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Thread: '83 GS850GL - Steering Head Bearings -- ?? How to KNOW if they need attention

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    Question '83 GS850GL - Steering Head Bearings -- ?? How to KNOW if they need attention

    My apologies if this is in the wrong forum section- but I was unsure of where to go with this post --

    As I ride I feel a certain --'looseness' -- a wiggle when going over bumps or hard around a curve -
    I don't know how to explain it any better than that ---
    At first I thought it was a tire being cupped , or low on pressure --- not the case
    Then I felt it may be suspension -- but I have done the front springs and rear shocks and all the associated parts

    Exact mileage on the bike is really unknown -- somewhere around 40 to 45 K miles I surmise --

    So I am wondering if maybe my steering head needs to be re-torqued or bearings replaced ?

    How does one KNOW ?
    Is there a 'test' of sorts to establish this prior to taking it apart ?

    Your opinions are welcomed and appreciated --
    Currently in the Stable :
    2002 Honda Goldwing GL1800 Sunburst Pearl Orange
    1983 Suzuki GS850 GL Blue & Black

    " I am never lost until I run out of fuel...until that moment I am EXPLORING."
    - Carl R. Munkwitz

    Munk's Maxim: "There is no such thing as a cheap motorcycle"

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    Too late now but the Technical forums is the place for technical questions. For something like this the General Maintenance forum would be appropriate.

    Anyway, to check the bearings the first thing I'd do is put the bike on the center stand and then jack up the front of the bike to get the front wheel off the ground. When like this the front fork assembly should turn smoothly from stop to stop with no notchiness. Assuming it's okay, I'd put the bike back on it's own wheels and sit on the saddle. Then lock up the front brake and rock the bike back and forth, compressing the front suspension. You should fee no play which would indicate loose bearings. If there is a clunk and you can feel movement in the steering stem it's time to either tighten the preload nut or better yet, tear down the steering bearings and service the bearings. Actually, it's a good idea to preemptively service the bearings if you want to really do the job right. And while you are at it servicing the swingarm pivot bearings is advised as well. After the bearings are all well lubed tighten the preload until all the slack is gone. Don't over tighten, just remove the play.

    Good luck
    Last edited by Nessism; 07-30-2020 at 01:03 PM.

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    Get it up on the main stand and get someone on pillion to get the front wheel off the floor.
    Take the bars and feel or even listen for a notchiness in the steering at or about straight ahead.
    Now grab the front wheel and move it back and forth looking for any movement at all.
    80 GS850GT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
    Too late now but the Technical forums is the place for technical questions. For something like this the General Maintenance forum would be appropriate.

    Anyway, to check the bearings the first thing I'd do is put the bike on the center stand and then jack up the front of the bike to get the front wheel off the ground. When like this the front fork assembly should turn smoothly from stop to stop with no notchiness. Assuming it's okay, I'd put the bike back on it's own wheels and sit on the saddle. Then lock up the front brake and rock the bike back and forth, compressing the front suspension. You should fee no play which would indicate loose bearings. If there is a clunk and you can feel movement in the steering stem it's time to either tighten the preload nut or better yet, tear down the steering bearings and service the bearings. Actually, it's a good idea to preemptively service the bearings if you want to really do the job right. And while you are at it servicing the swingarm pivot bearings is advised as well. After the bearings are all well lubed tighten the preload until all the slack is gone. Don't over tighten, just remove the play.

    Good luck
    Truly sorry for the wrong placement -
    I knew it was wrong -- but didn't know where to go with it --
    Too bad we can't move it ..

    Thanks for the reply - tonight I test
    Currently in the Stable :
    2002 Honda Goldwing GL1800 Sunburst Pearl Orange
    1983 Suzuki GS850 GL Blue & Black

    " I am never lost until I run out of fuel...until that moment I am EXPLORING."
    - Carl R. Munkwitz

    Munk's Maxim: "There is no such thing as a cheap motorcycle"

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    Redman's Avatar
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    Carl.

    THis might be one thing where, if you suspect it is loose, it probably is.

    Ed description is good.
    If clunks back and forth, it needs to be tightened.
    Any noticheness in turning past center, it needs to be replaced because the bearings have worn dents into the races. (I got pictures, if you want.)

    Had 850G for 14 years. Now have GK since 2005.
    GK at IndyMotoGP Suzuki Display... ... GK on GSResources Page ... ... Euro Trash Ego Machine .. ..3 mo'cykls.



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    Beware the most common mistake when adjusting the bearings. Overtightening them.
    It's so incredibly easy to put a huge clamping force onto the bearings and if you don't back them off, they'll dent the races and that's game over. No coming back from that one.
    Trick is to just tighten them enough and no more - good rule of thumb is the steering should fall easily to left or right with just a slight nudge.
    However, there's one major thing in your favour - if they're slack at the moment, any slight adjustment is a good thing, and even if they don't end up being perfectly adjusted, they'll be better than they are now. Better to err on the side of slackness than too tight.
    That's assuming they're the problem in the first place.
    ---- Dave
    79 GS850N - Might be a trike soon.
    80 GS850T Single HIF38 S.U. SH775, Tow bar, Pantera II. Gnarly workhorse & daily driver.
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    92 XJ900F - Fairly Stock, for now.

    Only a dog knows why a motorcyclist sticks his head out of a car window

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    Steering head/neck bearings is an EXCELLENT DIY project. If you've never done it before plan on a saturday afternoon with no rushed time frame. You will need some tools that are not in a common tool box but I made my own drift, already had a dremel with a carbide cutting wheel and I bought a section of PVC pipe to drive on new bearing and race. I like All Balls brand for wheel and neck bearings.
    https://www.sportbiketrackgear.com/a...m-bearing-kit/
    Last edited by mharrington; 08-02-2020 at 08:34 AM. Reason: grammatical errors

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    Update ---

    This weekend I had the chance to do some investigation --

    I had the front wheel off the ground by using my lift to bring the front up -

    I gently pushed the steering from full lock left to full lock right and back several times -- No notchiness

    I had the wheel facing straight forward and let it sit there -- no 'fall' left nor right -

    I grabbed the forks and wiggled them -- UP & DOWN / LEFT & RIGHT / FRONT & BACK -- no looseness that I can feel or hear.

    I spun the wheel -- nothing evident

    I returned the wheel to the pavement and bounced the suspension -- tight and responsive .

    My only guess is that what I have been experiencing may be

    1) needs a fork brace

    2) my imagination (most likely)

    3) insert your guess here

    I think I will jut go for a ride
    Currently in the Stable :
    2002 Honda Goldwing GL1800 Sunburst Pearl Orange
    1983 Suzuki GS850 GL Blue & Black

    " I am never lost until I run out of fuel...until that moment I am EXPLORING."
    - Carl R. Munkwitz

    Munk's Maxim: "There is no such thing as a cheap motorcycle"

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    Carl, your main concern that started this is the unsteadiness going down the road and over bumps, which could bee the loose starring bearings, and you did the test for that (pushing wheel front and back).

    you also tested for knotchness by turning bars from side to side,.... but I think that test needs to done with front wheel on ground so have weight pushing up onto bearing same as when going down road. If you did have the notchiness, you can feel it when turn bar past center. And what that symptom that causes at speed is it takes lot more steering (counter-steering) pressure to get any response and then that much pressure is too much so have to let off and then need more again and so on so causes wobble in curves... which was not your original complaint. But, anyway, do the notchyness test with front wheel on ground.

    Had 850G for 14 years. Now have GK since 2005.
    GK at IndyMotoGP Suzuki Display... ... GK on GSResources Page ... ... Euro Trash Ego Machine .. ..3 mo'cykls.



  10. #10
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    Actually there are two sets of bearings in the steering neck. The lower set are the ones take the upward force and weight of bike, and are more subject to developing the knotchness from bearing rollers denting the races. Which is why I suggest doing the not hness test with weight on the front end.

    with wheel hanging are testing more the upper bearing.

    Had 850G for 14 years. Now have GK since 2005.
    GK at IndyMotoGP Suzuki Display... ... GK on GSResources Page ... ... Euro Trash Ego Machine .. ..3 mo'cykls.



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