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Discussion Starter #1
So, with a heavy heart and a light wallet, I'm heading in for the 43.5k service (might be closer to 45, but front tire is down to the wear bars, rear is a little flat across the center, front brakes are getting thin, chain has some kinks to it etc.)

Went over the full list with the mechanic, and he mentioned that while there were points that didn't need to necessarily be replaced per the schedule, he suggested having the steering head bearings greased or replaced. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Worth doing? Do I save any labor time doing it at the same time as everything else?

If it's wise, and makes a difference in ride quality and/or safety, I get it. If I don't really need to spend an extra $170, I'm happier. :)

Any thoughts?
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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Ask your mechanic how he feels about replacing the bearings with a pair of 32006 tapered roller bearings ala Steering Stem Bearing Replacement / Upgrade « Black Lab Adventures
If he is okay with that, I would go for it.

If not, get the front tire off the ground and turn the handlebars slowly from lock to lock. If there is any notchiness, replace the bearings anyhow. If smooth and a tapered roller set is not in the cards, I would leave it alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Pat. I'll check for notchiness.

I'm not sure I'm saving much on labor if I do it as part of the big service, so unless there's a big overlap, I'm probably going to skip it unless I feel a problem.

Just so I'm sure I understand: sounds like in the long-term, it isn't worth worrying about the stock bearings being greased, and better to just replace with tapered roller bearings when the stockers go south at some point?
 

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FWIW, the steering stem bearings on my Vee were shot at about the same mileage.

As long as the mechanic is going to upgrade to tapered bearings rather than install the same OEM junky ball bearings, it's worth doing. But, it's also something you could defer if you want. It does save a good bit of time ($$$) if the plastic is already off the bike for a valve check.
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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People complain about the lack of grease in the stock bearings. As long as there is grease on the bearings, it is enough. Packing the space between the balls doesn't help anything. If you're on a budget, the bearings aren't notchy and the handlebars aren't wobbling, you can leave them alone. When replacement is needed, I prefer tapered rollers.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The mechanic was suggesting taking them out and repacking them before pressing them back in, but I don't know what the service time would be to press in new tapered bearings.
 

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I knew my bearings on 'other bike' were shot when the handling went to hell. Leaning into turns got real ugly. If your bike still handles well, there shouldn't be a problem with the steering bearings.
But there is a wonderful difference when they work right.
Most bikes the bars should fall gently to which ever side you push from the straight ahead position. Steering dampers will interfere with a check so you'd have to remove it to be sure.
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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I would consider re-greasing money wasted. It would not involve pressing anything, only dis-assembly and re-assembly. Only go in there to upgrade the bearings or to handle a notchy dimpling problem. The dust seals on the steering head do a good job. My steering head bearings were clean at 50,000 miles. I did clean and re-grease the rear suspension and swingarm pivot bearings as they don't have seals.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On some bikes, it seems to be a routine, scheduled maintenance item. Why not here? Is it just something hit or miss, "can't miss it when it happens" or what?
 

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FORUM GODFATHER.....R.I.P. PAT
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There are too many variables to predict the life of the steering head bearings. They are kinda like brake pads. Replace them when the need is indicated and/or upgrade them.
 

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Steering stem bearings that use ball bearings have a very limited lifespan.

However, it's not dirt or wear that gets to them -- it's simply the pounding from thousands of miles of travel. With factory ball bearings, this force is concentrated in a very small area, and inevitably (and eventually) the bearing race develops dimples where the ball bearings make contact. Greasing these makes little difference with this problem, so it's just not worth the effort. Disassembling the steering stem to grease the bearings is about 90% of the labor involved in replacing them.

As GW said, V-Strom bearings have seals that work pretty well, so greasing is wasted time. The best strategy is to ignore the factory steering stem bearings until they get notchy, then replace them with proper tapered bearings.

Quality tapered bearings can last pretty much indefinitely -- I've got 90,000 hard miles on the tapered steering stem bearings I installed in my GS850G many years ago (a damn heavy bike) and I've never even needed to adjust them.

And before you ask, no one has any idea why Suzuki would use ball bearings on the steering stem of a heavy adventure bike. Ball bearings supposedly give a lighter feel in teensy racebikes, but they make absolutely no detectable difference on heavier bikes, plus they're somewhat finicky about adjustment.
 

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And before you ask, no one has any idea why Suzuki would use ball bearings on the steering stem of a heavy adventure bike. Ball bearings supposedly give a lighter feel in teensy racebikes, but they make absolutely no detectable difference on heavier bikes, plus they're somewhat finicky about adjustment.
I have an idea. Cost savings.

Tapered roller bearings should be the norm. These bearings don't roll around like wheel bearings or engine shaft bearings. They stay in nearly the same spot all the time. The only time they move over a different spot in the races is when you turn the handlebars, which, when you are moving at any speed over 2nd gear is really very little. The hardened balls simply pound divots into the not-so-hardened races. Rollers distribute the force better although I have seen the same thing with them. It just takes longer.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
45k service just got done last weekend, and I have a feeling there was no 30k valve check. Front cylinder: 2 intakes and 1 exhaust were tight, rear cylinder just had 1 tight exhaust valve.

The mechanic did the whole magilla, plugs/coolant/valves, PLUS rear tire, chain and sprockets. Brakes had been done previously. Good god, I feel like I've been slightly bled, though the damage wasn't as bad as I've heard from some dealers... now getting just under 50mpg with the huge sidecases, up from the mid forties.
 

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45k service just got done last weekend, and I have a feeling there was no 30k valve check. Front cylinder: 2 intakes and 1 exhaust were tight, rear cylinder just had 1 tight exhaust valve.

The mechanic did the whole magilla, plugs/coolant/valves, PLUS rear tire, chain and sprockets. Brakes had been done previously. Good god, I feel like I've been slightly bled, though the damage wasn't as bad as I've heard from some dealers... now getting just under 50mpg with the huge sidecases, up from the mid forties.
What did this cost you out of curiosity?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
OK, so given that I did the rear tire/drivetrain, but DIDN'T do the brakes, or the oil, I'm feeling okay with the cost all things considered. Came to $491 with tax (I brought the tire, chain/sprockets, and purchased the cush drive parts that got replaced earlier, so that's not in the price, but the above includes the cost of labor, shims, plugs and whatever fluids were used.) The air filter got blown out but not replaced as they didn't have the part on hand... it was "not black, but it's got like chunks of BEES in it all over the place."
 
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