Harley Wobble

The "Harley Wobble" is perhaps familiar to those who ride Harleys and ride them at high speeds. It's when the front end start...

The "Harley Wobble" is perhaps familiar to those who ride Harleys and ride them at high speeds. It's when the front end starts wobbling on you, and you can't make it stop without slowing down.

A search for "Harley Wobble" on Google brings up a multitude of documents covering this topic, as well as law firms that offers legal services and companies offering kits to fix the problem. There's also several news reports of people suing Harley for injuries.

Here's an article written by a California Highway Patrol officer that talks about Harley Wobble, among other interesting experiences.

I've experienced the Harley Wobble many times, but never while riding in a straight line. It's only when I hit a curve really hot, when there's a lot of G-force at work.

For example, I was riding south along Hwy 62, outside of Yucca Valley, CA, going down the grade through the curves. I think the posted signs measured the curves at 55mph, but I was hitting them at 80mph. At one point, the front end on my Ultra Classic was wobbling so bad I was convinced I was going to lose control unless I eased off on the throttle. That's what I did. A buddy of mine following behind me later told me that I was wobbling really bad and that he thought I was going to lose it.

I usually take a curve between 15-20mph above the posted recommendation, and most of the time I experience some wobble, but it's almost always slight enough not to worry about.

And it's not just FLH models that have this. A friend of mine has a 1200 Sportster, and has the same wobble. I know of a guy with a Softail Springer who has wobble at high speeds, even going in a straight line. Another guy has a Dyna Wide Glide with exactly the same problem.

I suppose most people would say that I shouldn't be riding an Ultra Classic Electra Glide as if it were a sport bike. True. But then again, I don't have this problem on my Yamaha Road Star. That bike is smooth as glass on the curves.

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  1. Interesting that I found this. I have a 2006 sportster 1200 roadster with a bad wobble as well. Primarily happens on long sweepers, above the posted speed limit. Bike goes into shimmies and feels like your going to highside. I've tried everything from tires, springs, different oils, shocks, etc. and none of them have fixed the wobbles.

    I know several others with sportsters that wobble to which only ONE has seemed to cure them. However, he still displays some wobble above 85 in a straight line.

    I feel it's something inherit in their bikes. Although they should be able to be ridden as hard as you can push one, I believe there is wrong with them. Could be the rubberizing of the engine mounts, who knows? But it is dangerous and I plan on selling the bike before I hurt or kill myself.

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  2. i have a custom soft tail that developes wobble at about 75 mph. i have read plenty of other matching stories but few remedies. am i forced to keep my S and S 100 with baker six speed under that speed? or is there a real fix. i dont even need the sixth gear if thats as fast as i can ride it.

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  3. I'm riding my eighth Harley FLH(1st was a 1959), and have never experienced a wobble. A friend of mine had this problem, and fixed it by adjusting the primary chain.

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  4. I'm not an HD rider at all, but this is deja vu to me.

    I rode with HD guys in the pleistocene era, and they often added 6 inches of fork tube to banish tank slappers by increasing rake and trail. This evolved into the ridiculous bike-chasing-a-wheel trend of the 70s B-movies biker fad.

    Why have the other marques evolved without such a reputation? I've ridden bikes from Ariel Square four to Zundapp Super Saber and never had a wheel wobble.

    Well, that BSA Victim had a nasty shudder at speed.

    For $20K, this shouldn't be an issue.

    I don't mean to knock the Motor Co.
    Its just an observation. I understand this is a predominantly HD site.

    Stan
    BMW, Triumph and JAP lover.

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  5. I had the wobble on my Dyna until I got a Sputhe Stabilizer Kit - The kit fits on the engine mounts and prevents the engine from moving side to side (allows the movement to be front to back). For $330, I had a new bike. Note: The kit only fits on Dynas.

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  6. I have a 2000 classic-also had a bad wobble in turns. Only when I replaced the air shocks with a pair of progressive did I realize one of the shocks was shot, anyway problem solved.Make sure one of your shocks is not losing air.

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  7. my 2004 deuce is realy bad in the sweepers as well ... I think my harley days are over... give me a 87 super magna....thats a honda....

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  8. I had my first oil change at the LaCrosse/Onalaska HD shop on Saturday 3 May 08 (odometer mileage 1950). Proceeded to Madison, WI for a wedding reception and overnighter. Sunday May 4th I rode down to meet some BON friends at Mustang Shelly's near Milwaukee for an 80 mile poker run. Coming back I-94, picked up I-90 south (odometer mileage 2400).

    All day long the performance of the big bore stageII and brakes were functioning superbly! Even on the straight-a-ways punching it to match the top speedo numbers was a rush! Took the sharp left sweep doing over 80mph, sweet left hand curve!

    As I was approaching the off ramp two lane exit to the 12/18 west beltline, I slowed down considerably from the high speeds of following the Chicago Autobahn folks. As I entered a very mild right hand sweep of the road that I'd taken at speeds of over 80 mph on my 2002. The front end of the bike started wobbling mysteriously out of the blue on my new 2008 Ultra, since the front was wobbling I applied the foot brake to slow me down, which caused a harder wobbling sensation in the front end of the bike. I was in the left lane, cars on the right side of me, eventually the slower I was becoming the wobbling became so uncontrolable it forced me off into the grass tundra.

    The last thing I remember was looking down at the speedo (65-70 mph) and thinking "this is gonna hurt!" Suddenly I was bouncing like a rag doll and finally ended up on my left side in the fetal position. Layed there for a few minutes and layed onto my backside.

    Fortunately for me, no broken bones, no internal injuries, not wearing a helmet. I was one of five MC accidents that day and the only one to walk home. You should see my dresser! Looks like a MACK truck hit me doing 70mph as if I were stopped and got hit.

    I think my next bike will be a BMW! This was my 4th HD in the last 20 years of riding, none of my others had this problem?

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  9. I'm doing some research as of late, possibly looking at this problem as the cause of my parents Accident.

    They were riding their 08 Electra-glide classic in Washington, he figures they were at about 60Mph and All Dad remembers is it starting to wobble, seeing a flash of the bottom of the bike, And Waking up to Paramedics.

    Mom Still hasn't Woken From the Coma.

    So I'm lookin' at possible causes.

    It's bothering me to see this Wobble as Commonplace. If you can buy a Fix kit, Why isn't this part of the Bike in the first place?

    Any more information anyone has would be appreciated.

    Thanks. Big T.

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  10. sorry, i said 08, it is an 05. . . little typo there. . Big T.

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  11. Imagine riding on a divided highway
    with a car to your right, a car behind you, and a car entering on the
    upcoming on-ramp. I was in this
    situation, running about 75 mph, so
    in order to "clear" myself from close
    traffic, I twisted the throttle up to
    about 83 mph. The handlebars began
    to rip back and forth in 6-8 inch jerks uncontrollably. The slower I got the worse it got, so I gassed it
    wide open and it suddenly stopped. It is definitely a harmonics problem, a gyration out of sync. I've been riding over 40 years, been over 180 mph on two different
    sport bikes and I have NEVER, EVER
    been so frightened for my life. The
    "shimmy" was UN-CONTROLLABLE. Harley WILL have to "step-up" to this problem, and the sooner the better! Barry "Hopper" Hinton_Fulton, Ms..

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  12. Owned my 01 E Glide for 2 years no wobble. At one point my engine bolt came loose still no wobble. Put on a new rear tire last year no wobble. Put on a new front tire, ran 500 miles and out of the blue i have a 80 mph wobble. It is harmonic and will break if you speed up or slow down, nothing aggressive just a change. I wonder if the "harley" tires are a problem.

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  13. That is definitly a tire issue (last post) The balance is off or the tire is defective. The dealer should have found this when they balanced the tire unless they bubble balanced it which I doubt.

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  14. W C H
    September 2,2008

    I have a 2008 Ultra Classic and have the front end wobble also. Dealer put a performace stabblizer for the rear end but the front still wobbles. I belive its time for a Class action suit against Harley to fix all existing problems with wobble and future HDs. HD will not respond until forced. I'm selling my HD and going to Honda which has a superior product.

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  15. For all of you that haven't heard - Eric Buell that designs for Harley has clearly written that vibration isolated motorcyles need three stabilizers to keep the power train connected to the frame to stop the instability that can occur otherwise, yet contrary to this Harley has built the rubber mounted bikes with sometimes two stabilizers and in the case of the Dyna and the V-Rod, one stabilizer. So what's happening is the swingarm is able to move left and right creating the wobble you all feel in the handling. To fix this you must add the third stabilizer and always be sure to check that the rubber components are in good condition, especially the front motor mount. True-Track has been the leader in solving this issue for 13 years. Take a look at their website - www.true-track.com It is very informative!
    As far as the sportsers which are a rigid mount it is usually tire choice and wear that creates the wobble.

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  16. i have a 2007 flstsc and passing on a open curve 90mph the front end started wobbling so bad i thought i might wreck, i think that the engeneers should be ashamed i never would of bought the bike if i new this

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  17. I bought my first and last Harley FXDI in 2005 when I returned from Iraq. I have been riding for many years and I have never had any issues until I started riding the Super GLide. At speeds over 70-80mph I would always have wobble in the front end. The only way prevent the wobble was to slow down. Accelerating only made the issue worse. When I spoke to the dealership about the problem they simply told me to slow down instead of looking at the bike. I have since sold the bike and bought a BMW.

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  18. Just finished a 1000 mile ride to Little Sturgis on my new 2007 FLHTC and found that in high speed sweeping turns the bike wobbles pretty bad. I could minimize it by powering out of the turns as soon as it started.
    My friend had a really bad experience in dense traffic on a interstate turn when her Heritage Softail started a bad rumba for no reason.
    I am installing one of the kits as soon as possible. None of my Yamahas or Suzukis had this problem.

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  19. I heard there is a brand new product that is getting ready to hit the stabilizer market. Anybody heard of Smooth Rider? I understand they were selling a limited number at last year's Sturgis Rally. Buddy of mine got one and says it eliminated his problem.

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  20. There are good Harley's wobble. First of all good handling on a motorcycle comes with an 60/40 front weight bias, a lot of Harley s are closer to 40/60 The suspension is the cheapest low tech stuff available, same with the tires they come with. The weight is to much and the frames are to week and the engine shakes so bad it is rubber mounted and cannot be used as an integral part of the frame. The triple clamps are flimsy and the swing arm is weak. Combine this with offset motors and poor build tolerances, single disc brakes, and it is no surprise they wobble. Further more people tend to overload them which magnifies all these flaws. I also know an engineer at Harley and when asked about excessive wobbles he said and I quote " We probably just had another bad batch of frames." People buy Harley s because they look nostalgic, well it is not just a look they are truly nostalgic and nostalgia wobbles.

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  21. I have a 2007 Dyna with the 103 BB kit and andrews cam with rienhart 2-1 exhaust and a power comander tuned to run with fastest. It has been over 110 many times and has more to go I just get nervious about the windsheid at that speed. I had the front tire replaced by HD and left the dealrs shop and drove onto the freeway and here goes my wobble problem at 75 on up. I drove back to the dealer and the tech and the dealer both drove the bike and said theres no wobble tech claimed he took it up to 105 without a wobble. I drove my bike home with the wobble. I took off the 2 1/2oz. weights and out Dyno beads in 1oz. That helped but did not cure the problem. I just ordered a new Metzler tire and am waiting for it to arrive. I read a few articles about this subject and someone suggested changing the air presure in 5 lbs increments. I had three tire gages and all three read different. So I purchased a gage used for big rigs with a hose and handle. Turns out I had 20 lbs of presure in the tire not 38 lbs. I put 40 lbs and no wobble. at first I accidently put 80 lbs and had to lower it. Dont know it the 80 helped or not ut the problem is fixed. I wish everones problem was as simple as mine. Good luck be safe!

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  22. 2005 FLHR / 95" - 95whp 98tq / Progressive front and rear / Metzler 880s front and rear with correct PSI / Tru-Track

    Bike still wobbles at high speed in corners.

    I love my bike and will continue to run it like a rental, but I am aware of the bikes limits and what to do when I reach them. Some day I'll sort out what makes the bike do what it does or I'll just hop on my hardtail that has no rear end wobble when I want to get on it.

    ~Artimis

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  23. I was surprised that it showed up at lower speeds , I had the impression
    that it was mostly a high speed phenomenon . The only time I had any
    indications was at 75+ on the freeway in heavy truck traffic - and my front
    tire was low both times . Scary as hell to feel the bike start to wobble
    and nothing helps but to slow down .

    ReplyDelete

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