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Fork brace for low spwwd wobble?........
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Posted 2/6/2004 11:36 PM (#2209)
Subject: Fork brace for low spwwd wobble?........

Hello.....This is my first post here...... Several months ago I got a sweet 82 GoldWing 1100 Interstate rig with a California sidecar so my 9 year old son with Autism can ride with me. We both love hack'in and look forward to the Spring. The rig rides smooth, but it does have low speed wobble at times. I know a steering dampner would help, but what about a fork brace? They are easy to install and barely visible. Thanks in advance for your replies............Steve
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claude #3563
Posted 2/7/2004 4:41 AM (#2210 - in reply to #2209)
Subject: RE: Fork brace for low speed wobble?........


Posts: 2471
Location: Middleburg, Pa

Low speed 'wobble' is commonn to many sidecar rigs. It may come from many sources. Many sidecarists do , as you mentioned, add a dampner to alleiviate this. Some have done this and actually made their steering heavier at the same time. Personally I am not a huge fan of damppners unless they are really needed.
Sometimes a simple tightening of the steering head bearings will do the trick.Support you bike in such a way that the front whel is off the ground. On a solo bike if you grab the front wheel and try and move it, and the forks, fore and aft you should feel no movement.On a solo bike if the bearings are adjusted properly the front wheel and forks will sort of fall from one side to the other if coaxed from the straight ahead position. If this is the case the steering head bearing are too loose for hack operation. The front wheel should not fall from straight ahead in this manner for a sidecar set up. If it does, tighten the bearings slightly. This simple adjustment may curtaill the need for a dampner.
A fork brace is designed to make the front forks work in unison and negate what is called 'stiction'. Stiction is basically when forks are working against one another. Fork braces also do away with fork flex which is the source of stiction and binding of the front end during bump and rebound when steering forces are introduced.
Proper installation of a good fork brace is typically encouraged on a rig. It may or may not take away the common wobble you are experiencing. Give one a try as they are a good idea for many reasons.
The wobble you experience , if it is easily controlled by keeping your hands on the bars is something that I usually don't worry about . If it is more than that then it can be a real problem that should be addressed.
Sources of the wobble could be flexing of mounts, worn swing arm bearings, loose steering head bearings and even too much toe in. Tire pressure is also a factor if it is too low. Or...any combination of these things.
A word or warning about a newly installed fork brace. Take it easy at first. A few years back I had a friend who had an '82 Aspencade with a Vetter Terraplane attached. Nice rig that was run all up and down the east coast. This outfit exhibited the all too common low speed wobble but it was not a real problem so to speak . It was just one of those annoying things that you deal with. Well the day before we were to head to Kitchner Ontario for the sidecar rally there, Richard, the owner, installed a new fork brace. Out on the road he went to see if his new addition did it's job. The wobble was gone at the low speeds it normally was noticed. He thought all was well until he got up to about 45 miles per hour. At that speed the formerly annoying wobble was now a full tilt tank was to the point that holding onto the bars at all was a challenge.Accelerating made it worse and slowing would not make it go away either. The only way he was able to get home was to totally stop the rig to make the wobble go away and then ride home very slowly. When I got over to his house the next day to leave for the rally the new fork brace was now off the bike and laying on the workbench. Richard never did attempt to put it back on nor did he even want to talk about doing
Was this the fork braces fault? No. I think the fork brace just tightened up the front end to the point that it no longer would absorb the effects of a wobble caused by other things. Was taking the fork brace off the correct 'fix'? No, but it did the job at the time. Richard ultimatly became a cancer victim and is no longer with us but until he took his last ride he was convinced that fork braces were no good. He was wrong on this in theory but in hs experience he was right.
Sorry for rambling hope others will respond as well.

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Posted 2/7/2004 3:22 PM (#2212 - in reply to #2209)
Subject: RE: Fork brace for low speed wobble?........


Posts: 4833
Location: Boise, Idaho
Claude covered it pretty well, as usual. I personally am a believer in the fork brace. I find them especially useful when encountering rain grooves on a high speed roadway. If I had encountered a situation such as Claude's friend experienced, I might feel differently.
I've had a tank slapper at over 70 MPH on I-5 in the Siskyou Mts. when I hit rain grooved roadway and also in the Wyoming Rockies in the switchbacks without rain grooves. Same bike, same trip, a FXLR Harley. When I got back home I installed a fork brace, end of problem. In the 13 years I had that that rig I never had another "tank-slapper". It ultimately ended up with a springer front end and no brace but no more headshake.
Steering dampers: If the rig will handle well with only a small nose wiggle, I won't install one. The sluggish steering and lack of road feel (or feedback) take out a lot of the joy of riding for me. On some heavy or wide outfits they are necessary, or they come in handy if you want to go hands off long enough to zip up a jacket or put on gloves, but most come with the slow speed heavyness of steering.
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claude #3563
Posted 2/7/2004 6:27 PM (#2213 - in reply to #2212)
Subject: RE: Fork brace for low speed wobble?........


Posts: 2471
Location: Middleburg, Pa
Lonnie wrote:
>>If I had encountered a situation such as Claude's friend experienced, I might feel differently.<<

If I gave the impression I am against fork braces I did not intend to do so. The instance I referrd to is not a common occurance. The problem WAS NOT the fault of the fork brace The fork brace,when installed, only defined that there was a problem somewhere else. Where was it? Not sure could have been many different things or a combination of them.
Richard was the type of guy who if things were working okay he would not mess with it. In his mind he had a rig that worked okay and then 'messed with it' by installing the fork brace...things got worse...he took off fork brace and that was the end of 'messing with it'.
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Posted 2/7/2004 7:40 PM (#2215 - in reply to #2213)
Subject: RE: Fork brace for low speed wobble?........


Posts: 67
Location: Coos Bay,Or 97420
My old Wing had a brace on before the sidecar was added and it's probably beginer's good fortune that the only wobble was betwine 5 and 10 mph. Untill I added the top box but, 5# of air in the rear tire fixed that. Untill I had postierior fatigue and slid back on the seat. The cure- take the top box off and standup on the foot pegs and keep the rear tire aired up and all is well.
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Posted 2/7/2004 10:31 PM (#2218 - in reply to #2209)
Subject: RE: Fork brace for low spwwd wobble?........


Posts: 9
Location: Gig Harbor, WA
After I had an accident the forks were replaced on my 1500 Gold Wing.
I had a slight slow speed wobble and the steering was real hard. I had an EZ steer rakeed triple tree added and the wobble went away and the steering became so easy that I can go through sharp curves using one hand to steer if I want to. The new raked triple tree made a huge difference in handling. Just thought this might help but it is a pricey fix.
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