Speed Wobble

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Joined: 2006-09-15
User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 1 day ago.

I started riding my first bike last spring, a 1983 Honda 450, after a fantastic riding/safety course at a local college on Easter weekend.

It's only a 15 minute ride to work, most of it on a 12-lane freeway at rush hour, with construction going on in at least 2 places along the road.

I had just gotten up to speed in traffic, going around a gentle bend, when my front wheel started to shake violently from side to side, almost tearing my handlebars out of my grip. Already very nearly at the bike's upper limit, I couldn't and didn't dare speed up in case it wasn't enough, so I held on, screaming inside my helmet and easing off the throttle just as slowly as I possibly could, until the bike was finally back under control.

It seemed to take forever, and all the while my vivid imagination was rolling horrible images of accident scenarios, all of them ending with variations of me, broken and shredded all over the road. By the time it was over, I was shaking almost as hard as the bike had been.

It turns out that the oil level in the front shocks was low, and much lower on one side than the other. When he changed it, my mechanic suggested it was probably the original, 20-year-old oil in there, and not checked when the bike was safetied when I bought it.

- Nathalie