Help to diagnose vibration at very low speed?

randomdude

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Greetings to all of you from the other side of the big pond, non-native English speaker here so, pls, bear with me O : )

I don't know where to put this thread as I have no clue where the problem comes from so moderators pls feel free to move it to where it belongs.

I got an '11 EU model with only 12k miles on the clock, it's been sitting for the most of it's life in someone's garage and I'm sure most of you've heard that before, this is the best bike I've ever owned, by far. Train-like stability, fully loaded on the highway, more than happy on the tight twisties, even capable of tagging along with the gnarly KTM dudes in most terrains(if they dont mind waiting, that is). However for the last few months I've been chasing an issue that takes away IMO one of the bike's best attributes, stability at low speed.
So a few words to describe the issue which is very strange to me: It's about some high frequency vibration/shake that occurs accurately everytime at walking speeds, from 0 to 6m/h when I take off or vice versa when coming to a stop. It can be felt through the seat & pegs but it also gets transferred to the front end making the screen/instrument cluster violently shake sideways. Strangely, it cannot be felt so much on the bars.. When I go past exactly 6m/h everything magically smoothens out?! It's really annoying and my OCD doesn't help either, as it knocks me off my balance when I try to ride through tight spots, parking lott maneuvers or practising low speed drills. It happens even while on neutral or with the motor shutt off so I guess that excludes anything engine/transmission related..
I'm not so mechanically inclined but so far I have ruled out:

* steering head/wheel bearings at that milleage as there's no free play whatsoever and pls correct me if I'm wrong but I think usually bearing related issues are felt at higher speeds?

* tires/rims, as the problem started with a pair of Anakee 3's that the bike came with, then I swapped to MotoZ tractionator GPS hoping that the old ones where cupped but ..nope, issue still there. I have also checked the rims for dents etc but nothing to be seen. Plus, if that was the issue , I think again, I would've felt the vibrations at higher speeds, right? It now vibrates left-right multiple times in a single rotation of the wheel. Spokes are doublechecked, all tight.


* Suspensions/COG as I cranked the shock all the way up, removed the top box but still the same..

* rotors. The vibration occurs without using the brakes (however the new front pads are dragging a bit too much on the disks, i noticed)

I think the problem started somewhere during the same period when I let the farkling begin together with the following mods, that I'll mention just in case it helps:
Fork/shock Hyperpro spring kit made for the S10 + thicker fork oil recommended by HP.
Steel braided lines for brakes/clutch + new pads
Adding weight by the huge Hepco & Becker sump guard, Altrider crash bars, upper & lower, bark busters, fender extender and m.m

Two different mechanics have rested their cases so far on this, telling me that it will basicaly cost too much if they start blindly pulling out/replacing parts on a low mileage bike like this, so I thought of giving it a shot here in this awesome forum.
I apologize for writing this enormous text, any input/direction would be *greatly* appreciated, thanks in advance

proud to be a member of this great community
Cheers
/Panos
 

EricV

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Well, that's an odd problem. I put 100k+ miles on a 2012 US model, which is essentially a '11 EU, as it was delivered in July of 2011. I've run both those tires, Annakee 3 and Moto Z Tractionator GPS.

My uncertainty here is that you can't even idle at 6 mph. You're feeling this with the engine off, in neutral which means it's not drivetrain related.

Almost without question, this is your wheels. The Gen I Super Tenere is well known for loose spokes. I was checking mine every 500 miles for the first 5000 miles and then every oil change after that and still finding loose spokes up to 20k miles or so. And I still checked them at oil changes anyway after that. Sometimes finding a very slightly loose spoke.

Here is the situation: You may or may not have loose spokes now. BUT, since someone else owned the bike for the first part of it's life, what they did is suspect. It is fairly easy to do more harm than good when tightening spokes, especially if you let them get very loose. The wheel spec for run out is 0.08" (2.03mm), side to side, and up and down. The torque spec for the spoke nipple is 52 in/lb or 6 Nm. Use a 5mm allen socket on a extension and a suitable touque wrench if you have or can borrow one.

Spokes are at 4 different angles, two different on each side of the wheel. Mark the tire or spoke at your starting point, check/tighten all the spokes on one side of the wheel that have the same angle nipple.

Now move to the opposite side of the wheel and do the same.

Now move back to the first side and check/tighten the spokes that had the other angle.

To finish, move back to the other side again and check/tighten the spokes at the angle you didn't do before.

Repeat this on the other wheel. It's much easier on the front if you have a wheel stand, or use a jack to prop up the bike so the front wheel is off the ground while the center stand is deployed.

If you find very, very loose spokes, you might want to talk to a professional first before you work on it yourself.

If you find no spokes more than a turn loose, it's very likely the wheel has excessive run out due to previous work before you got the bike. You want to find a wheel specialist that can check and true the wheels as needed.

If you don't have a torque wrench, you can do this with a "ping test". It's not as accurate as the torque wrench, but will get you 80% in the right direction. Use a hard handled screwdriver and tap each spoke in the middle span. If it gives a sharp ring, move to the next one. If it gives a flat tone, it needs to be tightened. Go slowly, snug it up if it's very loose, otherwise turn the nipple a 1/4 turn and tap the spoke again, repeat until it gives a sharp ringing tone instead of a flat tone.

Please go check your spokes and report back. If none are loose or 'flat' toned, find a wheel specialist to check the run out of the wheel in both lateral and vertical. It can be strait side to side, but be moving up and down and cause many issues like what you are experiencing.

Best of luck to sort this out!
 

Nikolajsen

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Yes, that sounds strange..
Hmm, kind of guessing here, but could it be rims being out of sideways alignment?
(going from side to side, horizontal)
Or maybe tyre not correct mounted on rim (vertical)

Anyway, I would look into wheels.

(seconds later, as EricV also think :), he postet while I was writing )
 

randomdude

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EricV, Nikolajsen, thank you guys big time for the thoughtful responses, It makes it easier to narrow down the focus and target just the wheels in this jungle of nuts and bolts..o_O To be honest, I've only checked visually for runnouts, allignment and such before and things looked relatively ok as I spun the wheels but I wasn't aware that so small deviations of 1-2mm (0.04-0.08 in) that couldn't be spotted by the eye, could cause such a persistent vibration in such a low speed.
EricV: Oh, I might as well have messed up the spokes after trying to tighten them myself a couple of months ago, by using the "ping method". What I did was I spotted the spoke with the highest pitch sound and I tried to match the rest in a random order, but I think I went a good bit beyond 6nm of torque.. I only have a big torque wrench for a higher spectrum so I'll get myself a smaller one and try to re-torque them to the proper spec before I refer to a specialist, -if it's not too late- and I'll report back!
 

RCinNC

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What makes me wonder is that the screen and instrument cluster shakes sideways. If it was shaking up and down it would sound like the result of a rotational mass being out of balance or out of round, but the side to side vibration is weird. Have you ever got in front of the bike and grabbed the fairing and yanked on it, to see if any of it is loose? I think a rim would have to be so far out of true in order to cause violent side to side shaking at only 6mph that it would be impossible not to notice it visually.
 
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ballisticexchris

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I recommend to check your fork bushings. Get it up on the centerstand, remove wheel and rock each leg front to back and side to side. One of my fork bushings started to have play at just over 5,000 miles. Worn bushings can cause all kinds of odd low speed vibrations. If one has a slight amount of play not a big concern. If both have play then time to replace.

At 12,000 miles the suspension is well past due for servicing. The rear shock can be serviced even though it is considered not serviceable. Just have the suspension shop install a schrader valve to the body to charge it with nitrogen.

Welcome to the forum and good luck!
 

EricV

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What makes me wonder is that the screen and instrument cluster shakes sideways. If it was shaking up and down it would sound like the result of a rotational mass being out of balance or out of round, but the side to side vibration is weird. Have you ever got in front of the bike and grabbed the fairing and yanked on it, to see if any of it is loose? I think a rim would have to be so far out of true in order to cause violent side to side shaking at only 6mph that it would be impossible not to notice it visually.
That's a really good thought. The front subframe is plastic. A drop can break it w/o doing fairing damage.
 

randomdude

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What makes me wonder is that the screen and instrument cluster shakes sideways. If it was shaking up and down it would sound like the result of a rotational mass being out of balance or out of round, but the side to side vibration is weird. Have you ever got in front of the bike and grabbed the fairing and yanked on it, to see if any of it is loose? I think a rim would have to be so far out of true in order to cause violent side to side shaking at only 6mph that it would be impossible not to notice it visually.
Indeed. I hear you, it doesn't feel at all like an up and down rotational mass rather than a side to side wobble. As for a potential broken front subframe though, I don't really know, thing is, I feel the vibes through the seat and the pegs underneath.. To make it even more complicated, the front end gets totally stable at highway speeds, even with a higher V-stream screen ..and generally at any speed above the 6mph mark..(sigh)
 

EricV

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Tongue in cheek - Don't do that then. ;) Aside from practicing tight u turns, how often do you really find yourself going less than idle speed in 1st gear?
 

randomdude

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I recommend to check your fork bushings. Get it up on the centerstand, remove wheel and rock each leg front to back and side to side. One of my fork bushings started to have play at just over 5,000 miles. Worn bushings can cause all kinds of odd low speed vibrations. If one has a slight amount of play not a big concern. If both have play then time to replace.

At 12,000 miles the suspension is well past due for servicing. The rear shock can be serviced even though it is considered not serviceable. Just have the suspension shop install a schrader valve to the body to charge it with nitrogen.

Welcome to the forum and good luck!
Thank you for the welcoming ballisticexchris, it's good to be here.
Now the bushings have been changed a couple of months ago when I replaced the OEM springs with the Hyperpro kit, by a Yamaha dealer. I asked them to thoroughly check for any free play, as the primary reason the bike was there was to figure that low speed wobble. Here I have to say that the mechanic didn't seem to be super experienced.. Can they have done something wrong with the spring installation? I remember I told them that the tighter coils on the progressive fork springs should be upwards according to Hyperpro's instructions but when I picked the bike he told me it was impossible to fit them like that so he had to install them with the tighter part of the spring facing down.. I'm not sure, but it doesn't sound to me anyway that this could make any difference..

As for the fact that the shock can actually be serviced, that is very good to know, because it takes a good beating usually when I ride some dirt roads but if the shock is not likely what's causing the wobble atm, I'd rather focus at not loosing my faith on the bike itself, if you know what I mean..
 

RCinNC

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I don't think any out of balance rotating mass (like an unbalanced wheel) would even be noticeable at 6mph. An out of round tire, if that was the source of the vibration, wouldn't stop being out of round when you accelerated faster than 6mph. Same with a wheel with an extreme runout; if if was far enough out of true that it was causing vibrations at 6mph, then someone riding beside you while you ride the bike would be able to see that in a heartbeat. I feel the same way about any issues with the forks; if they're the culprit, then I doubt if the problem would only appear at walking speed and go away when you accelerated.

It still sounds to me like something is loose somewhere, and you're experiencing some sort of harmonic vibration. Do you have crash bars on the bike? Or a skid plate? A loose crash bar has been the cause of more than one weird vibration on a bike that goes away at speed and only appears in a certain RPM range...
 

randomdude

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Tongue in cheek - Don't do that then. ;) Aside from practicing tight u turns, how often do you really find yourself going less than idle speed in 1st gear?
Haha, exactly! Everytime I 'll have to slow down to a stop on a traffic light or some customs for example I ll twist that throttle instead and then jump on the brakes! Same with very tight spots It doesn't even matter on the dirt as the bike gets wobbled by the uneven ground!
Naah jokes aside I tried to pass between a van and the door side on my way in to the public garage where I keep the bike and I felt quite uncomfortable, the opening was a few inches wider than the bars.
 

EricV

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It might be helpful to compare another Super Tenere to yours. Any other Swedish S10 owners in your region you can meet up with and swap bikes?
 

randomdude

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I don't think any out of balance rotating mass (like an unbalanced wheel) would even be noticeable at 6mph. An out of round tire, if that was the source of the vibration, wouldn't stop being out of round when you accelerated faster than 6mph. Same with a wheel with an extreme runout; if if was far enough out of true that it was causing vibrations at 6mph, then someone riding beside you while you ride the bike would be able to see that in a heartbeat. I feel the same way about any issues with the forks; if they're the culprit, then I doubt if the problem would only appear at walking speed and go away when you accelerated.

It still sounds to me like something is loose somewhere, and you're experiencing some sort of harmonic vibration. Do you have crash bars on the bike? Or a skid plate? A loose crash bar has been the cause of more than one weird vibration on a bike that goes away at speed and only appears in a certain RPM range...
Thanks, I definitely think you have a point there. Yes, I do have a pair of heavy crash bars(altrider +upper) and a skid plate on, all though I 've recently checked the bars after a low speed spill together with most of the bolts that are visible(frame-engine mounts), I 'll soon check the Hepcko & Becker skid plate and anything else that needs to be checked for tightness.
 

randomdude

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It might be helpful to compare another Super Tenere to yours. Any other Swedish S10 owners in your region you can meet up with and swap bikes?
This would be a great way to get some feedback.. I don't happen to know any other owners though, as I 'm new here in this town and the S10 is uncommon in Sweden apparently as in most other places. I'll do my best to ask around
 

RCinNC

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Maybe you could take a video (or have a passenger take it) while you're riding that shows what the shaking looks like on the bike? I don't know if it'll help or not, but being able to see it might lead to some new ideas....
 

Cycledude

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My guess is your spokes are severely messed up ! Bought my first Tenere used with very low miles and a very low price, the Yamaha dealer I bought it from claimed to have done all the service work on the bike for the previous owner, when it comes to service that dealer does not have a very good reputation ! The rear wheel had wheel weights about half way around the wheel so I knew as soon as I saw it something was definitely wrong, took the wheel to a pro who told me the wheel was a 1/4 inch out of round and several spokes were installed in the wrong places. After I got The wheel back and reinstalled it was a huge improvement !
A couple years later I bought a used rear wheel on eBay to use as a spare, when the wheel arrived it looked fine but I still took it to a pro to have it checked out, he said it was about perfect and charged me $50 but after that experience with the first wheel I didn’t mind spending the extra $50.
 
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SkunkWorks

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Based on what you are describing (with the vibration only happening at around 6-mph) I doubt it would have anything to do with the wheels or suspension.
The wheels are rolling too slowly at this speed to feel anything from them. (unless they were physically bent way out of true)

The only thing I can think of that would possibly vibrate at this speed (especially since it seems to happen with the engine OFF) would be the Driveshaft.
I am unsure of the exact rear drive ratio, but it would spin 3+ times for every wheel rotation.
Now, with that low of mileage on the bike, it would seem very odd to have a driveshaft problem? But who knows what the previous owner could have done to the bike, or even if it was put together correctly?
There could be a slight possibility that the front u-joint or the splines could be causing a binding in the front coupling.
The fact that you stated it vibrates multiple times in a single wheel rotation makes me think it could be driveshaft frequency.
If it was anything in the wheels/tires or suspension it would be felt much more prominent at higher speeds.

For these bikes it is almost unheard-of to have a driveshaft problem, but just giving you another angle to look at.
At the very least, it wouldn't hurt to have a look.
 
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