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Author Topic: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra  (Read 5876 times)

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Cruisin

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Has anyone heard anything about 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra’s front end steering and handlebars violently shaking so bad at slow speeds that it throws the rider and passenger off the bike???  It has happened to my wife and me.  Here is what is going on with my bike.  

June 2011 my 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra with 6,300 miles on the bike developed a steering wobble during deceleration from around 40 to 30 mph.  I took the bike to the HD dealership that has been doing all the warranty work on my bike.  The mechanic adjusted the steering head bearings.  Immediately after that service my bikes’ steering and handlebars started to shake at slow speeds of less than 10 mph.  I took my bike back to the dealership and the mechanic torqued the steering head bearings to the tighter side.  Three weeks later I took my bike back to the same dealership for the third time for the same problem.  This time the mechanic replaced the handlebar riser bushing.  The shaking happens only under certain road and parking lot conditions while driving less than 10 mph, such as an upslope on the road, even a small upslope, rough pavement, or uneven slanted pavement.  Each time the dealership works on the bike the front end steering and handlebar shaking stops for a while but then it slowly comes back and is progressively getting worse. I should mention that I usually ride solo.  

June 2012, I decided to go on our HOG chapter 8 day ride to Durango Colorado.  My wife rode with me as a passenger. Two days before going on the Durango trip I had the same HD dealership install new front and rear tires and replace the rear brake pads.  

Very early in the trip the front end steering shaking got much worse, developing into a very dangerous and violently shaking problem.  Throughout the entire trip at slow speeds of below 10 mph or stopping, the handlebars and steering on my bike would suddenly shake violently.  The violent shaking was so bad that I could not stop the handlebars from shaking, and it took every bit of my strength each time to bring the bike to a stop without falling over.  It made no difference if I was riding with no passenger and empty saddlebags and empty tour pak.  I have been riding motorcycles for over 30 years and I have owned other big Harley touring bikes.  I have never before experienced such violent handlebar and steering shaking.  

One day near the end of the trip while driving slowly and stopping at a stop sign the violent shaking was so uncontrollable that the bike was thrown to the ground, throwing myself and my wife off the bike.  During my fall the side of my helmet slammed into the stop sign and I was further thrown onto the ground, landing on my head.  My wife and I were each thrown more than 5 feet from the bike.

Two days later we returned home from the Durango trip.  I dropped my wife at home and I took the bike right away to the HD dealership that has been servicing my bike.  The service manager test drove my bike and when he returned he said, ‘there is still something wrong with the steering’.  The service manager and the dealership owner told me that they can no longer work on my bike without first getting authorization from the Harley Davidson Motor Company.  They asked me to write them a letter describing the problem.  The service manager also gave me the 800 phone number for the customer service department for the Harley Davidson Motor Company and he told me to call them about the problem. I did.

Ever since returning home from the Durango trip my bike has been parked in the garage.  I am not riding it because it is very scary not knowing if the handlebars will suddenly start violently shake at street or highway speeds.  If it did it would definitely cause a terrible crash.  This problem is so severe that I fear for my safety when riding this bike.

The Harley Davidson Motor Company is unwilling to try to fix the bike unless I sign a release of liability.  I told them that I cannot sign a release of liability for a known problem that threw my wife and me off the bike.  My bike is still covered under the 2 year factory warranty, and I purchased the 5 year extended warranty.  Verbally the HD dealership has said that they will be buying the bike back from me.  But so far they have not put anything in writing and they are dragging their feet.  I am frustrated with dealing with this problem for over 1 year and I am at the point of hiring a lemon law attorney.

If you or someone you know has a 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra or just a Road Glide Ultra that is experiencing a front end steering shaking problem at slow speeds, I would like to hear about it.  Thank you for reading this far.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 11:30:40 AM by Cruisin »
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Cruisin'

cvostu

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Re: Front End Steering and Handlebars Violently Shaking
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2012, 09:56:09 PM »

Last spring I found a 2011 CVO RG ultra at a dealer in west palm beach. It was a consigned bike with only 700 miles showing.   I bought the bike on a sunday.  On the way out of the dealer,it started wobbling right away at about 40 to 30 mph.  While slowing down.  I wasn't sure why, but I rode it home anyway.  About 40 miles down the turnpike.  It seemed ok at speed. Just more buffeting than I was used to.  Upon slowing down, it started doing the wobble again,,  now I was friggin pissed.  No reason they should have let that bike out like that.   I was told the owner wanted to sell it because he was a little guy that couldn't handle the bike.    BS,, the bike had a horrible wobble and felt dangerous and scary.   Another problem I had was with the fuel management system.  I called them,  stopped payment on my check and had them come pick that piece of crap up at my house the next day.   No way was I gonna put up with that on a new bike. No matter how much I paid.  I'm sorry you are having these problems.  You may want to write to Terry (Midnight Rider) on here.    He is very knowledgable with the problem you are having.  Good luck,, I hope you get it worked out.  If you read on here, road glides are prone to the "wobble ".  It's very unfortunate and who knows why?   I went for a bat wing bike.   Just for that reason,,
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 07:16:20 AM by cvostu »
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Rock N Roll

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Re: Front End Steering and Handlebars Violently Shaking
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2012, 10:10:40 PM »

Crusin, sorry to hear you are having such a big problem.  I too have a 2011 CVO RG Ultra.  I too had a problem with a "wobble" primarily when slowing down below 40 mph.  My dealer tightened the neck bearings to 1.5 rotations.  So far I have not had any further problem.  I'm certainly not an expert but considering how bad your bike seems to be, I would have the neck bearings replaced.  There have been quite a few people that have experienced  this problem.  I hope you get the problem solved.  The bike is well worth the effort!  Good luck!  Ride safe. 
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dlaws01

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You definitely need to secure the services of a good attorney and don not ride the bike again. Neither let the dealership touch it again until a settlement has been reached.  That bike is a danger to you and your rider and you should be compensated for your damages.
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lilcoot

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Bizarre.  Broken motor mount? :nixweiss:

Go to a local paper or news station.  Many have a reporter who investigates defective products and shoddy business practices.  Hopefully, the dealership will bend over backwards to correct the problem before the story airs.  Contact the BBB and get a lawyer ASAP.

Sorry to hear about this.  I hope you can get it resolved soon.  A new '12 or '13 CVO Road Glide should be the least HD should do. :2vrolijk_21:  They should be grateful that you and your wife weren't hurt seriously.

Dan
« Last Edit: September 10, 2012, 01:27:22 AM by lilcoot »
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Twolanerider

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You need to get the refusal to work on the bike within the warranty period in writing.  Get it from everyone who is telling you they can't or won't work on the bike.  Also get this supposedly mandated liability waiver request in writing. 

Warranty work is a contractual obligation.  Short of buying the bike back they really don't have a choice but to work on a legitimate warranty claim.  You're letting them get away with telling you things they can't and do so without documenting it.  Document their requests and denials every step of the way.
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cahdbiker

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Crusin, I hope you get a new bike out of the deal, but  and I know this is elementary,  did the dealership replace or examine your front wheel bearings? I read thru your post and I didn't see any mention of that. If I missed it I apologize. Believe me I am on your side. It sucks that we are having problems with these 40K motorcycles. Harley needs to sell a T shirt that says "THAT'S NORMAL" OR " THEY ALL DO THAT" Best of Luck CAHDBIKER.
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cyril

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My Rio red does it if i let go of the bars any speed (yeh i know) It would go into a slapper.
Cruise on no problem ?? cruise off its a definate.

My previous 09 se3 let go anytime no problem.
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Midnight Rider

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Do all of the things mentioned above about getting all this documented.

Yes, there have been some issues with wobbles on the RG's, but it is generally corrected with PROPER adjustment of the steering head assembly.  If the bearings in the steering head are defective, or damaged due to improper initial adjustment and subsequent damage, no amount of adjustment is going to solve the issue.  They need to be visually inspected.  There's some other possible causes, but they need to diagnose the damn problem, not you.  Since you had both tires replaced, that rules out a bad front tire.  A warped wheel is something that should be checked.  Wheel bearings. Total alignment of engine, tranmission, frame, rear wheel/tire, front wheel/tire.  All of those things are things that a competent shop would know to do, if they weren't too damn lazy or had a care in the world about their customer's safety.

First thing though is to get all this stuff they're telling you in writing, particularly the release of liability documents (unsigned by you, of course).  A letter from an attorney would likely be all it took to have them all chitting all over themselves to take care of both you and the bike.

Stuff like this makes me ashamed to even be riding a HD.  Blatent disregard for buyer's safety is absolutely disgusting.
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In 9 years, I am on my fourth Bagger. Every one of them would oscillate or wobble consistently under certain conditions. The pre 09 bikes were very prone
to swing arm flex and vertical wheel misalignment while cornering hard at high speed. This is know as rear steer. The newer chassis with the "improved" steering rake is prone to decell head shaking. The same thing that makes it turn better under power makes it unstable while decelerating. A modern MC would have a steering dampener to quench the harmonics and prevent it from escalating into a full blown tank slapper. The problem is the Harley spec for their own non dampened head set complete bullchit. The Harley fallaway spec is as laughable as their crank shaft run out limit. A major improvement can be made with a simple headset adjustment. Put your bike on a center lift and get the
front wheel off the ground. Tighten the head set down until you can feel just the very slightest amount of drag. Just enough drag that the handlebars will stay in any position you leave them in with the wheel off the ground. The difference will be night and day. The reason the Road Glide is more prone is the lack of weight on the headset. The weight of the Batwing acts like a flywheel giving some resistance to the beginning harmonics of headshake. If you have a Batwing, another improvement in stability at speed can be had by removing the spotlights. They create the majority of the turbulence that unsettels the steering as you roll up behind semi trailers. Harley's are like diamonds in the rough.
They just need a little polishing and tweaking outside the Motor Company's guidelines to get em right.

SG
« Last Edit: September 21, 2012, 05:30:36 PM by Fullsac Perf »
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cyril

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Re: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2012, 03:26:33 PM »

Harley's are like diamonds in the rough.
They just need a little polishing and tweaking outside the Moto company's guidelines to get em right.
I like that & you`re right !
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lilcoot

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Re: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2012, 06:14:15 PM »

In 9 years, I am on my fourth Bagger. Every one of them would oscillate or wobble consistently under certain conditions. The pre 09 bikes were very prone
to swing arm flex and vertical wheel misalignment while cornering hard at high speed. This is know as rear steer. The newer chassis with the "improved" steering rake is prone to decell head shaking. The same thing that makes it turn better under power makes it unstable while decelerating. A modern MC would have a steering dampener to quench the harmonics and prevent it from escalating into a full blown tank slapper. The problem is the Harley spec for their own non dampened head set complete bullchit. The Harley fallaway spec is as laughable as their crank shaft run out limit. A major improvement can be made with a simple headset adjustment. Put your bike on a center lift and get the
front wheel off the ground. Tighten the head set down until you can feel just the very slightest amount of drag. Just enough drag that the handlebars will stay in any position you leave them in with the wheel off the ground. The difference will be night and day. The reason the Road Glide is more prone is the lack of weight on the headset. The weight of the Batwing acts like a flywheel giving some resistance to the beginning harmonics of headshake. If you have a Batwing, another improvement in stability at speed can be had by removing the spotlights. They create the majority of the turbulence that unsettels the steering as you roll up behind semi trailers. Harley's are like diamonds in the rough.
They just need a little polishing and tweaking outside the Motor Company's guidelines to get em right.

SG


Good gawd, imagine if Ford or Toyota made a vehicle that had driving issues like this due to a poorly engineered frame!  There would be immediate recalls, the media would pick them apart, and their sales would take a hit.  Why is HD not held to the same standard?  Apparently, free market forces don't apply to the MoCo. 

Being an American icon has its advantages, like being able to sell products that aren't up to snuff.

For $40,000, we should expect diamonds, not turds.  :soapbox: :soapbox:  My SG is stable as a rock in wind and turbulence, thank gawd.  But, I really feel for the people here who are having potentially life-threatening problems like the one described in this thread.
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Midnight Rider

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Re: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 10:56:07 AM »

In 9 years, I am on my fourth Bagger. Every one of them would oscillate or wobble consistently under certain conditions. The pre 09 bikes were very prone
to swing arm flex and vertical wheel misalignment while cornering hard at high speed. This is know as rear steer. The newer chassis with the "improved" steering rake is prone to decell head shaking. The same thing that makes it turn better under power makes it unstable while decelerating. A modern MC would have a steering dampener to quench the harmonics and prevent it from escalating into a full blown tank slapper. The problem is the Harley spec for their own non dampened head set complete bullchit. The Harley fallaway spec is as laughable as their crank shaft run out limit. A major improvement can be made with a simple headset adjustment. Put your bike on a center lift and get the
front wheel off the ground. Tighten the head set down until you can feel just the very slightest amount of drag. Just enough drag that the handlebars will stay in any position you leave them in with the wheel off the ground. The difference will be night and day. The reason the Road Glide is more prone is the lack of weight on the headset. The weight of the Batwing acts like a flywheel giving some resistance to the beginning harmonics of headshake. If you have a Batwing, another improvement in stability at speed can be had by removing the spotlights. They create the majority of the turbulence that unsettels the steering as you roll up behind semi trailers. Harley's are like diamonds in the rough.
They just need a little polishing and tweaking outside the Motor Company's guidelines to get em right.

SG

Great post, Steve!  :2vrolijk_21:  You described an easy way to get the thing set right and forget about it.  I have always thought all the "fall away" stuff was BS because there are too many variables involved with regards to clutch/brake line tension, GPS mounts on the bars.  This friction method is a much easier way to do the adjustment.  Good advice.
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Sometimes it takes a whole tankful of fuel before you can think straight.
I had the right to remain silent, just not the ability...

Gone, but not forgotten...2011 FLTRUSE with
Fullsac X Pipe w/2" Baffles
Legend Air Ride Rear Shocks
Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 Front Suspension
Clearview GT13 Windshield
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Re: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2012, 11:27:10 AM »

If you go to Bonneville and most other timed top speed events and enter your Harley, you will fail the tech inspection without a steering dampener or stabilizer.
In some classes they even limit the degrees of steering head movement allowed. These guys have been watching motorcycles wobble for years while
going in a straight line and have a good understanding of how to prevent it. Think about it, A brand new stock Harley is not allowed to compete in an event
where it will be only ridden in a straight line with no one around for hundreds of feet because it lacks a device that induces stability.
What's that telling us? Lol........... I'm cool with it, I like dangerous stuff.

Steve
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 11:35:25 AM by Fullsac Perf »
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Re: Violent Front End Steering and Handlebars Shaking on My CVO Road Glide Ultra
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2012, 11:29:17 AM »

I agree that the swing test is a very poor indicator of true bearing preload, but if you go overboard tightening the adjustment you can trade one problem for another.  Loose might create a wobble/shake, but tight can create a weave.  Trust me, a severe weave is every bit as dangerous as a high speed wobble.  Been there, done that.

The front end has to be loose enough to self correct as various forces act on the bike.  It does this constantly anytime the bike is moving, and if you restrict the front end too much, either with too tight bearings or too restrictive steering dampers, not only will steering be negatively affected but the rear end will start to move back and forth instead (weave).  So be careful about tightening so much the forks don't move smoothly on their own.  I don't know that I'd want it tight enough to eliminate all swing.  And don't forget that torquing the stem nut will tend to change the adjustment slightly (tighter); always recheck after torquing the nut.


Jerry  
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