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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the weekend, I had an odd experience with handlebar wobble on my 2015 FJR-1300ES. Lots of old threads on this topic, regarding various generations FJR, various causes and solutions found, but I haven't yet seen one matching my situation.

What I noticed was that when I was maintaining about 37-42 mph with cruise control, if I took my hands off the handlebars, they would start wobbling, and get worse and worse until I felt I could not let it continue. As soon as I put the lightest touch on the bars, the wobble stopped.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so I tried it a few more times, on suitably empty roads.

Tried going faster. The wobbles did not occur at any higher speed, up to the interstate speed limit.

I was of course limited in how much I could safely experiment on public roads, but it seemed that the following applied:

--no wobble or felt vibrations as long as I was touching the handlebars with even one hand

--wobble went away entirely above ~42 mph

--would the wobble happen while accelerating through 37-42 mph? Can't say, doing so required touching at least the cruise control increase switch, which mean touching the bars and killing the wobbles.

--wobble did not seem to start on its own if I let the bike coast down through 42-37 mph, or maybe it was starting but died as I slowed

--As far as I could tell, the bike continued to track straight ahead, despite the alarming handlebar floppage.

It was almost as if something was causing the forks to shake the handlebars like they owed them money, while not actually having anything to do with the front wheel wobbling (classic "head shake" or "death wobble") or causing the bike to weave perceptibly.

But wait, it gets better!

I thought I had read something somewhere sometime about people seeing weird effects when riding the FJR with no passenger, but a top case. So I took off the top case (Shad 58x) and went back out.

With no top case, the wobbles went away completely. No hint of instability at any speed, from parked to interstate speed limit. Which was a giant relief - I'd really rather not have to put on new steering bearings at just 25k miles.

Also possibly relevant: I had the side cases off all weekend. I took them off Saturday when I went to the MSF class. I have not gone back out to see whether the wobbles happen with side cases + top case, vs. only top case. FWIW, there was almost nothing in the top case - just a helmet bag, and a small plastic bag with windshield cleaning stuff. Well under 1 lb. total.

It looks like my wobbles were caused by some kind of speed-specific aerodynamic effect. Don't know why else they would only happen with the top case installed, and only within about a 5 mph window.

Anyone else seen this? Weird stuff. First time I've seen handlebar misbehavior on a bike I owned. Never saw anything like this on either of our 3 Vstroms.
 

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This is nothing new, plenty of cases reported on the FJR. I reported the same thing about a month ago. I did a full front end service. Traxxion fork springs, new fork fluid, front wheel bearings but the trick is installing tapered steering head bearings. Smooth as silk now all speeds.
 
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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Not the same thing. I didn't have to replace steering bearings or do anything but remove the top case for the wobbles to go away. Didn't see a top case mentioned in any of the old handlebar wobble threads I've been through so far.
 

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I remember I used to have a similar problem on my Gold Wing I used to own. Everyone was saying it was the steering bearings and/or weak front forks but it turned out to be a problem with a the front tire. Replaced the tire and it was smooth as silk. Supposedly uneven tire wear can happen with these heavy touring bikes if the pressures are kept at a certain range.
 

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2007 FJR1300A
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3,211 Posts
Out of curiosity, put the rear suspension in the hardest setting with the case on and see if that does anything.
 

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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Out of curiosity, put the rear suspension in the hardest setting with the case on and see if that does anything.
Glad you brought that up because it did occur to me. I had the rear at "helmet + suitcase" setting. I tried "Standard" and "Soft" settings on the forks but it didn't seem to make any difference.

I'll have the top case and side cases back on soon for my normal commute. Will be interesting to see if this happens with side cases on, and/or rear shock dialed all the way up.
 

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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The front tire has only about 1000 miles on it and I keep it at the mfg. recommended pressure for this bike. Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III on both wheels FWIW.

I'd think that if it were tire wear causing the wobble, it would not go away just from removing a mostly empty top case, but I'm sure stranger things have happened.
 

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2007 FJR1300A
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The front tire has only about 1000 miles on it and I keep it at the mfg. recommended pressure for this bike. Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III on both wheels FWIW.

I'd think that if it were tire wear causing the wobble, it would not go away just from removing a mostly empty top case, but I'm sure stranger things have happened.
What pressure is that? Most agree that the front tire on an FJR should be around 41PSI
 
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Versys 1000, VFR800
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I'll only mention the dreaded Pan Weave.... the ST1300 guys, particularly in Britain where they used them as cop bikes, reported wobbles at certain speeds and while not definitive, it was thought due to the squareish top box...... definite contributors are soft suspension settings (both preload and damping). Now back to your regular programming.......
 
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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My pet hypothesis at the moment is that the extra drag of the top case, with no passenger, unweights the front a little.

I can't figure why it only has an effect at 37-42 mph though. That seems really strange.

I had the 58x at full size. Wonder if I'd get the wobbles if I had it compacted to smallest size, and therefore (presumably) causing less drag? Only one way to find out.
 

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Be interesting to see. I run a huge 52L rectangular Kappa case and have not noticed anything, not that I am particularly sensitive to vibrations but it is on all the time. Of course I also have huge side cases, but the bugs would indicate that they are mostly out of the wind.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This sounds like it could be related to what some describe when not having their pillion behind them. Just for Ss&Gs strap a stuffed duffle or something onto the passenger seat and see if that makes any difference.
I think I ran across one or two comments to that effect at some point, which was what gave me the idea to try removing the Shad 58x.
 

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2015 FJR1300 Gen 3
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My bike produces the headshake/wobble at speeds about the same as yours. I think my top end is 45mph. Not sure on my bottom end speeds but in the 30's for sure. I had the Dunlop RS3 tires and just replaced them with RS4 series tires. The headshake/wobbles are present either way, old tires or new. It does seem more pronounced if the tires have some mileage on them or if the road has small bumps or road snakes on it. I see this with or without the top case installed. There was one other article on this board that talked about the top case and/or third part accessories. I have handle bar risers on my bike but the head shake was there before I installed those.

Does anyone have any approximate pricing on how much labor would cost to have he dealer install tapered bearings? Either in time or USD :) I'm not sure if that is a project I want to tackle on my own or not but I foresee myself doing this service in the near future.
 

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2022 FJR
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Curiosity question for the great minds here.... Could this be caused by one of the brake pads dragging slightly or a minor warp/imperfection in one of the front rotors? I ask because he just finishing a MSF Class, which I assume included a maximum braking exercise. These exercises are 20 to 30 minutes long and the riders will see a lot of brake heat and brake fade during the exercise.
 

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2003 FJR1300R / 2007 Husq SMR 510
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How come almost every "handlebar wobble" case is "when I let go of the handlebars"? Most modern motorcycles geometry and suspension are set up to have weight on the bars i.e. your hands. Motorcycle manufacturers are not designing bikes to work perfect when you let go of part that steers. I have had handlebar wiggle on almost every bike I have ever owned in the same MPH range and never though twice about it. IMNSHO If the wiggle is felt in your hands then you have a problem, if you simply grab the bars and it goes away and isn't something you can feel, you're fine. You should have your hands on the bars 99.9% of the time.

I would even go so far as to say if your handlebars don't wiggle a little at some exact speed then your bearings aren't doing their job of keeping the front steering as smooth as possible. Tires wear and roads are uneven. If your bike tracks perfect at 42mph with your arms off the bars then you probably need to lube up some steering bearings or ride your tires down more.
 

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2015 FJR-1300ESF
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Curiosity question for the great minds here.... Could this be caused by one of the brake pads dragging slightly or a minor warp/imperfection in one of the front rotors? I ask because he just finishing a MSF Class, which I assume included a maximum braking exercise. These exercises are 20 to 30 minutes long and the riders will see a lot of brake heat and brake fade during the exercise.
No, BRC 2 does not include emergency stops. Worst we did was a few "quick stop" things from ~15 mph, at intervals, no chance for anything to overheat.

Also, the wobble went away when I removed the top case. Me noticing it on the way home from an MSF class is just coincidence.
 

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Curiosity question for the great minds here.... Could this be caused by one of the brake pads dragging slightly or a minor warp/imperfection in one of the front rotors? I ask because he just finishing a MSF Class, which I assume included a maximum braking exercise. These exercises are 20 to 30 minutes long and the riders will see a lot of brake heat and brake fade during the exercise.
There is no way riding around a parking lot in a MSF course could heat up rotors enough to warp them.

Source: I have a warped front rotor from long highway rush hour messes and blasting on the front for too long.
 
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