In motorcycles and scooters the structural modes of vibration are important because they influence both vehicle’s comfort and vehicle’s stability and handling. Some researchers have shown that instabilities, which may occur when the vehicle is running (weave and wobble), are influenced by the modes of vibration, of the vehicle. At the Motorcycle Dynamics Research Group of Padova University many motorcycles have been tested with the method of modal analysis. The results of this research highlight that the whole motorcycle is a complex system that shows many kinds of modes of vibration: rigid modes, in which the structural components of the vehicle (chassis, fork, handlebars) behave as rigid bodies and deflection is given by tires and suspensions; local modes, in which deflection is concentrated in some subsystem of the vehicle (e.g. handlebars) and the rest of the motorcycle behaves as a system of rigid bodies; global modes with relevant deflection of the whole vehicle. This paper focuses on a specific issue, which is important for motorcycle design: the identifications of the frequencies of the first modes that show relevant deflection of the front fork and swing-arm. First, experimental equipment and testing methods are presented and discussed. Then the modal properties (natural frequencies, damping coefficients and modal shapes) of four motorcycles of different categories are presented, the characteristics of some modes are highlighted. Finally, the paper focuses on the identification of the frequencies that represent the borderline between rigid and elastic behavior of front fork and swing-arm. A method that requires the analysis of the characteristics of a small set of frequency response functions, without carrying out a long and expensive modal analysis of the whole vehicle, is presented. It is based on the properties of rigid modes (variation in vibration amplitude along a set of measurement points).

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