Author Topic: Front end steering loose feel  (Read 192 times)

Offline Unicronicus

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Front end steering loose feel
« on: March 12, 2018, 09:14:09 PM »
Hi guys, new GS500 owner here as of tonight and I already have a query/problem that I'm hoping someone could help pin point for me...

Basically upon driving home tonight it felt like both tyres were flat and causing the steering to feel loose and not accurate...  I pulled over to the nearest service station to check the tyre pressures and the front was down to 21psi so I pumped it up to 30 psi which did make it feel better but it's still not right.

It's not long had an mot so I'm hoping it's not something like the swing arm bushing worn out or wheel bearings...  There was no untoward knocks or bangs during the ride home and the head stock bearings seem fine when rocking the bike front and back.

Any clues or experiences with this issue? I learnt on one back in 2010 and it definitely didn't feel like this.

Offline Watcher

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 09:34:29 PM »
Tire pressures should be 33psi and 36psi for the front and rear respectively, so you're still a little low.  Depending on what you weigh you may even want to go a little higher.  I run 36/38 on my Monster, and I weigh around 210lbs.
Check the tires themselves for any signs of irregular wear or cupping.

If you have a center-stand it's super easy to check steering-head bearings once the front wheel is off the ground, while you're up there maybe check fork alignment in the triple-clamps.  Also on the center-stand you can check the rear wheel and swingarm for any play.

Maybe it's a dumb question, but does your GS still have the fork-brace installed?

GSs are notoriously under-sprung, you may want to play with preload on the rear to get a firmer suspension feel.  The front is not adjustable, though, so unless you want to open the forks up and replace springs what you have is what you've got.  Still, changing the fork oil to something a little heavier may be a way to stiffen it up a bit, if suspension is where we think the cause is.

And it could be YOU as well.  8 years is a long time to go between bikes, you may be misremembering the feel of that bike, or you may have changed physiologically (height, weight, injury, etc) which can change the feel of the bike.


If possible maybe reach out to fellow GSers in your area and have them ride it to get their input.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 09:36:07 PM by Watcher »
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Offline Unicronicus

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 09:59:15 PM »
Tire pressures should be 33psi and 36psi for the front and rear respectively, so you're still a little low.  Depending on what you weigh you may even want to go a little higher.  I run 36/38 on my Monster, and I weigh around 210lbs.
Check the tires themselves for any signs of irregular wear or cupping.

If you have a center-stand it's super easy to check steering-head bearings once the front wheel is off the ground, while you're up there maybe check fork alignment in the triple-clamps.  Also on the center-stand you can check the rear wheel and swingarm for any play.

Maybe it's a dumb question, but does your GS still have the fork-brace installed?

GSs are notoriously under-sprung, you may want to play with preload on the rear to get a firmer suspension feel.  The front is not adjustable, though, so unless you want to open the forks up and replace springs what you have is what you've got.  Still, changing the fork oil to something a little heavier may be a way to stiffen it up a bit, if suspension is where we think the cause is.

And it could be YOU as well.  8 years is a long time to go between bikes, you may be misremembering the feel of that bike, or you may have changed physiologically (height, weight, injury, etc) which can change the feel of the bike.


If possible maybe reach out to fellow GSers in your area and have them ride it to get their input.
Cheers for the reply! What do you mean by fork brace?  Where is it usually? I weigh 95kg usually, so maybe I should put the pressures up a tad... In all fairness it was a lot worse on the rougher road surfaces tonight, especially a patch of road they were resurfacing where the scabber had been over already so maybe it is tyre related? And yes I do understand that 8 years is a long time between riding one of these compared to the array of bikes I have had since, the last being a KTM supermoto! So maybe I'll pump the pressure up, check tyres, bearings and bushes etc... and report back. P. S. Attached is a photo of it

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Offline Unicronicus

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 10:01:54 PM »
Tire pressures should be 33psi and 36psi for the front and rear respectively, so you're still a little low.  Depending on what you weigh you may even want to go a little higher.  I run 36/38 on my Monster, and I weigh around 210lbs.
Check the tires themselves for any signs of irregular wear or cupping.

If you have a center-stand it's super easy to check steering-head bearings once the front wheel is off the ground, while you're up there maybe check fork alignment in the triple-clamps.  Also on the center-stand you can check the rear wheel and swingarm for any play.

Maybe it's a dumb question, but does your GS still have the fork-brace installed?

GSs are notoriously under-sprung, you may want to play with preload on the rear to get a firmer suspension feel.  The front is not adjustable, though, so unless you want to open the forks up and replace springs what you have is what you've got.  Still, changing the fork oil to something a little heavier may be a way to stiffen it up a bit, if suspension is where we think the cause is.

And it could be YOU as well.  8 years is a long time to go between bikes, you may be misremembering the feel of that bike, or you may have changed physiologically (height, weight, injury, etc) which can change the feel of the bike.


If possible maybe reach out to fellow GSers in your area and have them ride it to get their input.
Cheers for the reply! What do you mean by fork brace?  Where is it usually? I weigh 95kg usually, so maybe I should put the pressures up a tad... In all fairness it was a lot worse on the rougher road surfaces tonight, especially a patch of road they were resurfacing where the scabber had been over already so maybe it is tyre related? And yes I do understand that 8 years is a long time between riding one of these compared to the array of bikes I have had since, the last being a KTM supermoto! So maybe I'll pump the pressure up, check tyres, bearings and bushes etc... and report back. P. S. Attached is a photo of it

Sent from my WAS-LX1A using Tapatalk
Shot from front...

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Offline Watcher

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 10:27:54 PM »
Cheers for the reply!

What do you mean by fork brace?  Where is it usually?

I weigh 95kg usually, so maybe I should put the pressures up a tad. 

In all fairness it was a lot worse on the rougher road surfaces tonight, especially a patch of road they were resurfacing where the scabber had been over already...

Welcome to the forum, and good looking GS :thumb:  Careful when quoting, you inadvertently made your second reply extra long by copying the previous photo.

The fork brake is the little metal piece that connects between the forks, it also holds on the front fender.  Seeing as your fender is still there, it's safe to say you still have it.  Many people remove it, and steering and suspension suffers as a result.  Truth be told, a heavier duty piece is often a recommended upgrade.

You weigh about what I do, I'd set the front to 36 and the rear to 38 and see what that does for you.  While you're there, check the age of the tires.  The DOT code on the side-wall (or whatever the equivalent is in Europe if it's different) should include a week and year of manufacture as the last four numbers.  For example, if a tire was manufactured today, 12/3/2018, the last four digits should be 1118 (11th week of 2018).  If the tires are over 5 years old definitely replace them, even if they still look like they have good tread, as with age the tires harden and can be compromised in invisible ways.  If they are 3+ years old I might still recommend replacing them, but they should be safe to ride on so long as they pass a visual inspection and don't have any signs of odd wear or dry-rotting/cracking.

A road torn up for resurfacing (like this?) may cause an odd feel of "looseness", almost like riding on fine gravel, and can really mess with the perception of steering of your bike.  Same like going over a steel-grate bridge, but it really isn't anything too concerning.  If it was this after all you've got nothing to worry about.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 10:30:27 PM by Watcher »
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Offline Joolstacho

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 10:41:08 PM »
Have you checked the fork oil level? If it's too low the front end could be underdamped, too springy, 'hammering' on rough patches of road.
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Offline Unicronicus

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2018, 11:48:53 PM »
Cheers for the replies! The fork seals have just been done, and when it did happen on other road surfaces the terrain wasn't particularly bumpy...  I'm gonna look at the tyres and pump them up more tomorrow as I bet my fat ass is the problem!

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Offline Bluesmudge

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 02:11:47 AM »
Have you checked the fork oil level? If it's too low the front end could be underdamped, too springy, 'hammering' on rough patches of road.

+1 for low fork oil level or a blown rear shock

Offline Torstein

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2018, 06:02:38 PM »
how does one check the fork oil?

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2018, 05:03:34 AM »
how does one check the fork oil?

You can buy a tool that's essentially a dipstick for the forks.  They usually have a syringe on one end so you can easily add or remove fluid.
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Offline gregjet

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Re: Front end steering loose feel
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2018, 08:05:20 PM »
Possible things to check.
Tyre pressure: You have done that. BTW sometimes low rear can feel like a low front.
Axle tightness: Check that both axle bolts are properly tightened. This can feel like a flat tyre. Check the front pinch bolt as well.
Head bearings: If they are too tight or too loose they can feel like flat tyre. Especially if they are "garbbing" ie really stuffed.
Wheel bearings FRONT AND BACK. Get the wheels off the ground on at a time . Grab the tyre at the top at the front and at the swingarm at the rear and try and rock back and forth sideways. There should be NO decernable play. none...
Front fork bushes badly worn may feel like a flat tyre but usually just clunk. Maybe if one was bad ( that would be wierd). Or not put in when the seals were done????
Swingarm bushes maybe. They would have to be really shagged as they are needles.
One more thing is to check the engine mount bolts and the sub frame that allows the engine to come out. If they aren't tight the engine can't act as a structural member and will make the frame feel sloppy.
Other than tha I got no idea...