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Headshake?


Thor
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What is the proper way to deal with headshake? I hear a lot of theories, and I have my own learned reactions, but I don't really know what I should do.

 

The one that really made me think happened while going down the front straight at Barber. I was in fifth pulling 10,000 RPMs when the front started wobbling. I was leaving the power band and could really power out of it. I could see the brake markers coming up. I was about to do something about it, when it calmed down and I could get on the brakes when I wanted to.

 

The thing is, I realized I don't really know what I should do when I am in a situation where I can't just ride it out.

 

(Telling me to get a steering damper is not an answer.)

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What is the proper way to deal with headshake?

 

Understanding why you got the headshake is pretty crucial to how to deal with it.

 

The primary causes of headshake are holding onto the bars too tight, hard on the gas, hit some ripples, crest a hill, or anything else to lighten the front end and voila! Headshake.

 

If you break it down and slow it down, headshake comes from the front wheel briefly losing contact with the pavement and coming back into contact at a very slight angle other than straight. The wheel overcorrects, and continues the cycle.

 

Much of the time, headshake can be cured by simply loosening your grip on the bars (i.e., if you're leaving a corner HARD on the gas, push yourself back on the bike with your legs vice pulling with your arms). A damper will HELP, but is not really a cure (as you realize).

 

Another reason for unexplained headshake is a bent steering head or other problem on the bike. When this happens, you basically have a front wheel that is mis-aligned with the rear wheel to a point that a "high speed weave" is induced.

 

A few years back at Road America, I had headshake when I clicked 6th gear on the 3 fastest points of the track. There was really nothing to induce it, but it was disconcerting enough that I would have to get off the gas to get control back of the bike.

 

I talked to my suspension tuner and he pulled the front end apart and reassembled it, ensuring it was properly aligned and correctly torqued. Problem solved...

 

In the midst of headshake, you can do a couple of things.

1. Loosen your grip on the bars. As in, hold the throttle open with your thumb and 2 fingers, and that's it.

2. roll off the gas momentarily

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