New steering head bearings...wot a difference!

Discussion in 'Mechanics Garage' started by Puma Cat, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat New Member

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    Been noticing for the last few months that my VFR was decidedly weird handling when splitting lanes in commute traffic, pulling out from the curb, or even making slow, 15 mph turns around street corners. In some respects, it felt like the front was flat, which it was not.

    Rode the VFR on a trip to the Eastern Sierra during the middle of July, and after getting back and lubing the chain, I did the put-it-on-the-centerstand, push back on the rear tire and check the steering head bearings test.

    Ka-chunk. My '99 VFR had a bad case of Shimano Indexed Steering (I know Derstuka and the mtn bikers will get that one)! :eek:

    You could noticeably feel when the handlebars clicked into center, there was a click in the steering head bearing races that felt like a detent on a stereo volume control.

    Off to the dealer for new steering head bearings...et voila! Bike is transformed...actually steers now, I can pull away from curbs w/o understeering into the oncoming lane, the bike tracks beautilly over pavement ripples and grooves, and the handling is now light and positive. Now that the bike's steering head is free to do it's thing, it handles like its on rails. I never thought such a "little" thing would be such an improvement, but it's biggest improvement since the installation of the Ohlins shock.

    :thumbsup:
     
  2. mello dude

    mello dude Member

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    Hey Puma! Havent heard from you in a while. -- What was the mileage of your bike for the front bearing job? I'm wondering when to expect it on mine.

    MD
     
  3. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat New Member

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    Mileage: 20,000 almost to the mile. Shouldn't have happened, my F4i has 36,000 and is on it's original set.

    I am told that VFRs are prone to this, though. Heavy bike with a lot of weight on the front end.

    I've been around, it's just that I've been incredibly busy the last coupla months as it is the peak of the motor racing season. It's been work, sleep, shoot, sleep. Very little time pour mois. Check out this pic I took of Tony Kanaan at the IRL race at Infineon last weekend. Had a corporate gig for the title sponsor, Peak; had 3000 images I had to go through for them.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. ewryly

    ewryly New Member

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    I know on bicycles they call that brinnelling (probably not a bicycle specific term), and usually is expedited if there is some play in the bearings because then the usual action of riding causes the indents.
     
  5. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat New Member

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    Brinnelling, eh? Never heard the term; have to admit I'm more prone to Shimano Indexed Steering! It may well have been due to the fact that the steering head bearings were never re-torqued down after inital run-in. I've always been very good about this on my bikes, even to the point of measuring with a little spring scale the stearing head bearing preload (classic Six Sigma Black Belt behavior, I guess...)
     
  6. ewryly

    ewryly New Member

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    Indexed steering is definitely a good description of it. I'm not very familiar with motorcycle headsets, yet anyhow, but there is time. On bicycles, in the old days, when this would happen we would put the caged bearings out and replace them with loose bearings. That would solve the problem for awhile.
     
  7. Vlad Impaler

    Vlad Impaler New Member

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    Brinell is a hardness test where a ball is used to make a dent in a metal. The amount of dent the ball makes is an indication of the metals hardness. It's named after the Swedish scientist who invented it.
    Your bearing balls impacting the race is therefore the source of the "Brinelling" or "false Brinelling" in your steering head. The ball to dent hops while rotating the steering is the indexing you feel. It's common in steering head sets that have regular impact loads like mtn bike, motocross, or regularly wheelied motorcycles.

    Engineering geek will be quiet now..............
     
  8. mello dude

    mello dude Member

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    Fellow engineer geek beat me to it.
    -- I could add its a term that can refer to any assembly that two metals are rubbing next to each other. Any material wear in a consentrated area or indented is said to have Brinelled. Bearings are very typical.

    MD

    BTW Puma - great shot!
     
  9. Puma Cat

    Puma Cat New Member

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    Learn something new everyday. Thanks, guys. Rode the bike for the first time at pace in the twisties today since the new bearings were installed, and it was very nice to ride.

    I have 300 miles on the new bearings, figure I will recheck the steering head preload at around 500 miles, once the new races are fully seated.
     
  10. duder

    duder New Member

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    Hola - posting on this as I've found it relates to my problem! I've got a 98 vfr. around 23,000 miles on it, the steering is starting to feel a bit notchy. Had the tires replaced recently, asked the mech if he could take a feel at the steering. He agreed that the steering felt notchy and stated that the steering bearings should be replaced sometime.

    any idea how much this repair would cost at the dealer? is it possible to do this myself without special tools? where o where would I find a good steering head bearing parts kit? any insight is appreciated, thank you motorcycle geniuses.
     
  11. dino71

    dino71 New Member

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    When I did mine I replaced them with the All-Balls tapered bearings. They are supposed to be much better then the regular caged bearings that Honda uses and I was told that they are less prone to getting damaged or worn so I hope I wont have to do that project again.
     
  12. betarace

    betarace New Member

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    dealer charged me $75 labor to replace my upper/lower bearings with all-balls rollers. I provided the bearings and races $35-40 from memory.
     
  13. kingsley

    kingsley New Member

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    If you do it yourself beware the torque required on the new tapered bearings is MUCH less than the stock ball bearings. Like 3 ft/lbs vs. 18 IIRC. Not too hard of a job if you have the time, biggest PITA is getting the old bearing off the stem.
     
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