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Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders Discuss Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders problems, advice, and/or how tos.

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  #1  
Old 13th September 2005
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gronk62 gronk62 is offline
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Default Simple guide to servicing steering head bearings

At the risk of copping some ridicule from more knowledgable members I've decided to post a little "how too" for servicing the head stem bearings.

I'm not suggesting this is the correct way. Its is simply how I do it.

I have to replace my front tyre this week so while I've got the front wheel off I decided it was a good time to top my fork oil up to the correct level and grease the bearings as the front end of the bike is already half disassembled.

First I put my bike up on the stand so the front wheel is off the ground.

Next I removed the front fender.

Then I removed the brake caliper. Those funny bolts on the 04's caliper are 10mm although I don't know the correct name for the heads coz they ain't hex and have 12 points.

I undid the allen bolt that holds the brake hose in position under the lower fork yoke and let the caliper hang on the hose.

Next I removed the forks.

This pic shows how I supported the handlebars and top fork yoke with all cables still attached.



(It also shows another bungee I used to hold the lower yoke and stem in place while I installed the top bearing after cleaning and greasing.)

The next step was to remove the stem bolt and at this point its important to have your tank well protected against accidental slips with the ratchet.
I use a thick towel and a sheep skin.

Next loosen the pinch bolt holding the fork stem and the lower yoke and stem will just slide right out the bottom.

These pics show the condition of the bearings after 25,000km's (15,500miles).
I know the service schedule says to this job at 16,000km (10,000mile) intervals but I decided to wait till I needed to change the front tyre.
There is still plenty of grease on the bearings to lube them and I have never found the need to service these bearings on any of my bikes more often than 25,000km intervals.





Once I cleaned and repacked 'em with fresh wheel bearing grease its just a simple matter of reassembling everything and adjusting the tension on the bearing using the "Fall away" method.
I won't go into all the details here as its a lot of typing but basically you adjust the the fork stem bolt untill the front end flops to one side or the other with no more than a cuppla inches gentle nudging.
If its too tight your bike will feel weird goin' into corners.
If its too loose one of the symptoms will be tank slappers over rough surfaces (ask me how I know )

Note: While the forks were off I removed the caps and springs and topped them up to the correct level which is "spring removed, fully compressed" and the oil level should be 146mm (5.75") from the top.
This is a service literature update listed in HD service bulletin M-1158 and applies to 04 - 06 Sportsters.

Last edited by gronk62; 3rd October 2005 at 01:33..
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  #2  
Old 13th September 2005
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Thanks G,
Good info.
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  #3  
Old 13th September 2005
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Thanks
I needed that.
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Old 14th September 2005
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Well that's neat to know. I've never been that deep into my forks before. Closest was taking the tubes out a few weeks ago. I got new bearings from the dealer after my crash, so I guess I don't need to get in there for a long while. But it's great to see how to do it. On the pre-rubber mounts there is a grease fitting that you just plop a bunch of grease into until it squishes out, but I heard that is gone since '04??

Gazza
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Old 14th September 2005
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well done gronk
i'm doubtful if i take my bike back to be serviced at the dealership again.
so this comes in handy for the future.

cheers
crackers
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Old 14th September 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary
On the pre-rubber mounts there is a grease fitting that you just plop a bunch of grease into until it squishes out, but I heard that is gone since '04??

Gazza
Yep my 96 had a grease nipple and I made the mistake of filling it with grease and had slimey drool oozing out the bottom all summer.
So I pulled the front end off, cleaned out the excess (A LOT!!) and just greased 'em manually.

Its not a hard job and doesn't take very long and it gives ya the opportunity to inspect the bearings for wear.
My softail "notched" the lower bearing by about 35,000kms.

Crackers,
If you have a service manual and a few basic skills its not worth takin' ya bike to the dealer. Sporties are generally so easy to work on you're better off spending the dollars on some good tools and doin it yourself.
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Old 14th September 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gronk62
Crackers,
If you have a service manual and a few basic skills its not worth takin' ya bike to the dealer. Sporties are generally so easy to work on you're better off spending the dollars on some good tools and doin it yourself.
they're very funny when it comes to the warranty.
couldnt even get the air cleaner element and put on myself.
i totalled up the bills thus far on servicing the bike (got a survey in the mail, and answered )
i've spent over $2300 in 14months,
$1300 in the last 4 months on servicing, in cluding rear pads and front tyre.

since an american guy came in to run the service side of things, my service bills have doubled!!!!

cheers
crackers
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Old 14th September 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crackers
i've spent over $2300 in 14months,
cheers
crackers
DAMN!!
Thats a lot of money!!

Imagine what a great tool kit you'd have if it all went towards that!

Well the good thing is you are on the home stretch till the warranty runs out and after that you can say screw 'em and do it yourself.

The day I picked my new bike up the clutch started slipping on the way home and I had to stop and adjust the cable (I had tools with me) by the side of the road.

I had the dealer do the first service and the mechanic didn't install the primary inspection cover properly and i had oil leaking out on the way home and the primary chain was not adjusted correctly...and a cuppla other minor issues.

I spat the dummy and wrote a letter to HD tellin them about this crap and explained to them that I should NOT have to pay an arm and a leg for a sevice department to do crap work when I can do a better job myself, just so I can keep my warranty valid.

This letter made the shit hit the fan at the dealership and they phoned me to say I could do my own servicing and they would honor the warranty if stuff happened.
They also told me if I decided to have them work on my bike they would only charge me for the time it actually took instead of the "Flat Rate" HD sets for each specific service.

This was one time the "squeaky wheel got the oil"
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Old 14th September 2005
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you da man...
services on my bike were $350 each time, + extras.
now they are more like $500 + extras.
since i get my 8000km up in about 3-3.5 months, i cant keep affording that.
they do a good job, no problems there. its just the amount they started charging.
the old service manager (i have tracked him down) added extra 1/2 ounce of fork oil in each tube when the progressive springs were added.
he claimed a better ride. asnd he was right.
the new guy has the, wont do it, should never have been done, would not of been done, attitude.

i'm seeing the old service guy in 2 weeks to fix the problem.
he'll even show me how its done for next time.

cheers
crackers
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  #10  
Old 14th September 2005
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Hi Gronk.

I would like to point out that Harley uses a special grease just for stearing heads, not wheel bearing grease, as it will liquifie and run out.
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