Steering FAQ

compiled & edited by Kristian #562
pdates edited by PDuffy#1244, Kristian #562
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.

Crooked Steering FAQ

Chris in Santa Cruz, Stephen, Todd #389, Richard #230, Mark #403, Sean Casey #807

General Questions & Solutions 


Q. I dropped my bike onto it’s side and the bars seem crooked. Anyone know a sure-fire way to check for bent bars? Or is it just if it looks right, it is right?

A1. It could be bent bars, but most likely the handlebar mounts just moved in their little rubber damping sockets. There are rubber mounts in between the handlebars and the top triple-clamp that can shift or move. It could also be the fork brace or finally the forks have moved with respect to the Triple Tree.

Q. Does anyone have a good tip on how to fix a bent handlebar? I dropped my CS and the RHS of the handlebar was slightly bent upward. BP316

A1. Get a long piece of pipe put it over the end of the bar and crank it (preferably with all the levers, grips, etc. off or you MIGHT damage them. Make sure you do it against the steering stops and someone else holds the bike. Don't over do it. Only for slightly bent bars. Kristian#562

A2. I am not sure about the new models, but the 1997-2000 bikes handlebar clamps are rubber mounted and relative loosely bolted to the upper triple clamp. When the bars are hit the clamps will move and they can just be twisted back into alignment. You should not have to tighten them, unless you start to hear or feel a click when stopping or moving the bike around with the handlebars. It can sound and feel like loose steering head bearings, but is usually just loose bar clamps. If you feel this click, then the clamps need to be tightened slightly. This is done by loosening the jam nut that holds the tension nut for the clamps in position and tightening the nut above it. They are located under the triple clamp, where the sun don't shine. Tighten the tension bolt no more than on turn, re-tighten the jam nut and the clicking should disappear.


Checking if the Bars themselves are bent or they just moved. 

Q. Does anyone have a good tip on how to fix a bent handlebar? I dropped my CS and the RHS of the handlebar was slightly bent upward.
Get a long piece of pipe put it over the end of the bar and crank it (preferably with all the levers, grips, etc. off or you MIGHT damage them. Make sure you do it against the steering stops and someone else holds the bike. Don't over do it. Only for slightly bent bars. Kristian#562.

Q. Why are my Handlebars loose/wobbly or a bit off?

Because on the Classic there are Rubber Dampers (Part #4 in gif below) which can get sloppy over time. To fix it, undo the lock nut underneath the Triple Tree (One of the TWO #8's), do up the higher one, then redo the lock not. Do NOT over tighten, you are just tightening against the rubber!

For the Classic ONLY, (the GS does not have rubber dampers, so (a) the vibration feels like it is more and B, the Classic ones can go out of whack more easily.).


Check the Fork Brace.


Problem: Everything looks straight, goes together smoothly...but the bars are askew. If you turn the bars in their mounts so they pointed the same way wa the tire, they are clearly not aligned with the triple clamp.

Forks twisted with respect to the Fork Clamps.


Highly unlikely but you will need to get at the Fork Clamps (Upper, Lower), undo them (one at a time) and realign the forks with respect to the wheel, triple tree and handlebars.


Unless you have really bent the main frame, try this:

If your twisted forks is slightly less serious (and this should work for 85% of the cases) just remove the front wheel, loosen the triple clamp fasteners, re-install and  re-tighten, everything.


Note! Stroking the forks up and down prior to tightening the front wheel!

Damaged Front Suspension FAQ
BradG#1002 & Kristian#562

This simple FAQ provides some tips and suggestions for what to do if you think your front suspension may be damaged.
Refer also the Steering FAQ
and Suspension Tuning FAQ.

  1. With the wheel still mounted, spin the wheel. is it bent? yes, have rim straightened if not too bad, or replaced. not bent? with the wheel removed, stick your fingers in the bearings and turn, is there roughness in the bearings? yes, replace them. no? go to step 2

  2. Remove the front axel. using a large straight edge (level, vernier calliper, etc), and/or possibly a piece of glass, and any other means at your disposal determine if its bent. yes? straighten or replace, now go on.

  3. Remove forks from triple clamps (after removing calliper, fender, etc). Holding the fork slider fast, and using a run out gauge (dial indicator or eyeball), turn the tube inside the slider, and look for any run out at the far end from the axel (top). if you have more than 5 or 10 thou, think about straightening/replacing. you can straighten bent tubes if they are just bent, and not kinked, creased, wrinkled, etc.

  4. Turn the triple clamp in the steering head and feel for roughness or notchiness. If any replace the lower bearing at the least.

  5. Find a straight section of the tubes if possible (if you pull them from the sliders, the section that was originally down in the slider is usually straight cause you were probably braking and close to bottomed at the moment of impact), and try and re-insert it into the triple clamp, do the same for the other side. If the tubes go up with no binding, then the clamps are probably straight, but check for parallelism between the upper and lower by eye as well. if not straighten or replace.

ST with BMW Handguards Hits Fairing


I have an ST with the BMW handguards. I also have a windshield. The previous owner modified the windshield by cutting semicircular portions out of each side right where the handguards would hit. Works well, was neatly done and allows me to lock the bars. I like the handguards, even if it is a "street" bike. I don't have heated grips and those guards really knock a lot of wind-chill and rain off my hands. What can I do.?

I had to switch to the "touring handlebar"
which is a bit wider. Of course they don't mention it when you buy the handguards. You have to buy what they call "the touring kit" (Tall windshield, wider handlebars and handguards).


Bike Steering Oddly 



Q. My recently acquired '97 feels as though it is falling into turns, especially left handers. I did note the front Trail Wing is showing cupping and edge wear, but is that the cause or the result? I can't see anything else visually that would cause this effect.

Q. Won't corner? Don't know if you have found this. My bike wont corner!? Its a battle to throw it into a corner, darn thing wants to stand up all the time. Wondering if it is a suspension setup (front is soft), the tyres (std Bridgestone). It's the F650GS 01 mod.

Q. Fall Off Steering. I ride the F650GSPD. I'm not very happy with it for one reason and maybe its just me. It seems like when I'm turning at slow speeds it feels like all of a sudden the steering wants to just keep going over.

I have actually dumped the bike when trying to turn a slow speeds. Now, I am so nervous that I am afraid to make even a moderate u-turn at slow speeds. when I ride around on Mike's 1150GS it feels just fine even though it is a larger bike. The bike started out as our son's and that is how I ended up with it. Mike lowered it a good 2" in the rear with a Koubalink thingy and then he did moved the forks up in the clamp about 1". Mike thinks this might have enhanced an already loose steering. (what he calls a nimble steering). Does anybody feel the way I do about the steering. I am ordering up 1" links and will leave the forks up in the 1" position, and see what happens?

Q. What are the Common Causes of Weaving?

Weaving Feedback:

"Light" Steering Feel

Symptoms: The steering on my 2002 650GS has gone a bit "light" recently. It feels like the tyres are over-inflated but they're not. Any likely explanation?
Solution: I've just had a call from my dealer and the fork seals are gone after 4,500 miles hence the light steering. I said that I had read on the internet about suspect fork seals on the GS and he said, "don't believe everything you read on the net". Replacing under warranty. AndrewC (UK)


High Speed Wobble

I have been very annoyed by the high speed wobble problem since I got my 02 GSA with BMW bags. Increasing the rear tire pressure helped some, as did moving a couple of heavy small items from the saddlebags to the tank bag. Increasing the preload didn't seem to help. A couple of weeks ago, on the last day of an 11-day trip, we went 780 miles on I-80 across Nebraska and Iowa. In the morning, there was a strong side wind, the wobble was terrible, and I had to slow down because the wobble was so bad. By afternoon, the wind was from behind and the wobble was gone. I hadn't adjusted the load or the shock settings. I've had two different mc mechanics suggest that my bike needs a steering dampener when I described the problem. I have not seen any mention of steering dampeners on this board or the FAQ. Does anyone have any experience with them on this bike?

No. Steering Dampeners are not needed on the F.