Fix speed wobble

Have you ever experienced those speed wobbles while riding your motorcycle? It’s a scary experience as your handlebars begin to oscillate from side to side rapidly. So, you will lose control of your ride at any time. If you want to know how to stop wobble on a motorcycle, you need to keep in mind some important points. You might have dealt with it in the past or might not. But you need to be prepared the next time it happens to you. And for that, you should understand why it happens in the first place. After all, you need to stay in control and prevent it from happening.

This guide will discuss how to avoid this dangerous move, especially when at high speeds. But first, we have to understand its causes.

What is This Speed Wobble?

Haven’t heard about a speed wobble? If you want to know how to stop wobble on a motorcycle, you need to know what a wobble is and its causes are. A speed wobble is also known as tank slapper or head shake.

It means your handlebar begins to oscillate quickly from one side to another. It begins to happen when your front wheel begins to elevate from the ground as soon as you accelerate or do your wheelie or even hit a pothole.

If your front wheels settle back right on the road at a particular angle, your wheel will get back into its straight line. But at times, the effort of aligning the forks is a bit too much. Your bike goes beyond the straight line and lands right on the opposite side.

It will result in the swaying of the handlebars. And you will notice it feels as your bike responds to your action of balancing the bike with an equal reaction. You won’t experience a wobble at low speeds. This is something that will only happen at higher speeds. And it only happens at higher speeds, so it is a perilous situation.

What are the Causes of Speed Wobble?

You might be thinking, what are the causes of a speed wobble? Your motorcycle primarily has two sections. It has a front end and a rear end. The speed wobble that is the topic of our discussion can occur at either end.

Oscillation will happen mainly on the front end of your bike, while on the rear end, fishtailing occurs. You will notice whenever you add too much weight to your bike; it will begin to over affect its wiggle rate a lot. And with the increase of weight, the wiggle rate will also increase.

Hitting the potholes, doing wheelies, or rapid acceleration can all cause these conditions as the external force increases on your bike. It can worsen the situation up to the extent where the rider completely loses the controls.

But there are some other causes of this speed wobble. We have listed them to understand how to stop wobble on a motorcycle.

●     Speed

Control speed during wobble

There are different models and makes that might not work when they hit a specific speed limit. But any motorcycle will undergo a lot of strain on certain parts when you begin to corner. And it begins to wobble like crazy. This is because the weight distribution of your bike gets disturbed at high speeds, even with the slightest of jolts.

●     Wheel bearings

Wheel bearings

Another cause of these speed wobbles is wheel bearings. If these bearings get worn out, it will cause lateral axle movement, and it will ultimately cause your bike to wobble. Therefore, you need to ensure your wheel bearings are in tip-top conditions. Also, ensure your bike doesn’t get thrown off balance due to these conditions.

●     Swingarm

When your bike’s swingarm moves too much, especially if you are riding a sportbike because its suspension is more prone to these speed wobbles due to the suspensions, the excessive movement would make your bike start to wobble.

●     Low tire pressure

Another point you need to keep in mind is your tire pressures can also cause speed wobbles. Too little if tire pressure will make the trim unstable, especially when cornering. And when there is too much tire pressure, the point of contact between the road and the bike tire is not that much, resulting in poor cornering. This is precisely why speed wobbles are much more noticeable on old bikes than newer ones.

●     Lateral movement of the axle

When either of your bike’s front or back wheel has a bit too much side-to-side lateral movement of the axle side to side, your bike will begin to wobble. This issue can arise from worn-out wheel bearings or any either problem. 

Correcting the rear wheel is much easier than the front wheels. Correcting the front wheel can cause a crash because it can immediately get entirely out of control. Rear wobble, particularly at lower speeds with a fully loaded bike, might not be that noticeable.

Touring bikes are extremely vulnerable to rear wobbles if the weight you put on them is not adequately distributed right. You need to understand how your bike operates, either when it is empty or fully loaded. It will control any wobbles comfortably even before the situation gets out of hand.

What Should be Done When a Wobble Occurs?

If you are experiencing a full end-to-end speed wobble, the situation is pretty much out of control, and you are more likely to get involved in a crash. This will prevent you from steering. Your bike will continue to go in the direction where the wobble begins to occur for the first time.

There is a varied opinion on this because you need to power your way out of it, while others say you need to slow down and back off immediately.

Slowing your bike down

Slow down your bike

To avoid this hazardous situation, slightly hit your rear brake. You need to understand that hitting the rear end brake might cause the bike to even more wobble. But it will significantly slow your bike down. Your bike will slow down and decrease its wobbling rate.

Now, if your bike will hit a wall or any other dangerous obstacle and you are noticing the crash is inevitable, you must bailout. Typically, a wobbling bike will slow at the rate of 1/8th of a “g” while a sliding biker will slow down at a “g” rate.

At this point, even if the worst happens, you will stop quickly no matter how fast you’re going. And you will stop a lot earlier than your bike. You must also understand that the speed wobbling is greatly relaxing at the rate of speed at which you operate your motorcycle.

In most cases, these speed wobbles begin to occur at 75 miles an hour. But if you have an issue like a loose bearing for steering, your wobbles might start to occur at 45 miles an hour. Therefore, you will have to be watchful and keep your bike in top condition. This is especially if you are going to speed your way or do some wheelies.

Powering out of it

The other way around is to power your way out of it. Give your bike some more speed and tuck yourself in tightly and be more aerodynamic. This also seems plausible because your bike will quickly gain speed. More road grip will be there when it allows you to take control of it.

But a wobble would become pretty much out of control if the loose bearing has caused it. Therefore, we would say that speeding your way out of it is much more applicable if you have a new bike on your hands. While slowing down is a much better option when you have an older bike.

What Can Be Done to Avoid these Speed Wobbles?

Thinking about how to stop wobble on a motorcycle? Well, there are so many riders who are looking for an answer to the same question. The best way to prevent any speed wobbles is to keep your motorcycle in perfect condition. You need to maintain your bike and keep doing those routine checks.

These checks include your bike’s suspensions, aerodynamics, wheels, and steering gaming. This is especially if you purchase used motorcycles. Not only should you go through the motorcycle values, but you also need to look through the full history of your bike if it’s an old one.

You can find if the bike has a history associated with any accidents. They would reveal any mechanical issues within your bike. Make sure to visit your mechanic regularly. Get your bike examined to make sure there is no problem. It will keep it in its optimal working order. Reduce any likelihood that you will experience any of those hazardous speed wobbles.

Final Thoughts

You must keep your bike in top-of-the-line condition. Carry out regular bike checks and make sure everything is intact.

Even if you don’t know how to stop wobble on a motorcycle, the best thing you can do is slow down. Try to get a hold of your bike by tucking your arms and knees in. This will allow you to become aerodynamically one with your bike and gain control more quickly.

You can power your way out of it as well. But that is only recommended if you are not going at high speeds already or will end up in a serious situation. But make sure your bike is maintained correctly, especially the wheels, suspension, and brakes.

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