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OK, so first off I want to stress that I am new to riding street bikes, so please bear with what might be a very dumb set of questions. :)

I rode dirt bikes for most of my childhood (a Honda 125), so I am familiar with riding on dirt; however, I have recently received my license and a Honda Shadow 600. It has been over 20 years since I last rode, but it is coming back to me. The bike I bought was a 2004, but appears to be in great condition. When I ride it at slower speeds (up to 35-40 mph) it handles like a dream. However, when I get on main roads and go in the 55-60 mph, it seems to be somewhat unstable (not unsafe, just more vibration and less responsiveness than expected). Now, this may be normal, I just don't know. I am hoping that there isn't anything wrong with my bike. I only wonder because I have seen people riding sport bikes down a freeway, going close to 75 mph, take both hands off the bike just to have fun. I couldn't imagine doing this on my bike. Here are some questions:

Is it normal for a bike to act a little 'squirrely' above 55 mph?
Do motorcycle tires need to be balanced, like a car tire?
Have other new riders out there experienced the same thing, and it just goes away once you become more familiar with your bike.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to your guidance!
 

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I'm fairly new myself to street riding and I've been riding around 6 weeks now. I've got an Aero 750 and although it can definitely go 55 and more, it feels 'squirrely' to me too. I tried some freeway riding once or twice and just felt like I was holding on for dear life rather than enjoying the ride. I asked about freeway riding in another post and the more experienced riders said that you'll eventually get used to the wind blowing you around at the higher speeds. (Some also suggested that a good windshield might help reduce the wind for highway riding so I'm definitely on the hunt for a good windshield).
Not sure about the need for tire rotation but my guess is no. Sooo, bottom line is yes, your not alone in your 'squirrely' world.
 

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Yes, most of us get our tires balanced.
Re: instability. Because the rotational forces of the tire make it a gyro, there is resistance to changes in direction. I noted some frame flex on my 600 with sudden moves but you should not experience anything when going straight.

This makes me ask if you are sure your tires are properly inflated. Worn tires can also affect handling. Other factors include crown, minute variations in road surface produced by studded tires or the paver. Steering is very sensitive on bikes and because you have direct control, you will feel every little pebble or change of surface angle/type/etc.

PS: Mine seemed to smooth out at +60.
 

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My last bike was a virago 750. That thing literally scared me at highway speeds. I always felt like the thing was 2 seconds away from just flipping or fishtailing all over the place. most unstable bike i've ever had by far.

I just got a 97 VT600CD. The day i got it, last saturday, the winds were gusting around 30 mph with a steady wind around 15-20mph. The gusts were pretty regular. I had to ride the bike home about 25 miles from where i got it. I was NOT enjoying that ride at all as i was heading west and the winds were from the south. Felt like a tumbleweed in a hurricane. Part of it was not having ridden for 3 years as well. I had a short 5 mile stretch of north/south road where i was heading north so i had a tailwind and the bike handled great.

Part of me thinks that the type of tires you have on the bike make a huge difference. The front tires on my virago were those ones that have the grooved tread running parallel to the frame around the circumference of the tire. The front treat on the current bike are more what you'd expect to see on a motorcycle. In my mind that might make a difference but without trying the two tires on teh same bike it's hard to say.

The virago was definitely higher up as well so my center of gravity was higher. Maybe lowering the bike would add some stability. But if you feel like it's that squirrelly i'd take it into the shop and have them check the forks and suspension and the tires and axles and such just to make sure.
 

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You didn't mention how many miles on the bike. I would check the tires for wear & balance. If no problems, check the steering head bearings, wheel bearings & make sure the rear wheel is aligned with the front. Your bike is not a sport bike, but riding without hands, while not entirely safe should not really be a problem because the gyro effect will tend to keep the bike going in the same direction. So if there is a problem with your hands on the bars something is probably wrong. 55-60 mph should not cause your bike to be overly squirrely. A windshield may make it more comfortable for you at higher speeds.
 

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I think you need to define "squirrely" a little better.
Also, how much wind and how was it hitting you?

In my experience, the 600 is not a great bike for 55mph or more. It's too light and not stable enough in general. Wind gusts could blow me around way too easily and it just generally was uncomfortable to go that fast on that bike for any length of time.

At the same time, I know that there are plenty of people out there who can ride their VLX's on the highway all day long with no problems.

I think you need to figure out if you think it's so bad that it's a mechanical problem, or if it's maybe just not the right size bike for the way you want to ride it.
 

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OK, so first off I want to stress that I am new to riding street bikes, so please bear with what might be a very dumb set of questions. :)

I rode dirt bikes for most of my childhood (a Honda 125), so I am familiar with riding on dirt; however, I have recently received my license and a Honda Shadow 600. It has been over 20 years since I last rode, but it is coming back to me. The bike I bought was a 2004, but appears to be in great condition. When I ride it at slower speeds (up to 35-40 mph) it handles like a dream. However, when I get on main roads and go in the 55-60 mph, it seems to be somewhat unstable (not unsafe, just more vibration and less responsiveness than expected). Now, this may be normal, I just don't know. I am hoping that there isn't anything wrong with my bike. I only wonder because I have seen people riding sport bikes down a freeway, going close to 75 mph, take both hands off the bike just to have fun. I couldn't imagine doing this on my bike. Here are some questions:

Is it normal for a bike to act a little 'squirrely' above 55 mph?
Do motorcycle tires need to be balanced, like a car tire?
Have other new riders out there experienced the same thing, and it just goes away once you become more familiar with your bike.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to your guidance!
The VLX 600's are a very light, small bike in the world of cruiser motorcycles. They react more to outside influences such as road quality, wind, etc., than a larger/heavier bike would. With that said, my old VLX was pretty stable at the speeds you inquire about. Not sure what you mean by responsiveness and whether you're talking about acceleration or handling, but at higher speeds, it will require more input from you to shift lanes or do gentle sweeping turns because of the rotational effect that drives the bike forward. Oh, and the extra vibration is normal. Bigger bikes get it too, although sometimes not as bad or as noticeable.

Riding a bike on the freeway is a different experience than riding a bike on backroads. There are a number of us who avoid freeways just because it's rather unpleasant, boring, and there is no scenery. However, if you think there may be something wrong, have it checked out just to be safe. Otherwise, freeways are just another ride most of us have to get used to or avoid.
 

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Sounds to me what you are describing is normal. I would describe riding my 750 the same way. I’ve grown accustom to it though. I do think checking tires, pressure, wheel bearings and pivot bearings just for peace of mind is worthwhile either way.
 

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OK, so first off I want to stress that I am new to riding street bikes, so please bear with what might be a very dumb set of questions. :)

I rode dirt bikes for most of my childhood (a Honda 125), so I am familiar with riding on dirt; however, I have recently received my license and a Honda Shadow 600. It has been over 20 years since I last rode, but it is coming back to me. The bike I bought was a 2004, but appears to be in great condition. When I ride it at slower speeds (up to 35-40 mph) it handles like a dream. However, when I get on main roads and go in the 55-60 mph, it seems to be somewhat unstable (not unsafe, just more vibration and less responsiveness than expected). Now, this may be normal, I just don't know. I am hoping that there isn't anything wrong with my bike. I only wonder because I have seen people riding sport bikes down a freeway, going close to 75 mph, take both hands off the bike just to have fun. I couldn't imagine doing this on my bike. Here are some questions:

Is it normal for a bike to act a little 'squirrely' above 55 mph? No.
Do motorcycle tires need to be balanced, like a car tire? Yes.
Have other new riders out there experienced the same thing, and it just goes away once you become more familiar with your bike. Never been a new rider.

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to your guidance!
:shock: Hope my answers have helped you out. :grin:

Seriously...the bike shouldn't be "squirrely." There are conditions that may make it move around such as wind, surface, road conditions etc. But if you are getting a wobble or noticeable vibration have some of the things checked out others have suggested(Tazman9). Could be anything from simple out of balance to bent frame. I have a 750 Aero. I commute everyday at speeds of 60 to 70mph. About half way home I will let go of the bars and stretch my arms. A 600 is not a small bike. It's only considered a small bike by today's standard of "bigger is better." I rode a 650 from Kansas to California. Sure...in wind a larger heavier bike does not get "buffed" as much...but more stable? No. I take my 750 up over 100mph once a year (for some f*cked up childish reason). It feels just as stable at 100 as it does at 55. You might have someone who rides switch bikes and get their opinion. But if you're feeling something...something's probably not quite right. :grin:
 

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I'm fairly new myself to street riding and I've been riding around 6 weeks now. I've got an Aero 750 and although it can definitely go 55 and more, it feels 'squirrely' to me too. I tried some freeway riding once or twice and just felt like I was holding on for dear life rather than enjoying the ride. I asked about freeway riding in another post and the more experienced riders said that you'll eventually get used to the wind blowing you around at the higher speeds. (Some also suggested that a good windshield might help reduce the wind for highway riding so I'm definitely on the hunt for a good windshield).
Not sure about the need for tire rotation but my guess is no. Sooo, bottom line is yes, your not alone in your 'squirrely' world.
I have a 2002 shadow ace and when I am up to speed, I don't feel unstable but I do feel the vibrations more than I'd like to. I don't enjoy the ride like I should because I'm concentrating almost too much and my vision seems to be very vibrating like. I only have been riding with poor quality glasses and I have a very small windshield. I have a ff helmet on order and really hope that helps my vision and wind in my eyes. Let me know if you do end up getting a big windshield and how much that helps. I'm sure that it has a ton to do with the fact that I'm so new to riding also (3 weeks).
 

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:shock: Hope my answers have helped you out. :grin:

Seriously...the bike shouldn't be "squirrely." There are conditions that may make it move around such as wind, surface, road conditions etc. But if you are getting a wobble or noticeable vibration have some of the things checked out others have suggested(Tazman9). Could be anything from simple out of balance to bent frame. I have a 750 Aero. I commute everyday at speeds of 60 to 70mph. About half way home I will let go of the bars and stretch my arms. A 600 is not a small bike. It's only considered a small bike by today's standard of "bigger is better." I rode a 650 from Kansas to California. Sure...in wind a larger heavier bike does not get "buffed" as much...but more stable? No. I take my 750 up over 100mph once a year (for some f*cked up childish reason). It feels just as stable at 100 as it does at 55. You might have someone who rides switch bikes and get their opinion. But if you're feeling something...something's probably not quite right. :grin:
+1000^^^^
Dude, sounds like something is definitely not right with your bike. I've put hundreds of thousands of miles, at highway speeds, on midsized bikes and they do not get squirrelly. I'm not overly familiar with your particular model, does it have spokes??? If so, spokes are quite often the culprit for bikes getting squirrelly at higher speeds. Take it in, get it checked out. Something is either bent, worn, or out of adjustment. I tend to disagree also with people who recommend putting a windscreen on to help stabilize. Sure, a windscreen might reduce some buffeting, but it can also change the aerodynamics and increase wobbling... to be fair with full disclosure though, I really dislike windscreens anyway. Either way, the thought of riding a bike that you don’t feel completely in control of, makes no sense to me at all, and for someone to tell you to "just get used to it over time"........ hmmmmm..... I don't think so. Lighter weight bikes will get you tossed around a bit more in the wind, but should perform just as well as any other bikes at speed. Similar to a small sports car on the highway compared to a Cadillac. You’ll feel the bumps in the road a lot more in the sports car, but you’ll still be safe and under control.
My .02 anyway!!
 

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smaller bikes

I think you need to define "squirrely" a little better.
Also, how much wind and how was it hitting you?

In my experience, the 600 is not a great bike for 55mph or more. It's too light and not stable enough in general. Wind gusts could blow me around way too easily and it just generally was uncomfortable to go that fast on that bike for any length of time.

At the same time, I know that there are plenty of people out there who can ride their VLX's on the highway all day long with no problems.

I think you need to figure out if you think it's so bad that it's a mechanical problem, or if it's maybe just not the right size bike for the way you want to ride it.
I tend to agree, from my experience.

My last bike was a very small Kawasaki KZ440. It was a neat little bike around town and in the country, but on the main roads at 55~60 Mph, it felt like I was pushing it to the limit. I really didn't like going 55 Mph on this bike.

But my current bike, a VT1100C, is much heavier and a lot more stable at high speed. I've run this one up to 70 to 75 Mph with no worries.

I've never owned the VLX, and I can't define the word squirrely, but I thought my experience may be of help...

Good luck,
 

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The instability that you are feeling probably comes simply from the weight of the bike. About 2 weeks ago, my son bought an 83 Nighthawk 650. That bike only weighs 450 pounds. I rode it home for my son, about 20 miles of the trip on our southern California freeways. After riding a VT1100C for a while, that lightweight 650 definitely felt "squirrelly". Basically what I was feeling was the front and rear tires fighting the grooves in the road surface, the more bumpy ride of the lighter bike and the increased response to rider input. Just a tiny bit of bump steer would really lay the bike over whereas with a heavier bike traveling those speeds, it takes more to lean it. Also, the wheel base is a lot shorter, so the ride feels more like a rocking horse than does a bigger bike. Riding that smaller bike really harked back to my 400SS Honda days. You'll get used to it and it will probably not bother you anymore.

Motorcycle tires should be balanced the same as car tires. Not everyone does it, but I sure do. It smooths out the ride. Also, check your swingarm bushings to make sure there is no play. Check front and rear wheel bearings for play. Check the alignment between front and rear wheels. Check your forks for proper dampning - you may have fork seals that need to be replaced, especially on an older bike. Make sure the fork tubes are true in the triple tree. In general, just check the overall condition of everything. If everything checks out, you may want to get a new set of tires that are matched to each other. If possible, have one of your buddies that rides take it for a test spin. Or as an alternative, let a dealer mechanice ride it for diagnosis. It may cost you a bit, but what is your safety and peace of mind worth?
 

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My BMW ('83 750) is quite sensitive to steering input, moreso with the shield on. But it's not "squirrely" at freeway speeds, either. I have no issues with it on grooved or crosshatched pavement, either, handles like it knows what it's doing. Grated bridges, however, SUCK!! What sucks about 'em is how they feel... the bike does just fine even though it feels really oooooghhy. I'd check your ride out a bit more, mechanically, 'cuz it shouldn't be squirrely, but perhaps you're being stiff in the arms while you're riding, too... that will transfer as steering input on your "gyroscope."
 

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FWIW, a 600 will vibrate at highway speeds but shoudn't be squirley. The first thing that my prejudiced mind thinks of is tires. The stock Dunlops, if that's what you have IMHO suck and will track imperfections in the road making the bike feel vague and well...squirley. I replaced the OEM tires on my Sabre within a few months of getting my bike.

The second thing that comes to mind is the alignment of the rear tire. If the wheel was ever taken off and put on off alignment it can cause a similar feel. The front would also be a candidate but if off will pull one direction or another.

Head bearings and even an overly tight chain could be an issue as well as wheel bearings, primarily in the back.

Hope this helps
 

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Assuming you don't have any mechanical issue to address I'd think that what you are experiencing is simply the result of riding a lighter weight motorcycle. A light bike will feel more buzzy, get blown around more, and in general not feel as comfortable as heavier bike at highways speeds.
 

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Both my Valk and FJR are rock steady speeds up to 100 mph. Both they have top notch tires and solid front ends.

Some things to consider - Your bike may have unbalanced tires or worn (cupped) tires. The oil and seals in your front forks probably need replacing. Also the rear shock bushings can wear causing squirrelly handling. If you have wire wheels, the spokes might need adjusting.
 

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How old are the tires?

My bike was a little squirrely the other day when it was hotter than usual. My tires were made less than a year ago.
I asked a former cycle racer to look at my bike. He dropped the tire pressure about 6 pounds and that did the trick. I think he dropped the pressure to 27 in the front anf 29 in the back.
Still a tiny squirrely in 90 degrees and below 60 it's a little different but in the zone it feels great.
 

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Be sure to check your tire pressure. I commute about 70 miles daily, mostly on the freeway. I started noticing my bike acting "squirrelly". I checked the tire pressure and it was down to around 15 psi! Filled it with air and it's all good again.
 

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Assuming you don't have any mechanical issue to address I'd think that what you are experiencing is simply the result of riding a lighter weight motorcycle. A light bike will feel more buzzy, get blown around more, and in general not feel as comfortable as heavier bike at highways speeds.
Yep. You will soon notice that many here started on 600 and 750 and eventually moved on to larger. Many for the very reasons you are stating. Nothing wrong with the smaller bike, just not as comfortable for some people.
 
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