Pan Weave or Speed Wobble refers to the rapid oscillation of a motorcycle’s front end from side to side at higher speeds. Some riders also refer to it as the ‘Death Wobble’.
It is caused when small inputs to the handlebars are amplified through the front suspension and steering components, creating an unstable feedback loop.
Speed wobble can occur due to improper weight distribution, loose bearings or other components in the front end, incorrect tire pressure, or improper riding techniques.
On heavier touring models like the Honda ST1300, speed wobble can be exacerbated by the weight and design.
Speed Wobble Issues on the ST1300
The Honda ST1300 is a heavy-touring motorcycle designed for stability at high speeds.
However, its weight of over 700 pounds can contribute to speed wobble if components are worn or out of adjustment.
The ST1300 has conventional front forks and relies on the rider to maintain proper control inputs.
Subtle changes in posture or steering at high speeds can be amplified through the chassis and result in wobble.
Ensuring proper tire pressure, alignment, and suspension settings is key to reducing wobble on the ST1300.
Diagnosing Speed Wobble
Detecting speed wobble starts with being aware of the symptoms.
A rapid shake or oscillation of the front end that increases with small steering inputs is the main sign. It typically occurs above 50 mph.
Checking for play in the headset bearings, worn steering stem components, loose axle nuts, and improperly inflated tires can identify causes.
Suspension should be checked for proper damping and adjusted based on load.
Input from the rider is also critical, as improper posture and grip on the bars can initiate wobble.
Suspension and Frame Considerations
The ST1300 uses conventional front forks with preload and damping adjustments.
Ensuring they are tuned properly for the load and riding conditions is important, as is checking the rear shock preload.
The large frame of the ST1300 is designed for stability, but should still be inspected for cracks or damage that could contribute to wobble.
A steering damper can help tame oscillations by limiting side-to-side fork movement. Refer to the article linked for more info on the suspension problems of ST1300.
Firmer aftermarket suspension components may also reduce wobble on the ST1300.
Riding Technique for Stability
Proper riding form is essential to stability. Gripping the tank with the knees to isolate upper body movement is key.
A light but firm grip on the bars minimizes unwanted steering inputs. Shifting the position slightly rearward improves weight distribution.
Relaxing the arms and body helps avoid inadvertently initiating wobble through sudden control inputs at high speeds.
Maintaining consistent throttle through corners prevents rear suspension unloading.
Practicing emergency braking at speed prepares the rider to dampen wobble if it occurs.
Aftermarket Upgrades for Wobble Reduction
Several aftermarket products aim to reduce wobble on the ST1300. Steering stabilizers mounted under the triple clamp control unwanted fork movement.
Cartridge emulators provide firmer damping and resistance to wobble. Fork braces reduce flex by joining the sliders.
The stiffer suspension lowers, thicker fork oil and heavier fork springs can also help.
Widening the handlebar or changing the offset reduces leverage for initiating wobble. Consider consulting a suspension specialist when installing aftermarket parts.
Preventative Maintenance for the ST1300
Routine maintenance helps minimize speed wobble issues. Check for proper inflation and wear on tires at least weekly.
Inspect fasteners on all steering and suspension components regularly for looseness.
Lubricate bearings and pivots, replacing any that feel rough or notchy.
Have wheel alignment checked yearly and adjusted as needed. Stay on top of fluid changes, using only manufacturer-recommended oils and grades.
Check and adjust suspension settings frequently based on load and conditions.
Correcting Speed Wobble When It Happens
If a speed wobble occurs unexpectedly, stay calm and ease off the throttle smoothly to reduce speed.
Do not apply the brakes, as it can exacerbate the wobble.
Focus on relaxing your grip, arms, and upper body. Shift your body rearward if possible.
Allow the front wheel to stabilize, then make gradual steering inputs to bring the bike under control.
When fully stopped, check for damage and the cause of the wobble before cautiously resuming riding.
Temporary fixes like loosening the triple clamp can dampen wobble and get you home safely.
Speed wobble can be an alarming and dangerous experience for motorcyclists.
Understanding the underlying causes and being proactive with maintenance and proper riding technique is key to preventing wobble issues, especially on heavy touring models like the Honda ST1300.
While aftermarket modifications may help dampen wobble, focusing on suspension setup, alignment, and component condition goes a long way toward stable handling.
Staying relaxed and easing off the throttle smoothly are the best ways to maintain control if a speed wobble occurs unexpectedly.
With vigilance and practice, riders can build confidence in their ability to manage wobble and continue enjoying stable rides on their touring motorcycles.