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Old 22 Jul 2014
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Steering Head Bearings loose

Hoping someone might be able to advise on the following:

The steering head bearings on my F650GS twin seem to have developed some play - I feel a looseness when riding and also can move the forks slightly front-back when I get the front wheel off the ground.

I had a mechanic here in Italy look at it and he replaced the top bearings - said the lower ones were OK - and this seemed to fix the problem.

However, a couple of hours down the road the looseness returned.

I adjusted the steering head bearing adjustment bolt as per my Haynes manual but I was guessing at the torques a bit as I don't have a torque wrench with me.

Anyway, again after a few hours riding, the play is back.

If anyone can shed any light it would be very much appreciated!

Also, one mechanic I spoke to said it it fine to continue riding with this issue for the time being - to what extent is that true??!

Thanks for any help!
F650GS twin - Enfield Bullet 350 - Honda XL250 Degree
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Old 22 Jul 2014
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I don't have any bike specific information just generic.

The steer head bearing are like the bearing on a wheel with only one adjustable cone. The bottom bearing takes most of the abuse and is the one that wears out first. The guy in Italy might have jerked you around. There is a cone that adjust the preload on the bearing and another nut to keep it in place.

You get access to those two nuts by taking off bars. You need to support front of bike to take weight off wheel. Loosen top triple where it hold forks. Tighten the cone down until steering binds and feels notchy, then loosen it a bit until steering feels free. Tighten Jesus nut that hold it in place. Some blue Loctite is not a bad idea. Tighten triple at top of fork tubes. Replace bars.

Loose head bearing can cause the bike to handle squirrely and will eventually damage the bearing. Any decent bike mechanic should be able to help you out.
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Old 22 Jul 2014
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Thanks Juan - much appreciated - has made it much clearer!

I ended up tightening it a bit more than before and it is now holding


F650GS twin - Enfield Bullet 350 - Honda XL250 Degree
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Old 22 Jul 2014
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Can't help with the mechanics but my F650 twin had an mot this week & the head bearings have gone (18k miles). I thought it felt a bit odd at low speed but I own 3 bikes and they all feel different when going from one to another. There was no obvious problem at speed or with the general handling of it.

To fix my twin, the BMW dealer quoted £175 including parts & labour. But a local mechanic has quoted £120. Hope you didn't pay any more

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