Steering Head Ring Nut - How tight?


I have just re-greased my steering head bearings and put it all back together. However I think my steering may be on the loose side. The bike when sitting on a stand, the front wheel will swing to the left pretty easily. If I dont have a torque wrench what is the best method to know how tight to go with the ring nut? All im using is a hammer and screwdriver.

Can I tighten this more without having to pull the shocks off again etc? I was thinking if I take the bike off the stand and just undo and raise the top clamp I should be able to tighten it a little more?

Any help would be great. I have searched the topic but havent found exactly what Im after.


For the "I have no torque wrench method"

The ring nut "notched nut" should not be on too tight - as you tighten the top steering head nut this will tighten everything up. If the ring nut is too tight there will be binding as the handlebars are moved left to right. I tighten mine about 1/4 turn - 1/2 turn once it is handtightened as far as I can turn it. Then tighten the top nut very snug. The steering should moved side to side w/o any binding by turning the bike on it's side.

Go ahead and buy a will be using it a set the correct tightness. :thumbsup:

Something to remember when you are working on the head bearings, or any bearing like this where you are running a lock nut down on another nut that sets preload on a bearing, is that when you tighten the top nut down, it will make the lower one tighter.

The threads have clearance in them. When you tighten the lower nut, the load pushes the nut up the stem, and against the underside of the stem threads. When you then tighten the top nut, that load pushes the lower nut down against the top side of the stem threads, changing the preload by the amount of the clearance in the threads.

Dave's method will work, but remember that the load you set on the head bearings will not be finalized until after both nuts are tight. Be sure to check it then.

And yes, you can tighten it without removing the works, although you may have to lift your bars out of place to get on the top nut. Loosen the top nut, and loosen the top clamp pinch bolts, then use a pin punch to adjust the head bearing preload, tightening the pinch bolts after the top nut is retightened.

Great. Thanks for that guys. Appreciate the advice.

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