Author Topic: Steering problem???  (Read 779 times)

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Steering problem???
« on: 16 April, 2021, 21:08:03 »
Yesterday was my first ever ride on my recent purchase, a bog standard 1955 B31 - but it doesn't like to go round corners.  In 70 years of riding this was only the 2nd time this has happened and I definitely didn't like the experience.  It just didn't want to turn, I had to slow down and corner by turning the handlebars.  It was not a good feeling, believe me.  The tracking is good, as are the tyre pressures and the steering head bearings.   I know the bikes history and the previous owner has had it since 1961 but it has not been used this last 11 years.  I cannot believe the steering was the same when he was using it.
The first time I encountered steering as bad as this was on a K series BMW and I was advised to change the tyres from Continental to Pirelli, which cured it. 
The tyres on the B31 are front Avon SpeedMaster 3.25 x 19 and rear is a Dunlop Gold Seal 3.50 x 19.  Both are about 60% worn and will be at least 12 years old.  I don't want to splash out on new tyres unless I have to, I was working when I had the BMW but am well retired now and need to be careful with my pennies.
Anyone out there with what might be causing it?


Blackthou

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #1 on: 16 April, 2021, 21:22:56 »
Hi,

Welcome to the forum trophy.

I'd have said the things you've already mentioned - wheel alignment and steering head bearings probably being too tight. The only other one, which I've just experienced myself, was a bent stanchion on my C15. Pretty good in a straight line but didn't like cornering. When I stripped the forks to check I found one was bent. I replaced the pair and the bike was totally transformed.

Re the tyres, are the sidewalls perished at all i.e. have the tyres been kept inflated for the past 11 years? Sunlight will also degrade them if they've been exposed over that time. I agree about needing to watch the pennies. I am in the same dilemma with tyres. I recently bought a bike and the tyres look great but the back one is 15 years old. Rides nicely too but I made the decision to replace them earlier this week. A pair the same as yours are £150 delivered but I thought what’s the point if the tubes are as old or older? Rim tape could be iffy also and I wouldn’t find out until part way through the job. I took the plunge and bought the other items making it £185 delivered. Not welcome but wanted to feel safe.

Good luck and hopefully some others will have suggestions.

idie

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #2 on: 16 April, 2021, 21:26:16 »
Is it a swinging arm frame. Is there play in the rubber bushes in the swinging arm. When you put the bike on the stand does the forks drop from side to side. It's not recommended to have tyres more then 10 years old. The BSA swinging arm frame is very good for handling normally.

JulianS

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #3 on: 16 April, 2021, 22:30:50 »
Suggest check the steering bearings, maybe too tight or may lack grease or both.

Rog1

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #4 on: 17 April, 2021, 08:03:43 »
Is the steering damper out of adjustment, perhaps wound down tight for some forgotten reason while the bike wasn't being used? Or has it or something else to do with the steering been affected by the years in storage? I'm thinking, dried out, swollen, or partially seized.

Mike40M

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #5 on: 17 April, 2021, 09:10:37 »
It might be that the tyres are worn flat. You say 60% worn. If most wear in the middle, it will affect handling quite noticable. Experienced that on a modern Ninja. After a lot of long distance riding at a legal pace it handled quite bad at a track day.

DAVE BRADY

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #6 on: 17 April, 2021, 10:12:24 »
Hi,

I would start with steering head bearings and the steering damper.  It does not take much to make the steering heavy or even impossible.  Worn tyres will have an affect but not so much at lower speeds. As previously mentioned the front wheel should fall freely and smoothly from side to side with no rough feel at all.
It is also worth considering the old tyres as part of the problem.  Is there any hint of being out of shape due to sitting under inflated.  Has the bike been stored in the dark as sunlight is one of the things that degrades tyres?  Can you push your thumb nail in to the rubber and leave a bit of a mark? Even 12 years ago 'classic' tyres were made with the modern compounds of the day so should not go rock hard like the originals.  However, if in any doubt replace the tyres and save the possible cost of extensive/expensive repairs after a slide down the road not to mention potential harm to yourself.

Dave.

ducati2242

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #7 on: 17 April, 2021, 20:19:40 »
Sounds like wheel alignment to me too .
1956 bsa GS DB500
1968 mk1 Rocket 3
2006 ducati 999R .

Pete Gill

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #8 on: 17 April, 2021, 23:59:32 »
Assuming the road test was about 20 to 30 mph I think steering head and damper would be the causes.
get back to us and tell us what you find -  we all learn form these things!
Pete

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #9 on: 19 April, 2021, 21:44:47 »
Thanks all for your suggestions as to what might cause my problem.  All looked at and evaluated and found as follows:-
The tracking is good, checked it twice.  The steering damper was not all that good at damping, or not damping.  On inspection the steering damper anchor plate was fitted miss-aligned, which caused the damper to be only part effective. Shimming between the anchor plate and the frame sorted that out.  The front fork legs went up/down very freely and had been drained of oil and re-filled with 7.5 fluid ozs of 20SAE oil, the l/h leg oil seal leaks very slightly but nothing to worry about.  The steering head bearings are free, they swing easily when the bike is jacked up to lift the front wheel clear and no, their is no back/forward movement when pulling to and fro.  Being a swinging arm model there is no play in the swinging arm bushes. 
So. I rode 6 mile locally yesterday, everything as noted above, and it still didn't want to turn corners.  It was fine hands off in a straight line but trying to swing left/right using body weight only was a definite no-no, hands on bars and turn, turn, turn.
My first ride was 18 miles on A roads at 35-45mph and 10 miles of fell roads at 20-30mph.  Yesterdays 6 mile ride was on A roads at 40-50mph.  I can only conclude that it can only be tyres
Now, my tyres are correctly inflated but I have not a clue as to how old they are and I cannot see any date mark on either of them.  The front Avon Speedmaster 3.25 x 19 has AC1 impressed on one side of the tyre and E 23155 raised lettering underneath the MADE IN ENGLAND mark on the opposite side of the tyre.  The rear tyre is a Dunlop Gold Seal 3.50 x 19 and it has 25318 in raised numbers under the DUNLOP mark on one side of the tyre and 25302 in raised numbers under the DUNLOP mark on the other side.  XKB is impressed on one side of the tyre only,
So---I have no idea how old these tyres are, have you?  I always thought that tyre ages were a 4 figure number.  The first two being the week number and the last two the year number.  So 0219 is the second week of 2019.  But this doesn't work with the numbers that are on my tyres.  Can anyone throw any light on the subject?  Are they that old?
Obviously I am going to have to bight the bullet and replace the tyres but if you can think of a reason why my bike is misbehaving I might be able to put it off a while??

idie

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #10 on: 19 April, 2021, 22:10:34 »
As I said before tyres over 10 years old are a no no. If there is no date stamp on the tyres then they could be 20 years old. I wouldn't risk them. I run a Mitas tyre on the rear and a ribbed Speedmaster on the front on my Shooting Star with no problems with handling.

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #11 on: 25 April, 2021, 18:02:05 »
Problem solved.  The awful handling problem was nothing mechanical but was down to the front tyre.  Fitted the new Avon Speedmaster yesterday and did a quick 12 mile run this morning and the handling was great.  A pleasure to ride. 
Now, can anyone tell me how old is the tyre I have taken off because I can find no reference to the only impressed figures ACI - or it might be AC1 - on the tyre.
Also my thanks for the great service from Wheel House Tyres.  24 hrs from order to delivery is great in my book.

Blackthou

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #12 on: 25 April, 2021, 18:29:35 »
Well done pleased to see you’re sorted. You may find that a modern version of the tyre needs to run at a slightly higher pressure, no doubt there may be some advice.

Hope the back tyre is safe as it probably won’t be much newer. Maybe next month? I would. Did you replace the tube as well and the rim tape?

Pete A10

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #13 on: 25 April, 2021, 18:43:36 »
The requirement to date stamp tyres came in in 2000. If unmarked then your old tyre must be at least 21 years old!! I've got several similar tyres in the corner of my garage - I tried selling them on ebay but nobody wanted them - I can't understand why as they still have a few millimetres of tread!

Pete Gill

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Re: Steering problem???
« Reply #14 on: 25 April, 2021, 23:50:10 »
I’m pleased to hear you sorted it out
Pete