What Causes Motorcycle Handlebar Wobble & Weave, and How to Fix

The motorcycle wobble is a real problem for motorcyclists. You’re riding along only to find that your bike starts to weave and shake uncontrollably, making it difficult to control. What’s happening? And how do you fix the problem? This blog post will help answer these questions by going over what causes this motorcycle issue and giving tips on how to remedy the problem so that you can get back out onto the road safely.

What is Handlebar Wobble and Weave?

The motorcycle is divided into two parts: the front and back. The rider controls everything on the front of a bike from their handlebars, while anything not controlled by handlebars is the rear.

Wobble

When the front of your bike starts to shake uncontrollably, it’s called “wobble.” This usually happens because there is an issue with either the front tires or suspension.

At higher speeds, this problem worsens and makes it difficult to control your bike due to an uncontrollable wavy motion that sends the motorcycle into shakes from its shaking front half towards the rear.

Weave

When the shake occurs from the rear to the front, uncontrollably while being ridden at high speeds, at 70 mph and above, it is “weave”, which is often considered more dangerous than a wobble.

Is it easy to control a wobble or a weave?

Many people have experienced a wobble or weave on their motorcycle before. It is easy to control the bike while experiencing these at high speeds for an expert driver, but there are certain circumstances where it could be difficult and even dangerous. If the severity of either one goes up too much for someone who has experience riding motorcycles, they might not react in time with enough physical force which can lead to them crashing.

Are motorcycles designed to prevent wobbles and weaves?

Motorcycles are designed to prevent wobbles and weaves. The tires, wheels, cone-set, forks, brake assembly, wheel bearings, and other rubber parts are designed considering balance, lightness, and excellent handling.

Even a tiny modification to any of the parts could affect the motorcycle’s handling characteristics. As a result, it is important to keep all motorcycle components in their best condition to eliminate all chances of a wobble or a weave.

Reacting to the problem

If your motorcycle handlebar wobbles the first time, please take note of the moment it exactly occurred and if it occurred due to an input made by you. Don’t panic because this can stop you from thinking properly, leading to a panic brake suddenly.

You can try to reduce the wobble effect by not going against the wobble but reducing it gradually. Try holding onto your grip lightly instead of tight; the wavy effect may disappear on its own.

Road-side Checks

Once you have regained full control of the motorcycle, you need to stop and perform a few checks to find the source of the problem that caused the motorcycle to wobble or weave.  

1) Check the tire pressure on both tires with the correct gauge and inspect any bulges if the pressure readings are correct. Inspect the tires for cracks, abnormalities, and uneven tread wear. 

 2) See if a nut or the bolt has fallen off from any moving parts, especially from the handlebar.

 3) Is the motorcycle loaded with extra weight that made it weave or wobble? If yes, you need to try and distribute the weight evenly. If required, take off the load to eliminate the problem.

 4) Check the tire alignment for both tires. A misalignment could lead to handlebars wobbling and the rear-end weaving about furiously.

 5) If nothing is found to be wrong, but the motorcycle continues to wobble or weave, take it to the nearest service center to have it inspected.

Troubleshooting / Causes & Fixes

Apart from the above points, a rider could take precautions in the following ways to prevent his motorcycle from weaving or wobbling. 

1) Suspension:

The suspension plays a huge role in the handling of the motorcycle. Improper tuning, worn-out springs, oil leaks from the forks could alter riding dynamics by a huge margin. If any of the mentioned problems occur, the suspension could get incredibly soft and bouncy- a common cause for wobbles and weaves.

2) Tires

Tire Pressure 

Check the motorcycle tires pressure daily. If they are underinflated, or there is a big difference between front and back tires, you will need to correct them.

Changed Only One New Tire

Changing only one tire to another brand and model can make the bike unstable. When they are not the same, you might have consistent handling problems with your bike. To fix this problem, replace the old tire with a new one of the same brand and model.

Worn Tire

If you have a rear tire flattened from straight-up street touring, you can check the wear indicators. The outside may look like it still has some tread on it, but the middle may be gone. Even from the same manufacturer and model, a new front tire might not work with a flat front profile.

Damage to tires and suspension. 

If the rider hits a stone or a pothole hard while riding, the impact is enough to alter stock suspension settings that could disrupt the motorcycle’s handling. A hard impact is also enough to bend a rim that could give rise to other issues like losing air from the tires. A hard pothole impact is enough to set off a chain of events that could lead to experiencing a wobble or weave. 

3) High Mileage

A motorcycle with high mileage is bound to have parts that are worn out. Over years of running and grinding, the parts connected to a motorcycle’s wheels, like swing arm, handlebar, suspension, bearings, etc., tend to wear out due to friction.

The wear occurs gradually over some time, so it is hard to notice it immediately. As a result, the problem begins slowly, making it even difficult to spot the root cause of the wobble or weave. If you notice the wobbles or weaves despite checking every other aspect, consider replacing old worn-out components on the motorcycle. 

4) Weight

Do notice if any recent changes have been made to the motorcycle’s weight. Any addition or deduction of weight could make significant changes to weight distribution. Check if the motorcycle has been dropped recently to rule out a bend in the forks or handlebars.

5) Wheel Alignment

Make sure that the wheel is not cocked. If you are trying to adjust the chain, then make sure that it is straight. To do this, check if it goes up and down in a straight line. Also, make sure that the distance between each side is equal.

6) Suspension Settings

If you change a setting on the rear shocks, it may also affect how the front work. If you adjust your setting, it should match any changes to your other shock so that they support each other. If you make big adjustments to one end of your suspension without thinking about the other end, you might have problems with your bike at high speeds or when carrying lots of stuff.

Conclusion

Motorcycle wobble and weave are problems that may look like they’re not a big deal, especially if they occur with less severity. But, they need to be addressed before they become more intense and uncontrollable. It is best to arrest the problem in advance by following the points mentioned to prevent accidents. Riding is best enjoyed when the motorcycle is devoid of a wobble and weave problem.

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