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Author Topic: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?  (Read 1104 times)

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Offline NY Andrew

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Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« on: March 17, 2021, 10:09:27 am »
So after I did handlebar risers I’ve noticed more vibration/wobbling in the bars and my hands. I assume it’s because extending the bars makes the sensation exaggerated because...science. I just don’t recall this much shaking in my hands before I raised the bars.

I’m replacing the OEM tires to Pirelli Night Dragons and was debating having the shop replace the steering bearing to the recommended all bearings.

But is what I’m feeling even the death wobble? My understanding was the “death wobble” is ONLY when both hands are removed from the bars and it will aggressively shake.

I never ride with no hands on the bars, so is replacing the bearings even worth it? I’ve read some things that say even if you ride with both hands on the bars so it’s not wobbling the minuscule vibrations are still wearing out the tires and forks prematurely?


P.S. Anyone know where to get fork gaiters? Was gonna get some installed but now they’re out of stock everywhere online it seems and not sure if they’re gonna restock.


2018 Yamaha Bolt-R

Offline DrM

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2021, 11:33:52 am »
Your OEM handlebars have weights installed in them to dampen the vibration.  I suspect your aftermarket bars have no damping weights installed.  I suspect what your feeing has nothing to do directly with the so-called "death wobble," but otherwise unattended may tend to aggravate it if you take both hands off the bars while deaccelerating. You can buy lead shot and install it in your handlebars, but it is hard to do with the bars on the bike unless you can temporarily point the open ends up to keep the shot from falling out while you are trying to figure out how to seal the shot in.  I have lead shot, but I haven't installed it, and I haven't come up with a sure fire method to keep the shot contained inside the bars.

Offline NY Andrew

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2021, 12:47:16 pm »
Interesting that makes sense but never heard of it before. Well it’s same OEM bars, just have 4” risers between forks and bars to raise em up.

Good to know about the death wobble.

Is there a specific time when steering bearings should be replaced? Manual doesn’t state a replacement interval just to check and maybe grease up.
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Offline joko

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2021, 04:23:43 pm »
Sounds like your issue has more to do w/ the stock bushings.  Now that your bars are raised up you have more leverage which is why you feel the bars move more than before.

Check out this thread:
https://www.yamahastarbolt.com/technical-discussion/too-much-riser-bushing-play/msg302774/#msg302774

As far as the death wobble goes, I wouldn't worry too much about it especially if you never take your hands off the bars. 

I don't know how long the stock bearings are rated to last, but as long as you can still adjust them to where you don't feel the forks move (when the bike is on a lift) you should be fine.

Some people have replaced their stock bearings w/ alls balls which made the wobble go away, but there are some who replaced who still had the issue.

If your shop doesn't charge too much to replace them it wouldn't hurt to do it.

Offline lunkhead

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2021, 09:23:25 pm »
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Offline NY Andrew

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2021, 09:03:55 am »
[mention]joko [/mention] yooooo thanks man!!! For some reason bushings never crossed my mind and super easy to replace. I do have a good free-play wobble too on em so maybe it really is the bushings! Gonna order them and replace and report back. If it seems to make a world of difference probably won’t worry about replacing the steering bearing then even though I tested yesterday and do have hardcore death wobble with both hands removed but I don’t ride like that so hopefully steering bearing is irrelevant.


[mention]lunkhead [/mention] maybe I’m tripping but I saw no mention of bushings or even tightening anything anywhere in that thread?
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Offline lunkhead

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2021, 03:41:26 pm »
They're metal rings that fit over the ends of the bushings so they can't move. They lock into the OEM bushing's steel sleeves when you tighten them down. I'd use them if I didn't have a C-Spec. Replacing with the stock bushings is a waste of time.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yamaha-Bolt-Handlebar-Hardmount-Kit-/252511610576

Here's the SSCC version:

https://sscustomcycle.com/product/hard-riser-bushings-for-yamaha/
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 04:15:31 pm by lunkhead »
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Offline NY Andrew

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2021, 09:14:55 pm »
Yo I really appreciate that man. I placed the order with PCC and just got an email saying it’s on back order until 4/22 and my maintenance apt for tires is probably around the 10th and I wanna know if the bushings solve the problem so I don’t need to replace the steering bearing so gonna order the SS version and report back. Thanks!
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Offline DrM

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2021, 10:08:10 pm »
@ NY Andrew:
The two items (handlebar vibration and front-end so-called death wobble) are two separate things, and aren't necessarily related, but can interact with each other.  So one can aggravate the other, but fixing one doesn't necessarily fix the other. 

Fixing the handlebar vibration can be done either by adding (more) weight to the handlebar ends, or by making a currently rubber mount into a solid metal-to-metal mount. Doesn't mean you won't get any vibration, just (hopefully) less of it that bothers you.

Front-end wobble is more complicated in that wear on the tires, wheel alignment, and the steering head bearings can all be involved.  Some of it may be just how Yamaha builds bikes.  All three Yamahas I have owned ('73 TX650, Maxim 700, 2019 Bolt) had some sort of wobble from the get go.  Conversely, none of the Hondas I have owned had a wobble except after maybe 50,000 miles. In fact I rode my '87 Honda Shadow VT700 when new from northern Virginia to California and back sitting mostly in the passenger seat with no hands on the handlebars -- with nary a wobble even when I accidently ran over a 4"x4" piece of lumber on the way. 

but make no mistake about the wobble on the Bolt-- it can be dangerous and lead to an out of control crash if left to propagate more than a few seconds. 

Offline NY Andrew

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Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2021, 07:27:02 pm »
That all makes sense. Well see what the bushings do. If I can’t find fork gaiters I’m not even gonna bother with the bearing as I was trynna do it all at once so might just wait a long time for all that if the bushing makes a big difference. Figured it woulda shipped by now so hoping SSC doesn’t get it from same manufacturer and on back order as well without saying anything.

Update: Since I commented this I received the email and wouldn’t you know it, I was right...same manufacturer because same back order date UGHHH. Maybe can push the tire install out a month to see what works or doesn’t. Bummerrrrr.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 07:49:10 pm by NY Andrew »
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Offline DrM

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2021, 10:40:58 pm »
That all makes sense. Well see what the bushings do. If I can’t find fork gaiters I’m not even gonna bother with the bearing as I was trynna do it all at once so might just wait a long time for all that if the bushing makes a big difference. Figured it woulda shipped by now so hoping SSC doesn’t get it from same manufacturer and on back order as well without saying anything.

Update: Since I commented this I received the email and wouldn’t you know it, I was right...same manufacturer because same back order date UGHHH. Maybe can push the tire install out a month to see what works or doesn’t. Bummerrrrr.
Concerning Gaitors.  Personally I think the Yamaha gaiters are way overpriced.  I installed a pair of Gaiters (eBay from $16 to $30) for a Harley on my Bolt, and didn't have to remove anything to put them on, not even the plastic fork guards that come with a new bike.  in fact, that plastic fork guards have to stay on to make the Harley gaiters fit, as the bottom hole (or bell, as I call it) is around 65 or 75 mm, which would be too big if the plastic fork guard was removed.

In the first picture below the plastic fork guard is colored in orange with a red circle around it. If it is no longer there (or never was there) than forget this solution.

Installation requires slitting the gaiter vertically top to bottom along one of the vertical mold lines, and also a horizontal slit at the top of the bottom bell on the other vertical mold line so the front part of the plastic fork guard can pass through it.  Then it is just slap it on and zip tie it.

And your finished and didn't have to remove anything from the bike.

In the second picture below is what the Harley gaiters look like as pictured on eBay.

In the third picture below is what the gaiters look like on my bike.

Offline NY Andrew

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Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2021, 09:29:51 am »
They're metal rings that fit over the ends of the bushings so they can't move. They lock into the OEM bushing's steel sleeves when you tighten them down. I'd use them if I didn't have a C-Spec. Replacing with the stock bushings is a waste of time.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Yamaha-Bolt-Handlebar-Hardmount-Kit-/252511610576

Here's the SSCC version:

https://sscustomcycle.com/product/hard-riser-bushings-for-yamaha/
[mention]lunkhead [/mention] I didn’t fully understand at the time, but seems you’re saying with these eBay ones you don’t have to tap out and replace the OEM bushings with the SSC or PCC, these just sit on the top and the bottom? But wouldn’t that added gap from the washer/spacer mean the bolt isn’t as threaded/tight/secure? But it also mentions “This kit will allow you to run flush mount ('hard-mount") handlebars....converting from handlebar risers to hard-mount handlebars.”—I have handlebar risers..


[mention]DrM [/mention] that’s interesting about the fork gaiters. A part of me was lookin for that clean no bug shield look though and I guess could hit the mold-slit facing rear of the bike so not as obvious. Looks great on yours though. I may have to go that route though as I feel they may not be stocking back up on these oddball parts. Thanks.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 09:37:33 am by NY Andrew »
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Offline joko

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2021, 01:39:19 pm »

Offline lunkhead

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Re: Handlebar Vibration = “Death Wobble”?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2021, 04:34:01 pm »
Others have used them but nobody follows up on the details. It appears the washer sits around the inner sleeve so it shouldn't require longer posts or more threads. Look at the dimensions linked below and decide for yourself. They're said to be stainless so the price isn't too bad.

https://black-bolt.blogspot.com/2015/12/yamaha-bolt-riser-bushings-washers.html?m=1
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