How to spot suspension problems on a Vstar 950? - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2019, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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How to spot suspension problems on a Vstar 950?

Hey guys,

I got a 2009 950 tourer and recently caught a gnarly pothole while riding on a freeway. Even though the bike took it alright, it got me all concerned. Upon arrival home I had a chance turn off the engine and roll (doing about 10-15 mph) the bike on an empty street giving it a few gentle waves, and I've heard a whole bunch of things:

Belt... Normal, I guess
Front brakes squeaking/grinding (VERY pronounced)
Back brakes squeaking/grinding (Not as pronounced. Probably because I changed the pads not too long ago.
Slight front suspension grinds when I vigorously compress it while holding the breaks. Also a bit of spring clicking inside the forks. Haven't taken the top covers off to see if the seals are okay. Perhaps leaking oil?
Back suspension squeaks when hop on the seat. Swing arm? Rear shock? Needs lube?

The bike is over 10 years old and I just hit 18,600miles (30,000kms) on it. So, I'm guessing things might start going.

Anyone encountering any suspension problems/squeaks on their Vstar 950?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 08:13 AM
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I would be concerned about the noisy front brakes - either got something in the pads, or the caliper is hanging up and dragging.

if your front forks are leaking it would be seeping oil on the front forks, at least for a while till all the oil leaks out. On some bikes you can hear a squish squish sound when you hold the front brake and bounce the front end up and down, forcing the oil thru the shocks - if the front end just bounces with no damping then your oil has all leaked out.

About the front spring click.. .someone else with have to explain that.

If you look in the maintenance section of the owners manual (you can download them free if you dont have one) its surprising how often they recommend you pull the rear swing arm off and lube/grease/check/pack the bearings, the steering head too. If you are hearing squeaks then it sounds like (pun) it hasnt been done in a while.

One of the advantages of having a mono shock on the rear is you can evaluate it, and its either good or its not.

With the front fork if one of your springs breaks or one shock leaks oil, its hard to tell, but it will affect the stability of the bike, make the steering squirrley, and make your front tire wear in odd patterns. You have to take the wheel off and maybe the fender, to evaluate each side of the forks independently.

I would get on that front caliper immediately. Ive had many cars with bad calipers, they drag, the brakes literally cook, it will destroy the wheel bearings, and the worse thing that can happen on a motorcycle is to have the front brakes lock up on you, the second worse is to have them fail. Its normal for disk brakes with some pads to squeak or squeal when braking, esp lightly, but they should not make grinding noises. If nothing else get the front tire off the ground and make sure the wheel is spinning freely, and after your next ride make sure the caliper is not HOT HOT HOT.
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Last edited by KCW; 06-27-2019 at 08:18 AM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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I would be concerned about the noisy front brakes - either got something in the pads, or the caliper is hanging up and dragging....
Appreciate the thorough response, KCW!
I've recorded a video of the bike rolling. You can hear the sound the breaks make - https://youtu.be/XBcAGADdn7s
On the 13th-14th second you can hear me catching a dent on the road and the "clunking" sound. Tank jumping on the front bushings?

A few months ago I disassembled the front break caliper to see if the pads are doing okay (haven't changed them in 5 years since I've gotten the bike). Pads seemed alright, plenty of material left. But, after listening to the video, I think it's time to change them.
The caliper was fine - retaining bolts were a bit on the dry side and there were no cracks on the boots. I swapped the pads, lubed the bolts and put everything back together. I guess I went too overboard with describing the sound front breaks make. The definitely don't seem to be "grinding".

Quote:
if your front forks are leaking it would be seeping oil on the front forks, at least for a while till all the oil leaks out. On some bikes you can hear a squish squish sound when you hold the front brake and bounce the front end up and down, forcing the oil thru the shocks - if the front end just bounces with no damping then your oil has all leaked out.
I'm guessing if I see fork oil dripping everywhere, the seals are completely shot and would need an immediate replacement. Too bad the covers are covering the inner tube. It's impossible to catch the problem in the early stages.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 01:32 PM
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Is that the same kinda sound it makes when you lock the brake and bounce the front end? If the front clicks consistently when you do that, its something to look into.

My 650 makes a clunk when I hit the driveway at work at 15mph (have to cross two busy lanes to pull in). Also rarely hear it on railroad tracks. It sounds to me like a bicycle with loose steering head bearings, but Ive had the front wheel off a few times over the years, pulled on and lifted the forks, handlebars stop to stop, bounced on the front shocks with the brake locked - I dont know what it is on my bike.

The front springs do break sometimes, and they also weaken and deform after several years. There have been several riders who replaced their front springs and were surprised to see how much shorter the old ones are next to new ones.

Sometimes the gas in your tank can make odd clunking or knocking sounds, if the gas is at just the right level, and it surges forward till it hits the air pocket on the top of the tank. Had a few cars that would do that too with a full tank of gas.

one other thing, not sure if the 950 has the hidden tool set in the compartment under the left side of the seat (650 and 1100 has it). If you got tools bouncing around in there... ?
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 03:47 PM
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didn't hear anything that sounded like suspension in the video. i've got almost 90k miles on my '09 950 and i've gone over some bumps in that time and my suspension still seems to be in top notch condition. but i have heard that grinding sound that was fixed when i changed out my pads and bled the brake lines.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 04:23 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Is that the same kinda sound it makes when you lock the brake and bounce the front end? If the front clicks consistently when you do that, its something to look into.
No. The sound in the video is definitely the "clunk" I hear when I go over stuff on the road. I will make a separate video of bouncing the front end.

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My 650 makes a clunk when I hit the driveway at work at 15mph (have to cross two busy lanes to pull in). Also rarely hear it on railroad tracks. It sounds to me like a bicycle with loose steering head bearings, but Ive had the front wheel off a few times over the years, pulled on and lifted the forks, handlebars stop to stop, bounced on the front shocks with the brake locked - I dont know what it is on my bike.
Could it be the tank bushings? The tank on the 950 gets fitted onto those round bushings, and I guess, when they deteriorate over time the tank jumps a bit when you go over a dent on the road.

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The front springs do break sometimes, and they also weaken and deform after several years. There have been several riders who replaced their front springs and were surprised to see how much shorter the old ones are next to new ones.
Agreed. But, I hope that's not the case after 16k miles.

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Originally Posted by KCW View Post
Sometimes the gas in your tank can make odd clunking or knocking sounds, if the gas is at just the right level, and it surges forward till it hits the air pocket on the top of the tank. Had a few cars that would do that too with a full tank of gas.
I hear that when I bounce the front to check for suspension. The sound of splashing fuel in a tank. But there's an additional sound of the shocks. I'll definitely do the video and post it here.

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one other thing, not sure if the 950 has the hidden tool set in the compartment under the left side of the seat (650 and 1100 has it). If you got tools bouncing around in there... ?
Yep. It is there. But the tools are sitting there snug. Although, I should definitely try and take them out and test for additional noises.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bevo1981 View Post
didn't hear anything that sounded like suspension in the video. i've got almost 90k miles on my '09 950 and i've gone over some bumps in that time and my suspension still seems to be in top notch condition. but i have heard that grinding sound that was fixed when i changed out my pads and bled the brake lines.
No oil leakage or spring issues?
Agree on the pads. The old ones have got to go.

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Cobra PowerFlo Air Intake
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-27-2019, 04:43 PM
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nope .

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