Author Topic: Steering Head Bearing issue?  (Read 141 times)

Offline brixtonanimal

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Steering Head Bearing issue?
« on: November 25, 2019, 09:59:27 pm »
I am experiencing a significant wobble on deceleration, almost turning into a violent speed wobble. Is this the result of a loose steering head bearing? At what point do they need to be replaced (only if notchy)? If this is the culprit any help in the tightening procedure would be great, I found the FSM to be a bit vague without pictures
« Last Edit: November 25, 2019, 10:30:17 pm by brixtonanimal »

Offline wytfut

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2019, 06:26:40 am »
Some of us call it the death wobble.....    It's not really a death wobble, but I suppose if let alone, it could be a real safety issue.
Some of our bikes do it on acceleration. Some on decel, and other just coasting in neutral.

The top bearing isn't exactly the correct design for what it's being used.
Jamie/Marti have come up with an update that works very well..
OEM is a flat cut bearing, that cannot get the "load". Jamie's is a beveled bearing with a matching race.
I'm replying via my phone, so I don't have the torque spec at hand, but I believe it's 90 pounds. The torque number is on this site in the downloads.
I strongly suggest getting Jamies update, I've put one in and it works very well. It's my.personel project this winter on my bike.
I don't know your skill level of wrenching, but this is a bit in-depth. Please ask, and I'll provide all info needed.
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Offline franknsr

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2019, 08:42:38 am »
Had the same death wobble a few years ago on my way back from a long trip, talk about a white knuckle ride!

Mine was so loose that I could feel it by holding the front brake and gently rocking the bike forward and back.
I jacked the bike up by the frame allowing the front wheel to just touch the ground, then removed the upper clamp and retorqued the lock nut. It's important to find that happy spot between too loose, which will cause a wobble, and too tight which will cause bearing wear, binding, and a host of other issues including "reduced vehicle control resulting in personal injury."

As I recall it took a large wrench (1", 1 1/4"?) and the work was in close proximity to the tank so a couple old towels draped over the tank are your best friend.

Offline wytfut

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2019, 04:39:58 pm »
I use a floor jack under the front tire to find the sweet spot on loosening the steering head but. I should state the bike is on my hoist... Front tire on floor jack...

Sometimes the magic trick is getting the handlebars riser bolts out. Lots of love tire...

The X I put Jamie's update on, the OEM bearing was seated in orange loc Tite. It was a real bear to remove. Sparks and pieces flying all over the shop.
Bruce
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2019, 09:57:57 pm »
Adding to what the others have already shared and some more:

The wobble can be a number of things and they're common to all motorcycles: tire condition, tire pressure, steering head bearing wear and preload and even suspension settings.

I was recently on the phone with Marty and she said that they had one that was the result of a worn shock. A new shock fixed it right up. There's another data point for you.

Back to the steering head bearings because they're obviously where you'd start (right after tire condition and pressure). As it sounds like you're aware, the bearings on most big bikes need a little bit of preload to create some drag in the steering. My old Honda GL1200 Gold Wing specified that with the tire in the air, the bearings needed enough preload that with a fishing scale on the end of the handlebar, it took 14-18 oz (roughly a pound) of force to get the bars to start moving. If you think about that, it's quite a bit. Under that amount and the Gold Wing would have the same death wobble.

To get at them, you'll need to obviously get the bike up on some kind of center stand or lift. Unlike a normal bike, the second you remove the fork crown, the front end is going to collapse unless you have the weight safely supported.

Please for the love of all that is holy, remove the tank before doing this job. There's too much stuff clanging around that can damage it. Remove it now.

  • Remove the four handlebar pinch screws, lift the bars off and try to set them somewhere they won't dent the headlight bucket or front fender (towels and tape to hold them everywhere).
  • Under there are two 1/4-20 screws with tiny hex sockets. 50/50 chance of stripping the head and needing to drill these off.
  • Slide the handlebar risers off to reveal the riser studs. Remove them.
  • Remove the brake hose clamp screw on the front of the fork crown. This becomes important after the next step.
  • Remove the chrome acorn nut. I have personally found that a large adjustable wrench and a paper towel over the nut are far kinder here than attempting to use a socket.
At that point, the top crown should be free enough to hinge away from the upper nut and bearings. Or--if you prefer--you can remove the 1/4-20 socket head cap screws on the top of the struts and remove the whole thing.
From there, it's an obvious double-nut arrangement. The thing I'd share there is: it's hard to tighten the bearing and have a wrench thin enough to hold it while trying to also snug up the jam-nut.

To make this step easier, the answer is a hydraulic wrench. They are thinner than standard open-end spanners. Sorry, I don't remember the dimension of the nut. The wrench I bought on ebay is a Proto and it's a double-ended, 1-3/16, 1-1/4". From the marks on the wrench, I'm inclined to say it's the 1-1/4" side that fit but, I can't swear to that.

After fighting with the adjustment once and still not getting it right, I made sure I had the wrench for the next go-around. Picture from ebay attached. There happens to be one loose wrench for $19.99 that I got that pic from.

Assembly is reverse of removal.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 10:18:06 pm by Donkey Hotey »
Greg
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2019, 10:14:13 pm »
Bearings phase two:

If you are a glutton for punishment and actually want to replace the upper bearing, here's what you need to know.

The upper bearing is a conventional, sealed ball bearing like you'd find on the wheels. In fact, it's exactly that: the same bearing as used on our wheels, a 6205 metric bearing. That's a 52mm OD, 25mm ID and 15mm thick.

The closest tapered roller bearing is a 30205 or 30205M: same ID and OD but, 16.5mm assembled height. See attached image of both bearings.

The question is: what do you do with that extra 1.5mm of height? Atlantic's answer is they send one of the crown nuts to a machine shop and have it shaved down by the difference. In my case, I made shims to go on top of the rigid fork, around the riser studs, below the crown. Either works.

My shims were just over-glorified washers. I do have to say though that rather than go by calculations, I actually installed the steering crown after assembly and measured the gap to get it exactly right. In my case, I snugged up the acorn nut and the gap was closer to 2mm or 0.080". That's the thickness of washers I made to go in there. Yours might be different.

I must add that taking the entire rigid fork off opens a whole 'nuther can of worms. You'll have to remove the front wheel, disconnect the brake plumbing, remove the fender, disconnect the lower rockers, etc, etc. In theory it's possible to get that stuff out of the frame as an assembly but, the weight, the clumsiness and everything else will conspire to damage your fender. Just don't. It's a good time to take everything off and clean it anyway.

You may not head down this path but, I posted it just in case or, for someone in the future.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 10:20:52 pm by Donkey Hotey »
Greg
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Offline wytfut

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2019, 11:42:19 am »
Interesting note Greg....
I didn't know anything about the difference in width on that bearing, when I installed it. Or that anything needed to be shimmed...
Not sure where communications failed on that one...
Well as far as I Know, Chad Ardnth's Jennie is still handling fine after I installed that bearing...

thank you for bringing that to my attention...
Bruce
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2019, 08:39:13 pm »
Bruce,

Yeah, I was afraid that top crown would not take up that extra gap without rocking weirdly to one side and only supporting one side of the top bearing. I measured it after assembly to see if it would cinch up or not. I wasn't comfortable with what I saw so I made the washers.

Since not everybody can make an aluminum spacer, here's a better option for most people. Keep in mind that hardware store washers can vary greatly in thickness, even within the same box or bag. That's why I'm not recommending just any old bag of washers to use as spacers.

Mil Spec washers: NAS 1149-F0863P are for 1/2" screws and are specified to be between 0.059"-0.067" (right at 1.5mm). That's tight enough tolerance for what we're talking about here.

McMaster Carr sells them under part number 95229A550 and they are currently $11.97 for a bag of 100.

https://www.mcmaster.com/95229a550

One on each side, under the fork crown will take up that gap. No, they aren't the perfect solution. The right thing would be a nice oval shim, the shape of the top of the rigid fork. Nonetheless, nobody will ever see them tucked up under there unless it's up on a lift or they're on their knees waxing and polishing.

The other direction is people could buy a spare lower locknut from ehparts.net for $9 and have it thinned by 0.060" before disassembly. Then there would be no waiting for custom machining. Install it and go.

I have this mental thing about permanently altering the factory parts, even when I know they will never, ever go back to stock. I also didn't want to machine through the zinc plating on the nut and create a place for rust to form. Stupid, I know.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 08:42:02 pm by Donkey Hotey »
Greg
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Offline blackheart

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2019, 08:39:52 pm »
I've always thought the factory just made a strange and possibly cheap choice for the upper bearing as a radial ball bearing such as the 6205 isn't rated for much thrust load and while theoretically the upper bearing in the neck takes little thrust we all know most bikes need a bit of drag or friction here accomplished by tightening the bearing set up axially.   The 6205 most likely quickly loses any preload and develops slop or play.

A drop in alternative to the 6205 which is designed for combined radial & thrust loads is the 7205 angular contact ball bearing.  You have to install it with the correct face up on the inner ring so as to have the line of contact facing correct.  Designers would reference this as "load center up".  The races should be marked as to which is the thrust face.  Most 7205 bearings are a 40 degree contact angle but I did see one which was 15.  A 7205 2RS would be a sealed variety.  They are more expensive but would require no machining or shimming and considering a lot of the 6205's run quite a while if you keep the play taken up a 7205 would likely last a very long time.  If you ask me the factory was pinching pennies here.
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2019, 11:28:15 pm »
That's actually a very good option I hadn't considered. As you stated, it's lower axial load carrying but, the 6205 bearings have been doing an okay job for many years so your solution is probably very workable.

I will say though: can you imagine the recall nightmare they'd have had on their hands if the person on the assembly line wasn't paying attention with the installation direction of those bearings?

The other small issue that remains with the tapered roller is the gap between the dust shield and the steering neck. It's obviously 1.5mm further away and now more slightly more exposed to the elements. I compensated by filling the pocket with grease but, that'll only last so long.

The perfect solution would be a new top nut and dust shield to go with the tapered bearing. Hmm...



Greg
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Offline wytfut

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2019, 03:45:39 pm »
As I get older I find I know less and less....
Please correct me if I'm wrong on this...
You 2 know your way around "bearing world tech"....     I definitely do not...
Rich..... correct me if I'm wrong....
But you are saying the 7205 2RS would be a good replacement of the OEM 6205?
That it wouldn't need to be shimmed as Greg is stating?

If this is all correct.... that's an easy answer....    7205 2RS it is
« Last Edit: December 02, 2019, 03:47:57 pm by wytfut »
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2019, 09:54:39 pm »
There's no right or wrong answer.

The 7205 bearing will apparently work without shims or other modifications. It's also much more expensive than the regular tapered roller. McMaster lists the 7205 2RS for $195. The 6205 2RS is $10.89.

Bearings are available cheaper elsewhere but, that'll give you some scale. The 7205 has lower thrust rating than the tapered roller but, it's better than the 6205 that was doing the job all these years in almost 2000 motorcycles.

The tapered roller will go in with the addition of two flat washers (as shims) and it's cheaper. Downside: it's not sealed and will leave a slightly larger gap where the dust cap sits.

Use whichever one makes you comfortable. Cost-aside, the "7205 2RS" (2 rubber seals) is a hands-down winner against the original 6205 bearing.
Greg
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Offline wytfut

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2019, 07:18:41 am »
I use mccmaster/Carr a lot. I like the quality..

After I did the post yesterday, I did a quick Google for the bearing, with nothing near that expensive. Mostly 50$ or less, some austria made...     It didn't show mccmaster..

Not purchasing yet, but that's quite the price difference.
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Offline Donkey Hotey

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Re: Steering Head Bearing issue?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2019, 10:00:19 am »
I saw some of the same prices you did but since those may be surplus or counterfeit, I wanted to make sure we were comparing apples to apples. I’ve had some bad experiences lately with Chinese counterfeit parts from the internet. Bearings are notorious for that.

The tapered bearing I bought for the Deadwood did come from eBay but it was in an old, shelf-worn Timken box and the bearing wrapper showed similar age or I wouldn’t have trusted it. That was $17. There were similar parts down to $5 but I wanted genuine stuff.
Greg
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1989 since 2012 (Jennie)
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