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Author Topic: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?  (Read 1849 times)

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1abastarsmda

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Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« on: April 18, 2012, 11:32:04 PM »

When I rode to Key West in December, I developed a wobble while riding through Florida.  When I got home, the dealer tightened the neck bearing.  I didn't really get a chance to ride for the few cold months ahead, and didn't think much of it.  Then we had a nice day, and of course I went for a long ride.  The problem was still there.  My tires weren't looking their healthiest, so I just figured I'll replace those and the problem would disappear.  Wrong!  I took it back to the shop and they replaced the neck bearing.  The wobble lessened, but it's still there and very annoying to ride with it, because it happens at all speeds, but is more noticeable as I speed up.  I noticed that the dealer had put 6.5 oz of weights on the rear wheel (yes, you read that correctly...that is 26 of those 1/4 oz weights on one wheel).  1.5 ounces(6 small sections) were adjacent to each other in one area (that's 6 sections on each side, side by side).  That seemed to me to be offsetting, and that perhaps only 3.5 oz were necessary to begin with.  Anyway, since I was lacking confidence in the balancing, and I was still having a problem, I removed all of the weights and added dyna beads to each tire.  There is no noticeable difference.  Still wobbling, or at this point it might be described as more of a front end vibration rather than a wobble (that's where it's been at since replacement of the neck bearing).

Tonight, I removed the front calipers to see if there was anything noteworthy while spinning the front wheel freely.  I placed a stationary item at the tire edge, then the edge of the rim, and then at the edge of the rotor, and with each I would get a slight variation where the tire, wheel, and rotor would touch the stationary object as I spun the tire checking each area.  I then held onto the right front fork and I can move the wheel to the left to the point that it actually makes a clunking sound of metal on metal hitting.  I had a friend on speaker phone and he could hear it too.  I could not move the wheel from left to right in the same manner.  I do not have a measuring device to determine if it is within the .002" tolerance that is acceptable according to the shop manual.  I also could hear what sounded like a slight rubbing noise and a clicking sound when spinning the wheel.

Okay, now for the questions.  Should I hear the sounds I'm hearing from spinning the front wheel?  (the rubbing and clicking noise).  The wheel still spun freely.  Should I be able to move the wheel right to left to the point that I actually hear it hit the extremity of the movement?  Does this appear to be any indication that I need a new wheel bearing?  Is what I am describing enough to make a noticeable wobble or vibration of the front end?  I'm not quite sure where to look next if this is not the problem.  I'm guessing from there I move to the motor mounts, swing arm bushings, and rear wheel bearings...but I don't know and thus far the dealer isn't being a ton of help on this.  It's more like I have to tell them what I want to try next and they just replace whatever I think should be next. 

I don't know if my description is enough to go on, but I'm willing to listen if anyone has any good input.  I did notice in another thread that there have been many problems with wheel bearings, but nobody mentioned much of anything about the handling with a wheel bearing problem.
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spydglide

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2012, 04:35:38 AM »

Chase'n the illusive 'wobble' cause can be frustrating and expensive, but with all that you've done to this point, new bearings would be my route to peace of mind in ruling out that cause.  I know the brakes cause some of the clicking & rubbing noises you're describing, but if it were me at this point, I'd probably go for a bearing change.  :-\ jmho.  spyder
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1abastarsmda

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2012, 07:28:02 AM »

Chase'n the illusive 'wobble' cause can be frustrating and expensive, but with all that you've done to this point, new bearings would be my route to peace of mind in ruling out that cause.  I know the brakes cause some of the clicking & rubbing noises you're describing, but if it were me at this point, I'd probably go for a bearing change.  :-\ jmho.  spyder

I'm not sure what you mean about the brakes causing some of the clicking and rubbing noises.  With the calipers off, there are no brakes.  I have no idea how the ABS sensor works other than the left bearing is an ABS bearing.  Does it make some kind of noise? 
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spydglide

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 08:20:46 AM »

I'm not sure what you mean about the brakes causing some of the clicking and rubbing noises.  With the calipers off, there are no brakes.  I have no idea how the ABS sensor works other than the left bearing is an ABS bearing.  Does it make some kind of noise? 
No, you're correct....I wasn't thinking straight (too early).  :-[ spyder
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petewerner

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 08:56:28 AM »

I'm not sure what you mean about the brakes causing some of the clicking and rubbing noises.  With the calipers off, there are no brakes.  I have no idea how the ABS sensor works other than the left bearing is an ABS bearing.  Does it make some kind of noise? 

U seem to already have your next point of repair figured out. ;)
If U can actually get slop at the front axle so that U can hear it, if U jack the front up, it should be easy to move it off plane if either side is shot (and no caliper) I would think.. Bearings are cheap when U measure their cost vs. a crash or worse. I would be getting a new shop to look at what U have or get the parts and maintenance books for your bike and change them as per the instructions the books will provide. :D
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grc

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 09:06:13 AM »


To answer the basic question, yes, bad bearings can cause a wobble.  If in doubt, change them.  Harley has had a rash of bearing failures, especially since '08.

As for all the weight on your rear wheel, you need to find a qualified shop.  Any moron who would install that much weight on a wheel and give the bike back to a customer has no business calling himself a mechanic or technician.  If it truly needs that much weight, something is wrong, like maybe the tire is defective.  Or maybe he just left the original weights on the rim and added some more, or maybe he's just an idiot.

Good luck.


Jerry
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North Georgia Hawg

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 09:30:33 AM »

I friend of mine with a '10 SESG just had to replace the bearings on both his front and rear wheels - within a month of each other. His front wheel started making the old grinding noises, so he had those bearings replaced. Then, on a group ride about a month or so ago, his rear bearings started howling, so he had those replaced.

Apparently there was a  "manufacturing problem" of some sort until fairly recently... and previous bearings have often failed. Frankly, I think it was a design issue... but who knows? His weren't wobbling like you are reporting - but any play like you are describing, and I would have the bearings changed out.

You can take your wheels off fairly easily, and just take them to a dealer to have new bearings put in, so they don't have your bike. Pretty inexpensive to do, and would eliminate the bearings as the potential cause of your problem.
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GreatGazoo

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 06:58:43 PM »

I am not sure if this is the same problem.....but

I just changed my tires recently and my front end used to wobble and I complained non-stop about how crappy the handling was. When I changed the tires, I found my front bearing was toast after 6300 miles.  Today I went for a ride and took it all the way up to where she had no more and alas the wobble is gone.  Cornering and handling are like night and day compared to what it was prior to changing the bearing.  Different bike and maybe a different problem, but that is my experince with it going away
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1abastarsmda

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 02:03:12 AM »

I had both front wheel bearings changed and the illusive wobble has been located.  All is well.  Now, I can get on to testing out those new Michelin Commander II tires and see what I really think of them.  It looked like it was the non-ABS bearing (right side) that was shot.
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timo482

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 09:58:02 AM »

the timken wheel bearings WERE a pita - but if they were lubed and cleaned they did last - and all the guys i knew just used a disc sander to shorten the tube a tiny bit every other greasing to keep them tight [had to get a new tube with new bearings ] in a pinch on the road a file and some grease and you could get them to get you home as long as they were not cooked - of course you had to know how to hand pack timken bearings but everybody knows how to do that.

the new ball bearings seem to be really nice and reliable -but when they go bad - there is no fixing them, or even getting home with them.

to
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spydglide

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 12:39:19 PM »


the new ball bearings seem to be really nice and reliable -but when they go bad - there is no fixing them, or even getting home with them.

to

Tim, you could use that statement about a lot more than bearings on the new scooters.  ;) spyder
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spada84

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Re: Will front wheel bearing failure cause a wobble?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2012, 02:24:56 PM »

Loss of front wheel bearing left me stranded in NFW, FL on my 10 SEUC.  Warranty replacement at 54K, but what a PITA.  Rears were replaced at 18K.
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