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'03 CRF Steering stem bearing problem

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Hey guys....

I have an '03 CRF450 and I noticed the bearings on the steering stem were making some noise and not as "smooth" as they should be.

Earlier this evening I disassembled the front end, and when I dropped the lower triple clamp out I noticed the bearing was full of dirt/grit. The bearing has been destroyed. :banghead:

At first I thought "that don't run the vent hose to the steering stem thing is true" I thought fuel might have washed the bearing dry. But as I thought about it more, I don't think any fuel sloshed through the tube would contact the bearing, the stem is hollow and any fuel in the hose would go straight through. And that does not explain the dirt/grit build up.

I have a '92 KX250 that I stuff the vent hose in the stem and its bearings are as smooth as silk.

When I purchased the CRF new I re-greased everything before I rode it, and I do not use a pressure washer.

So, any ideas on how all the dirt got in there, I'd like to prevent this from happening again.

One more thing...

Should I replace both bearings (top and bottom) at the same time, the top bearing looks/feels perfect.

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