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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I'm here to get some help with my 08 650 custom. I just bought the bike about 2 months ago and I'm starting to have some issues with the steering. I checked over the bike multiple times and can't find anything that would be causing the bike to feel loose on the road. It had a brand new Michelin on the front and a brand new Pirelli on the rear when I bought it. I bought some floorboards for it and it started happening after that. Since then I put the pegs back on but it still does it. I thought it could be related to the rear brake since I messed with it to put the floorboards on, but I tried adjusting it different and it didn't seem to help at all. My front brakes make a dragging noise also when I'm moving slow. My front forks seem to go very low also, there was a little bit of a film on the right fork tube so maybe the seal is leaking a bit. I'm a little stumped, so any help would be appreciated!

Thanks,
Chris
 

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A 650 with new tires is very nimble. I just changed the rear tire on mine, it had worn pretty flat at least 2" across the middle. I was delighted with the new tire on the back, and how easy the bike weaves on the road now (when I want it to).

But if you feel like something has changed since you got it... How many miles are on the bike? A 2008 isn't that old, I would not suspect the front forks to be leaking yet, but if you are getting oil on the fork tube I don't know what else that could be?

I would raise up the front wheel on blocks or a MC jack, check your front wheel bearings for play, and the steering head as well. If you have a torque wrench check the front and rear axle bolts (43 ft-lbs front, 67 ft-lbs rear). If you don't have a torque wrench beg borrow or steal one from Harbor Freight before you wrench on any important bolts on the bike.

If the front is tight and the wheel spins ok without the brake dragging, then block up the rear wheel, check the wheel bearings for play, and check the swing arm for play. Be careful checking the swing arm, because the shock will be extended fully, and you don't want to pull the bike sideways off the blocks or jack.

The only other thing I can think of, stand in front of the bike facing the handlebars, and hold the front tire between you knees, and pull on the grips to make sure there is nothing loose in the handlebars or triple tree. Don't go nuts trying to twist the handlebars off the bike - you are just looking for slop or free play.

Ok.. thought of one other thing: the engine on this bike spins in the opposite direction of the front tire - so the gyro action of the engine flywheel cancels out the gyro effect of the front tire. If you are riding the bike and reving the engine rpms up, that will make the bike feel more nimble - for example: if you are riding at 55 mph in 4th gear, you are spinning the motor faster than you need to, and you can feel the difference. Shift up into 5th gear at 45mph and see if the bike feels more stable.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick reply, it has about 9k miles on it. I did check all the bolts and checked for play in all the bearings. It felt fine before I installed the floorboards but I think it might be a coincidence. I'm an automotive technician so I can figure out most problems but I'm not as familiar with motorcycles yet, especially suspension problems. The front brake does drag a little bit. I guess I will go jack it back up and check out everything again. Could the forks be the issue, because when I brake they dip down pretty hard, and I noticed that they look like they are bouncing alot when I'm riding although I don't feel it.
 

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when you brake the bike you can step on the rear brake pretty hard immediately, but when you apply the front brake the weight of the bike shifts onto the front shocks, so you have to brake the front "progressively".

If you hit the front brake hard and fast, the weight of the bike will not have time to shift onto the front tire, and the front tire will lock up - then you go over the handlebars 100% of the time - you cannot balance a MC with the front tire skidding.

When you brake the front progressively, the weight loads up the front tire, then you have more stopping power without the tire skidding. This is something that takes practice but you will get use to it. So to answer your question: yes the nose will always dive when you get on the front brake.

And since I already mentioned the rear brake, if you lock up the rear tire you may need to steer the bike to keep it from coming around, but DO NOT let off the rear brake if the tire is skidding until the MC comes to a complete stop. The bike will snap straight and throw you off the bike! This is one of the most important things they teach in the MSF riding course.

Every rider needs to practice stopping agressively every day - every time when you ride, when there is no one behind you at a stop, get on the brakes a bit harder than you need to. Develop that progressive front brake feel, and bringing the rear tire right to the edge of skidding.

If you hit the front brake and the wheel locks get off the brake instantly and the bike might recover.
 

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