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Discussion Starter #1
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?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
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!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
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).
 

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carbon unit
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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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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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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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Old Twistie Sticks Rider
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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.
X2--BTW-Also correctly torque the fork pinch bolts...
Have a good one...Tater...
 

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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. ;)

KM
 

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Discussion Starter #11
...the [dirtbike style] 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....
That's just the sort of thing I was thinking of, haha! But I wonder, wiggling my my front end first one way and then the other by way of blunt force trauma, doesn't that also make it a little looser than it should be? Eek!
 

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Linkmeister Supreme
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If KM`s method doesn`t work for you, this is what I did. Put a piece of plywood under the engine and jack the front of the bike up just enough to take the weight off the front tire. Loosen the 4 pinch bolts on the fork clamps and get a strong friend to sit on the bike and hold the handlebars straight while you squat in front, grasping one fork tube in each hand, and twist them back until the tire is straight, and perpendicular to the handle bars. It does require considerable hand strength, but you don`t have to be a gorilla to do this. If it is too hard for you to twist them back, loosen the pinch bolts a little more and try again.

Torque the top clamp bolts to 14.5 ft/lbs, and the lowers to 18 ft/lbs. Take a test ride.
Refine adjustment if needed.

If you loosen the clamps without taking the weight off the front tire, the fork tubes will tend to slide up in the clamps. Then you have two adjustments to do.:BLAM:
 

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carbon unit
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If KM`s method doesn`t work for you, this is what I did. Put a piece of plywood under the engine and jack the front of the bike up just enough to take the weight off the front tire. Loosen the 4 pinch bolts on the fork clamps and get a strong friend to sit on the bike and hold the handlebars straight while you squat in front, grasping one fork tube in each hand, and twist them back until the tire is straight, and perpendicular to the handle bars. It does require considerable hand strength, but you don`t have to be a gorilla to do this. If it is too hard for you to twist them back, loosen the pinch bolts a little more and try again.

Torque the top clamp bolts to 14.5 ft/lbs, and the lowers to 18 ft/lbs. Take a test ride.
Refine adjustment if needed.

If you loosen the clamps without taking the weight off the front tire, the fork tubes will tend to slide up in the clamps. Then you have two adjustments to do.







If you loosen the clamps and the fork tubes slide up. ...wait a second...
I've had to pry the clamps open to even get the tubes to move a fraction of an inch. Once these things are bolted to specs they tend to hold the fork tube enough even after the bolts are removed to not just slide up like that. Ask anyone who's ever replaced their fork seals. :BLAM:They wont just slide on you...but then, I don't know how much you weigh 400lbs?...I have done it my way, more than once on more than one motorcycle without an issue :)
 

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That's just the sort of thing I was thinking of, haha! But I wonder, wiggling my my front end first one way and then the other by way of blunt force trauma, doesn't that also make it a little looser than it should be? Eek!
Well if the front seems to move back with little effort you might want to do as Olhoss suggested or at least recheck your torque settings on the fork clamps.

Given that the front end of my dirtbike never got out of whack jumping or bouncing through whoop-de-doo's, it only happened when I crashed.

A fork brace can help you avoid this in the future, and make the front end feel alot better in turns.

Speaking of looseness, a little tip from an old racer. Don't overtighten the bolts holding your clutch lever or brake lever to the handle bars. Wipe a "super thin" coat of STP oil treatment on the bar under the mounts and then tighten the mounts just enough so they stay..... but can be twisted on the bar using both hands.

This way if the bike goes down, instead of breaking off a lever, the mount will just twist on the bar. If you ever had to hobble home with a broken clutch lever, of faced the danger of not having a front brake lever to use after a spill this might help.

KM
 
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