Quick n00b Q - Bike fell over - how to straighten steering column? - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quick n00b Q - Bike fell over - how to straighten steering column?

My bike fell over onto its left side today (how that happened I'll get to in a moment). I'm fortunate in that nothing seems amiss except for a scrape and crack in the windshield (which I can easily replace), not even a bent clutch lever - the tank was not scratched, as the end of the handlebar took the brunt of the fall. Fork seals look OK, there's no oil leaking. However as a result of the handlebar catching the fall, the steering column is off by about 10-15 degrees. It's not loose though, it's pretty tight, just... off.

I have the Clymer book but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do to straighten it out again. (I carefully rode it home with my hands held at an angle -- kind of a weird feeling.) Do I have to pop off the four covers on the handlebar, loosen them and totally remove the handlebar to get to a nut for the column?

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, and as to what happened: I went down in some "micro-rain".

read that the most dangerous time to be on the road is actually right after a very light rain, because the moisture causes oil in the road to come to the surface but there hasn't been any hard rain to wash it away. Well, now I know what THAT in turn implies...

I was riding home from work today in just such weather conditions (nearly all in-city riding, no highways) -- it had rained a very fine mist for about 30 minutes before I left, and continued for another 10 minutes or so. There was some sun shining on the horizon and most people weren't even bothering with umbrellas. I've ridden in fairly heavy rainstorms by taking it slow and easy so I wasn't particularly worried. Since in the past I'd had my rear tire fishtail out from under me while making a right turn over a manhole cover, I was very careful to go slowly and keep the bike upright as much as possible around turns.

Then, after about 20 minutes of riding (after even the light rain had stopped), I coasted in behind a car at a traffic light (in a straight line and not at an angle), gently and smoothly applied both brakes as I've done 1,000 times before, and...

WHOOMPH. As if it had suddenly had a piece of wax paper pulled out from under it, my rear tire went off to the right side and down I went. I was already mostly braked so it was practically like falling down in a parking lot - I pinned my left leg under the bike, and had to crawl out from under it (some people on the sidewalk rushed over to help me stand the bike up), and that was it.

So be careful out there, a brief light rain (mist, really) can be MORE treacherous than riding in an actual downpour!

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 09:43 PM
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if the handle bars are bent, you might be better off just replacing them.





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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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They don't look bent, so much as they look out of alignment. If I turn the fork so the front wheel is straight my hands are about 15 degrees off from their normal position (halfway to 8 and 2 o'clock, instead of at 9 and 3 on a clock, if 12 o' clock is straight aligned with the front wheel's direction).

"Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea." (Despair.com)
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 09:55 PM
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loosen the four bolts that hold the upper fork tubes in place and have someone hold the front wheel straight turn the handlebars while you're setting on the seat. Tighten the bolts back. ...may take a few tries...

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-01-2010, 10:44 PM
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I would take the handlebar off and lay it on a flat table to see if they are bent. If it is, a bench vise with something soft holding the handlebars you should be able to streighten them. Quick and easy check before messing with the forks.

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 12:25 AM
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I'd start out trying to straighten it the same way you did as a kid when the wheel and handlebars on your bicycle got out of kilter. Put the front wheel between your legs and give it a good twist. If that doesn't work, go with kay's suggestion.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flitecontrol View Post
I'd start out trying to straighten it the same way you did as a kid when the wheel and handlebars on your bicycle got out of kilter. Put the front wheel between your legs and give it a good twist. If that doesn't work, go with kay's suggestion.
X2--BTW-Also correctly torque the fork pinch bolts...
Have a good one...Tater...

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 09:33 AM
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Pics would help us tremedously too....
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-02-2010, 06:18 PM
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No dirtbike riders here? This happens alot when you dump your offroader, and the fix is wheel up to the nearest tree, (pick a big solid one, not a skinny wiggly one) put the side of the front tire against the tree and with all your weight shove the handlebar. (If the bar needs to be moved to the right, put the right side of the wheel against the tree, if it needs to be moved to the left, the left side of the wheel touches the tree)

Usually a few good shoves do the trick....as the tree ain't gonna move and something has to give. No use asking someone to "hold the wheel" unless they weigh 800 lbs, and holding between your legs only works on bicycles, not 500 lb motorcycles.

This is refered to in motor parlence as having a "tweeked front end" , lacking a tree , the side of a large SUV"s tire works well. In theory you can loosen up all the clamps holding the upper fork tubes, and try the shoving it back while someone strong holds the wheel, but if the forks slip up you then have another issue to try to deal with.

The tree works 99% of the time.

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