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Discussion Starter #1
My 05 has less than a thousand miles on the fourth set of 020 bias-ply tires and the bike has developed the oft reported steering head shake. At 40 mph set the cruise and release pressure on the grips then standby for violent front end shimmy and jerking of the handlebars bars side to side. As reported time and time again by others on this forum the action goes away with solid pressure on the bars.

This bike has 30k on it and up until now has never exhibited this problem. I purposefully checked for it after reading other’s posts.

Took it into my dealer (Irv Seaver, Orange CA.) and they immediately knew what I was talking about saying at least four other 05 owners are having the same problem, most with far less mileage than mine. Additionally, the area rep has stated he is not addressing the issue as no one should be taking their hands off of the handlebars.

The dealer further said that changing out tires and rebalancing had no effect on those other four bikes. He is putting Ohlins on one of them to see if that helps. He offered to rebalance mine and / or put a new tire on it. Instead what we did was take a newly mounted Metzler and wheel off of another bike and stick it on mine. Problem was still there but not nearly as pronounced as with my wheel and tire.

Additional facts:

Pressure is always at factory spec.

All four sets were Bridgestone Bias 020's.

First two sets of tires, first one factory and the second set mounted by a differant dealer.

Both the last two sets mounted by Irv Seaver.

First two sets (both tires) easily went 11,000 miles

Third set (front) was gone in 6,000 miles.

Fourth set less than 1,000 miles and now severe front end shaking as described.

I’ve read that pressure, balance and new tire are the most common solution to the problem. In this case those factors don’t seem to work. Any thoughts on what else might be going on.
 

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I am one of the 4 other bikes from Irv Seaver.I have the same problem. Started about 5000miles Mine occurs during decel at around 45-40 mph. The bars shake violently. If I keep a tight grip, I just feel a vibration. The OEM tires have been changed to Metzelers. I have tried pressures 42 front/46 rear down to 36 front/42 rear. I have adjusted the rear shock preload from soft to hard. No improvement. The dealer had the bike for 2 weeks and advised me that there is nothing wrong with the bike, and that it will wobble. I have searched the web and this appears to be a common problem, with no fix. How can this be a safe condition?I am considering putting on Ohlins adjustable steering damper.
 

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I had the shudder on my 05 LT, but it went away when I rebalanced the tire. My brother's bike did the same and was cured by rebalancing too. We never had anything else looked at as our cure was simple.

I may be way off, but could the ball joints on the telelever suspension be worn, or out of alignment??. Would there be a way to check front end alignment on this bike? Or how front and rear line up? Since rebalancing isn't working for you, the problem must lay elsewhere. The reaction from the rep is typical of an idiot who is clueless and doesn't care about the customers. Every bike I have owned or ridden has never had that kind of front end shudder when the handlebars were let go off. Yes it isn't safe to do so, but IMHO the bike must have it's own inherent built in stability in order to be safe.
It isn't normal for a bike to show this kind of front end shudder unless something is way out of alignment.
Just my 0.02 cts
 

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The BMW area rep is dead wrong. The head shake is not a cause, it is an effect of some problem with the bike. Keeping a hold on the handlebars merely dampens out th effect of whatever the problem is, it does not make the problem go away.

Surely, he is right about keeping your hands on the handlebars. But he is wrong, and irresponsible, in refusing to address the cause of the problem you and others are having. Unfortunately, more often than is acceptable, his attitude is representative of his company's.
 

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trying to decide.

Hey guys,
I have not been on this site for very long now. I love the looks of the LT and I have been trying my best to get my hands on a mag. black 06 LT.
Acouple of the reasons that I really want one is, looks, comfort, along with a sporty ride, and above all BMW quality. I read all of these serious problems that keep popping up on this site and it really makes me wonder, am I really pursuing the right motorcycle. I've had just about every Harley that there is out there to be had from the Harley Davidson mfg. co. tried them all, good dependable bikes, never a problem. I've had two Goldwings, one of the new impressive version, never a problem out of either one. The new designed Goldwing is an awsome ride. So much power and speed you just cant believe it, handles similar to a sport bike. I guess that I really want someone to chime in and tell me how good the LT is, and to go ahead and pursue the bike, or really how bad it really is, and to buy another Goldwing.
I live in Alcoa, Tn. just outside of Knoxville, Tn. and to be totally honest with you, this is not BMW country. Very few BMW's here. We just got a dealership here about 2 months ago. They also sell Ducati's, Triumphs and some Vespa's I believe that they are called. I am also thinking that BMW is really not going to put a lot of R&D into fixing problems on the 06 & 07 models prior to the big change scheduled in 08. Do BMW riders just ride BMW's because there dad's did or because all of there friends do, like some people will only vote Democrat because there a Democrat and because there family has been democrat all thru history. Come on guys, shake the tree's here and really let me know before I go down and lay out the big bucks.
 

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Richard,
Like most forums people post for three reasons, excited about a purchase, "how to do" various thing for that purchase, and problems with the item purchased. If you want to find the weak point of any motorcycle, car, RV or whatever, just find a forum for whatever your looking for and you'll find problems abound.
I have an 05 that I've had no problems with. Last week at my dealer I talked to some fellows who had Lts from various years and miles who for the most part had 0 problems and would buy another in a heart beat. I met many Lt owners at Lima at the BMW national convention this past year who couldn't brag enough about the Lt ( well there was one guy who sold his because he felt it was to heavy for him). Yet when you come to a forum you see nothing but bad news. Then again if I had a problem with my bike this would be the first place I would post.
Having said this, three weeks ago when I was at their same dealer (Hermys in Port Clinton, Pa.) there where three riders with 05's who where experiencing the problem. This dealer was working very hard to solve the problem. They where looking into the steering damper. They pulled a new one out of a box and when they pushed it in and out it had a binding effect in it. The next time I go up there I'll find out what the outcome was.
Here in Pennsylvania if the same problem persist after 3 visits you can enact the Lemon Law which I believe they must buy back or replace the bike. Maybe other's have some experience in this and can chime in. I'm sure it,s not a fun prospect though.
My concern for you would be that there's only one dealer near you. I would check out the next nearest dealer and see what their like in case you have a problem with one. I have four dealers within 65 miles of me. Of course I go to the one who's the farthest and who I believe is the best.
So if your heart desire's a Lt try to test ride one first if you can and then if it meets you expectations I'd go for it.
 

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I'm not as eloquent as others who will chime in, but her's the short version :)
rlv said:
I guess that I really want someone to chime in and tell me how good the LT is, and to go ahead and pursue the bike, or really how bad it really is, and to buy another Goldwing.
No matter what we say, the only thing that matters is how the LT feels to *you* at an emotional level -- and the only way to know is to actually drive one. Fortunately, BMWNA subsidizes a test-drive program, so your dealer should be happy to let you ride one. If you like the bike, it's like the others (HD, Honda), i.e., an excellent bike, with plusses and weaknesses. There is a huge amount of knowledge available here, both for "things to make it better" and "how tos" to fix any problems you may find.
rlv said:
I am also thinking that BMW is really not going to put a lot of R&D into fixing problems on the 06 & 07 models prior to the big change scheduled in 08.
I wouldn't (and didn't) wait for this reason. I rarely buy the first year of anything, for obvious reasons, so for me, I won't be thinking trade in until late '08 or '09 at the earliest (assuming BMW releases the new LT as an '08 model, and makes it available in mid-'07, as they usually do). On the other hand, the '06 will be the 2nd year of a mid-life-cycle redo of a bike introduced in '98, i.e., a well-sorted design. Maybe getting a bit long in the tooth, but it was so advanced at its release, that the market is just now catching up. If it turns out from the test drive that you like the LT, why miss the enjoyment today while waiting another 3-4 years to try an unknown quantitiy (the next LT)?
rlv said:
Do BMW riders just ride BMW's because there dad's did or because all of there friends do, like some people will only vote Democrat because there a Democrat and because there family has been democrat all thru history.
I have the luxury of being able to buy any motorcycle I want, and every time I look for new bike, I consider *everything* out there. I'm now on my 3rd LT -- '00, '02 and '05.

For the record, at this point, I and my wife have 4 beemers -- not because they are BMWs, but because they specifically fit our needs and/or desires: A '73 toaster tank R75/5 (her first bike), a '94 R100M (a special edition of one of the last "airhead" bikes), an '01 R1150GS (her "daily driver"), and my '05 LT (my daily commuter from the 'burbs into the city).

I started riding in the late '70's on Japanese bikes. I've found over the years that the quality of the parts, fasteners and attention to design of BMW to be superior to the others out there. This makes a difference with the day-to-day living with running/maintaining the bikes, as they are more "pleasant" to work on -- less mucked-up fasteners, bits snapping off, etc. Like anything, they're not "perfect" -- some the things BMW does ya just shake your head at (the K75 sidestand cable-coupled to the clutch lever to retract the sidestand comes to mind!), but over the years I've found that at least there's a *reason* for everything, and it's usually because they are really trying to make things better.

HTH! Bottom line -- ride one! :)
 

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>"All four sets were Bridgestone Bias 020's.

>"First two sets (both tires) easily went 11,000 miles

>"Third set (front) was gone in 6,000 miles.

>"Fourth set less than 1,000 miles and now severe front end shaking as
> described.


I would be asking some questions about the obvious drop in mileage on that third set of tires. Most LT riders I know run the Metzelers front and rear with tire pressures ~ 42F and 48R. Have them balanced and check the wheel alignment. Finally, have the steering damper replaced or rebuilt.
 

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Hand-shake problem

This problem has been cropping up with different LT owners for a log time. I don't buy into the argument "keep your hands on the bars" thing. My 05 started this last year with about 3500 miles on 020's. The only cure was new tires, in my case I got 880's, and a top notch balance job....and I mean top notch! FYI, this problem CAN be caused by the rear tire also! Keeping your hands on the grips doesn't make it majically go away, it just keeps it from starting. Mine got to the point where going into a relatively slow turn would start the shake, but it wouldn't be as bad as at 40 mph or so. There is a lot of weight on the front wheel and I "think" it makes it extemely sensitive to tire or tire balance defects. Just for the record before someone tags BMW only with a front end problem, my last 2002 Road Glide pulled like a bitc* when you took your hands off the grips. The dealer service manager said tough toe nails, keep your hands on the grips where they belong. To make a long story short, after a lot of complaining the dealer went thru all sorts of "fixes" including tire/wheel changes and front to rear alignment and it didn't help one bit. So I did my own fix and got rid of that pig and bought my LT. Been happy ever since........Ric
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ocbonedoc said:
I am one of the 4 other bikes from Irv Seaver.I have the same problem. Started about 5000miles Mine occurs during decel at around 45-40 mph.
Steven,

Does yours do it if you put the cruise control on at 40-45mph and relax the hold on the bars? So far, My bike appears to be the only one that has demonstrated that particular type of sustained wobble.

Jim,

I agree, the third tire was shot way too soon and there would seem to be a connection. I will be out of town next week and the bike is at the dealer til then. I hope they think of something.
 

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I would really take a look at the tires. I had this problem as well and was cured with a new set of tires and a good balance job. I DO NOT TRUST THE DEALERS TO BALANCE A PENCIL! I made my own balancer and I have checked it against the dealers machine and will never let them do tires again for me.

Now I have had 2 sets of BT-020 tires go bad in short mileage (1000 mi). The rear got a small bubble on the side that you could not easily see but it made the front wobble. I changed the tire and problem gone.

If the bike has been "wobble free" before, and you have not had an accident, then change the tires and get a good balance job. I am 90% sure your issues will be resolved. Just becasue the tires are new, does not mean they are perfect so don't rule them out!
 

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I have been putting up with this front end wobble when you let go of the bars for 20,000 miles now, but after installing Wilbers it went completely away. Now, I don't tend to ride down the road with my hands in the air, but it does feel better knowing the shake is gone. :)
 

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I have experienced a slight hop between 40 and 60 kph since I bought the bike. It is especially noticeable if I'm in traffic and only able to get to those speeds. At higher speed, there is nothing but smoothness. A while back I actually let go of the bars at about 60 mph and rode this way for about a mile, just shifting my weight to maintain my position on the road. Although I don't do this often, I do ride one handed, switching hands every few miles to avoid fatigue in my arms. I tried the "look ma, no hands" once at about 45 mph and nearly cried "mommy" when the front end started to shimmy. I tried it several more times and was able to reproduce it. I think it's something inherent to this bike, as I have tried to have the tires balanced, and this hasn't corrected the problem. I'm at 7600 miles on my original set of Metzelers, and I have just gotten used to it. I will say this, however, after taking my friend's 04 GW out for a test ride the other night, and punching it hard, I'll stick with the BMW, wobble and all. The GW felt clunky and rough, not silky smooth like our beloved LT. Sure, her bike has so many lights that it can be seen from outer space, but I still prefer mine...with it's 75 LEDs. :)
 

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Ron,

I suspect that your shocks do need replacement. I found that the steering shake was almost completely eliminated by replacing my stock shocks at 22K miles with Wilbers. I am a pretty big guy and ride at a spirited pace, with lots of hard braking. You may be similarly inclined, which will exacerbate problems with the front tire and suspension. The fact that your bike will do this with throttle on (CC) seems to point to the shocks and perhaps steering damper.

Most any bike will do this on deceleration with worn (scalloped) tires, as slowing down puts more weight on the front end and removing your hands from the bars allows the oscillation to start and grow. The LT is a relativly heavy motorcycle, and the front tire does carry a heck of a load, particularly under braking. This will cause the front tires to wear more quickly and unevenly than you might expect.

I have also experienced this on my GSXR on a nearly new Michelin radial. After replacing with a new tire, a post-mortem on the Michelin revealed that my braking techniques had caused seperation of the tread from the carcass. This does not appear to be your problem since you replaced the tire assembly with another for a test, eliminating the tire as the cause of the problem.

Good luck! The LT will reward you for getting it back in primo condition. Ohlins or Wilbers are a fine addition, and you really won't believe how well the bike will handle with new properly adjusted shocks.

Brett
 

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Let me share my experiences....

My ST1100 developed the head shake problem, with about 10k miles on the bike, 4k miles on BT020 radials. Its well known in ST circles, that replacing the ball bearings in the steering head with roller bearings eliminates the problem. I had that done, and the problem went away. Note I'm still using the SAME tires, and have not had them balanced. The only change I made is the steering head bearings. I've now ridden another 3k miles since, and no head shake under any circumstances. You could ride all day with your hands off the bars, if one were stupid enough to do so. The 020's now have 7k miles, so are scalloped, but STILL no head shake. In the case of my ST, obviously the original bearings had enough friction for the first 10k miles, that I didn't experience the problem. When the bearings loosened up, the problem appeared. It might have gone away by tightening the original bearings, but knowing from other experiences that the roller bearings were a sure fix, I didn't bother adjusting the originals.

The steering system needs a certain amount of friction to damp out head shake before it begins. The LT uses ball joints, not head bearings, as a pivot point. The LT also uses a steering dampener, as some bikes do. I would guess that the ball joints don't have enough internal friction to do the job on their own.

That doesn't help to understand why some LTs have the shake, and others don't, in spite of multiple new tires in some cases. Several owners have replaced their steering dampeners with no effect. I don't recall anyone replacing the ball joints. I don't know if the joints are a sealed unit, or if there is a friction adjustment to them, but if I were one of the 2005 owners with the problem above, I'd ask the dealer to try something with the joints.

The 2005 model has a different steering rake than the 2004 and previous. I think its less rake? Although we've discussed head shake on 2004 and previous models regularly, it does seem much more prevalent on the 2005. Apparently the suspension changes that make the 2005 easier to maneuver int he parking lot, may make the head shake problem more prevalent.

I do find it interesting that different shock absorbers have helped some owners. Unless the original shocks were totally worn out (not likely on a brand new bike), I wonder if the change in headshake might be due to the change in ride height with the Wilbers?

FWIW, my 2004 LT now has 6k miles on it, with the original ME880s, and haven't had any head shake. I can't recall actually letting both bars go at any time, but certainly I've had only one hand, very lightly, many times. I hope it stays that way!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the input. I will post any progress when I get the bike back next thursday.
 

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No wobbles for my LT...

I've had two '99 LTs and have never had a steering-head shaking problem similar to what's been described here.

I've owned a couple of Honda PC800 Pacific Coasts, whose un-damped ball-bearing'd steering head would shake like a leaf when left to its own devices. That problem is well documented in PC800 circles; unlike CarSalesman, whose ST1100 wobble was cured with a switch to roller bearings in the head, this fix doesn't work on the PC.

So chin-up, guys. It could be worse.

In any case, rlv, I've owned a number of bikes and the K1200LT is by far the most magnificent motorcycle I've ever put between my legs. It's a mile-eater with a voracious appetite, and at the same time supremely comfortable for you and whomever you'd put on the back.

One of the main attributes that drew me to the K1200LT--besides its sexy, sumptuous lines, trick electric windscreen, and standard-equipment heated everything, was the fact that--like the Pacific Coast--you really don't see a whole lot of them around. It is a truly unique motorcycle. I very nearly bought a 2002 Goldwing (in one of my favorite Wing colors, Banana Yellow). That was until I looked around and saw that everybody and their uncle had either an Electra Glide or a Wing.

I'm a maverick; I wanted something different. And I got it, boy: My beautiful Beemer gets oohs, aahs, questions and comments wherever I park it--in the middle of a bike rally or in the middle of the supermarket parking lot.

So go to your local dealer and take one for a spin. You'll be sold. Oh--and try going down to the Honda dealership to take one of their bikes for a test-ride. They'll laugh you out the door.
 

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Here's more data for analysis. My 05' started the front end shimmy at about 700 miles. I now have about 4k and its still there. If its tires then the tire manufacturers either cannot make a tire to a tight enough tolerance for the LT or the LT design is not sufficient to accomodate todays tire manufacturing capabilities. It appears there is a manufacturing/design problem with the LT which allows this random problem to occur. I'm certain BMW is well aware of it but have not figured out a way to eliminate it from 100% of the machines. Don't let anyone kid you, they are aware just like they denied the "surging" problem on the R-Bikes for years and then finally addmitted to it and better yet, fixed it with the two-spark! At at my 6K which should be in December my dealer said he will do what ever it takes to eliminate the problem, and knowing my dealer, he will! Once fixed, I will report back as to what action was required to fix my LT which may, due to the randomness of this issue, not be the fix for all LT's.
 

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Dreaded Head shake

It's the TIRES ,not the bike! I had the exact same thing happen on my new "04" LTC after 5600 miles on the Bridgestone 020 front tire. Once it starts cupping ,even slightly, you get the head shake! The moment I changed to the Metzler 880 front tire it stopped and has not returned. The 020 back tire did fine and ran about 12,000 miles before I had to replace it. The Metzler 880s may not be quite as "sticky" and they do roar a little when turning but they last twice as long as the 020s and to my experience NO HEAD SHAKE! Good luck, Ron
 

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the 05 wobble

I have less than 2000 miles on my 05....last week I took my hands off the bars for a couple seconds (while not in cruise) to tuck in a pocket flap on my jacket and BAM!!! THE WOBBLE!! I'll have to get out now and check it on cruise etc....I thought at the time maybe it was just a freak issue with the roadway or something, but reading these posts now makes me very concerned about this issue.....
 
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