Ask MO Anything: Did I Bend the Frame of My Motorcycle?
I bent my new Street Twin!
I dropped my precious new Triumph Street Twin as I was coming to a stop the other day (don’t ask), and when I picked it back up, everything was unscathed, to my great relief, except for a scratch on the end of the left handlebar. To my horror, however, when I rode off again, the handlebars are cocked a few degrees to the right when the bike is going straight! Did that one little drop bend the frame or what? The forks don’t look bent at all.
Everything seems to work as normally as ever, but this is driving me crazy; I was already a bit OCD to begin with. Please help!
Fear not, PB. What we have here is a classic case of a “tweaked” front end. Your triple clamp connects your forks to the motorcycle, and sometimes a whack on a handlebar is enough to slightly misalign the top clamp with the bottom one.
The lower clamp is the one with the steering stem pressed into it, which sticks up through your bike’s steering head. Then the top clamp, at right in the above photo, is clamped onto it by the steering stem nut. All you need to do is get the front wheel of your bike off the ground (trying not to drop it again), then loosen the pinch bolts that clamp the fork tubes. The beefy clamps pictured here as you can see have three bolts per lower clamp and two per upper; your Speed Twin appears to use one bolt per bottom clamp and one per upper.
Once the fork tubes are able to move just a smidge, you should be able to waggle the handlebar back into alignment. Hold the front wheel between your legs while you turn the handlebar in the direction of untweakness. You’ll often hear or feel a little tink as the offended parts realign themselves and say “ahhh, that’s better.” Retighten the clamps to the proper spec using the new torque wrench you now have the perfect excuse to buy.
PS: Reader Larry Kahn offers more good advice in the Comments section below: “While loosening the pinch bolts with the front wheel off the ground, loosen them just a bit at a time making sure the fork tubes don’t drop through the clamps. If you can get a bag with sand you can slide that under the wheel so it’s less likely to drop. And if more than one bolt per side per clamp, remember to tighten them a few times each alternating so all are snug. And remember it’s also very possible the handlebar got bent (too). BTW, OCD is not all bad when it comes to stuff bolted to your motorcycle.”
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