Originally Posted by crosswrap
Mark do you think your adjustment of the tracking of your bike's front end precipitated the front suspension issues you had?
Absolutely not, for several reasons:
1. The handling has always been "off" from delivery -- both a pull to the left and a random shifting of the travel direction or "tilt" of the bike going down the road -- the issues were present before I started my work.
2. The only mechanical change was to shift the upper A-arm ~4.5 mm to the left (thereby causing the tire footprint to shift ~13-15 mm to the right) -- nothing that could possibly be causally-connected to the ball joint problem or any other aspect of "unsettled" handling.
a. Out of an abundance of caution when reassembling the bike after the initial shimming, I torqued the right upper A-arm pivot very lightly. After the first test ride, I determined that there was a *tiny* amount of play in one of the upper A-arm angular ball bearings, simply because I had not torqued the right pivot enough to seat the left bearing that last .001-.002. I took the bike back apart and fully seated the bearing, eliminating all of the play in this part.
b. There was nothing in either the initial shim installation work, the second shim installation (more shims), or the pivot re-torque which could have caused any damage elsewhere -- certainly nothing which would explain the .050+ amount of slop in the upper ball joint out at the front end of the upper A-arm (the front end was fully and carefully supported during my work, so basically zero loads through the ball joint in the process).
3. Removing the pull essentially "unmasked" other handling problems.
a. The problem with the loose/defective ball joint was found immediately upon test driving the pull fix -- apparently, because the bike was biased to the left, it was holding the ball joint to one side of the "slop" range, so it was not as readily apparent as when the bike's bias to the left was removed.
b. After the front suspension parts replacement, there remained a subtle instability issue; I am still working with BMW on that issue.
4. No excessive force was been applied by me at any time to any suspension component -- indeed, other than the torque~ 70-80 ft-lb. applied to the main frame to break loose and re-tighten the right the pivot locknut and the left fixed pivot bolt, there was virtually no force applied to any component in any of the work I did.
So, I'm very comfortable in my belief that all the handling issues were there from day one, and that I did nothing to contribute to it.
Also, an important footnote: I don't have any reason to believe this is a wide-spread or class-wide problem -- I believe I was just the "lucky" one to draw the short straw and get a bike with a defective ball joint. Funny thing is, this is the only bike I've ever purchased that I did not test drive before taking delivery! Don't think that will ever happen again.
I still think this is a great bike, and even in the worst of this process, I was still recommending it to others. I really believe this is one of those landmark bikes that you look back on 30 years later and point to it as a game changer -- think R100RS, Honda CB750, the first Gold Wing Interstate, Vincent Black Shadow, etc.