Help! Bike feels misaligned.

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by MaestroPNW, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. MaestroPNW

    MaestroPNW Me!

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Greater Seattle
    So, I lived with the issue pretty much since I got this bike (used), but I just can't get over it.
    Not sure if it was there from day 1, I noticed it after I had a 0 mph tip-over - but that may be cause I just started looking for issues more attentively since.

    So, the bike ('09 Wee) feels misaligned - I think I have to tilt handlebars ever so slightly to the right for the bike to go straight.
    The first thing that comes to mind are twisted forks. The thing is that when I look down the forks (while riding), judging by the reflectors down on the forks, the forks are just as tilted to the side down low - I don't see any twist.
    I thought of rear wheel alignment, but, at least by the tick marks, everything is straight.
    Sometimes it looks like that the front cowling is twisted to the left, and the bike actually tracks straight - making it look like handlebars are turned.

    How do I deal with this?
    #1
  2. slobinski

    slobinski Inept adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    443
    Location:
    Powell Butte, Oregon
    I had an '09 DL650 that got tweaked out of alignment a bit due to a stupid garage tipover. The front forks looked kinda out of sorts, and a brief ride confirmed it. All I did was slightly loosen the bolts in the triple clamps and roll the bike over to the nearest post in my garage. Using the handlebars, I soundly thunked the front wheel sideways against the post in the proper direction until the misalignment was corrected. Once everything was straight again, I pumped the forks up and down several times and tightened everything back up.

    I installed a fork brace soon after that, which improves the Wee's steering considerably.
    #2
  3. bigalsmith101

    bigalsmith101 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    929
    Location:
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Very slightly twisted your forks in the triple trees when you had your 0mph tip over.

    My suggestion: Stand the bike upright/put it on the center stand (if you have one). Get in front of the bike and hold the front wheel between your knees. Turn the handle bars in the correct direction (while holding the wheel straight), to straighten them out.

    You can also put the left side of the wheel up against a wall, and turn the handle bars to the left. This should straighten out your alignment issue also. (Same concept as above).

    You may have to loosen your triple clamp bolts a bit to achieve this, but probably not.

    Try it out. And if you can't figure it out completely, give me a call (425)903-2632, and I'll come help you do it. I live in Everett.

    --Alex

    #3
  4. MaestroPNW

    MaestroPNW Me!

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Greater Seattle
    Thanks, will give that a try.
    And, thanks for the offer to help - might take you up on that - I pass through Everett once a week or so - what kind of beer do you drink? :1drink

    #4
  5. Crisis management

    Crisis management Latte riders FTW!

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,521
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Good suggestions about the front end but I suggest you do this more thoroughly even if it's just to make sure of the whole bikes alignment (align both front & rear wheels).

    Start with the front, lossen all clamping bolts on the triple clamps and axle, be prepared for the forks to slide up in the clamps, so on the centre stand with a support under the front of the engine. It's quite hard to lift a bike back up off the floor....DAMHIK.
    Tighten the axle first to correct torque.
    Tighten axle clamps about half torque, checking the forks are aligned / centred on the axle.
    Tighten top triple clamp bolts (clamping on fork leg) about half torque then set the bike on it's wheels and pump the suspension up and down as hard as you can 7 or so times. This should ensure the assembly is as straight as you can get it, on perrformance set ups I remove the springs for this to ensure no binding but that is a lot of work for general use.
    Half tighten the lower triple clamp, repeat the pumping action then fully tighten all bolts in the same order, axle clamps, top triple then lower.

    Then back on a centre stand and check the front & rear alignment, rear misalignment is felt in the front (as a mis-aligned front) and the factory alignment marks are only "close", not accurate.
    I use a string line around the rear tyre running up to the front and back down the other side and around the rear tyre again, set usually 2" to 3" (see, I can use your imperial measurements) above the floor. The idea being to get a parrallel line from your wider rear tyre to the front, any rear misalignment will be apparent as the front of the rear tyre pushes the stringline off to one side compared to the front tyre.
    Hope that makes sense, it's actually easier done than said in this case.

    Once both wheels are aligned, check the swingarm alignment marks and either correct them with a punch or note the error.

    Ride and see what it feels like.




    PS, while you are doing this you may as well pull both wheels off, check the bearings, discs and pads, lube everything and re-assemble. :deal


    What do mean you haven't got the time? It's bike maintenance which involves sitting down, contemplatiopn and hydration maintenance! :freaky
    #5
  6. Navin

    Navin Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,475
    Ride over to the nearest tree, pole, building and rap the front wheel against it by force from the bars. Done.
    #6
  7. Fishyhead

    Fishyhead Eremikophobic

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,168
    Location:
    Anaheim, CA
    +1 Did the same to my KLR after the last trip where I dropped it and twisted the forks in the triple. I spent a bit of time and finally got it straight.
    #7
  8. sieg

    sieg Wearing out tires......2 at a time, day after day.

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,015
    Location:
    Southern Illinois USA
    +1 :clap Yep, keep it simple, you didn't loosen all the bolts to get it out of alignment, so no need to do it to reverse the problem. :D IMHO<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #8
  9. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15,967
    Location:
    Chicago-ish
    while true, if you DO loosen the bolts, it will pretty much align itself correctly the first time . . . . . .

    also, retorquing everything can reveal some strange ideas on the part of the previous owner, or even the factory . . . ..
    #9