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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wobble, Wobble, Bagger Wobble!, Pt 3 and Final

Hey again!

Welcome back if you've been following my blog, and specifically the upgrade to dampen or eliminate the scary-as-Hell wobble I experienced right after getting my 1999 Road King, aka Big Blue.

My worst experience with the wobble was riding hard and fast into a sweeping entrance ramp, getting off I95 onto I64, with my bike loaded down with gear for OBX Bike Week. The bike felt as if the back tire had gone flat, setting up an eerie side to side wobble that seem to be centered right under my seat, like the frame was twisting or something. Holding the forks steady did nothing to settle it down.

As I said in earlier posts, I did the research, found that the problem wasn't just with my bike, and learned about various solutions which were really just variations on the same theme: provide a solid link between the rubber mounted tail end of the engine/swing-arm and the frame.

Another solution was to just slow down, respecting the fact that this thing ain't gonna handle like my Softail Custom or my Nightster. Being marginally intelligent, I fully understand that handling a big-ass, heavy bagger is gonna be different, but I ride fast, enjoy riding fast, and if there's a way to correct the problem so I can enjoy the bike a little more, making it suit my riding style, then I'm doing it.

I won't rant on again about this design, but really Harley D? You paid someone good money to design this?

So in Wobble Wobble, Wobble, Bagger Wobble!, Pt 1, I talked about the problem, and the solutions available. In Pt 2, I talked about bent cross-member issues, and why the Bagger Brace, a very nice unit, didn't work on my 99 Road King. Finally, I mentioned that Ron at True Track got me dialed into a solution, and Ron was simply a wealth of information about the wobble/wandering issue. Ron's an expert on this problem, so if you want details and answers, call him at 1-818-445-6204.


Here's the True Track 20-00 unit as I was installing it:

I tested it around town and had great results. See Pt 2 (link below) for details. There was still some instability around trucks that I blame on the fairing, but the scary wobbles seemed to have gone away. Still, I had a concern about carrying weight, and I wanted long term results before I pronounced the problem as "solved".

Fast forward to Sturgis, 2012!

I left Alexandria, Virginia, in late July headed for Sturgis, South Dakota, to attend my first Black Hills Rally. This trip was the only reason I even bought the Road King, so I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn't scare the hell outa me every hundred miles or so. The bike was loaded down with spares, tools, some clothes, and the usual selection of t-shirts I can't seem to leave home without. One for any occasion...formal, casual, and work! (same jeans, of course..)

But I digress......

Before leaving, I also swapped out the Continental Conti Milestone tires that had a few thousand on them for a new set of Metzler M880 Marathons. Didn't want to get to Sturgis and have to go tire shopping. I had other things on my mind when I got there.

And off I went. Hit some rain in the mountains without a problem, and cornering wasn't an issue. I gradually gained more confidence in the bike, and by the time I got to Sturgis I'd lost the worry that the damn wobble was suddenly going to rear its ugly head. Weight didn't seem to be an issue.

Passing trucks, etc, wasn't a big deal either. A little buffeting from wind turbulence, as expected, but no trouble maintaining my line of travel. Ditto for various road surfaces. The bike didn't want to wander around, and there was no feeling that the real wheel was trying to trail off on it's own, trying to steer the bike.

On the way home, and particularly on I79 between Charleston, WV, and Buckhannon, WV, the True Track was really put to the test. I79 is beautiful along that stretch, with wide sweepers running left and right and up and down (and every imaginable combination! If you get a chance to ride I79, then do it!) so I was able to put Big Blue on 80mph and see if all was well.


I enjoyed the hell out of that stretch of highway, and there's just no way I could have run like that without that True Track unit. I just know it. Every corner gave me a little more confidence. and finally I was just kickin' back enjoying the ride with a big stupid grin on my face.

So that's my well-earned endorsement for the True-Track 20-00 stabilizer after a rather grueling 4,920 mile road test, along with a recommendation to try one if you're having the same troubles. If there was going to be a problem, I'd have had it. I looked at other solutions, maybe to save a couple bucks, and ended up with the True Track. It worked, and worked well. And again, I'll recommend calling Ron. 1-818-445-6204

Here's links to the previous two articles:

Wobble, Wobble, Bagger Wobble!, Pt 1

Wobble, Wobble, Bagger Wobble!, Pt 2


PS Sturgis was a fucking blast!