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Scary high speed handling


Bondoman
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Just bought a 2006 midnight Venture with 11,00 miles on it. At 65+ miles per hour, and especially in a head wind, the bike gets scary to ride. The wind turbulence bounces it all over the place. If have to pass a Semi, it gets VERY scary and starts to wobble, feeling like it might start a tank slapper. Very disappointed with high speed handling. It has new tires, so hopefully that isn't the problem. If I can't make it ride like the highway bike it is designed for , I will sell it and find something better. I've had lots of different bikes, never had one handle so bad as this one.

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I'd have to agree.   Steering head is too loose.   I've an 06 and it practically drives itself.

You'll always have a lot of turbulence behind a semi, but I can't say it affects the ride much....I don't like hangin' out behind semis anyway...Don't want a tire coming apart and doing a number on me.

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My 83 venture did the same thing , and ended up replace steering head bearings ...Put front of the bike on a jack to lift the wheel off the ground if there is movement , good place to start are the steering head bearing

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I would agree with checking the tightness of the steering head,  tire pressure, did you put the tires on or were they one there. swing arm bushing could need to be tightened and lubed. These cycles love to cruse down the highway at that speed. Mine feels like its glued to road. I spend alot of time one handed with no worries. If it was me I would get the tires off of the ground and check the wheel bearings, steering head bearings, swing arm, and see if you may have a front tire that isnt seated evenly or maybe a little out of round. And thats its a 06 I would want to go over all of it any way.

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Thanks for the replies, I'll definitely do the head bearing, and check the swing arm bushing. The tires were put on by the dealer by the previous owner, seem ok. I thought the poor handling may be from a fork mounted fairing, guess not. I will try to solve the few issues I have that disappoint me  before I give up on it. The bike is mint otherwise.

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I’ve got no experience with the head bearing as mentioned above but with that many suggestions I wouldn’t pass it by.  My first thought from experience is wheel balancing.  Low speed it won’t be noticeable but the faster they spin the worse things get.

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I did a 5k mile round trip this spring on my 07 and had the same issue following/passing semi's.  It was really bad.  At first, I thought something was terribly wrong with the bike, then like magic it seemed to go away & then come back again at seemingly random times.  I had tightened up my head  bearing before the trip and was certain it was ok.  The other changes made before the trip, were brand new tires and a brand new F4 wide windshield.  Both were possible factors in my mind.

Well, 5k miles in the saddle is a good amount of time to figure this out, so here's what I eventually figured out:

1st, it was windy as all heck, going down hiway 5 in CA & then on 40 through AZ & NM, there were signs warning about the wind.  Unbelievable wind.  Ton's of semi's on the road and the turbulence coming off of them, coupled with the wind, coupled with me going 85+ and I literally never went more than two minutes without seeing a semi, so it was constant turbulence.

Turbulence was dramatically worse within 50 feet of the rear of the semi until I was just past the rear wheels, while passing.  Once I got past the rear wheels, the turbulence almost completely died and then as I passed the cab, got blasted by the side wind.  It was utterly exhausting.  I was speeding up to get through it as fast as possible, but increasing speed only made it worse.  It was literally a no-win so I chose faster speed, more turbulence and finish the ride sooner.  I did a couple of 3-400 mile days like that and they were exhausting.

On the return route, Hiway 70 through KS, CO & UT, no wind to speak of and I was doing 90++ and she was a stable as could be.  Far fewer trucks on 70 than 40, maybe like 90% less, so can't recall that it was ever an issue passing them, leading me to believe that the prevailing winds were the biggest culprit, followed by the extreme turbulence it created off the semi's.

I also suspect that the wider windshield might have come into play, but in the end, my conclusion was the wind was primary factor.   And the moral of the story was never ride 40 through AZ & NM again.  Ever.  Other than Flagstaff, its pretty boring/ugly landscape and unbelievably windy!

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Just remembered I shot a short video of the wind @ a rest stop in NM.  A semi driver came up to me and asked how I was holding up.  He must have seen me struggling.  It was something else.  I remember it was a slight downhill walk to the restroom from where I parked the bike and I was leaning into the wind, to walk downhill! 

But, a bad day on a Venture is still better than a good day in the office!

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12 hours ago, Bondoman said:

Thanks for the replies, I'll definitely do the head bearing, and check the swing arm bushing. The tires were put on by the dealer by the previous owner, seem ok. I thought the poor handling may be from a fork mounted fairing, guess not. I will try to solve the few issues I have that disappoint me  before I give up on it. The bike is mint otherwise.

Along with everything else already mentioned it may not hurt to recheck tire balance  while off the ground spin the tires and look for any run out both vertical and side to side, even a new tire can have a defect. Some tires like the Avons on the 1st gens just are not compatible with the bike. For example many 1st gens with Avon tires develop a nasty tail wag at 100 kmh/62 mph Check the thin rib on the tire that runs along the rim to make sure the tire was beaded up properly, sometimes if not enough or incorrect lube is used the tire wont center properly when it is inflated. Make sure both tires are of same construction type Both being either radial or bias but not one of each.

Edited by saddlebum
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11 hours ago, circa1968 said:

I did a 5k mile round trip this spring on my 07 and had the same issue following/passing semi's.  It was really bad.  At first, I thought something was terribly wrong with the bike, then like magic it seemed to go away & then come back again at seemingly random times.  I had tightened up my head  bearing before the trip and was certain it was ok.  The other changes made before the trip, were brand new tires and a brand new F4 wide windshield.  Both were possible factors in my mind.

Well, 5k miles in the saddle is a good amount of time to figure this out, so here's what I eventually figured out:

1st, it was windy as all heck, going down hiway 5 in CA & then on 40 through AZ & NM, there were signs warning about the wind.  Unbelievable wind.  Ton's of semi's on the road and the turbulence coming off of them, coupled with the wind, coupled with me going 85+ and I literally never went more than two minutes without seeing a semi, so it was constant turbulence.

Turbulence was dramatically worse within 50 feet of the rear of the semi until I was just past the rear wheels, while passing.  Once I got past the rear wheels, the turbulence almost completely died and then as I passed the cab, got blasted by the side wind.  It was utterly exhausting.  I was speeding up to get through it as fast as possible, but increasing speed only made it worse.  It was literally a no-win so I chose faster speed, more turbulence and finish the ride sooner.  I did a couple of 3-400 mile days like that and they were exhausting.

On the return route, Hiway 70 through KS, CO & UT, no wind to speak of and I was doing 90++ and she was a stable as could be.  Far fewer trucks on 70 than 40, maybe like 90% less, so can't recall that it was ever an issue passing them, leading me to believe that the prevailing winds were the biggest culprit, followed by the extreme turbulence it created off the semi's.

I also suspect that the wider windshield might have come into play, but in the end, my conclusion was the wind was primary factor.   And the moral of the story was never ride 40 through AZ & NM again.  Ever.  Other than Flagstaff, its pretty boring/ugly landscape and unbelievably windy!

Thanks for the reply, I've put thousands of miles on many different bikes in all weather conditions and have never experienced handling this bad.

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As mentioned you can lift the bike, turn the front wheel 45 degrees to the left (not to the right) and if the wheel moves on it's own....your steering head is too loose.  There is a "quick fix" for it to tighten the steering head which I would do unless the bearings were shot.

That is the "safe" way to check the front end.  Another test but it is while on the road....take the bike up to about 30km/hr and let go of the handlebars and coast.  If the bike starts wobbling....tighten the steering head.  Keep your hands just above the grips though so you don't lose control.

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44 minutes ago, XV1100SE said:

As mentioned you can lift the bike, turn the front wheel 45 degrees to the left (not to the right) and if the wheel moves on it's own....your steering head is too loose.  There is a "quick fix" for it to tighten the steering head which I would do unless the bearings were shot.

That is the "safe" way to check the front end.  Another test but it is while on the road....take the bike up to about 30km/hr and let go of the handlebars and coast.  If the bike starts wobbling....tighten the steering head.  Keep your hands just above the grips though so you don't lose control.

Also grab the bottom of the forks push them backwards and forwards to see if you detect any sloppiness in the bearings, there should be zero lash without any binding when turning the forks.

Edited by saddlebum
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Guest divey
5 hours ago, Bondoman said:

Thanks for the reply, I've put thousands of miles on many different bikes in all weather conditions and have never experienced handling this bad.

Then you've clearly got yourself a mechanical issue, i.e. head bearing, swing arm, tires, etc. with your new ride.  This bike sticks to the road like crap to a blanket and with your riding experience on a variety of bikes, I'd suggest once you've identified the mechanical problem and get it fixed, you'll change your mind on wanting to offload it.

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8 hours ago, divey said:

Then you've clearly got yourself a mechanical issue, i.e. head bearing, swing arm, tires, etc. with your new ride.  This bike sticks to the road like crap to a blanket and with your riding experience on a variety of bikes, I'd suggest once you've identified the mechanical problem and get it fixed, you'll change your mind on wanting to offload it.

Sorry all, didn't mean to discount the possibility of it being a mechanical issue.  I was riding in some crazy extreme wind, which I'd never experienced before.

I'm getting ready for another 5k trip and plan to check out the bearing again to verify it won't be a factor.

On that note, last time I adjusted the head bearing, it was the top most bearing I adjusted via the locknut.  I'm looking at exploded view drawings and that seems like the only adjustment I can make.  Is that correct?  And by doing so, it changes the tension on the bottom bearing too?

Looks like its a mother of a job to replace or even repack the bearings, if needed.  Anyone ever done that?

 

 

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I haven’t done a first gen but Yamaha was stingy with the grease in the neck on my 2nd gen. My thoughts were that once I spent the time to tear it down replacing them was the way to go. New bearings with plenty of grease should outlast me. 

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1 hour ago, RDawson said:

I haven’t done a first gen but Yamaha was stingy with the grease in the neck on my 2nd gen. My thoughts were that once I spent the time to tear it down replacing them was the way to go. New bearings with plenty of grease should outlast me. 

I can second that motion!!! Take it apart, get new bearings. If I remember it takes a few hours but it's not that hard, faring can stay on.

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7 hours ago, circa1968 said:

On that note, last time I adjusted the head bearing, it was the top most bearing I adjusted via the locknut.  I'm looking at exploded view drawings and that seems like the only adjustment I can make.  Is that correct?  And by doing so, it changes the tension on the bottom bearing too?

Looks like its a mother of a job to replace or even repack the bearings, if needed.  Anyone ever done that?

Adjusting the bearings is not that difficult even without the proper specs on hand. simply adjust the same way you would a set of trailer wheel bearings. Adjust  the first nut good and tight while turning the handle bars back and forth. you should feel feel some good drag on the handle bars ( this is to make sure the bearings and cups are well seated ). Then back off completely now lightly snug up and then back off about 1/8 turn. Finally tighten the second / lock nut. Then check your adjustment, You should  have zero to .003" (that's about a hairs worth ) lash or play and the handlebars should move from lock to lock freely without any noticeable drag. if you have too much play or or the handle bars feel too tight back off the lock nut then adjust the preload nut just a smidge and re-tighten the lock nut and re-check.

There is a so called bounce test for this that some suggest but I personally don't recommend it, as there are too many variables involved that can effect the results of the bounce test and you could still end up too loose or too tight.

Edited by saddlebum
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Morning, Pat.

Welcome to the site. Glad you found us.

You said you bought an 06 with 11k miles on it.... Good find!

With your experience in scoots, I know you will go through the bike with a fine tooth comb. Checking everything. So I won't go there. The steering head bearings, tires and swing arm are your focus for poor high speed handling. These bikes are rock solid so know that your issue is probably due to the bike sitting a lot. I suspect grease issues... Just not enough exercise at 11k miles. 

On another note, know that this is a high reving motor that likes to run. Anything below 65, I'm in 4th gear. Don't short shift. I hit the limiter all the time. 

Also, the rear brake is to strong. Hit it hard and she will lock up rear wheel. Some have put a proportional valve in line to reduce pressure. Most of us put organic pads on to reduce effectiveness. Your call...

Search this site as there is a ton of information here. If you need more help, jump in and ask. Most of us have been riding for 40 plus years and love to help.

And please let us know what you find that's causing your issue. 

Welcome and hope to see you join up!

David

 

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Thanks guys!  @saddlebum Looking at the attached exploded view, the adjusting nut and lock nut are locked together with #6.  I think the only way to adjust them separately is take the top part of the triple tree off & remove that part.  Once in that far, it probably makes sense to go all the way.  In reading my Clymer manual this morning, it says the fairing has to come off to replace the bearings.  Seems to make sense if its attached to the triple tree.  Will save that project for a rainy day.

I previously did the bounce test to adjust.  Definitely not perfect and I just made a minor adjustment to tighten it up a bit, maybe rotated the nuts 1/16.   didn't take much.

steering.jpg

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It seems kind of odd the way that steering shaft is set up, but this is how I did it.

Loosen nut #7. Now with a long punch, screwdriver or something similar tap lower nut #4 to set the torque. Check your progress, it don't need to turn much, a 1/16 " is a good start. When you think its good, tap the upper #4 nut so  that it sets back on the lower one. There is a rubber o-ring in between the 2 nuts, and I haven't figured out the real meaning of having it there, but it's there so some engineer has made his daily wage. Now torque nut #7 back to speck and test again. You might have to go through this circus a few times to get things perfect. Always torque #7 before final decision for the pressure from #7 will move the #4 nuts just enough to cause a noticeable difference. When you are happy, carefully move the handle bars from side to side, just with your finger tips and see if you can feel any jumping, vibration, or such. Slowly and lightly!! If it feels anything else than perfectly smooth, it's time for a change.

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3 hours ago, circa1968 said:

In reading my Clymer manual this morning, it says the fairing has to come off to replace the bearings.  Seems to make sense if its attached to the triple tree. 

That is quite possible, I forgot about that part of the second gens. The 1st gens the fairing is frame mounted and that is the direction my thought process headed. Also when using the method Marcarl described,you only want to make small moves at a time between the two nuts. Two much variance at one time may bend the tangs that bridge the two nuts.

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6 hours ago, circa1968 said:

I previously did the bounce test to adjust.  Definitely not perfect and I just made a minor adjustment to tighten it up a bit, maybe rotated the nuts 1/16.   didn't take much.

Like I suggested previously....lift the bike and turn the front wheel to a 45 degree angle to the left.  Hold it in position then let go.  It shouldn't drift from where you let go.  If it moves, then do the quick adjustment (loosen head bolt/nut, then with a long screw driver and hammer, tap it (clock wise I believe) until the front wheel holds in place, then tighten the head bolt/nut.

First time I noticed mine being loose was coasting to a stop I took both hands off the grips at the same time for a moment (don't recall why) and the bike started into a wobble.  Did the lift/test and tightened them up.  Needs to be done occassionally.

If it is noticeable "notch" or as Saddlebum suggested front/back movement of the forks, then change the bearings.  With your low mileage I don't believe it is your bearings or grease.

This is the link if you didn't already see it - 

( @Freebird - pictures missing in this thread)

 

Edited by XV1100SE
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 I agree with tightening the steering head but I also discovered the Clearview windshield has more turbulence in the interstate. Its wider than the stock by a couple inches on each side. I would love to change my steering head but I imagine changing the steering head is a big project. 

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