Author Topic: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency  (Read 4559 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Volcantour

  • Sport Tourer
  • *****
  • Posts: 2007
  • Ride long and prosper
  • AREA: Southeast Area
  • COG#: 8892
  • Membership Level: Asst. Area Director
Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« on: April 08, 2011, 12:51:10 pm »
In another posting, it was mentioned that the steering head bearing was seemingly loosening on its own.  Is it necessary to re-check the steering head bearings from time to time?  I'm experiencing the 'wobble', too, and have already cranked the nut pretty extensively.  I don't have the greatest feel for this type of adjustment.  I've been wondering how I would know if the bearing needed to be replaced, so any advice would be most helpful!
TCARS, y'all

COG #8892  CDA #0309  IBA #45302
1999 Concours, 2017 DL650 XT
SE AAD

Offline Ranger Jim

  • Iron Butt
  • *****
  • Posts: 3520
  • AREA: Southeast Area
  • COG#: 6720
  • Membership Level: Asst. Area Director
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2011, 02:56:30 pm »
There's a test for the bearing tightness in CHALKDUST so test it first. IIRC, if you have tightened it previously then you may need to re-tighten it again (as the bearings "wear-in" in their new location). BTW, you don't really have to crank down on the spanner; just firmly snug.  Also, sometimes the "wobble" you're feeling is resultant from something at the rear of the bike (e.g. low tire pressure, low shock tension, etc.). Don't automatically assume it's the steering head bearings.
JIM CULP
OtP Jr. Slave Laborer (Safety)

No one is a TOTAL failure; they can always be used as a bad example.

Offline Rev Ryder

  • Officer
  • I Need a Life
  • ****
  • Posts: 8784
  • We came. We saw. We Concours-ed.
    • Presbychuck
  • AREA: South Central Area
  • COG#: 7235
  • Membership Level: Executive Director
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2011, 03:29:00 pm »
What Jim said plus...

If you've just installed new bearings and races recently they do seem to take a little bit to completely seat despite my best pounding with big hammers.  So, there is usually one follow up adjustment necessary and then they seem to stay put really well for a long time... if I get em right that is.  If they are a bit loose or too tight your frequency for needing adjustment will go up.

But back to Jim's suggestion.  The rear of the bike affects the front too.  Wheel bearings at both or either end or worn/mal-adjusted swingarm bearings can simulate fork adjustment issues.  Why couldn't life be simpler? I can't answer that one.  But if your adjustment to teh forks doesn't seem to help, work your way around the bike.  When it's ALL right, it's groovy man.
Fortis non Ferox
 Shafties Can't Wheelie

Offline GF-in-CA

  • Crotch Rocket
  • ****
  • Posts: 1360
  • AREA: Southwest Area
  • COG#: Forum
  • Membership Level: Forum Subscriber
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 08:26:11 pm »
+1 on everything Jim and Rev said, plus I have noticed that minor changes in damping settings, both front and rear, can affect wobble.  Since it's easy, I suggest adjusting the damping on the rear shock to a higher (firmer) setting, and see if that helps.  Along the same lines, if your shock has a lot of miles, you might consider changing the oil to improve the damping.

HTH,
Gary F.

1998 ZGX1100
Central Valley California

Offline Volcantour

  • Sport Tourer
  • *****
  • Posts: 2007
  • Ride long and prosper
  • AREA: Southeast Area
  • COG#: 8892
  • Membership Level: Asst. Area Director
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 10:40:06 pm »
Will check it out.  Thanks for helpful information. :sign0098:
TCARS, y'all

COG #8892  CDA #0309  IBA #45302
1999 Concours, 2017 DL650 XT
SE AAD

Offline Daytona_Mike

  • Sport Tourer
  • *****
  • Posts: 2308
  • AREA: Southeast Area
  • COG#: Forum
  • Membership Level: Forum Subscriber
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2011, 12:03:38 am »
I would like to add my 2 cents. I have had the 'wobble' too, since forever.  We are talking about a 'hands off' the handle bar wobble. As long as I kept my hands on the handle bars it would not wobble. I felt that this should not be.

 Over the years I replaced everything :  Rear bearings, new front stem bearings, front wheel bearings, new (and expensive) Progressive rear shock/spring, re-torqued  the swing arm and engine mount bolts  and no matter what I did, Sonic springs, cartridge emulators, fork brace, new fork seals and slides and on and on.  I always had the wobble at low speed. (many many new tires too) I thought  this must be the way it is and I have to live with it

Turned out I was not tightening the front stem bearings enough, not nearly enough. I even had others try who had lots of  experience with these stem bearings and I still had the wobble. (The National's Tech Session is one example)
I removed the top triple  tree clamp and removed the nut and checked the race and rollers  and made sure it had grease. The race looked new  and it had plenty of grease . I then removed the rubber  'O'  ring just below the nut and used a dab of RTV in its place. That step would be optional for you. I did not like the idea of a nut pushing down on the stem  bearing with a rubber 'O' in between as a flexing cushioning slop inducing  media.  Automotive wheel bearings are very much the same as our  tapered stem bearings (much bigger though) and I have never seen a rubber 'O' ring in a wheel  pushing against the bearing with a nut on top- so out it came. It was fairly crushed anyway. I had a new one but I felt  like trying without it.
My test was to have the front wheel  while up in the air sorta fall (with a bit of a nudge or coaxing from me) so that when it reached the limit of it's turn it would bounce back.
I wanted to tighten until it started to bind and no longer bounced back. I never got that far, I kept cranking and cranking until I thought  or seemed  to  notice that just maybe it is on the edge of  just starting to bind.
Put the bike back together and my first ride I thought I could feel the bike wanting to steer on its own. That is one creepy feeling but withing a few miles that feeling went away. What a difference . Now I have no wobble for the first time in 5 or 6 years or more of owning this bike. I have since put on a few hundred miles and no wobble and  it feels good and handles very well.

I do not expect you to have results like me, this was just my experience. I do want to explain that  I had cut about an inch off the end of the handle on the wrench so to get the bearing tight enough I had to start taping (or lightly hitting)  the wrench with a hammer, a lot  and  again and again until it was  REALLY  REALLY tight!!   and still it did not bind (well maybe a teeny tiny bit). Strange that I had to go that far I agree.

So my point is, in my case it was indeed the front stem not being tight enough and it had been tightened  on at least 6 different occasions  since replacing the  stem bearings with new ones  and  the sad part was  I now know that there probably  was nothing wrong with the original bearings,
 I was told it had to be elsewhere  on the bike  since I had replaced the  stem bearings and  they were  supposedly properly tightened ,they weren't. 
Thanks.
 (results may vary) Please be warned, an over tightened/binding  steering  system can be dangerous. Do not continue to ride a bike that feels like it is steering  itself!


Normally aspirated engines have perpetual turbo lag
2000 Red C10 1052 kit
2008  C14 Silver Dammit Full AreaP- Flies are put back in SISF_Flash
2011  KLR650   688 piston ported and polished
2011  KTM 530    This thing is FUN!!

Offline smithr1

  • I Need a Life
  • ******
  • Posts: 5202
  • AREA: South Central Area
  • COG#: 6197
  • Membership Level: Asst. Area Director
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2011, 07:49:30 pm »
I tend to over tighten mine till I know the bearing is firmly seated but I can turn the bars still.  I can then feel the bearing to see if it feels smooth.  I then back off JUST enough to allow the bars to turn freely.
---
Bob Smith (smithr)
Austin, Texas baby!
2010 Kawasaki Concours, Midnight Blue
COG 6197, CDA 107

Offline Bergmen

  • Sport Tourer
  • *****
  • Posts: 2390
  • AREA: Southwest Area
  • COG#: Forum
  • Membership Level: Forum Subscriber
Re: Steering head bearing - adjustment frequency
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2011, 11:24:10 pm »
Here is my method for checking and adjusting the play in the steering bearing:

I have found a more accurate way of determining head bearing looseness. I sit on the bike, off the center stand and clamp the front brake on. With the index finger of my left hand bridging the gap between the upper bearing oil seal (the round black piece just below the upper triple clamp in this picture):



and the frame tube, I rock the bike back and forth slightly and feel for any movement between these two parts. All it takes is a very slight rocking motion to detect movement. If anything is felt here, the bearings need tightening.

I have always had difficulty feeling movement with the front wheel off the ground although I still try that first. The brake-on, rocking back and forth is very clearly felt.


Dan
--2014 Yamaha FJR1300A--
--ZGRX 1200 Concours (sold)--
--SPOOFAK Inventor--