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Steering damper sucess

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I'm a new member, old rider, but new to sidecars. Recently bought an old 1983 GL1100 Interstate with a Hitchhiker sidecar for $2000.00. No brakes, runs, but needed cosmetics, a battery, etc. Bought rebuild kits for the brakes and soon found out about steering wobble! The bike had a small damper mounted above the radiator to the fork (Link Forks), but it didn't do anything. Nearly shook the old lady out one day! Had her knees up against the body in front her and when the wobble struck, her rear was on the floor and she was yelling to stop, it was hurting and I did as soon as possible.
I bought a VW beetle damper and mounted it to the fork and to the front upper sidecar mount and it worked great yesterday on a short ride with no passenger. I put a bucket with a heavy chain, about 40 pounds in the floor board for ballast and drove a few miles and hit about 50 mph with no trouble. Hope to have nice weather and take wife out again for a more pleasant ride soon. I've seen where some didn't advise using a damper, but I believe I like this so far.

Welcome, hang around check back often you will find help here on these forums when needed. Can not help much with your question as I have limited time with older wings. I have test rode one or 2 . Both had some low speed wobble/ shake. Went away above 35-40. Neither had a dampner.

Welcome
if you have a wobble above 25 or 30 you need to look into the alignment of your rig. I would suggest at the very least go through the steps to measure everything so you will know it's where it should be
do you know if your bike has the steering mod or if it's still stock. one thing I found on the Wings, or at least mine, if the front is higher than the back it will have a bad wobble, if the front tire is low on air it will wobble. I have the 4.5 kit on mine yet it will still wobble if I let loose on the bars at low speeds, sometimes I had a damper on mine until I did the tree mod.
you can reduce or even eliminate the wobble by tightening the head bearings also.

Thanks for the comments. This old 1983 GL1100 Interstate has likely had this Hitchhiker sidecar on it since the 1980s and it was installed by Kurt Liebhaber, I forget his company name in Illinois; maybe SFC Sidecars and Frames, haven't found any contacts for this company yet. The bike has a Link Fork front end; likely installed back then too. The steering stabilizer that was on it was a more modern unit; don't know the manufacturer at the moment. The bike does need some new rear shocks (has Progressives) and the tires look old, but the tread is fair. I live in rural Mississippi where there is low traffic most of the times. When the weather allows, I intend to ride it more and see what it handles like now. I have two older Harleys (2001 and a 1988, both FLHTC models), and bought the sidecar bike for fun and intend for it to be safe, but low budget. The bike appears fairly level as it is now. I have not found any kind of manual for the Link Fork front end so far. I appreciate any advice and look forward to many smiles per gallon on this old wing and Hitchhiker rig.

I ran a GL1100 for years, with proper alignment if your mounts are stout you should not have a wobble issue. One thing to check, people seldom check the bearings for the pivots of the LL front ends. They get some wear and you will have a wobble issue. I also like to run flat profile tires on the front, it helps with the wobble and it also shortens your braking distance.
Jay G
DMC sidecars
866-38-1793
http://www.dmcsidecars.com

Gray Rider - 12/18/2017 9:05 AM

I'm a new member, old rider, but new to sidecars. Recently bought an old 1983 GL1100 Interstate with a Hitchhiker sidecar for $2000.00. No brakes, runs, but needed cosmetics, a battery, etc. Bought rebuild kits for the brakes and soon found out about steering wobble! The bike had a small damper mounted above the radiator to the fork (Link Forks), but it didn't do anything. Nearly shook the old lady out one day! Had her knees up against the body in front her and when the wobble struck, her rear was on the floor and she was yelling to stop, it was hurting and I did as soon as possible.
I bought a VW beetle damper and mounted it to the fork and to the front upper sidecar mount and it worked great yesterday on a short ride with no passenger. I put a bucket with a heavy chain, about 40 pounds in the floor board for ballast and drove a few miles and hit about 50 mph with no trouble. Hope to have nice weather and take wife out again for a more pleasant ride soon. I've seen where some didn't advise using a damper, but I believe I like this so far.

Here's a photo of how I attached my VW steering damper. I made the brackets up and they are adjustable so you can control how much of the piston travel you end up using and yet still allow the steering to go lock to lock. I've painted the brackets black, but they show up better in their natural state.

I found with mine I had very little wobble at slow speeds and then only under certain circumstances, right turn & or something similar. What I did find that with the leading link front end the steering was too easy and made the bike twitchy in wind and even a slight input at the handlebars greatly affected the front end. So I wanted to add back a bit of resistance to the steering, so therefore the damper.

Attached files

I have an '82 GL1100 that had wobble issues. I went with modified trees to smooth it out.

Thanks for these other replies and for the photo cycleman. I mounted my damper slightly different than the photo. I bought a peripheral rod end like in the photo, but mounted it on the top bolt of the right Link fork shock unit and then mounted the other end on the upper sidecar mount and mounted this way has fewer parts and appears to work fine. I will try to post a picture soon.

I'm trying to post a photo, maybe this will work.

Attached files

Gray Rider

I just noticed you are in Sontag! You are only about a hundred miles from me. I'm in Richton, 25 miles east of Hattiesburg. I have been looking for someone to ride with for awhile. If you are the least bit interested in meeting and swapping lies (as they say in TX) contact me here or at bodischm@bellsouth.net or at 601-788-7409. By the way, I'm the MS state rep for USCA. Not sure how that happened.

Mike in MS

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