The Dyna Death Wobble
How To Defeat It With Hardcore Cycles
Article And Photos By: John O’Brien www.hardcorecycles.com
Originally Published In Torque Performance Volume 1 Issue 2 – Winter 2021
Read The Whole Article On The Torque Performance Web Site
We’ve all heard about it before, the dreaded Dyna “death wobble,” and nearly anyone who has taken a sweeping turn at 100MPH+ has experienced it. I love Dynas. They are the first Harley I ever really fell in love with. To me, nothing on two wheels looks better than a properly set up one, but with that being said, they handle like absolute garbage off the factory floor. For me, though, that is part of the fun. Can it be aggravating at times trying to get a bike to perform the way you want? Absolutely. This may sound crazy, but that is what I love about Harley-Davidson! If I bought a bike and it came exactly how I wanted it, and I didn’t have to figure some things out it, would be boring. Where would the fun be in that? I want to make a bike my own, have it ride exactly how I want through my own efforts. And to be honest, I think the performance scene owes a lot to the Dyna. Sure, it all started with the FXR and its incredible handling of the budding performance bagger scene we are experiencing now but let’s not forget what was in between. I truly believe we would not have nearly as many Road Glides with T-Bars and a proper suspension set up if many of those riders did not experience what a difference those parts could make on a Dyna.
So how do we fix it?! Well, before we talk about curing the problem that has plagued Dyna riders as long as the platform has been around, we first need to understand why there is a wobble in the first place. The Dyna has two basic mounting points that are rubber mounted. The rubber isn’t very rigid, to begin with, and when it starts to wear and stretch even a little, the rider can experience a hinged feeling in the rear of the bike. When cornering, it will almost feel as if the bike is going to scissor. This is due to the drivetrain having the ability to move within the frame. It sucks, and nothing can ruin a ride more than not having confidence that your bike can handle what you are throwing at it. So, now that we understand what causes the problem let’s move on to some possible solutions.
Before you upgrade anything, you need to be sure your neck bearings, wheel bearings, and tire pressure are all in order. If your neck bearings are worn or too loose or tight, it can cause some serious front-end wiggle. Tires too. I know, I know. Talking about tires can be boring, but they really are an incredibly important aspect of how your bike tracks. Just because they have good tread does not mean that the tire is in good condition. Tires that are old and hard or tires with improper pressure can ruin a ride. Tire technology has come a long way, and finding a tire that is right for you can make a world of difference if inflated to the proper manufacturer specification. Me personally, I run Pirelli Night Dragons. I get decent mileage out of them, but more importantly, they grip the road really well, especially in rain. You can talk to ten different riders who put on tons of miles and get ten different answers as to which tire they prefer. Find a good dual-compound tire that performs well and take care of it.
Suspension may be the worst part on your bike that comes from the factory. If you want to carve corners, you need to improve the suspension and lean angle of the bike. If building my Dyna taught me anything, it was that you get what you pay for. Suspension can have a huge impact on the comfort and fun you have while riding, so don’t skimp on it. Suspension set up is key as well. Make sure your sag is set up to handle your riding load and go with a company that gives you the ability to adjust your rebound and even compression. I rock Legends on all my bikes. They feel great, are easy to adjust and give me the ability to stiffen up the shock when I really want to ride more aggressive.
Steering stabilizers or dampers have become more and more popular on Harleys in recent years. They help mitigate uncontrolled movement in the front end which in turn helps control how the bike tracks.
There is a plethora of options available nowadays, but I think the GPR stabilizers are by far and away the best. It is a fully adjustable hydraulic stabilizer that mounts directly to your steering head.
This is the upgrade that I think that has the best direct impact on fixing the wobble. As previously stated, wobble can be caused by quite a few things but with Dynas specifically allot of it is due to the engine moving in the frame so the more we can do to align them and have them move as one the better. There are plenty of options here as well. Chopper Haus and Big Bear Choppers make motor mounts that are similar to the old FLT style mounting system. They replace your stock mounts entirely and the difference will be instantly noticeable in how the bike tracks, however you will experience some added vibration even with the rubber isolators. Another popular option is the Sputhe Stabilizer Kit. This chassis kit will bolt on to your stock mounts and allow for quite a bit of adjustability in an effort to eliminate lateral isolator flex. You can really dial in the alignment of the steering head and rear axle without much added vibration. As always with this kit be sure to maintain your rubber mounts and change them as needed.
So, while I wish there was a miracle fix for the Dyna wobble the truth is the wobble can be caused by a bunch of different of things and fixing it will most likely mean a combination of the above, but nothing beats getting that Dyna dialed in and shredding corners once you do.