Alignment, Wobble, Slippage, Suspension etc. - Kawasaki Versys Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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Alignment, Wobble, Slippage, Suspension etc.

Edit: (Adding some background info). I was in love with the bike at first sight/ride. I still love it. However, from the get go, something was just a bit off with the steering. The bike had a ding on the tank so the previous owner might have laid it down. I was riding this bike after a two year break from riding (changing continents and all) and I lowsided on the second day having entered a tightening curve too hot and hitting the brake (!). It was very low speed. But that was not to be the end of it. At the end of first week, another curve, higher speed this time and the same scenario. At this point I had no confidence in my or the bike's leaning ability so another moment of hesitation ended up with braking a more violent lowside. The handlebar was bent among other things. At this point it had the stock Dunlops on it. Those tires felt like the bike was on ice the whole time. After the second incident I replaced them with the Syncs. They are better except for the issues below. The handlebar was first straightened. Visually it was back to it's original shape but the ailgnment was off. I ordered and had put in a brand new OEM handlebar but I think the alignment issue remained. I think the main problem is that the mechanics here have pretty low expectations themselves and are unable to appreciate more subtle issues. So anyway, this is the story. (Sorry it's so long)


Hey guys. Although I have been riding a while I am really not well versed with actual "hardware" side of bikes. This 2007 Versys I bought used, which according to all sources should be a real twisty killer, a seriously stable ride and a bike that stops on a dime, my experience is somewhat different. I am pretty sure there's some sort of alignment/suspension issue and I want to be properly educated before I go to the shop -again. (They say it's fine since the mechanic only did a few short runs).

First issue: When properly squeezing the front brake lever, the bike should come to a straight stop and try to cause a stoppie right? What makes the front wheel slip to one side at max braking? (Scary)

Second: At higher speeds when using the front brake there's a noticeable shake like the bike is going on rippled tarmac. What's this?

Third: When I lean more than 1inch worth of chicken strips (about 1000 miles on Pirelli Pilot Syncs I had the shop install last year) and apply stable - slightly increasing- throttle, the rear loses traction for a second before recovering. (Very scary)

Fourth: The rear brake locks up readily. As far as I can tell by browsing this forum, this is normal.

Fifth: When leaning into curves, it feels like counter-steering is fighting with me. I push it one way but the bike tries to pull the other.


What I've done. I've loosened both front and rear suspension and dumping. It helped. My tires are pumped up to 32/36 psi. I noticed some actual misalignment looking at the handlebar which I've fixed by loosening the tee clamps and pulling on the forks. (Later "fine tuning" by bumping a high sidewalk). Following todays' session, I got it as straight as I can and the bike rode much better than before. The issue with front tire slippage remains.

Extra info: When I let go of the handlebar, the bike steers straight, doesn't pull to either side.

I would appreciate some comments. I am planning to go to the shop again tomorrow. I do not really trust that they will do a good job unless I tell them exactly what to look at and stand by their side while they do it. Alternative places offer a similar service so it's all up to me. I don't really have much tools or experience to perform much of these checks/modifications myself. What is going on?


Cheers.

Oktay


Last edited by oktay; 06-21-2011 at 05:01 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oktay View Post
Hey guys. Although I have been riding a while I am really not well versed with actual "hardware" side of bikes. This 2007 Versys I bought used, which according to all sources should be a real twisty killer, a seriously stable ride and a bike that stops on a dime, my experience is somewhat different. I am pretty sure there's some sort of alignment/suspension issue and I want to be properly educated before I go to the shop -again. (They say it's fine since the mechanic only did a few short runs).

First issue: When properly squeezing the front brake lever, the bike should come to a straight stop and try to cause a stoppie right? What makes the front wheel slip to one side at max braking? (Scary)

A stoppie on a Versys ? Probably not going to happen.

Second: At higher speeds when using the front brake there's a noticeable shake like the bike is going on rippled tarmac. What's this?

Your rotors are possibly warped, pads shot, steering head bearings loose...


Third: When I lean more than 1inch worth of chicken strips (about 1000 miles on Pirelli Pilot Syncs I had the shop install last year) and apply stable - slightly increasing- throttle, the rear loses traction for a second before recovering. (Very scary)


Fourth: The rear brake locks up readily. As far as I can tell by browsing this forum, this is normal.

Rear brake is only good for about 5% of your stopping power unless you are going very slow


Fifth: When leaning into curves, it feels like counter-steering is fighting with me. I push it one way but the bike tries to pull the other.

The rear wheel might not be lined up properly even if the hash marks for the axle say it is.

What I've done. I've loosened both front and rear suspension and dumping. It helped. My tires are pumped up to 32/36 psi. I noticed some actual misalignment looking at the handlebar which I've fixed by loosening the tee clamps and pulling on the forks. (Later "fine tuning" by bumping a high sidewalk). Following todays' session, I got it as straight as I can and the bike rode much better than before. The issue with front tire slippage remains.

Extra info: When I let go of the handlebar, the bike steers straight, doesn't pull to either side.

I would appreciate some comments. I am planning to go to the shop again tomorrow. I do not really trust that they will do a good job unless I tell them exactly what to look at and stand by their side while they do it. Alternative places offer a similar service so it's all up to me. I don't really have much tools or experience to perform much of these checks/modifications myself. What is going on?


Cheers.

Oktay

What happened to require the forks to be re-aligned ?? This may have something to do with your problems.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Right. I see how *that* might be relevant. Editing above. Thanks !!
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-21-2011, 05:11 PM
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Wow.
All of that sounds very wrong and you should definitely try to fix it.

What comes to mind (as mentioned):
- align the forks
- set up the suspension
- check the front and back rotors and pads
- change brake fluid
- align rear wheel
- check frame for damage (i.e. from a crash). This may not be easy to fix but can point you in right direction
- have an experienced rider test it and give you an objective opinion

It seems you already tried and considered all of this, so it's very weird that problem persists.
It's a shame you don't have a competent repair shop you can take it to. I know how's that like.


Just so you know, the bike is worth fixing.
When it's working properly it's a joy to ride.
Best of luck.

Cheers.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-29-2011, 07:48 AM Thread Starter
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Update:

I aligned the forks best as I could. The height of the tubes are a few millimeters uneven but the handlebar is dead straight. How would this manifest itself while riding?

I removed the GIVI windscreen I had (hate how it looks anyway) and installed the stock screen upside down. Better for summer anyway.

I also loosened the suspension a bit more.

These helped immensely and I am going in and out of corners with tons more confidence now. However something still feels just a tiny bit off. Is it possible for the handlebar to be straight but something else about the front tyre be misaligned?


Also, blackberry, you said a stoppie would not happen on a versys, and I don't want it to. But what would happen.? Would the front wheel skip to a side or slide straight? Mine slips from under me at the point of skidding and I don't like it. By the way there's a video of a versys stoppie on youtube. It's not great but it is there.

Also, there was another comment that now seems to be missing. What happened there?

I have yet to find the time to meet an experienced rider friend and get a second opinion. Thanks a lot for the comments. I really do appreciate it.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-01-2011, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oktay View Post
Update:

I aligned the forks best as I could. The height of the tubes are a few millimeters uneven but the handlebar is dead straight. How would this manifest itself while riding?

I removed the GIVI windscreen I had (hate how it looks anyway) and installed the stock screen upside down. Better for summer anyway.

I also loosened the suspension a bit more.

These helped immensely and I am going in and out of corners with tons more confidence now. However something still feels just a tiny bit off. Is it possible for the handlebar to be straight but something else about the front tyre be misaligned?


Also, blackberry, you said a stoppie would not happen on a versys, and I don't want it to. But what would happen.? Would the front wheel skip to a side or slide straight? Mine slips from under me at the point of skidding and I don't like it. By the way there's a video of a versys stoppie on youtube. It's not great but it is there.

Also, there was another comment that now seems to be missing. What happened there?

I have yet to find the time to meet an experienced rider friend and get a second opinion. Thanks a lot for the comments. I really do appreciate it.
If you had alignement problem the tire are probably unevenly used, so maybe that's the "sideway" braking problem

Last weekend I went with a freind to show him a few notion on how to handle a bike (he is new to this and hasn't taken any course so far)
Part of that was to do emergency braking
While my front wheel was slipping away, the bike remained straight upright

My 2 cents

LOP
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2011, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by oktay View Post
Update:

The height of the tubes are a few millimeters uneven but the handlebar is dead straight. How would this manifest itself while riding?
Sound like the result is that the front end wants to wash out to one side...

The front tubes should be the same length below the triple clamp. A few millimeters difference in length at the axle will be exaggerated at the contact patch causing an offset to the side and this only adds more and unplanned for loads during hard braking.

Sounds like your getting it sorted out.

Best of luck
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-03-2011, 01:07 PM
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Unless its horseshoes or hand grenades close enough generally isn't good enough. A "few" millimeters of difference in tube height can and most likely will cause a multitude of problems.

Until you correct the basic problems there is really no way you are going to figure out what if anything else is wrong with it.
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