Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Front End Wobble and Dyna Beads

Solving Front-End Wobble

Can Dyna Beads Be The Solution?


For the past seven years I have been reading about Goldwing riders experiencing the dreaded front-end wobble. I had personally never experienced this phenomenon until I purchased my 2012 Goldwing. My 2005 and 2007 were both "wobble-free" rides. That is the strangest thing about the "wobble"; some Wings have it, and some don't.


What is wobble?
So how do you know if your Goldwing suffers from front-end wobble? Here is a test you can do. On a safe, open stretch of road, get your Goldwing up to 50mph. Now, with a very light grip on the handlebars, let off the throttle and allow your bike to slow down to 30 mph. As the bike passes through 40mph during deceleration your handlebars will begin to shake noticeably. This typically only lasts from between 40mph and 35mph and the bike will usually smooth back out on its own.

Is wobble dangerous?

I have not personally read any accounts of front-end wobble causing an accident. More than anything, it is annoying.

What causes front-end wobble?

There is no real consensus on this subject. I have read dozens of forum threads where riders think it has to do with the steering head bearings, or the torque of the bearings. Some claim it is due to the weakness of the triple-trees used by Honda. And some suggest that it is simply a wheel out of balance. Even a rear wheel being out of balance could contribute to this issue. There are dozens of theories out there and some owners have literally spent thousands on new suspension, triple trees, and steering head bearings, in an attempt to address this issue. I personally am beginning to fall into the camp that believes it to be related to tire/wheel balance and/or alignment. Which really makes the most sense.

The fact that some Goldwings do not experience this wobble (e.g. my 2005 & 2007) indicates that every Goldwing coming off the line is not identical. Logically, there must be a difference in alignment, balance or other tolerances at play here. The bottom line: all Goldwings are not created equal.

How can it be fixed?

That is the real mystery. To my knowledge, nobody has conclusively come up with a single solution to this problem. I have read where some who installed the Traxxion suspension claim that it eliminated the front-end wobble, which is certainly possible, but that is a $2,500 proposition. Others claim that simply re-torqing the steering head bearings can solve the problem. Again, that is very possible. So, for those who spend $2,500 on Traxxion, was it just the fact that they properly torqued the bearings that solved the wobble? Or, is it replacing the stock bearings with tapered AllBalls bearings? That is the problem with a comprehensive component overhaul. You never know which piece solved the problem.

How I solved my wobble (for now)

I literally stumbled onto a solution to my front-end wobble purely by accident this week. I took my bike to my dealer to have new tires installed. As I am working on a video project for Innovative Balancing, I had the dealer dump a bag of DynaBeads (2 oz.) into each tire before they were installed. DynaBeads are tiny ceramic beads that distribute themselves through centrifugal force, along the inside of the tire to dynamically balance the tire while riding. When I left the dealership I noticed the bike was riding very smooth, which is common after installing new tires, so I cannot completely attribute that to DynaBeads. However, I noticed when slowing down through 40mph that the front-end was not wobbling. I was intrigued. I went to some familiar roads where I have experienced the wobble and did several runs up to 50mph and let off the throttle, no wobble.

So, could the solution be something as simple as DynaBeads? Or, is it the combination of new tires and DynaBeads? Or, could it just be new tires? It is too soon to tell. It is possible that after 3,000 miles on these tires, the wobble will return. Only time will tell, and I will report back to let everyone know. But for now, the wobble is gone. In case anyone cares, I am running Bridgestone tires, and I always have.

My theory

I am leaning toward the camp that believes the wobble is the result of tire/wheel balance. But why does this only affect some Goldwing? Well, there are differences between bikes in the manufacturing process. The frame could get slightly out of shape during welding, the rear swing arm could be slightly off, even the wheels could have differences in their castings. The Goldwing, like most production motorcycles is not built to a spec, it is built to a budget. So, it is very feasible that there will be variations in wheel castings, and any other components that make up the chassis. It may be possible that those who don't experience the wobble got a "good" bike where everything just happened to come off the line within certain tolerances  For the rest of us, maybe the rear wheel is just slightly imperfect, or maybe it is even an alignment issue. If so, it is possible that steering head bearings, or stronger triple trees may compensate for these imperfections to make the wobble disappear. Again, it is only a theory. 


If my theory is correct, then in my case, the DynaBeads combined with new tires, appears to be compensating for any slop in manufacturing. Again, it is too early to tell for sure if this is a long-term solution.

The Good News

The best news is that if this actually does "solve" the wobble issue, it is a cheap and easy fix. I would be very interested to hear from any of you who try this the next time you install new tires on your bike. Throw a bag of DynaBeads in during installation, leave off the lead weights, and see if it makes a difference. Either way, let me know at
dynabeads@cruisemansgarage.com.

One more thing about dynamic balancing

I have always thought that the rear wheel on a Goldwing is very difficult to keep in balance because of the deep "pockets" in the wheels (right side of wheel). I have scraped out as much as 1/4" of gunk, mud and grim from these pockets. It seems to me like that much gunk could throw a wheel out of balance. The advantage of a balancing system like DynaBeads is that is dynamically balances the wheel during riding. That is something that lead weights just cannot do. I had a similar experience on my last bike when using Ride On. My ride was much smoother. Of course, Ride On cannot be used with TPMS, but DynaBeads can!

Dyna Beads Video






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