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Headset Tightening Question

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Hello,

Last night I replaced my steering bearing races/bearings. My question is: How do I know when I have tightened the main steering nut enough? I don't want to over or undertighten it. I used to be a mountain bike mechanic and did a lot of these but it seems very hard to tell on a motorcycle where the sweet spot is. TIA!

Derik

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From what I recall, the "sweet spot" is a matter of preference. Some riders like the steering stem tighter than others. The obvious extremes you want to avoid are (1) steering is so free the front end flops around without resistance and (2) so tight you can't move the front wheel normally or steer properly.

I like it tighter myself.

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Typical method is the same as you are used to with your MTB. Ideally, you will do this with just the fork tubes in the triple clamps. No bars, cables, wheel or wires to restrict or affect movement. Tighten the headset till it just binds, loosen, tighten again till it just binds then loosen just enough to swing back and forth with no resistance. Any play will beat up the bearings, too tight and you will crush them.

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Once you feel the play is just right, loosen it 1/8 to 1/4 turn. It will tighten up when you tighten the top nut.

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Hey guys;

I've used the "hand-tight-with-leather-glove" technique and I was wondering if I should tighten it as tightly as possible and then back-off an 1/8 of a turn before torquing the top-nut? I just did my steering stem this morning and I noticed some black marks on a few of the bearings and also on the race itself. I think I may have tightened it a bit too much the last time I greased my steering stem.

Cheers its Friday :applause:

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Actually, too tight would make thenm wear heavily, causing them to be shiny, just like if it was just right. Dark typically means you had water/insufficent grease and or too loose. The method I described above is the correct method baring the exact prcedure listed in a manual. The manual states to torque the castellated nut to 32.5 Ft-Lbs, then back it off 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

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Tighten the first nut to seat the bearings, move the steering back and forth a few times, re-tighten & repeat several times. Seems silly because now you are going to loosen the nut 1/4 to 1/2 turn. That is only an estimate. Now tighten the upper nut full torque 65 ft lb. Feel the steering. You want light drag on the bearigs. This is the only thing that means anything. Re-adjust as needed. If you are real scientific, you want 3 to 5 pounds pull on a scale to move the steering. Do this with the forks off, just the steering stem and the upper and lower tripple clamps. Spring scale attached to where the fork tube goes.

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Thanks for the help guys, your advice is greatly appreciated. I'll check my steering this afternoon to make sure everything is ok.

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