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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm experiencing a slight shimmy in the handlebars if/when I take my hands off the bars. I don't recall the bike doing this in the past. It seems to be more noticeable at slower speeds. I just replaced the front rotors and pads due to pulsing, and was hoping that would fix the shimmy, but it didn't. I did put a new front tire on last year. I took it off over the winter and had it balanced again at a local shop. That didn't do anything either. I don't recall the bike doing this before I put the new front tire on. Is it possible the tire is out of round or something? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks.
 

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The Sanitized Comic
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Out of round is obviously easy to check by spinning wheel while placing a pointer close to the tread.
Might be something with the tire but I'd tighten the steering head bearings first. Takes 5 minutes ... we have had many reports of the bike settling down after snugging the bearings. Plenty of mentions in the search feature. I did mine inside a thousand miles. Good luck
 
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I'm experiencing a slight shimmy in the handlebars if/when I take my hands off the bars. I don't recall the bike doing this in the past. It seems to be more noticeable at slower speeds. I just replaced the front rotors and pads due to pulsing, and was hoping that would fix the shimmy, but it didn't. I did put a new front tire on last year. I took it off over the winter and had it balanced again at a local shop. That didn't do anything either. I don't recall the bike doing this before I put the new front tire on. Is it possible the tire is out of round or something? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks.
Things I’d check in addition to the steering head bearings… tire pressure too high and suspension preload settings particularly the rear. If it’s sagging too much in the rear, it’ll lighten the load on the front tire causing a shimmy - usually that’s felt at higher speeds. Also fork tube height in the triple clamp - I dropped my fork tubes flush with the top of the triple clamp to stabilize the bike at higher speeds. I realize you said slower speeds though…
 
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The above is a timely post for me. When coming to a stop or riding over a particularly rough patch of road I would occasionally notice unwanted handlebar shake/stuttering but no actual clunking which had always been the most obvious clue that the steering head bearings were too loose. With my 2015 SDR (22,600 miles, I'm the second owner) raised off of the floor on an ABBA Skylift I could not detect any front to back slop, but I decided to dig deeper which took about five minutes. Started with a 45 Torx bit to loosen both of the top fork tube pinch bolts, and then a 27 mm box end wrench to loosen the steering stem bolt. The adjuster nut (underside of the yoke) is obviously designed for a pin wrench but the ones I have that were the right size to fit the holes in the adjuster nut were too bulky to maneuver, fortunately the pin holes are 15/64 in diameter and may be 1/4 inch deep, perfect for a pin drift/punch or drill bit. The collar was very loose, guessing at least 30 to 40 degrees to snug up the adjusting nut after that I backed it off a few degrees. Tightened the three bolts and went for a test drive, the steering/handling was impeccable as it should be. Quick and easy fix assuming you have the 45 Torx and box end wrench.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The above is a timely post for me. When coming to a stop or riding over a particularly rough patch of road I would occasionally notice unwanted handlebar shake/stuttering but no actual clunking which had always been the most obvious clue that the steering head bearings were too loose. With my 2015 SDR (22,600 miles, I'm the second owner) raised off of the floor on an ABBA Skylift I could not detect any front to back slop, but I decided to dig deeper which took about five minutes. Started with a 45 Torx bit to loosen both of the top fork tube pinch bolts, and then a 27 mm box end wrench to loosen the steering stem bolt. The adjuster nut (underside of the yoke) is obviously designed for a pin wrench but the ones I have that were the right size to fit the holes in the adjuster nut were too bulky to maneuver, fortunately the pin holes are 15/64 in diameter and may be 1/4 inch deep, perfect for a pin drift/punch or drill bit. The collar was very loose, guessing at least 30 to 40 degrees to snug up the adjusting nut after that I backed it off a few degrees. Tightened the three bolts and went for a test drive, the steering/handling was impeccable as it should be. Quick and easy fix assuming you have the 45 Torx and box end wrench.
Any way you could include some pictures? I loosened the three triple tree bolts and tightened the steering head bolt but it didn't fix it. No improvement really. Is the adjusting nut you mention something different?
 

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The adjuster nut (underside of the yoke) is obviously designed for a pin wrench
I've also found the hammer and punch method works great. But, wind it up too much and you end up with serious low speed weave. There's a definite tiny threshold where it's not too tight or too loose, where the steering feels stable yet smooth. Took me several goes to get it just right.
 

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Any way you could include some pictures? I loosened the three triple tree bolts and tightened the steering head bolt but it didn't fix it. No improvement really. Is the adjusting nut you mention something different?
The adjusting nut is the round silver "nut" directly beneath the steering head, note the numerous holes. You can even see where I disturbed the paint on some of the holes. I should have mentioned in my last post; after you have adjusted the adjusting nut, tighten the top bolt on the steering head before tightening the two pinch bolts. Hope this helps. Again, I have a 2015 SDR, your bike may have a different looking adjusting bolt, but it will be in the same location.
 

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I've also found the hammer and punch method works great. But, wind it up too much and you end up with serious low speed weave. There's a definite tiny threshold where it's not too tight or too loose, where the steering feels stable yet smooth. Took me several goes to get it just right.
Gotta agree (especially with "Glory with Ukraine!"), a hammer and just about anything can fix a lot. Anyway, a 15/64 drill bit inserted backwards will fit the holes exactly and no need for a hammer. Just snug the adjusting nut and then back out a small amount, the handle bar should move freely.
 

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Gotta agree (especially with "Glory with Ukraine!"), a hammer and just about anything can fix a lot. Anyway, a 15/64 drill bit inserted backwards will fit the holes exactly and no need for a hammer. Just snug the adjusting nut and then back out a small amount, the handle bar should move freely.
I meant Glory to Ukraine!
 

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The Sanitized Comic
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Weird. I looked for the nut on my bike and its not there?
You might have a GT ... can't speak for the R but the GT does not have that nut? Tighten with the big nut directly under the handlebar... of course you still need to relax the top triple tree bolts AND the pinch bolt on the triple tree just below the "big nut" previously mentioned. Must have front of bike raised - I push/pull on forks to see if there is any slop but also fine tune by tightening a bit then turn bars lock to lock. It's a feel thing, too tight and your bike will not self center while riding.
Should move easily lock to lock, not stiff. Handy to have a soft mallet or dead blow hammer to loosen forks, tap the top tree.
 
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Sparty is correct; on the GT, you support the bike with weight off the front, loosen the three pinch bolts on the top clamp, loosen and retighten the stem nut and retighten the pinch bolts to adjust. Much simpler than getting some sort of pin spanner under the triple clamp.
 

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Hey Bigman! Your issue is most likely loose steering head bearing but, fwiw, Pirelli Angel 2 front tires also can weave slightly and produce a similar effect.
Seems like there have been an inordinate amount of cases of loose steering head bearings, mine amongst them.
I think it's safe to say that it is a characteristic of the GT. Perhaps the steering stem/ bearing tolerances were designed for a 440 lbs. Super Duke instead of the GT's 517 lbs.? Regardless, I would like to share that a long 45 torx is needed to torque the "collar screw" that secures the nut on a SDGT. A standard socket hits the fuel tank.
 

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I just checked mine again. Seem ok this time. Maybe the GT's setup requires a bed-in period and then settles in. I would think the holey threaded collar of the R is a little finer and more precise.
 

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Many new motorcycles, or motorcycles with new head bearings & races, will benefit from a re-torque after a short duration. It’s just a result of the low pre-load needed on the bearings, they don’t need to settle much to need a small snug up after say 1-2k miles from new. It’s not a “GT setup” thing at all. (y)
 

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I know folks who have bought many and diverse brands of new bikes and these Super Dukes are the first ones I'v e heard of with so many documented cases of loose head bearings. In fact, I can't remember any other brand with a single case. Trebor, have you experienced loose head bearings in a new bike with any other brand?
 

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Never when new, yes, on all my new motorcycles I noticed the tiniest bit of slop after the first few 1,000 miles. Not a lot, but just enough to notice it if you know what to look for. Slightest clunk through the bars when going over a speed bump at very slow speeds.

Honda CB1000R
Kawasaki ZX-10R
KTM SDR

My599 (Hornet) was second hand and I noticed worn out/rusty head bearings after about a year of ownership! 😂
 

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Your first statement seems to contradict the rest of your post, but maybe something was lost in translation.

Since this is my first brand new bike, I'll have to take your word that other brands experience the same thing. If that's what you meant to say.
 

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Where is the contradiction? I don’t see it.

Let me say it slightly differently, new head bearings (regardless of age of bike) will tend to bed in a little over the first 1000 miles, and a little slop or looseness can develop. With the exception of 2 second hand motorcycles I’ve owned in my life, I only mentioned 1 above, all mine have done it. It’s not specific to KTM and isn’t a knock against them specifically.

One that initial ~1000mi is done they rarely need tightening again for quite a long time. In the UK head bearings “wear out” due to rain and water and corrosion, in my experience, since moving to California, I’ve had no problems with worn out head bearings, yet.

I have friends who claim to never have had an issue. It’s just my experience.
 
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