Troubleshooting Front End Vibes After Tire Change - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Troubleshooting Front End Vibes After Tire Change

Starting a new thread on the subject to try to zero-in on the best strategy for solving the issue.

Situation is new Michelin Commander IIs (front and back) on a 1700 Nomad have generated front end vibration that is intolerable. Recognize that the Commander II is a much harder tire than the stock Bridgestone it replaced. Lowered front pressure a bit (to soften the tire a bit), and it helped a little, but no cigar. Tire was dynamically balanced before installation.

Possibilities include:

1. Bad tire
2. Wrong tire
3. Bad front wheel bearings
4. Bad steering bearings
5. Bad balance
6. ?

I read on another thread that putting a Bridgestone Exedra on the front might cure the problem, or the Allballs steering bearings might help. I hate to buy a new tire as the first fix given that I just bought this one. And the steering bearing replacement is $270 in labor alone. Is it really likely to work?

Would it make sense to first have the tire rebalanced and replace the wheel bearings while its off? If that doesn't work, what is the next thing to do? Is some other strategy better?

I've read that there's an aftermarket fork stabilizer that might help, as the forks on the 1700 apparently aren't stellar. That seems like a last resort, as it looks to me like that would require moving my lightbar.

Any thoughts on how to proceed appreciated.

2011 Nomad: Black & Metallic Gray, Chuckster's Light Bar, Rac'nRay's Throttle Mod, Homemade Oversize Lowers, Kawasaki Trunk, Ivan's Flash

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-20-2016, 10:59 PM
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How long since the tire was installed? If you bought the tire where it was installed, I'd take it back and have them attempt to re-balance it and check out the tire. Could be a bad balance or a bad tire. Several folks have had problems with MC IIs with belt separation. You could have a bad tire.

Basic troubleshooting: what was the last thing changed in the trouble area? If putting on a new tire caused the problem, the problem is most likely with the tire. Eliminate the tire as the problem first before worrying about bearings, etc.
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Last edited by Sabre-t; 09-20-2016 at 11:01 PM.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 05:14 AM
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What product did you use for the dynamic balancing. I've been using beads for a long time and have moved to using stainless beads. The
Dyna beads and other ceramic ones will self destruct over time and you can lose balance. Stainless deform but at .060 the don't break down.

I would have the tire mechanically balanced and if that did not help swap it out.

Gary

SW Michigan

2009 Kawasaki Voyager
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 04:35 PM
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Had a vibration issue years ago after having the front tire replaced on a Gold Wing. The bead wasn't properly seated all the way around. Something to check.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 08:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabre-t View Post
How long since the tire was installed? If you bought the tire where it was installed, I'd take it back and have them attempt to re-balance it and check out the tire. Could be a bad balance or a bad tire. Several folks have had problems with MC IIs with belt separation. You could have a bad tire.

Basic troubleshooting: what was the last thing changed in the trouble area? If putting on a new tire caused the problem, the problem is most likely with the tire. Eliminate the tire as the problem first before worrying about bearings, etc.
Tire is now a month old. How do you know if you have belt separation?

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wooz View Post
Had a vibration issue years ago after having the front tire replaced on a Gold Wing. The bead wasn't properly seated all the way around. Something to check.
Can one tell this by looking? It does look a little uneven to me, but what do I know. I assume the guys at the shop would be able to tell, right?

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 09:53 PM
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I would take it back to the tire shop, have them look at it. Even new in the box stuff is faulty.
what do you have to lose?

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VulcanDan61 View Post
Tire is now a month old. How do you know if you have belt separation?
Check for uneven wear spots, especially on one side or the other. This tire is so new that you may not see any yet. The best way is to have it put on a balancing unit and spin it. Look for out of round spots watching the tread as it goes around. There may not be anything that you can find just looking at the tire on the bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VulcanDan61 View Post
Can one tell this by looking? It does look a little uneven to me, but what do I know. I assume the guys at the shop would be able to tell, right?
The bead should be right up against the rim lip and even all the way around. If there is any doubt, have them break the bead and re-set it.

Installed:
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Chuckster BAK, Trailer Hitch and Cooler Rack
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-24-2016, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Went to the shop today.

1. Bead is fine
2. Had the tire rebalanced. It was off ever so slightly, a small enough amount that the shop felt that I wouldn't notice the adjustment.
3. Replaced the front whee bearings. There was no obvious problem with the bearings, but I replaced them anyway. It was bad enough that I felt I had to try something.

It is marginally better, but still not optimal. It is tempting to conclude that it's a bad tire, but it's not obvious that that's the case. It could just be that the harder Commander II is bringing out weaknesses in the front end, no?

It would cost 3 hours of labor to install allballs bearings in the steering mechanism ($270 in labor alone), and I am reluctant to buy a new Bridgestone Exedra for the front and trash the Commander II, as that's about $150. I think I may just live with it being a bit squirrelly, knowing that the next time I replace the tires, I will will put a softer tire on the front.

My conclusion is that the Commander II is not a great front tire for this bike. Is that fair? Anyone disagree? I wish I had bought a softer tire.

Happy and safe riding,
Dan

2011 Nomad: Black & Metallic Gray, Chuckster's Light Bar, Rac'nRay's Throttle Mod, Homemade Oversize Lowers, Kawasaki Trunk, Ivan's Flash

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-24-2016, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VulcanDan61 View Post
Went to the shop today.

1. Bead is fine
2. Had the tire rebalanced. It was off ever so slightly, a small enough amount that the shop felt that I wouldn't notice the adjustment.
3. Replaced the front whee bearings. There was no obvious problem with the bearings, but I replaced them anyway. It was bad enough that I felt I had to try something.

It is marginally better, but still not optimal. It is tempting to conclude that it's a bad tire, but it's not obvious that that's the case. It could just be that the harder Commander II is bringing out weaknesses in the front end, no?

It would cost 3 hours of labor to install allballs bearings in the steering mechanism ($270 in labor alone), and I am reluctant to buy a new Bridgestone Exedra for the front and trash the Commander II, as that's about $150. I think I may just live with it being a bit squirrelly, knowing that the next time I replace the tires, I will will put a softer tire on the front.

My conclusion is that the Commander II is not a great front tire for this bike. Is that fair? Anyone disagree? I wish I had bought a softer tire.

Happy and safe riding,
Dan
I really don't think the hardness or softness of the tire is going to change anything. All that dictates is traction and lifespan of tire. Harder tires will last longer, but have less traction than comparable softer tire.

A couple things to check before replacing bearings and such. Get the front end off the ground. Get it high enough to allow the handlebar to swing freely. Now you can do a "bounce test". Basically, center the bar and let gravity take over. If it falls freely to one side and bounces back from full lock, the steering head bearing is too loose. I had this on my VN900. Once the bearing was tightened up, the vibration in the handlebar went away.

Another way to test for what I call "death wobble", is when you're cruising. Loosen up your grip some. Does the handle bar pulse back and forth in your hand? If so, see the above paragraph. Also, my mirrors were virtually unusable because the the vibrations.

Now, since I fixed my "death wobble", I do get this slight side-to-side vibration for a moment when walking the bike and coming to a stop. I haven't figured that out yet, but it's not causing any problems either while I ride.

I hope this helps.
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