compiled & edited by Kristian #562
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.
For Tool Tips and Bolt Sources See the Tools FAQ
Picking up Bad
Vibes - What can come loose or break?
Steve Johnson #F6501
See What can I check for Sources of Vibration, below
Any number of motorcyclists have commented that the F650 doesn't vibrate like thumpers years ago. Well, it is a motorcycle and it is a single, so be aware (as with any machine) that there are vibrations and consequently, things get loose. This doesn't happen just off-road, but be more aware, check your bike more often when riding off-pavement where road surfaces are not so smooth.
The first thing that I lost were the stainless steel Allen-head bolts that keep side panels in place. Solution: Blue Loctite or spares.
After a ride to Batopilas in Mexico's Copper Canyon I discovered that the front fork panel - it covers the brake assembly, etc - was missing. Solution: Blue Loctite, etc. A trip to the local dealer and I went into plastic body panel shock.
That same ride into Batopilas produced a faint noise and a funny feeling in the front forks. I received all kinds of advice. Most thought the head bearings had taken a beating going down into the canyon. It turned out to be the keeper nut. it had loosened a bit. it is the nut which sits atop the triple tree and is located between the uprights for the handlebars. Solution: 40Nm (25Ftlbs) and Blue Loctite.
Recently, I thought that at 36,000 miles the head bearing might need some attention. It had been about 20,000 since they had been replaced with Timken bearings. When I turned the bars hard to lock on either side, there was a slight, but detectable click. Before tearing my hair out and the bike apart, I checked the 17mm nuts that secure the handle bars mounts. These are located on the underside of the triple tree. One was just a bit loose.
Aftermarket items can get loose. My Ohlins shock has three components. One item is mounted in place of the emissions cannister (Sorry, EPA.) and the stainless steel clamps supplied with the mounting kit broke. Solution: Four plastic bundle ties that give with the bike's vibration. The legendary vibrating taillight, which BMW denies exists, has been reported by many F650 riders. Jesse bags offer a solution in that the cross brace for the bag mounts butts up against the license plate bracket preventing the vibration of the taillight assembly. Just buying Jesse bags to keep the taillight filament intact is expensive. Jesse bags are the greatest, but still....Well, just construct a crosspiece, tinker, think about it.
Of course the main solution with bad vibes is to get in harmony with the cosmos, like man, you know, when the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter is aligned with Mars...it is karma, man. Blue Loctite helps if you are out of karma.
Fasteners came loose! Last August we rode to the Black Hills (from St. Paul,
Mn) and after that 1,000 or so miles (one way) I had a very slow (maybe a
tablespoon per day) oil leak at the bottom of my engine. I was mystified as to
why until I did the 6,000 mile check after I got back and found almost every
single bolt on the engine's right side anywhere from 1/16th to 1/8th loose!
I'm thinking riding the bike for hours at a time at speeds averaging 75 mph
rattled 'em loose. Once tightened, the oil leak ended. Before this I
pooh-poohed the "check all fasteners" part of the 6K check-up. Never again!
by Claude #312
Some of the bolts that hold the front body work on the F650 thread into clips which are known as tinnerman clips (there are other names too but that is sort of generic). These are made of sheet metal and aren't really made to stand up to vibration. You can't use Loctite on them either.
There are some similar clips that incorporate a nut with nylon insert which I have seen on aircraft. If I can find them I plan to replace all the other clips I can.
Two ways to secure a nut or bolt which are used on aircraft and which may have some application here are safety wire (or cotter pin) and nylon insert lock nuts. And you never use the same lock nut over again. throw it away and use a new one. Loctite is OK on a bike, but where it is really important, like the oil drains, I am going to start drilling and wiring. By the way, Loctite will dissolve some paints and will cause crazing of plastics with loss of strength or cracking and breaking.
Another alternative to using Loctite is RTV Silicone Sealant (Form-A-Gasket, usually orange, blue or black). This doesn't seem to have the side effects that using Loctite does with plastic parts.
My Bike seems to Vibrate an awful lot. What can I do. ?
by Kristian #562
There a number of sources of vibration on the F650, and if you've been through the list below and it STILL feels rough, then I'm sorry I can't help you any further. Perhaps you just swapped from a very smooth 4 cylinder to the F. Hey it IS a SINGLE, after all and while this is one of the smoothest Big Singles out there, it still vibrates a bit.
This FAQ Deals with Vibrations that appear to come through the bike, not your vibrating head , which may be from either too much beer or more likely from Buffeting, caused by Wind Turbulence. If you're looking for information on Buffeting, which is another animal altogether, you need to go the Buffeting FAQ. If you are looking for the source of Strange Noises, see the Strange Noises FAQ.
Here's a list of known and suspected sources of vibration or possible solutions to reduce your vibrations. They are in no particular order and while it’s not an exhaustive list, these are the most common sources and hopefully will help you quickly identify your problem.
1. Bar-End Weights.
Aftermarket Handlebars FAQ for
Details of Aftermarket Bars
Some of our bikes seem to have come without these or at least, someone maybe forgot to put them back on when they installed heated grips or the Acerbis type of Hand Guards, which are fixed to the end of the handlebar, as opposed to the BMW hand guards, which are fixed a the pivot of the Clutch or Brake. The Bar End Weights sit at the end of your handlebars and dampen the engine and road vibrations. They are plastic coated steel, quite heavy and they can and do rust, if your bike is left outside. If you don't have them, put them on, you'll notice a big difference. Some say they were left off the ST, but I have yet to verify this.
“The weights are needed if you plan to install the BMW handguards. If you don't have heated grips, the weight P/N is 32 71 7 658 947. Be sure to specify heated vs. non-heated as it was a point of confusion at the local dealers here. Make sure you get the bolts as well. I think the weights and bolts were close to $30. By the way, the weights make a major difference in vibration reduction.” Kristian, Newark.
2. Engine Mounting Bolts.
These often vibrate loose with Driving or Engine vibrations and can contribute to a lot of Vibration through to the handlebars. These are Large Bolts with primarily Nyloc Nuts that fix the Engine to the Frame. Some are very hard to get to. You will need a 17mm socket for the Nut and an 8mm Allen key Socket to hold the Bolt. To get to the UPPERMOST bolt behind the Engine you will need to Remove the Tank. The Nyloc Nut types are mainly at the front of the Engine. They are located here: Uppermost Front, Next one Down (Easy to miss as behind Exhaust), Bolts 3 and 4, Lower Rear (Smaller), Upper Rear. (Just in Front of Carbs).
For the Classic, no-one can actually find the EXACT Torques. Some folks have used 50Nm with no Problems. The Classic Manual says Front and Rear Footrest Bolts and the Centrestand Bolts all get 50Nm. If the GS CD says 41Nm, then 41Nm-50Nm has to be about right.
For the F650 Classic (5#)
Engine/Crankcase to Main
Frame at (Lower, Rear)------ 41-50 Nm (Bolt 10, R)
Engine/Cylinder Head to Main Frame at Top
(Bolt 3, L)
(L= Right Picture), (R= Right Picture)
From the F650GS Repair Manual CD:
Bottom Truss to Frame ----------------------------------------------------------- 21 Nm (Bolt 1, L)
Centre Stand to Frame (GS Only) ------------------------------------------ 41 Nm
Cylinder Head to Frame, Adjusting Sleeve ---- Zero Play, max 5 Nm
For the Classic, the bolt at the top, above the carbs is the same as the two bolts in the front that hold the loop is the same as the bolt at the lower front of the motor is the same as the bolts at the rear of the loop. They're all the same, 17mm nut and 8mm Allen.
Did you tighten the TOP engine mount (Rear of Engine)? You'll need to remove the gas tank. Tighten both the bracket that goes to the frame and the bolt that goes through it. On a Classic, the rear bolt of the gas tank goes into a bracket. On the other side of that bracket is another bracket. That other bracket has a hole in it. A bolt goes through the HEAD and through that hole. That is the TOP engine mount bolt. The reason I say to check the TOP one is that the others are all really simple for the dealer to get at, no disassembly required. A lazy tech will tighten the other four or five and call it done. The TOP one has been the culprit for several folks. Might not hurt to get a new Nyloc nut for that bolt if you find that yours is loose. Flash #412
3. Gel Grips or Soft Rubber Hand Grips.
See the Hot Grips Installation FAQ
These are self explanatory, but Richard 230 swears by them. Easy to install, can be better than just Hard Rubber. Just take off the Bar End Weight (one Allen Key Bolt in your toolkit) slide off the old Grip, (note the inside end of the Throttle Grip sits OVER a bit of plastic that actually works the throttle cable) and slide on the new one.
4. Exhaust Mounting.
See the Exhaust FAQ or Exhaust Modifications GS
Some Staintune and Remus Exhaust Mounting Welds have been know to Crack. The Staintune is lighter than the Stock Muffler, so perhaps that is where the Vibration comes from. If it is the latter, there is no solution for this, unless you want to replace your stock muffler. Sean #1015 Ottawa Canada - 25-Jul-02
Vibration and Stock Muff. I went back to stock this spring from a Ron Wood (Now that thing was loud!). I found the vibration lessened and several handling characteristics as well as fuel economy improved. Also despite the hype I have not experienced any noticeable loss of power. One problem have had is the engine running a bit rich because the previous owner also tinkered with the carbs and air-intake when he put on the squid pipe. I have yet to un-do the changes, but I do keep a close eye on my plugs and have to clean them every few hundred kms just to be sure. I'm psyching myself up to tackle the carb job. Sean #1015.
5. Tyres & Rims
See Tire Opinions FAQ & the Faq-Tires
Check your tires are installed the correct way around.!
The F is somewhat unusual in that the drive chain is on the right side of the bike. Pointing this out to the service department, and maybe putting a piece of masking tape on the rim with an arrow showing the direction of travel, may help prevent the tire from being mounted bass ackwards on the rim. If they're a Japanese shop, they're probably accustomed to the drive chain on the left and may not realize the F is different unless you point it out. Also cause of Wobble, Poor grip etc. James #523 CT.
I solved this changing tires, now I ride with Michelin T66X and the problem in my opinion is solved. How are your tires? Mine are 80% street, 20% off-road. Riccardo
TKC-80's. I'll add that at higher speeds (70+mph) I have been getting some head wagging (the bikes not mine). Not a lot and seems to be induced by turbulence from other vehicles. There is less of it when I'm in clear air. I'll bet most all tires of this type do it. BradG#1002
Check your Wheel Weights haven't fallen off and your tires/rims are properly balanced.
6. Aftermarket Bike Mods
GS Aftermarket Frame
When you changed to the Touratech foot pegs, you eliminated the rubber isolation that came with the stock pegs (assuming you have a GS), as I'm not sure what the Classic F had for stock pegs. Someone else mentioned the change in vibration after the conversion, just a few days ago on here. RDW
7. Oil Level
See the Oil Change FAQ or the GS Oil Change FAQ
I have had that problem and found that I was low on oil. The bike smoothed out with proper level added. Tully, NYC, #1076
8. Top Box.
See Aftermarket Luggage FAQ and the Aftermarket Luggage FAQ GS
Cause N°1 : There is too much movement possible between the Rack and the Topcase
Solution : Place a Thin Rubber Mat between the rack and the bottom of the Topcase. Here's another look.
Cause N°2 : The Key Lock is Vibrating
Solution : Graphite (Grease) inside the Key Lock
Cause N°3 : Things inside the top case vibrate against the Top-Case Walls
Solution : Rubber Mat against the walls, Foam ...
Cause N°4 : The thin cover of the rack is vibrating against the rack itself (there is vibration even if the top case is not set on the rack)
Solution : Remove the Thin cover or Inset Foam
Cause N°5 : You have a Rattlesnake on the Saddle !
Solution: Put it in the Topcase !
Here's a few comments and suggestions, gleaned (over time) from the Message Board about Top-Box Vibrations, which may help you :
As soon as I hit 4000rpm I get a hell of a buzz that seems to be coming from behind me. I have a GIVI mounting system consisting of both side mounts and the adapter plate that fits over the stock rack. They seem to be pretty tight, so I'm thinking it may be something else. Anyone have any ideas on what to check?
I used to get vibes around 4k rpms when I would ride without the GIVI case on, just the mounting plate. The two pieces of plastic that are held together by the 4 tiny little screws were vibrating, actually, more like buzzing. I put some very thin foam rubber in between a while back, and just recently rode for the first time again without the case (it's always on). I didn't notice any buzzing anymore. I never had buzzing when the case was on.
I put some foam between the plastic piece and the plate, and that seemed to do the trick! It's pretty easy to strip the holes with those tiny screws, eh?
The foam also worked for me. I went to the hardware store and bought some big washers to put under the nuts, so that they would get a better and more stable purchase on the stock rack's holes that are used to fasten the GIVI mount to. I also bought some slightly longer bolts that were needed to accommodate the thick foam that I used between the mount and the rack.
I only had to put stuff between the two plastic plates, not between the metal bracket and the plastic mount. Richards mount may be different than for the big mono-key systems. GIVI has two types of mounts, one universal and one that has a special bracket made for the f (also costs $50 extra). the mono-key mount has these 4 tiny little screws that hold down a plastic cover. that's where the vibes are with this mounting system, not between the plastic and the metal.
I put a 1/2 dense foam rubber pad that I had around the garage between the plastic 30L top box mounting plate and the plastic F650 rack. The plate is held to the rack by four 6mm bolts that fasten to wavy sheet metal brackets that are made for a tube-type luggage rack. I replaced the brackets with large flat washers that better conform to the flat bottom of the F650 rack, and replaced the bolts with longer 8mm items (to accommodate the additional distance caused by the pad thickness).
I would add that changing the exhaust system and adding hard luggage, particularly to the rear rack, can increase vibrations on some bikes (in my experience, at least). I had really bad vibration once with my Funduro. My problem turned out to be caused by my installation of my Staintune muffler, together with the BMW top box. When I removed the top box, my bike's vibration smoothed out and returned to normal. With the box in place, it felt like a paint shaker. Richard #230
9. Anti-Vibration Gloves (Mason #631)
10. Bar-Snake (DavidHPark #711)
See the Aftermarket Handlebars FAQ for Details of Aftermarket Bars
To get rid of vibrations use the Barsnake.
ALZ - standard for BMW OEM bars.
LV4 - liquid version for aftermarket bars
www.barsnake.com. Better than weights.
11. If you have a GS, and Surging/Stalling
See Custom Fixes for S & S
A few riders have noticed that either using a Power Box (Fuel Nanny) or updated ECU software also reduced vibrations.
Vibration above 5K rpm. I had the same problem until I installed the Fuel Nanny. The (heavy) Wunderlich bar raisers seemed to help a bit, too. Anders
12. Bumpy Ride
See the Wheels FAQ
If the wheel (s) look OK take a look that the nuts holding the handlebar risers to the triple clamps aren't loose, and that the steering head bearings are not too loose. I have yet to see a perfectly smooth road in my area. Marty #436-Chicago-97 F650F
13. Plug Leads and Caps
See the Plug Caps & Coils FAQ
14. Check your Suspension Spring Preload
See the Suspension Tuning FAQ
Problem: (Not so) Good Vibrations. I own a 1994 F650 Funduro with 17,000 miles on the clock, full service history, recent service. Over the last 6 weeks it has developed distinct engine (?) vibrations from about 4,000 rpm upwards. The bike is restricted (don't know about outside Europe, but here bikes can be restricted to 34bhp according to the kind of license the rider has). It has never vibrated like this, I was able to push it up to just under 80mph at ca. 4,700 rpm, when the restriction kit stops any more fuel going into the carbs. The BMW dealer I use say that there is slightly more vibration than normal but can't find anything (e.g. checked the engine bolts). It's now so bad that doing 70mph on the motorway feels like the engine might be blowing to pieces. No need to say, 3rd and 4th at the same rpm similar feeling. Any ideas anyone, please!!!!! Martin, F650 Funduro (1994, the original), Forest of Dean, England.
Solution: I think I've found the solution IT'S THE SPRINGLOAD. I tightened it several weeks ago and completely forgot about the connection. Lowered it last night and went out for a test ride. Seems to have improved considerably.
15: Engine Guard Bolts
See the Aftermarket Engine Protection FAQ or the GS Aftermarket Frame Accessories FAQ
Gas Tank Mounting Plate
See Gas Tank Removal-Replacement
Problem: Bad Vibration between 4500-5500 RPM I have a 97 FT650ST with 25,000 miles. I have developed a bad vibration between 4500-5500 RPM. When I shift and the RPM's drop the vibration kicks in. I'm also experiencing a coolant leak from the left side of the motor by the water pump. I don't think they are related but want to put as much info out there to find out.
Solution: I have stripped the bike down. One of the bolts that mount the tank plate had sheered off. The tank mount plate was loose. Thanks for the help. PeterG. '97 FT650ST.
See Chain Sprockets FAQ
Mine developed vibration when the countershaft sprocket nut came loose. It was still held in place by the locking washer but it was loose enough to turn a little with my hand. Will in CA.
Parts can I safety wire to make sure they don't come loose?
If you ride your F650 off the beaten path very much, you may have encountered loose or missing parts. My latest adventure can be called The shift lever that wasn't there. After 4000 mules to New York and (almost) back to San Antonio, I pulled out to pass (and downshift) and viola! My left foot was flapping air!
The immediate solution was to find somebody with a pair of ViseGrips. Actually, that's not difficult in Central Texas, even on a Sunday afternoon. After I got home - in a driving rain, by the way - I contacted the dealer who contacted BMW about warranty. Shift levers that fall off are not a warranty item.
Since I was not about to pay another $47 for a second replacement, I found another Allen head bolt, only slightly longer than the original, put the thing in a drill press, and drilled! See photo #1. A bit of wire from my old Ford Repair Kit, and viola! No more missing shift lever. See photo #2. Blue Loctite is also a great friend. Check everything before you ride. BTW, I think BMW is really low for not covering the missing lever. It just fell off!
Have a look at the Sump Plug FAQ for why you should tie-wire the Sump Plug.