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Old 11-18-2013, 11:23 AM   #1
ABChaos OP
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Does bike weight affect stability in wind?

Hey All,

I currently ride a 2007 BMW 650 Dakar. I LOVE this bike because it's light and easy to maneuver. But, yesterday I was riding on the rode in high winds and almost got knocked over multiple times (scary!).

Would a heavier bike keep this from happening? For quite a while I've been eying a bmw 800, KTM 950 or 990.

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Old 11-18-2013, 11:26 AM   #2
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My DRZ is a kite in the wind, and my VFR is hardly effected. I would say weight certainly makes a difference. I would also argue sitting straight up on a tall-suspended DS bike makes a bigger difference. It's all about the surface area.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:27 AM   #3
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Yes, lots of weight helps.
You could bolt on an anvil, that way you could remove it for when its not windy instead of having to ride around with all the weight all the time.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ABChaos View Post
stick out your knee in the direction the wind is coming from. makes a big difference.

but, as tallbastid noted, the DRZ is like a kite in the wind. weight is definitely a factor, as is form. the DRZ is a tall, relatively flat from the side bike that also puts you in an upright riding position...basically, it's a sail.

but i do find that sticking my knee into the wind helps a lot on my DRZ. also, i ride on whatever side of the lane the wind is coming from just to give myself some margin in case the wind does actually push me sideways a bit.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:38 AM   #5
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yes so does aero profile of bike .. two days ago R80G/S heavily loaded saddle bags rode from Tulsa to Stroud in gusting head/side winds. a trip that normally takes about an hour .. took 2+ hours. pulled over lots to let cars by .. couldn't go near the 65mph speed limits.
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Old 11-18-2013, 11:56 AM   #6
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Weight is a factor, but it's not the only one. I'm not even entirely sure it's the biggest factor. I find my DR350 to be fairly susceptible to side winds, and it weighs in around 300 pounds. A fully-faired GL1500 SE tops the 800-pound mark, and after having ridden one, I can't say that it's all that stable in the wind. In fact, it can get downright sketchy, especially when you get caught in the wake of a semi trailer.

On the other hand, I used to own a cafe'd GL1000 that weighed in around 550 pounds and it was the most stable bike I've ever ridden in high crosswind situations, despite being right in the middle of the DR and 1500 weight-wise. Part of that, I'm sure, is because of the smaller area vs. the GL1500 and lower COG vs. the DR, but it's just an example to show that weight doesn't tell the whole story.

Bike aerodynamics, weight, and suspension geometry/setup, and weight distribution all play a part in how much a bike is affected by wind. How they all work together and which factor is most important, I don't know, but I do know from experience you can't just look at the weight alone.
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Old 11-18-2013, 01:59 PM   #7
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Oh no, not an answer that involves countersteering ...

I think the size of the gyros may be a greater factor than just overall weight. Bigger bikes have bigger tires and offsetting a bigger gyro takes more force.

It always confuses me when I hear folks talking about how the wind blows them around. It is seldom an issue for me and I think that using the bars to respond to gusting winds is why. This is what I would call "active counter-steering" and it is an effective way to deal with gusts. I've been doing it for so long this way that it became automatic for me.

When riding in gusting crosswinds rarely will I deviate from my place in the lane, though my lean angle changes. As long as I have adequate traction I'll use the bars to maintain my lane position, even in hard, fast gusts whether I'm on the DRZ or something larger.

Practice pressing forward a little on the bar on the side the wind is pushing from to keep the wheels tracking in about the same place in the lane and you can make it a habit.

Give this technique a whirl in the next wind you encounter.

Granted, there was one time coming out of Houston as a Hurricane was coming in where I hydroplaned in a strong crosswind and was blown across two lanes of I-10. That was the worst I've experienced. Once traction is gone all bets are off. In that instance I rolled off the throttle to get the tires back onto the road and made my way onto the service road. Fun, fun, fun.

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Old 11-18-2013, 03:43 PM   #8
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The Dutch on avarege are very tall people, compared to for instance Americans.
With that in mind, other Dutch people generally think I'm a big broad-shouldered guy.
I beleive this provides more stability than the weight of my bike. (1200 Super Tenere)

A smaller, thinner person would be able to get in big trouble on the same bike, in even moderate winds.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by LittleRedToyota View Post
stick out your knee in the direction the wind is coming from. makes a big difference.
And I thought I was the only one who did this. It sounds weird, but works very well.

I think weight and amount of fairing on the bike are the two biggest factors. My Ninja 636 was the worst I've ever experienced, being blown a full lane by a gust. My XL600 weighed about the same, but was slightly better because the wind could blow through it. My boss did even better on his KLR650.

My 410 lb Dorsoduro, a naked supermoto, is pretty good in the wind. When I have my aerodynamic saddlebags on, I see a huge improvement. The only way I can explain it is that they act like feathers on an arrow to keep the bike going straight.

I'm guessing the two KTMs would still feel some buffeting due to the fairings. A 950 Super Enduro would probably do well, as would the BMW 800.
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Old 11-18-2013, 03:57 PM   #10
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Yes weight does have an effect, why wouldn't it?

However, unless I lived in an incredibly windy location and dealt with this all the time, I would not buy a bigger bike just so the windy days are more manageable.

If possible, shift down a gear or two for more centrifugal force, helped some on the Strom.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:07 PM   #11
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Going to say no, Just because on a really windy day my KZ gets thrown around a lot, but my Guzzi stays on track.. The KZ weighs (I think) 590ish, Wet, And the Guzzi weighs 538 Wet.
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Old 11-18-2013, 04:09 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SloMo228 View Post
Bike aerodynamics, weight, and suspension geometry/setup, and weight distribution all play a part in how much a bike is affected by wind. How they all work together and which factor is most important, I don't know, but I do know from experience you can't just look at the weight alone.
Yep, and then factor in the rider size, weight, wind direction, gusts, terrain, etc, and it can alter all of that other stuff as well.

Personally I think weight helps as long as it doesn't increase the mass too much. Not just with the bikes either, being broad in the shoulders can offset my added weight (for stability) at times I'm sure.

Just thinking about this I am recalling a video of an 18 wheeler being blown over on the interstate while the much lighter cars around it appeared not to have an issue.

Passing an 18 wheeler on the GS during gusty winds was interesting to say the least. I didn't mind being blown away from them nearly as much as the feeling of being drawn into them. I try to leave as much of a gap between myself, and anything bigger than me like that, coming or going.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:25 PM   #13
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Going faster helps more than going slower.
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Old 11-18-2013, 05:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 2tallnwide View Post
I think weight helps as long as it doesn't increase the mass too much.
Mass? Meaning? Weight...

I think you meant surface area... but mass means weight (for common people).

More weight helps in a cross wind by slowing the effect, thus giving you more time to react. The weight also helps by reducing the amount of lean you need to create a counter force.
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Old 11-18-2013, 06:24 PM   #15
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Real wind... those that live in the east sf bay know 680 from Benicia to Fairfield. Some people refuse to ride that stretch after doing it once.

Harley is like a tank and is rarely affected
GS feels like the front end is lifting and sometimes can move some - not getting stiff arms is key
R90 doesn't notice the wind at all, strange. Even less so than the Harley.
Duc - I think it almost flew off the Dumbarton bridge on Saturday. It's like a kite but a very pretty Italian one

I'm pretty sure they are listed in order of weight - high to low.
I find speeding up makes it more stable... some theorize the airstream making a 'bubble' that helps... I envision that bubble is still subjected to the same side loads and it's just a gyro thing. If it's a gryo thing, wheel weight in order high to low fits the profile. Harley, R90, GS, Duc

I've only ever pulled over once in about ridiculous winds on the backside of Tehachapi... that was brutal.
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