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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, new member with a new-to-me 2003 Z1000. I've had it only 2 days but have some concerns on the steering. I had the issues even on the test ride but decided to buy anyway, thinking it could be me, which could be fixed with experience with the bike. Or if it was mechanical, that could be fixed too.

My previous riding has been with bikes that are on the stable and somewhat heavy steering side: ZX-12R and KZ1000R. You worked to get it over with a good push on the bar, and if you wanted more you pushed harder. If you liked what you had, those bikes held that arc very precisely, settled in like they were on rails.


This bike steers fine from straight-ahead to initiating a turn, or just wanting to stay straight.

But, once leaned over even really not much yet, it tries ITSELF to turn sharper. As of yet I can't steer it precisely at all. Now to an observer they would not think that, my lines look like something someone might do. But they're not what I choose, and have "sawtooths" in them of the bike sharpening up the turn and then me having to relax it.

1) Is it all me? Do I just need to learn to work with this property, and I'm behind the curve because of being used to more stable bikes?
2) Might it be the tire combo? They're pretty new looking but are an unmatched pair: Pirelli Diablo Rosso II in front, Metzeler Sportec M7 RR in back.

The bike has a ZX-6R front end and rear shock.

Any set up suggestions or any suggestions of any kind?

Thanks!

EDIT: Was wrong on pretty new-looking tires. Going out and looking at them again, that was an overstatement. But they're by no means badly worn.
 

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I cannot help you too much here as I am not a suspension guy. I have a 2015. I can compare it to my Goldwing and my previous boulevard only. The boulevard I had to fight it to lean and hold it there. My Goldwing Is a much different story, it falls into the corner and it will hold its line fine but it is a weird feeling because once it starts to lean it keeps wanting to lean I actually have to hold it back from leaning harder. My Z1k falls somewhere in between but I have no issue holding a line. Though of course our different gens are different suspensions. It almost sounds to me like you are getting the shopping cart effect from not having enough caster. I think there are some guys on here that have done the ZX6r suspension swap too, I'm sure they will chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thank you! I hope so as well. It's the opposite of confidence-inspiring for the bike to do this.

The way you described what your Goldwing is doing is pretty much spot-on with what my Z1000 is doing, only difference is it's intermittent whether I have to hold it back from the bike trying to lean itself more, or have to use little or no pressure to hold. On average, it doesn't need significant pressure to hold a turn. I'd rather it took some pressure, but is that from my not being used to quick-steering bikes?

If the further detail helps, the rear Metzeler Sportech M7 RR is a 190/50 and the front Pirelli Diablo Rossa II is 120/70. I did see in another thread that the 200 size Metzeler is actually about the width of a 190, with speculation that the 190 might be like a 180, and that this Metzeler was a pretty fast turning tire due to the center radius being relatively narrow. But I don't know if that would explain this? Definitely don't want to change tires if I should be looking somewhere else, or, if this is normal and I just need to get used to this kind of steering!
 

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my Goldwing I know has a really super soft front suspension... I actually get a pogo stick effect on slow speed bumps. There is probably something wrong with it but it's 1996 and I don't feel like spending money on it. Does your front feel soft?? maybe needs to have the compression and preload turned up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The compression and rebound damping seems good both ends, and I tried adjusting them both ways and there was no help.

I can't presently find my sag measurements but from memory, the static sag figures showed a little too much preload at the front and a little too little at the rear, but by only about 5 mm. Added sag from adding me onto the bike gave good rear total sag and the front not quite enough.

I'm going to adjust the preloads but was not able to at the time, and it seemed to me (could be wrong) this wasn't enough to explain, and if anything would slow steering?
 

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The compression and rebound damping seems good both ends, and I tried adjusting them both ways and there was no help.

I can't presently find my sag measurements but from memory, the static sag figures showed a little too much preload at the front and a little too little at the rear, but by only about 5 mm. Added sag from adding me onto the bike gave good rear total sag and the front not quite enough.

I'm going to but was not able to at the time, and it seemed to me (could be wrong) this wasn't enough to explain, and if anything would slow steering?
I would agree with you there the settings would have to be far off to explain it. I was thinking maybe one seal was blown or something. Unfortunately I am really not much help on suspension. I will watch this post though to see if you figure it out!
 

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The bike is almost 15 years old. I dont think i'd start with tires.

Theses no telling what the steering head bearings are like, or swingarm pivot, or suspension linkage....maybe it has been crashed?

Theres no a mention of fork service? No idea how many miles are on the bike, either.

There ar emany things tha tmake a motorcycle handle good, but if one of the components I mentioned are off, worn, or not lubricated, the bike wont handle correctly.
 

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Stand in front of the bike and look down at the front tire profile. If it is pointy at ALL, that's your problem. When the front tire wears it usually takes on a pointy shape. Kind of flat on the sides and narrow in the middle. Put a nice new tire on with a round profile and the heaviness in slow corners will disappear.

Mad
 

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Mad, that is an amazing set of troubleshooting skills you have.

Ive not met too many who can diagnose a 15 year old bikes handling issues without seeing it or knowing how many miles it has on it...well done!.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you!

It's overall definitely oval, but is a narrower radius curve in the center than I'm used to.

There is some tire wear. Seems not bad at all, but some, and the tread is still more than enough, but less than new, at the top (towards center of tire) of the sipes. It doesn't seem necessarily off or far off of a new sport bike tire, but certainly isn't as large radius in the center as a sport touring tire.

It's not heaviness in slow corners. Slow is the worst, it can want to knife in (to a moderate extent) when slow and takes immediate correction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
rcannon, I don't know how many miles it has. The odometer says 1000 and something but it's certainly wrong. (Why wrong, I don't know.)

I expect it has quite a few.

The ZX-6R suspension swap was recent. I don't know whether the forks were serviced. Quite likely not. I pinned down the model year they came from a couple of days ago, think they were 2007's or if not, somewhere around there. I don't perceive any problem with them (steering is only issue) either while riding or while off the bike and testing them by working the front with leaning in body weight sharply then releasing. I don't have any impression of problem with the steering head bearings. (Doesn't prove there is nothing, but no play that I can feel.)

I have not measured ride heights yet. To my inexpert eye, the bike looks to be in a normal pitch, definitely not tail high. The forks are about 1 1/8" slid up past the triple clams. When on kickstand, the back of the tailpiece is about dead level with the top of the gas tank, just so slightly higher. I don't think I'd like the appearance of the bike if I dropped the back any relative to the front, and think that would be moving away from stock pitch.

This is not my bike, but the pitch looks like this:



From a post elsewhere, if ZX-6R forks are flush, that raises the front by 24 mm. So the 1 1/8th" gap that the bike has, probably is dropping the front by about 4 mm which doesn't seem much, but would be in the direction of reducing stability.

I did find complaints online about the 2003's steering stability, one even happening to use the same word I did, squirrely. But, that doesn't mean mine might not be worse? Don't know. All suggestions MORE than welcome!! :)
 

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Mad, that is an amazing set of troubleshooting skills you have.

Ive not met too many who can diagnose a 15 year old bikes handling issues without seeing it or knowing how many miles it has on it...well done!.

Oh, did I hurt your feelings? I haven't tried to "diagnose " his bike. I have 40 years riding, 15 years racing, was a factory tech for 12 years, what the hell do I know???
I just gave him something he could check on his own at no cost. But thanks for chiming in...


Mad
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thank you for the replies so far, Mad, rcannon, and GreenHornet!

My thoughts so far with your advice and what I've been able to dig up are:

1) Front tire's a contributor for sure, as suggested. It's nothing like pointed and I expect on many other bikes would still steer very well, but this bike may not tolerate a narrower-radius center. A front that was broader-round in the center would improve stability for sure. Only riding with a different tire would answer whether it could be enough to fully correct or just lessen the problem.

2) Rear tire may be narrower than stock, as the 200 size tire in this model is almost exactly stock width. Narrower rear -> sharper turn-in. Plus, this rear tire is known for its profile contributing to quicker turn-in.

3) 2003 Z1000's may ordinarily be a little squirrely or not hold lines particularly stably. I don't remember people saying that at the time the bikes were new, generally its handling was praised (relative to say the ZRX not ZX-10R) but have found things like that now, including from magazine reviews.

4) I'm used to bikes that hold lines like they're on rails so what to others might be just slight misbehavior, maybe bothers me more than it should? Stop being a complainer and get used to a bike that sometimes sharpens the line "on its own"?

5) The seat/pegs/bar relationship has me tending to sit at a position like photos of a lot of guys riding it, and pretty similar to my riding position back in the day when on the KZ1000R2. But that bike put a LOT more weight on the front wheel so it wasn't such a big difference how much bodyweight you transferred to the front with forward lean. Seems like the Gen 1 Z1000 front is much lighter and for it to have any hope of feeling the way I want, I've got to get more of my weight on it. I'll probably buy Renthal ultralows and see what happens. (Or Convertibars but they are more money.)

I still wonder, do Gen 1 Z1000's in general tend to steer like I'm describing, or are they pretty stable bikes and what I'm describing is way off of what should be expected? Given a front tire that's only moderately worn, definitely still oval, rear tire definitely looking still good.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update: Replaced the Corbin sest the bike was sold with with stock sest. That plus more forward lean, huge difference. The Corbin seat really fought sitting fully forward.

I'm guessing adding Renthal ultralows may be all that's needed to get steering pretty satisfactory.

Maybe the lighter weight of the zx6r front contributed to needing more bodyweight forward...
 

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You said, I believe, that the front end was taller, right?

Im thinking this....Front end starts out 1 inch taller. Thats not a massive deal, but still matters.

But, when you climb on the bike, this new front end is stiffer. So, it settles less than the stock fork did.

Now that +1inch has turned into plus 2 inches,and the bike steers like a chopper.\

Also not helping is the stock rear shock. Kawasaki likes to use soft rear shocks that are over damped. This makes sure the front end never wobbles.

I think I would find a way to raise that back end some.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Going by information on where ZX-6R forks should sit in the triple clamps to be equal to the stock forks, the front is about 1/8th of an inch low, not figuring sag into it.
However, its sag -- I'm going to have to go remeasure that because I can't find my numbers -- is a little less than it should be, so overall yes it is a little high in front probably, say half an inch?

And the rear is about 5 mm low.

If anything though all that ought to slow the steering not speed it?

But I will get the preloads changed to get correct sag.
 

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One thing we have not talked about is triple clamp offset...the distance the fork tubes are...wait....before I look like a fool, its easier to show a picture....abotu 1/2 way down....KTM RC8R rake & trail

I made a change of 2mm, on my dirt bike. I went from 24mm to 22mm. The difference was unreal.

The bike steered MUCH faster, yet was more stable in a straight. Yes, it sounds impossible, but it really was.

Im sure yours have been changed? If so, how different is the offset measurement?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That, I do not know. Seems a great question. As I don't have access to a stock 2003 I'm not sure I'll be able to make the comparison. If I'm not mistaken, I really cannot adjust this other than with different triple clamps, correct?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I've texted the previous owner and it turns out he kept stock triple tree. So offset should be the same.

The Renthal ultralows came in, looks like maybe 1.5" lower and more forward, that should help still more. Tire change after that, Continental Sport Attack 3 front and rear I think, but I can't (technically, financially "shouldn't" rather than "can't") change them right now and there's not a safety issue with the present ones.

Looks like all the bases that can reasonably be gotten will be covered: a little preload adjustment to correct the small errors in sag compared to desired, steering offset proved same unless I misunderstand, the tire discussion got me looking closer, and weight shift. Plus, from other reports the 2003 is not a particularly stable bike in the first place. So it makes sense that a little bit of profile issue with the tires puts it somewhat over the edge while another bike I think would steer fine with the same tires.

Thanks!
 
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