Key is to always pay attention when slowing down and be real careful about stopping and turning the wheel. Watch where you are putting your foot and it will get better.

I'm about your height, weigh a little less and just finished a low speed riding class. I would not have been able to take it without a lot of practice and miles. You will feel more confident in time, just be patient and read all of the tips on this forum.

Dano
Tampa, Fl.

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02 K1200 LT (gone but not forgotten)
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post #7 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 5:56 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Top Heavy

Quote:
Originally Posted by simoncharles
At a stop or coming to a stop ?. My trick, when coming to a stop, is to look straight forward and not to where the bike is going to stop. Hope that helps you some.
All 3 times I was at a dead stop, but just finished riding. Example:Sunday rode for about an hour no problem. All stop lights and stop signs not an issue. But came home, drove it into the garage to park it and when I Stopped - over she went. But after reading the replies, all 3 times it happened, as I came to a stop I turned the wheel either to the left or right before it dropped. So, I think the problem is with not stopping in a straight wheel position.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I love this bike and don't want to get rid of it because I can't keep it upright !!!
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post #8 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 6:40 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

I have a Russell Day-long seat, which is a bit wider in the rear than stock, so don't know if this will help, but I try to slide as far forward on the seat as is comfortable just before stopping. Gives me a little bit more control. But the tips about keeping the wheel straight, and your head up and facing forward is golden.
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post #9 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 6:50 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Coming to a stop, using the front brakes and having the front wheel turned slightly works like this (DAMHIK): powerful brakes lock the front wheel; momentum of the bike body exerts pressure on the front wheel forward, causing it to go to full lockover (since it can't rotate); front wheel becomes a pivot; bike falls over. It's even more fun on gravel....

Larry Johnson
El Paso TX
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post #10 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 6:59 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Quote:
Originally Posted by facscc
But after reading the replies, all 3 times it happened, as I came to a stop I turned the wheel either to the left or right before it dropped. So, I think the problem is with not stopping in a straight wheel position.
This is probably the #1 issue. With a bike with conventional forks, when the front wheel actually stops any remaining momentum in the rest of the bike is absorbed by the forks (you notice the bike slightly dip down at the nose at the moment of front wheel stopping). With an LT, the Telelever is designed to provide virtually no dive during braking (a result of the physical geometry of the design). As a result, when the front wheel comes to a halt, any residual energy in the chassis has to go somewhere, and if the wheel is turned, it causes a moment about the front tire which tends to lean the bike over. When the front wheel is pointed straight ahead, the energy is dissipated by a slight deformation of the tire, so there's nothing trying to tip over the bike.

So, even if you are stopping on a curve, be sure that at the last instant you've straightened up the bike and have the front wheel pointed straight ahead!

Mark Neblett
Fairfax, VA
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post #11 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 7:13 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Ride it without the top case. That thing is 40 lbs mounted up high. It's a normal bike without the top case.
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post #12 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 8:58 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

In the 5 years I have owned my LT I have learned the hard way to not even think about the brakes at low speeds if the wheel is turned even a tiny bit. I have been able to keep it from going all the way down a few times but holding on and keeping the downhill leg stiff but I have long since passed being able to count the number of times it has hot the ground on my assorted digits.

Last bike I am ever owning with fully linked brakes.
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post #13 of 19 Old Apr 11th, 2011, 9:17 pm
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Re: Top Heavy

Not sure this would have helped in these situations but one trick I learned in the refresher class was to have the missus looking over my right shoulder when riding two up so that when coming to a stop it makes sure the bike leans on the left side where my left foot is to the ready. Haven't dropped it since learning that.
Damn, probably should not have bragged about it, I am now probably cursed and will drop it this year.....

1999 K1200LT HL Basalt Grey/ Fleximum Sidecar
1983 Silverwing 650 leaner/1987 Velorex Sidecar
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post #14 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 12:21 am
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Re: Top Heavy

This is not a matter to be taken lightly.

I have my LT a year now and I raised that same concern in one of my earlier post. Even though it was a different scenario bike blowing of the center stand. So I asked where is the center of gravity on this bike. Two close calls but actually strained my right forearm both times.

I am 6' 1" 183 pounds and can comfortably stand both feet on the ground with bike at the vertical. Boarding a passenger still OK. But backing up to turn in a drive way was my first test I was not even using the reverse since it was a down hill move just as my steering was at 11 o'clock she started to go I battled back and held her up. The other time was more dramatic and my fault; standing at a light with my daughter (grown) shifting around back there bike wanted to go to the right luckily I was firmly planted on the left so I did the stiff right arm thing again along with that front brake grab.

What I came away with as well as reading as many posts as I can get . . . try to use the rear brake just before final stop conditions permitting. Yes balance and vertical is also key but cheat to the left side. I don't know but I rode a Goldwing for 23 years so I might be used to the size not the weight. Get comfortable.
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post #15 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 1:12 am
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Re: Top Heavy

Practice, practice, and more practice... I'm 5'8"/210 and I actually spent a couple hours one morning learning how to handle backing one up at speed (4-6 feet per second) for 20+ feet on a downward incline and making a rearward 3-point turn. I can easily handle myself and my pillion in a situation at speed backwards that make my friends wince and I remain in full control, but you have to learn the true balance of all conditions to be comfortable. Front brake for backwards and rear brake for forward control under light throttle. I use the front brake down to the last 3 seconds, then let off and finish with the rear/front combo depending which foot I need to plant.

2012 K1600GT

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post #16 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 1:26 am
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Re: Top Heavy

OK So I'm 5'8" with a 28" inseam. A little over 200 pounds and I have never been accused of having a muscular sinewy build. I have gently laid the bike down from a full stop on several occasions. Here is what I've learned:

The bike is extremely stable when it isn't fully stopped. As soon as you leave the starting line you can put both feet on the pegs in complete confidence. When it is stopped it likes to throw its weight around and will look for any excuse to fall over.

Scan your landing site carefully for sand, gravel, wet leaves, stray animals, tree limbs, dirt clods, discarded shoes etc. Anything looks like it could cause you problems go around. Find another landing site. When you find a suitable site plan your full stop landing so that when the bike comes to a full stop you can plant your foot square on the ground. Don't put your foot on the ground until the bike is fully stopped.

If it starts to go over, let it go. Whether you are blessed with sinewy muscles or not so sinewy blubber you will get hurt if you try to stop it.

Two last observations. Don't be afraid of it. You will get to the point where you don't even think about her being "bottom light".

I use the front brake when I stop primarily because I use it way more than the rear brake because of the BMW factory pad squeal feature. Just be light on the brake. It doesn't need a heavy hand.

Loren

WAK1200LT
Loren

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post #17 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 7:46 am
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Re: Top Heavy

Quote:
Originally Posted by facscc
All 3 times I was at a dead stop, but just finished riding. Example:Sunday rode for about an hour no problem. All stop lights and stop signs not an issue. But came home, drove it into the garage to park it and when I Stopped - over she went. But after reading the replies, all 3 times it happened, as I came to a stop I turned the wheel either to the left or right before it dropped. So, I think the problem is with not stopping in a straight wheel position.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I love this bike and don't want to get rid of it because I can't keep it upright !!!
I can tell you right now that the problem is in turning the handle bars while coming to a stop and applying the brake; don't ask how I know this.

Because of the rake geometry of the front end if you turn the handle bars while coming to a stop the bike will more then likely take a dirt nap what's amazing is just how quickly it happens.

It takes time to learn how to pick your landing spot this bike isn't like a cruiser which has a very low center of Gravity. This bike's CG is well up to the top of the machine and as you've found she'll drop quick if your not in control of it at all times.

The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.

09 K1200 LT
Project LT:
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post #18 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 9:07 am Thread Starter
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Re: Top Heavy

Thank you for all of the help and suggestions !
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post #19 of 19 Old Apr 12th, 2011, 10:41 am
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Re: Top Heavy

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDiver
I think we have all felt your pain in the beginning. I know I did and it probably took me 5,000 miles before I was feeling comfortable at low speeds. Key is to always pay attention when slowing down and be real careful about stopping and turning the wheel. Watch where you are putting your foot and it will get better.

I'm about your height, weigh a little less and just finished a low speed riding class. I would not have been able to take it without a lot of practice and miles. You will feel more confident in time, just be patient and read all of the tips on this forum.
Dano is right on the money. I flew from Los Angeles to New York to but my LT from a friend. Without ever having ridden anything like an LT I hoped on the thing and headed into Manhattan rush hour traffic in the rain. The word 'terrified' doesn't even come close to describing the experience. On the ride back to LA I seriously considered going straight to my dealer and trading the thing in on a new RT. Fortunately I discovered this site and decided to give the big girl another chance. 100+K later I can't imagine ever being without an LT in my collection.
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