Steering head bearing replacement

Mad_Matt

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It looks like this is my next project for my 2014 ES. When I had the front wheel off to install new tires, I noticed how heavily "notched" the steering was. This surprised me because I hadn't noticed this previously while doing the prior maintenance over the last few months. The bike has ~58kmiles on it and I will assume that the steering head bearings have never been replaced. What parts should be updated as part of this job?

Looking at RMATVMC or Partzilla I only see one bearing (#1) in the diagram. Based on what I read here, I was expecting to see a lower bearing listed as well. Am I missing something?
Screenshot 2024-03-21 at 8.11.07 PM.png

Last Question for now, what is the consensus on OEM vs something like the All Balls Kit?
 

RCinNC

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The lower bearing is on the steering stem, which in that diagram is still inside the steering head tube. If you pull out the triple clamp, you'll see the lower bearing. The lower bearing race is inside the lower end of the steering head tube.

I've attached a guide I made up for servicing the steering head, that has more diagrams of how it's all put together. It might be of some use to you.

As far as the All Balls kit, I probably would go with OEM for bearings (and I say this as a guy who is perfectly willing to cheap out on lots of stuff without shame).
 

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bimota

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patrickg450

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getting that lower off is a PITA. It took me a few times as I had to walk away from it. I ended up cutting it off, let me know how it goes for you.
 

Mad_Matt

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Ah, thank you! I didn't see the lower bearing was part of the Front Fork diagram! Other than the upper and lower bearings/races, should I replace any of the other components? Are any of the bearing covers rubber?

Based on everyone stating how much fun it is to remove, I might just take the triple clamp to the dealer and have them pull the lower bearing/race and press on the new one.
 

Boris

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Just need top and lower bearing, races are included in the OEM parts. Also need a special tool to tighten the top nut once all is refitted. That item is shown on the first page of this thread and is readily available on eBay and probably Amazon, cheap too! With the exception of the lower bearing, which is a pain, mine when elsewhere for removal and fitting, it’s a pretty straightforward job. I used the old races to tap the new ones in, and there’s a groove in the headstock to tap out the old ones. If you need torque figures, most are here, but note that these are for a gen1 bike. I’m confident that most figures are the same, however the handlebar clamp is definitely different between models.
 

RCinNC

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I've posted this in the past, but here's a list of the bearings on the bike. The part numbers for the upper and lower steering head bearings are at the bottom:



When I changed the lower steering head bearing, the only parts I replaced were the bearing and the race. Same goes for the upper bearing.

I know it felt like admitting defeat when I took the lower bracket to the shop to have the lower bearing removed and replaced, but even if I had managed to get the bearing cut or wedged off the stem, I still didn't have the tool to put the new one back on. I'm sure I could have figured out something to make a bearing driver from, but at times, it's a lot simpler to just take it to a guy who has the tools. I doubt that I'll ever need to replace that lower steering head bearing again (the first one lasted to almost 100,000 miles), so it would just be another tool taking up space.
 

bimota

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I've posted this in the past, but here's a list of the bearings on the bike. The part numbers for the upper and lower steering head bearings are at the bottom:



When I changed the lower steering head bearing, the only parts I replaced were the bearing and the race. Same goes for the upper bearing.

I know it felt like admitting defeat when I took the lower bracket to the shop to have the lower bearing removed and replaced, but even if I had managed to get the bearing cut or wedged off the stem, I still didn't have the tool to put the new one back on. I'm sure I could have figured out something to make a bearing driver from, but at times, it's a lot simpler to just take it to a guy who has the tools. I doubt that I'll ever need to replace that lower steering head bearing again (the first one lasted to almost 100,000 miles), so it would just be another tool taking up space.
the mechanic that came to my house to do my bearings as the forks were off being repaired carrys a fork leg cut in half to drive the lower bearing down it worked perfectly

rob
 

Mad_Matt

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When I lived outside of DC, there were a lot of mobile auto mechanics who would drive to your house and fix your car in your garage or driveway. It was super convenient, and they were more price-competitive than a brick-and-mortar shop.
 

WJBertrand

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I’d stick with OEM bearings. I ordered the All Balls ones at first but noticed they were made in China. I’ve had poor durability from Chinese bearings before so sent them back and ordered the OEM ones.
 

bimota

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Mechanics in the UK make housecalls??
yes,

theres a mechanic about 20 miles from me that has a shop on tuesday to saturday he's in the shop on mondays he,ll do house calls, i have the front end off my bike as the forks were sent away to be stripped and re hard chromed, so bike was on blocks i called him said i had the bearings, so he called round on that monday to do the bearings in my garage for me

rob
 

SparrowHawkxx

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When I replaced the bearings on mine a few years ago, I also had problems with that lower bearing.
I got the job done but it was a real pain to get off.

Has anyone used a Bearing Separator for this job? If so, how well did it work?
If you could just get a few mm separation, it would be a lot easier to drive it off.

Bearing Separator
1711197381885.jpeg
Bearing Separator with 1/2 in. to 4-3/8 in. Jaw Capacity (harborfreight.com)

What RCinNC did is not a bad either, take it to a shop just to have the bearing removed and a new one pressed on.
 

cyclemike4

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I have never changed the steering bearings on my Super T so I don't know just how it is put together. I am sure it is like the other bikes I have done. on all my dirt bikes and my kids bikes over the years I just use a press and push the steering stem out of the lower triple clamp and the bearing comes with it. It always goes pretty easy with a proper press and I have never damaged anything. Of course those bearings probably only get changed once or twice a bike.
 

Mad_Matt

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I've read a few comments about the steering head falling out of torque spec; what are the odds that the "notch" feeling could be resolved just by retorquing the steering head?
 

RCinNC

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If you're feeling a definitive notchy feeling in the steering head, then my guess would be that there was a worn spot or corrosion on either the race or the bearing. That being said, if I were in your shoes, I would always try to readjust the headset before I started throwing money at the problem. It won't cost you anything to do that if you plan on doing it yourself. Make sure you have the right offset tool for the torque wrench, since the torque values in the manual are based on the torque being applied at a right angle to the nuts on the steering head that apply force to the bearings.
 

Mad_Matt

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I pulled the steering head this morning. There was lots of grease, and everything looked surprisingly good. There are visible marks on the lower race, and I can feel the subtle grooves when I run my finger nail around it.


Upper bearing
IMG_8873.jpg

Upper Race
IMG_8876.jpg

Lower Race
IMG_8879.jpg

Lower Bearing:
IMG_8880.jpg IMG_8883.jpg
 
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Mad_Matt

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Has anyone had issues removing the outer races (sleeve, not the part with the bearings)? I just tried using a 45oz dead blow hammer, and it's not budging :oops:
 
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