Tightening the steering stem bearings - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-26-2019, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Tightening the steering stem bearings

For that past little while I have been noticing a thunk and a quiver in the steering when going over less than smooth road surface and small bumps. Even little ones like the transition from the gutter to the driveway. The quiver in the steering and handlebars was subtle, very similar to when you pet the dog and it gets tickled and tenses it's muscles under your hand. If that makes any sense to anyone...

It seemed to me that the most logical cause would be loose steering stem bearings. I checked for slop using the method in the service manual of lifting the front tire off the ground and grabbing it by the axle and pushing/pulling in all directions. It felt tight, no play in any direction. The SM also called for holding the front brake and rocking the bike forward and backward (with the front wheel back on the ground of course). Still felt tight. I started to wonder if it was some other important bolt or something in the front end loosening up and flopping around over the bumps.

I eventually went so far as to order a spring scale that reads between 0 and 10 N. Not that it is the highest quality equipment and likely never calibrated, but hopefully better than nothing... So when it arrived I put the Vee2 up on the center stand, had a kid sit on the luggage rack to get the front wheel off the ground and went about measuring the force required to move the steering as directed in the service manual. The specification in the manual is between 2N and 5N. I was measuring right near the 2N mark, so I figured it was on the low end but still in spec.

Today on the way home, I was stopped at a light with my right foot on the brake and my knee touching the tank. I smacked down on the top of my leg and felt a shimmy / wiggle go through the whole bike and also felt it in the handlebars. I had been thinking about the possibility of the 2N being low enough that even bearings that are too loose will still require 2N to get them moving, so I pulled the tank when I arrived home and checked every bolt and mounted gizmo for looseness. After not finding anything loose or floppy, I started the procedure for tightening the steering bearings.

As I tightened the steering stem bearing nut, it didn't seem to make any difference in the felt resistance of the steering stem. However, when I had tightened it to a point where I figured that must be enough, maybe too much, I put the spring scale back on it. It was measuring between 4N and 5N, so I backed it off to 3N. After setting the lock nut I measured again and it had firmed up to 4N. This was "near~ish" the center of the spec so I left it as is.

A quick test ride around the neighborhood and to the gas station to fill up the tank showed that the thunk and quiver were completely gone.

Maybe the minimum allowed 2N is too low, or maybe my spring scale is a piece of crap... Either way the thunk is gone and the steering doesn't feel any bit of too tight. Here's hoping it isn't...
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-26-2019, 02:03 AM
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I have never measured it but I have always thought just moving the bars with loose bearing would require some force.

You need to overcome the 2 throttle cables, the clutch cable or hose, depending on the bike the front brake hoses, the wires to the ignition switch and all the switch gear on the handlebars.


So I'm with you, 2n could be too low.

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post #3 of 12 Old 06-26-2019, 06:41 AM
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Same here. This year I changed the steering bearings due to notch in the bearings (The bearings were tight but had developed a used area only noticeable when going down hill at slow speed).

The thunk in the front remained. I took the bike to the dealership and they took the forks apart. My springs are wore out. They installed 20 mm shims to compensate for the length as the springs are back ordered. The thunk is there but has diminished since the shims were put on.

Your problem may be weak springs.

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post #4 of 12 Old 06-26-2019, 10:50 AM
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I have the same symptoms as Grimmer. I've purchased a new tapered baring kit and some heavier fork oil and when I get the steering head socket I will eventually tackle the project.

Question for Hard Miles. Do you know where to get these 20mm shims they installed in your forks and where exactly they go? When I do my fork oil and head bearings I wouldn't mind installing a set of these shims while I've it all apart.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-28-2019, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
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My fork springs are relatively new aftermarket ones. They are heavier than stock. But I did wonder if the thunk was coming from inside the forks. There was definitely preload tension on them so they weren't slopping back and forth, but I did wonder if the bushings were getting loose. They forks have 20,000 miles on them, but this is the 3rd set of springs that I've been fiddling with tuning.

I wouldn't mind getting some shims for the fork springs myself.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-28-2019, 02:45 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gdrew View Post
I have the same symptoms as Grimmer. I've purchased a new tapered baring kit and some heavier fork oil and when I get the steering head socket I will eventually tackle the project.
A 1 1/4" multi-point (I haven't counted them, but there are way more than 6 sides, maybe 12 point or so?) works just fine. Good tight grip. I have handle bar risers on, so maybe that helps the clearance of the non-special socket. It worked great. With an extension I didn't have to loosen or remove the handlebars.

I had to buy a spanner from RockyMountainATV for the bearing nut and lock nut, but some claim that tapping a screw driver or small punch works too.

The service manual calls for loosening the steering head bolt AND the upper fork clamps so that whole metal piece can back off a bit to accommodate loosening the lock nut.

I had pulled the whole tank instead of just the plastics because I was looking for other possible sources of the clunk. I think it made it easier to get the spanner in there and engage the "tooth".
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-28-2019, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolex View Post
I have never measured it but I have always thought just moving the bars with loose bearing would require some force.

You need to overcome the 2 throttle cables, the clutch cable or hose, depending on the bike the front brake hoses, the wires to the ignition switch and all the switch gear on the handlebars.


So I'm with you, 2n could be too low.
Yeah, I couldn't feel the difference with my bare hands between the minimum (or less) and the maximum allowed force.

I have bar risers on, so the clutch hydraulic line and left control wire harness were a bit more snug to the top clamp. I was consistently reading almost 1N higher for the right turn than the left. I pushed those lines a bit farther out and the right turn reading came closer to being in line with the left. The cables do make a difference, even though they don't look like they are touching... at least when bar risers are involved. Maybe stock there is enough slack to not be so sensitive.

I did spot check the spring scale with 100g and 200g. Didn't find a 500g weight, but I did find a 1kg weight. Unfortunately, I didn't have what I needed to lift it with the spring scale's hook at the time. The little device was "spot" on. Maybe not perfect, but close enough to not make a noticeable difference.
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post #8 of 12 Old 07-01-2019, 01:23 AM
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check this out:
https://blacklabadventures.com/2012/...ement-upgrade/

yes, it's for a older Wee, but the techniques and how to make a tool for the lock nut, and more importantly, what to look for in "clunk" and then Wobble and tracking of the steering apply to pretty much any bike. A fantastic writeup.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-01-2019, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Good information. I too started to notice that there was still a clunk under the right circumstances. Sounds like I may have had two clunks on top of each other like he did. The clunk is gone from the small stuff and I only hear it over the big bumps. I've wondered if it is my centerstand slapping the frame. Could be any number of things.

I didn't replace my bearings, so I didn't take everything apart and couldn't access the bearing lock nut or bearing nut from above. In addition to the 1 1/4" socket mentioned above, I used this spanner wrench from Rockymountainatv.com. And this spring scale from Amazon.

On the Vee2 I've have only encountered slight steering wobble when I had a TKC70 front tire. The wobble (over bumps / rough road) was only one of the reasons I won't be using a TKC70 front tire again in the future.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-01-2019, 02:57 PM
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Gentlemen, I have made spring shims out of thinwall RaceTech material, and also out of PVC plumbing pipe. A tubing or pipe cutter is all you need, and Ive made a couple of sets on my band saw.
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