It's of utmost importance that our motorcycles respond to our inputs in a desirable manner. Unlike cars, which have four wheels, our bikes rely solely on two wheels, making it even more important for them to handle exceptionally well, exactly as the manufacturer intended. Like everything else, if our bikes are neglected, they won't fare well over time. Besides our engines, the handling of our bikes can be compromised due to worn-out or damaged components.
That being said, if you’ve noticed that your bike has been handling funnily, chances are it’s well overdue for a service. Let’s take a look at a few reasons as to why your bike’s handling has been compromised, and what to do to fix the problem.
Worn out or unevenly worn tires
Tires play a crucial role in our motorcycles as they serve as the sole point of contact with the road. Every action we take while riding is transmitted through the tires. Hence, it is evident that they hold utmost importance and must always be in excellent condition. When tires become worn out, they lose their rounded profile, resulting in difficulties while leaning and causing abnormal handling. Additionally, unevenly worn rubber can cause the bike to pull to one side or the other. Lastly, improperly inflated tires, whether under or over-inflated, adversely affect the handling of the motorcycle.
Your suspension may be due for service
The suspension is another crucial component of a motorcycle. Its role extends beyond absorbing road imperfections and bumps, as it also contributes to smooth and precise cornering. High-end motorcycles often feature adjustable suspension, which should be tuned according to the rider's weight. On the other hand, budget-oriented bikes may lack adjustable suspension, so if you notice unusual handling, it might be worth considering rebuilding the suspension. When inspecting the suspension, pay attention to the front forks for any signs of leaks and replace seals and fork oil if necessary. Similarly, check the preload setting of the rear shock and address any leaks. In some cases, repair may be possible, but there’s a likelihood that the rear shock will need to be replaced.
Wheel balance and alignment
Proper wheel alignment is essential for maintaining a stable ride on a motorcycle. It is not uncommon for wheel alignment to go out of specification after a chain adjustment or tire change. In the case of spoked wheels, it might be necessary to have the spokes adjusted by a professional, a process known as truing the wheels. If you have recently changed your tires, it is worth checking if the wheel weights have been correctly installed to ensure proper balance. Improper wheel balancing can lead to handling issues. When adjusting the chain, it is important to pay attention to the alignment of the rear wheel. Misalignment can result in uneven tracking between the front and rear wheels, causing both poor handling and premature damage to the drivetrain.
Some bearings may be shot
In older motorcycles, it is possible for certain bearings to deteriorate, leading to unintended movement of components. Worn or damaged wheel bearings can result in wobbly wheels, which in turn cause significant handling issues. Loose or worn steering head bearings can cause the forks to jolt upon impact, and in some cases, bind the fork under braking. It is important to address these issues promptly to ensure safe riding. While rare, a damaged swingarm bearing can cause knocking sounds when riding over uneven surfaces and give the rear end a loose feeling. Any unusual sounds or sensations should be investigated, and if necessary, the swingarm bearing should be inspected and repaired or replaced as needed.