Wobble above 60 mph - Kawasaki Versys Forum
Versys-X 300 General Discussion Please post any 2017+ Kawasaki Versys-X 300 related topics that DO NOT fit into any of the other topics here.

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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Wobble above 60 mph

I've gotten a head-wobble when riding on interstates above 60 mph and there is turbulance from traffic moving < 150 feet ahead of me, or during weather-related buffeting. It is a continuous rapid shaking where the bar-ends move about 3/8" to and fro. Tire pressure is normal. I've ridden above 70 mph on isolated roads and the bike was fine. Anyone experience and correct this?
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 03:04 AM
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Tell us some more on your bike, age, km done, and any recent maintenance done , tire change...just be aware of tank slap for the time been.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 06:23 AM
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Happens to me whenever I am behind a big vehicle like a bus or a big van. Regardless of bike, tire pressures, bike load etc. Sometimes it's just bad turbulence for which you can do nothing.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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2017 new X 300 that had no miles on it before my test-ride two weeks ago; bike was made in 2016, so grease on axle (if any) has been drying out for nearly 3 years. No binding or strange noises when turning. I can't lift front wheel to test further since no center stand yet. Tires fine. I have about 400 miles on it.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 08:20 PM
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Sounds abnormal and dangerous. There shouldn't be a vibration like that. Turbulence, yes, but your description of "rapid shaking" sounds like an instability of some sort. I'd guess either a wheel or the headset not properly tightened, but I'm far from an expert.

High speed wobbles can be deadly. The bike gets into an oscillation which can quickly become violent and throw you off. I wouldn't ride this bike on the highway until you get it properly checked out.

One note: a very rearward weight distribution can cause a high speed instability. Normal weights in the factory luggage should not get you near such limits.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-23-2019, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth300 View Post
2017 new X 300 that had no miles on it before my test-ride two weeks ago; bike was made in 2016, so grease on axle (if any) has been drying out for nearly 3 years. No binding or strange noises when turning. I can't lift front wheel to test further since no center stand yet. Tires fine. I have about 400 miles on it.
since its new and under warranty, get it checked by dealer. You will need to lift the front wheel to find any misfitting or alignment problem. Please get it checked at dealer and meanwhile take it easy. Be safe.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
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since its new and under warranty, get it checked by dealer. You will need to lift the front wheel to find any misfitting or alignment problem. Please get it checked at dealer and meanwhile take it easy. Be safe.
Rode the bike yesterday for 2 hours in heavy traffic on roads with various quality, stretches over 60 mph, with buffetting from weather and trucks, and I got no head shake (though a minor weave after strong side gusts). The bike is stock with less than 500 miles on it, with no maintenance done yet. I'm going to return ride on the highway where the head shake happened to see if the road surface or camber were unusual.

Last edited by Seth300; 01-24-2019 at 02:34 AM.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 02:30 AM Thread Starter
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Sounds abnormal and dangerous. There shouldn't be a vibration like that. Turbulence, yes, but your description of "rapid shaking" sounds like an instability of some sort. I'd guess either a wheel or the headset not properly tightened, but I'm far from an expert.

High speed wobbles can be deadly. The bike gets into an oscillation which can quickly become violent and throw you off. I wouldn't ride this bike on the highway until you get it properly checked out.

One note: a very rearward weight distribution can cause a high speed instability. Normal weights in the factory luggage should not get you near such limits.
The oscillation was about 1/4" to 3/8" and rapid, and faded after I slowed. In about 75 miles of riding since, some at freeway speeds, there's been none. Other riders have experienced this, at least two on Advrider. If I take it to a shop, I have to make sure they do not use a floor jack under the oil-pan or exhaust pipes, as I have no center stand yet.

Last edited by Seth300; 01-24-2019 at 02:35 AM.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 09:59 AM
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I'm going to return ride on the highway where the head shake happened to see if the road surface or camber were unusual.
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The oscillation was about 1/4" to 3/8" and rapid, and faded after I slowed. In about 75 miles of riding since, some at freeway speeds, there's been none. Other riders have experienced this, at least two on Advrider. If I take it to a shop, I have to make sure they do not use a floor jack under the oil-pan or exhaust pipes, as I have no center stand yet.
Be careful!

I've experienced various instabilities due to bad road surfaces but never anything that is a consistent oscillation nor that easily resolves with slowing down. Grooved pavement and tar snakes can cause wobbles but they aren't oscillations, more like random small wanderings like a tire is going soft. Aerodynamic buffeting is pretty obviously aerodynamic because it hits your body (and helmet!) along with the bike. One of the worst rides I ever had was across the west desert with a screaming quartering tail wind because of all the turbulence.

Basically, it sounds to me like either something is loose on your bike or your center of gravity is too far back, or possibly a wheel or tire issue. Don't underestimate the ability of Kawasaki to assemble your bike incorrectly! Or to have used incorrect parts like the wrong size bolt or they left out a part like a spacer. A bad tire can cause oddball vibrations if it is out of balance, out of round, or has an internal defect. I've had a number of such tire problems on cars through the last 40 years, and I always buy well respected brands. You might have loose wheel spokes making the wheel too flexible.

If I were you I would stay well below the speed you had the vibration at. Wobbles can go from minor to catastrophic faster than you can react. Check out youtube for "motorcycle wobble".
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
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Be careful!

I've experienced various instabilities due to bad road surfaces but never anything that is a consistent oscillation nor that easily resolves with slowing down. Grooved pavement and tar snakes can cause wobbles but they aren't oscillations, more like random small wanderings like a tire is going soft. Aerodynamic buffeting is pretty obviously aerodynamic because it hits your body (and helmet!) along with the bike. One of the worst rides I ever had was across the west desert with a screaming quartering tail wind because of all the turbulence.

Basically, it sounds to me like either something is loose on your bike or your center of gravity is too far back, or possibly a wheel or tire issue. Don't underestimate the ability of Kawasaki to assemble your bike incorrectly! Or to have used incorrect parts like the wrong size bolt or they left out a part like a spacer. A bad tire can cause oddball vibrations if it is out of balance, out of round, or has an internal defect. I've had a number of such tire problems on cars through the last 40 years, and I always buy well respected brands. You might have loose wheel spokes making the wheel too flexible.

If I were you I would stay well below the speed you had the vibration at. Wobbles can go from minor to catastrophic faster than you can react. Check out youtube for "motorcycle wobble".
Good advice, thanks. It lasted about a minute until exiting the highway (and slowing). Wondering about the review at https://www.iol.co.za/motoring/bikes...zz-on-14322057 saying "although it did show a tendency to mild head-shaking on fast downhill corners, which kept our average through the ride and handling section down to 118km/h (73 mph)" in a "bumpy test section". How bumpy? I wish the reviewers had taken it to Kawasaki, happy to keep the review-media happy, and then provided the cause to fix quickly under warrantee.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-24-2019, 12:36 PM
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Be careful!
...Wobbles can go from minor to catastrophic faster than you can react....
Back in the '60s I got into a TANK-SLAPPER speed wobble on my '62 Triumph 650 while riding on a major highway in Alberta, at around 60 mph. As it happened the bike went 45 degrees LEFT, right across the OTHER travel lanes and BETWEEN two cars, then into the ditch on that side, thankfully at a lower speed.

Scared the crap out of me, BUT I WAS LUCKY!

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-25-2019, 08:52 AM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but do I remember from car days that a wobble at one certain speed was a problem with a tire/wheel balancing and that a wobble at all speeds was an alignment problem?? Maybe his front wheel/tires need to be balanced or balancing beads added??
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-25-2019, 11:28 AM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but do I remember from car days that a wobble at one certain speed was a problem with a tire/wheel balancing and that a wobble at all speeds was an alignment problem?? Maybe his front wheel/tires need to be balanced or balancing beads added??
IF Chuck was referring to MINE - it was caused by the standard steering-damper that the '62 Triumph came w/. When I bought it from my older brother, he advised me to turn it tighter when I was going on the highway, which I had done. AFTER ending in the ditch on the OTHER side of the road I loosened it off, then when I got home again I did some trouble-shooting.

The damper was a rod that went vertically thru the frame's steering-stem to a threaded piece that centered on a tit under the steering head. When I checked it I noticed that there was a slight amount of "slop" around that tit, which, when the damper was tightened, allowed a few thousands of an inch of FREE-PLAY to an otherwise SNUG area, and for whatever reason that morning had started moving, increasing its amplitude to the point that I got the tank-slapper happening. I was able to fix it by SQUEEZING the two sides together (when NOT attached to the bike) in a vice just enough that I had to 'tap' it into contact w/ the tit, now WITHOUT any PLAY either when loose or tight.

My initial drag-racing was done using that particular frame, and I NEVER experienced anything similar ever again!!!

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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-25-2019, 12:11 PM
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No, Fast Eddie, was referring to original poster. He has a brand new X300 straight off the show room floor. Not sure if they even do a tire/wheel balance at the factory or when assembled, but thought that might be the source of his problem. It reminds me of when I bought my 95 Jeep Cherokee for off road use. I never had it, but many members of that forum said they had a big wobble at about 60 mph that almost threw them off the road. They all called it the Cherokee Death Wobble.

Forty years away from 2 wheel fun. Sure is great to be back smelling the roses!!!
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-27-2019, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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It's been about a 100 miles since the rapid head shake and it has not happened again, despite riding at the same speed or faster, in buffetting conditions. It's possible that the front tire was overinflated. I've also tightened some wheel spokes on both wheels; some were quite undertightened.

Last edited by Seth300; 02-21-2019 at 06:04 PM. Reason: additional info
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post #16 of 22 (permalink) Old 01-28-2019, 02:53 AM
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keep posted as you cover more miles.
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post #17 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-21-2019, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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Now at over 1000 miles, and though wind buffetting sometimes causes instability and a slow, uneven head wobble - it is not at all like the rapid mechanical oscillation I posted originally. Along with the changes above, I've raised the shock preload from 3 to 4. I weigh 195lbs. with the back-pack, using the tall seat. The next mod will be to remove the windscreen.

The original wobble looked somewhat like this, just as rapid but movement was less (about 1/2" at bar ends):

Last edited by Seth300; 02-23-2019 at 08:48 AM. Reason: info
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post #18 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2019, 09:26 PM
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I presume you must have already considered this as you posted the link to that video, but the person who originally posted that video on YouTube says (in the comments beneath it) that he fixed the problem by fitting a new rear tire. The bike had been sitting in the showroom for a while, so perhaps a flat spot developed on the tire.
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post #19 of 22 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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I presume you must have already considered this as you posted the link to that video, but the person who originally posted that video on YouTube says (in the comments beneath it) that he fixed the problem by fitting a new rear tire. The bike had been sitting in the showroom for a while, so perhaps a flat spot developed on the tire.
As of 1650 miles, the wobble never recurred. I've lowered the front tire pressure to 28psi, tightened some spokes that were undertightened, and raised the shock preload from 3 to 4 (I weigh 195 # with gear). I will be checking the tires to see if there are balance weights. It may need tire rebalancing regardless, due to the issue you raise. I'll also check the steering head bearings this spring, as the bike does get upset by strong turbulence on freeways, and I may remove the windscreen to help with that.

Last edited by Seth300; 04-16-2019 at 07:18 AM. Reason: update
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post #20 of 22 (permalink) Old 07-03-2019, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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At 3300 miles, wobble never returned.
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