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Possible steering issues- 97 RT


Still CAL

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I don’t know if there’s an issue or not with the steering. The bike tends to diverge quickly when starting a turn. It’s like it’s unstable in a way that makes it more prone to turning than tracking straight. There’s no resistance in the bearings and all cables are properly routed. No noticeable play in any direction with the forks. Front tire pressure is 32 p.s.i. The wheel turns freely other than the brake drag, and the bike heads for the weeds equally quickly in either direction. 
 

I have a 94 RS, an 05 GS, and an 08 RT, and they appear to steer normally. The 97 RT was my first BMW and I attributed the steering to being unfamiliar with the telelever, but none of the other three behave this way. 


Is this normal for the earlier RTs? Thanks for any suggestions. 
 

 

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6 minutes ago, Still CAL said:

I don’t know if there’s an issue or not with the steering. The bike tends to diverge quickly when starting a turn. It’s like it’s unstable in a way that makes it more prone to turning than tracking straight. There’s no resistance in the bearings and all cables are properly routed. No noticeable play in any direction with the forks. Front tire pressure is 32 p.s.i. The wheel turns freely other than the brake drag, and the bike heads for the weeds equally quickly in either direction. 
 

I have a 94 RS, an 05 GS, and an 08 RT, and they appear to steer normally. The 97 RT was my first BMW and I attributed the steering to being unfamiliar with the telelever, but none of the other three behave this way. 


Is this normal for the earlier RTs? Thanks for any suggestions. 
 

 

Evening Still CAL

 

Is the front tire brand new???? A new vs an older worn tire will turn in much quicker.

 

How about the rear end, is the final drive crown bearing still tight (with motorcycle on center stand grab rear wheel top & bottom then see if it has any play).

 

Same with the swing arm bearings, are those tight & movement free.

 

Also,  take weight off the front end then see if the lower ball joint is still tight & not worn out. 

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3 minutes ago, dirtrider said:

Evening Still CAL

 

Is the front tire brand new???? A new vs an older worn tire will turn in much quicker.

 

How about the rear end, is the final drive crown bearing still tight (with motorcycle on center stand grab rear wheel top & bottom then see if it has any play).

 

Same with the swing arm bearings, are those tight & movement free.

 

Also,  take weight off the front end then see if the lower ball joint is still tight & not worn out. 

Both tires are new, less than 500 miles on them. The crown bearing is tight, no play top and bottom. Swing arm bearings were also torqued 500 miles back when I had everything apart for a spline lube and new clutch. With weight off the front I can’t get any play or looseness in any direction. I checked all that before bothering everyone. 
 

It WAS doing this when I got it two summers ago; I just chalked it up to being new to tele- and paralevers. 

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4 minutes ago, Still CAL said:

Both tires are new, less than 500 miles on them. The crown bearing is tight, no play top and bottom. Swing arm bearings were also torqued 500 miles back when I had everything apart for a spline lube and new clutch. With weight off the front I can’t get any play or looseness in any direction. I checked all that before bothering everyone. 
 

It WAS doing this when I got it two summers ago; I just chalked it up to being new to tele- and paralevers. 

Evening Still CAL

 

Well, new tires definitely increase ease of turn-in. If was still doing it with old tires then something else is going on. 

 

I can't tell you much over the internet as I can't ride it so it might very well be normal. 

 

The handlebars are fairly narrow on the RT so that alone increase turn-in quickness. 

 

  

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7 minutes ago, dirtrider said:

Evening Still CAL

 

Well, new tires definitely increase ease of turn-in. If was still doing it with old tires then something else is going on. 

 

I can't tell you much over the internet as I can't ride it so it might very well be normal. 

 

The handlebars are fairly narrow on the RT so that alone increase turn-in quickness. 

 

  

Thanks for the replies. The tire is a Michelin Pilot Road 2 dated 2417, which probably doesn’t matter. I’ll take each caliper off to see if maybe one is dragging and check all the bolts. Otherwise I won’t worry too much. Bike is for sale is why this came up now, don’t want to sell a bike with possible dangerous issues. 

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4 minutes ago, Still CAL said:

Thanks for the replies. The tire is a Michelin Pilot Road 2 dated 2417, which probably doesn’t matter. I’ll take each caliper off to see if maybe one is dragging and check all the bolts. Otherwise I won’t worry too much. Bike is for sale is why this came up now, don’t want to sell a bike with possible dangerous issues. 

Evening Still CAL

 

Dragging or tight brakes will have absolutely no effect on your turn-in issue as a motorcycle is  single track vehicle.

 

If brake drag on one side  mattered then there would not "ever" have been single rotor motorcycles.

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New tires will cause that feeling. Michelins are particularly V-shaped, so they will accentuate it. You can adjust it with tire pressure. Try letting 3 psi out of each tire. 

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14 hours ago, Still CAL said:

With weight off the front I can’t get any play or looseness in any direction. I checked all that before bothering everyone. 
 

Morning   Still CAL

 

I meant to address this last night but got distracted__

 

To effectively check that front lower ball joint you need find a weightless condition between motorcycle weight ON the ball joint & front wheel hanging free.

 

You want the front wheel on the ground with front wheel weight & lower fork weight on the ground  but the motorcycle weight mostly off the front wheel (ball joint in a neutral weight condition).

 

I usually start with a scissors jack under the front of engine, then start jacking the front of the motorcycle up a little at at time  while lightly rolling the front wheel  fore & aft. Once the front wheel is off the ground that is too far so I go back the other way (back through the neutral weighting condition)_ 

 

Possibly this is the way that you have already checked it so this is just a reminder. 

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I have indeed noticed that Telelever geometry on my R1100RT oilhead is very sensitive to tire profile, more than any other motorcycle I have owned.  I have stuck with new tires that come new with a more rounded profile which gives a very neutral steering feel when new (Metzeler).  Also, I have noticed that at about 1/2 way through the tire's life the steering gets progressively heavier on steer in and out of a turn. By the time the tread is worn our my R1100RT I need arms like  gorilla to steer the bike.

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11 minutes ago, Paul De said:

By the time the tread is worn our my R1100RT I need arms like  gorilla to steer the bike.

I have experienced this also, but I think it is because the tire edges square up and until you get past the tire edge, it fights you, then it falls right over.  When you get a new tire it just falls into the turn, so you almost oversteer.   If you do a lot of interstate riding it tends to square them up. Dunlop's were famous for the squaring up. 

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Good Monday morning everyone and thanks for the replies, lots to think about and look into. When I got this RT in July of 2019, I rode it a mile and a half from where I took it off the trailer up our gravel and scree forest road, and right into the garage. It was three months before I could ride it again, as I went through an extensive refurb including new R1200 injectors, new clutch, spline lube, and new tires. I have no idea how the bike handled before I did all that so I can't do a before/after comparison. I do this refurb on most every bike I get; maybe I need to do like some suggest and ride them for awhile first. :dontknow:

 

I'll check the ball joint in an unloaded condition later today and report back. I'll also try lowering the pressure 3 p.s.i. and see if it makes any difference. On that off-topic topic, can someone suggest a decent tire pressure gauge that will get in there between the brake discs and capture the pressure? I'm using an old Yamaha mini gauge with a 45º built in, but it doesn't capture the pressure, so I'm on my knees trying to read the bloody thing inside the discs.

 

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Accu-gage by GH Meiser, www.ghmeiser.com. You can find them on Amazon. Motion-Pro makes a very nice digital gage, but more expensive.

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1 hour ago, Still CAL said:

Good Monday morning everyone and thanks for the replies, lots to think about and look into. When I got this RT in July of 2019, I rode it a mile and a half from where I took it off the trailer up our gravel and scree forest road, and right into the garage. It was three months before I could ride it again, as I went through an extensive refurb including new R1200 injectors, new clutch, spline lube, and new tires. I have no idea how the bike handled before I did all that so I can't do a before/after comparison. I do this refurb on most every bike I get; maybe I need to do like some suggest and ride them for awhile first. :dontknow:

 

I'll check the ball joint in an unloaded condition later today and report back. I'll also try lowering the pressure 3 p.s.i. and see if it makes any difference. On that off-topic topic, can someone suggest a decent tire pressure gauge that will get in there between the brake discs and capture the pressure? I'm using an old Yamaha mini gauge with a 45º built in, but it doesn't capture the pressure, so I'm on my knees trying to read the bloody thing inside the discs.

 

Morning  Still CAL

 

I basically use 3 gauges (depending).

 

My normal go-to is an older SenSym pencil style electronic gauge that has always tested accurate against our master tire calibration verification set-up where I work. (it is also a very small internal volume gauge so lets almost NO air out at each pressure check. (this gauge works great for occasional checking due to it's small internal volume so it doesn't change the tire pressure at checking )

 

I also use a Blue Point analog gauge that I have installed a custom air chuck & extension on (easily fits into very small odd tire to rotor areas. (it is also very accurate but due to it's internal gauge volume & hose volume it will let some air out at each pressure check). The added longer brass tube allows me to get a good hand hold on the fitting end to POSITIVLY get a good air seal at checking.  (this gauge works best for filling as starting at a slight overfill once the pressure gets close to ideal then each checking lets a small amount of air out until correct pressure is reached)--  Plus, there is also a small air release button on the gauge to let air out without disconnecting/reconnecting the gauge from the tire.

 

I also use an older  Snap-On tire gauge but it doesn't fit all rim to rotor areas so it is mostly for larger vehicles. 

 

f0kiqwS.jpg

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1 hour ago, Still CAL said:

 I have no idea how the bike handled before I did all that so I can't do a before/after comparison. I do this refurb on most every bike I get; maybe I need to do like some suggest and ride them for awhile first. :dontknow:

 

Morning   Still CAL

 

If you haven't ridden that motorcycle with anything other than new tires then personally I wouldn't be too concerned about the quick turn-is as  new tires can do that until scrubbed in & some of the center round, center U, or center V is worn flatter. 

 

Give it until about 1500 miles+ then re-evaluate your turn-in  feel. 

 

 

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On 11/22/2020 at 10:59 PM, Still CAL said:

I don’t know if there’s an issue or not with the steering. The bike tends to diverge quickly when starting a turn. It’s like it’s unstable in a way that makes it more prone to turning than tracking straight. There’s no resistance in the bearings and all cables are properly routed. No noticeable play in any direction with the forks. Front tire pressure is 32 p.s.i. The wheel turns freely other than the brake drag, and the bike heads for the weeds equally quickly in either direction. 
 

I have a 94 RS, an 05 GS, and an 08 RT, and they appear to steer normally. The 97 RT was my first BMW and I attributed the steering to being unfamiliar with the telelever, but none of the other three behave this way. 


Is this normal for the earlier RTs? Thanks for any suggestions. 
 

 

 Hi StillCAL.

How many miles have YOU ridden on this bike? 

Assuming your pressures are somewhere near right and from all the other checks you have done,  what you are currently describing it sounds like a combination of the tyres being new, and you being new to the bike.

I suggest you take it on a nice long ride avoiding Motorways (Highways) and get more of a feel for your new beast.

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I have always attributed the 1100RT's "spirited" turn in to the delta between the 17 inch front and 18 inch rear rolling diameters. I had a Harley with the opposite setup....21" front and 19" rear and it felt really weird trying to turn into a corner. Sort of like the rear end was off the front tire's line.

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Happy Tuesday, all. I couldn't get to the RT yesterday but I'll put it on the lift today and give the front ball joint a good once-over.

 

I've ridden the RT a tad over 1200 miles, more than I thought I had. 10 miles of every ride is on our forest access road, all gravel, rocks, potholes and blind curves. Then mountain asphalt twisties and stretches of 4-lane. Elevation varies from 4500' in the desert to 9000' at home, with typically a 30º temperature change.

 

Rides are usually 110 to 150 miles, and it takes a few miles to get used to the steering again. Once I do it's a lot of fun. I just don't have such spirited turning-in with the other three boxers so wanted to ask here. I'll check the ball joint but otherwise I'll go with the ideas expressed in this thread concerning wheel size, pressures, tire treads and the rest of it. I'll caution the new owner about the steering. 

 

EDIT: Gotta raise the BS flag on myself, gents :4617:  I've been going through bikes at a rapid rate and lose track of what's been done to them. Looking back, this RT has the tires that were on it when I bought it. The PO kept decent records, so I can verify that both have 3974 miles on them, not new at all. Sorry for the bad info.

 

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Edited by Still CAL
MEBS Alert (Miscellaneous Erroneous Bullshit, an airline term)
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On 11/22/2020 at 5:59 PM, Still CAL said:

Front tire pressure is 32 p.s.i.

 

I saw a recommendation to lower the PSI.  I would highly recommend you go the other way.  The 1100RT handles terribly when the tire pressure is low.

 

I typically ride with 38-39 front, 40 rear.  A lot of oilhead riders run in that neighborhood.  Since a segment of your ride is on gravel, you might find that PSI too harsh for gravel.  Try 35/37 and see how the turns feel.  Then you can try a little higher and see if you can deal with the run up to the garage.

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Hmm. Up. Down. Keep it where it is. I actually think I'll try the higher psi first; I've read these wheels can be deformed easily enough, don't want to risk doing that bashing across rocks. I don't go much over 15 mph in the canyon, not only due to the conditions, but also because of numerous shady spots hiding fist-sized rocks kicked into the road by elk.

 

Update on the ball joint: I have no discernible play with the front end unloaded as dirtrider suggested. I'll post again once I get a ride in with the new pressures. Thanks for all the suggestions, everybody.

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  • 1 year later...
Still CAL

Bump. Hey all, it's been a while. I sold this bike in December of 2020, but it popped up on FB Mrktplc having barely any more miles on it so I bought it back. Shout out to Chris Harris for his advice on getting it back. I'm still weathered in up here in the mountains, probably a solid month away from all the snow and ice melting in the shady spots and my road becoming rideable. I can tell you, just taking it off the trailer and circling the truck to climb the hill to the house, the steering took a hard turn-in at barely above walking speed. It really caught me unawares.

 

I went straight into the garage and there it sits, waiting. I haven't checked tire pressure or anything so no other info for now. But I'm glad to have this one back, with all the work I put into it. The GS and the '08 RT are gone, so happy to see a Beemer back in the fold. More later.

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Still CAL

It dawned on me that I never checked tire pressures; The front was 22 psi :facepalm:, didn't bother with the rear yet. I'll pump 'em up, go for a ride and report back.

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Hosstage

Beemer riders are usually pretty attentive to tire pressures and checking regularly. Harley riders not so much, I cannot tell you how many times I have asked a rider when the last time they checked psi and gotten the answer, "last Fall" or "when I had new tires put on last year. Wait, two years ago when they went on." Even had a friend go off road, no injury, as I'm looking the bike over, the front looks low. You know a bike tire is low when you can actually see it. I ask last time checked, "last Fall". Are you kidding me? 17 psi front, 20 rear. No way he was going to make that corner, no matter how good he was. After that, he was a psi checking freak.

So Still Cal, at least you checked before riding (I'm assuming)!

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Still CAL
1 hour ago, Hosstage said:

Beemer riders are usually pretty attentive to tire pressures and checking regularly. Harley riders not so much, I cannot tell you how many times I have asked a rider when the last time they checked psi and gotten the answer, "last Fall" or "when I had new tires put on last year. Wait, two years ago when they went on." Even had a friend go off road, no injury, as I'm looking the bike over, the front looks low. You know a bike tire is low when you can actually see it. I ask last time checked, "last Fall". Are you kidding me? 17 psi front, 20 rear. No way he was going to make that corner, no matter how good he was. After that, he was a psi checking freak.

So Still Cal, at least you checked before riding (I'm assuming)!

Yes, checked before going on the road, which hasn't happened yet. I only road it onto the trailer to bring it home, then into the garage off the trailer. I was going to look hard at the steering, even though I had done that before selling the bike. Now I'll air up properly first to see how she rides. I check tire pressures regularly, just hadn't gotten to it yet on this one when I repurchased it.

 

I'm looking at replacing the tires with Battlax T32s or Metzler Z8s. Hopefully one of these will get rid of moat of the hard turn-in when properly aired up.

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StillCal- I got one of these tire gauges as a Christmas gift a few years ago, fits neatly in my storage compartment on my RT. Dave

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  • 1 month later...
Still CAL

Hello everyone. Here's a final update on this issue and closing out the thread. I fitted Metzler Z8 tires on the 97 RT and am running them at pressures recommended by Chris Harris (42/44). I also had to change fork dust seals due to weather cracking, and replaced the fork oil with 7w oil sold by Traxxion Dynamics.

 

All the old tendencies in the steering have disappeared: no discernible turn-in, and no standing up when going fast into a corner and chopping the throttle. That one actually took me off the road one day. It handles now like I always heard people talk about. Very happy.

 

The Pilot 2 and 3 I took off had a wee bit of squaring to them, so that was part of the problem. We'll see how the Z8s wear going forward at these pressures. I'll consider this one closed, barring any changes. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread.

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  • 1 month later...
MarinPhil

Thats a little weird. The Rt forks only have fork oil for lubrication sliding , nothing else.  The front suspension is all done by the front shock. 

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tallman

Bought gagged when you cited 32psi. Then talked about lowering it.

Check your tires often, and visually inspect before each ride.

40/42 is the area you should be in.

Can't tell you how many "riders" would come into the dealership with tires waay underinflated and complaining.

Enjoy the RT that's a great color.

Also, check your taillight. That era would sometimes loosen up a bit.

Best wishes.

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