Steering head bearings with notch

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Feb 27, 2019
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#1
2014 S10 here, 20000 miles. The head bearings have a distinct notch in middle facing forward (I checked on centre stand).

Anyone with similar at this mileage?

If they need replacing it will be going into the dealer. Any ideas what I am looking at for cost (UK ) and how long it would take a Yamaha dealer?
Cheers
 

Bigbore4

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#2
Lose, or feel a notch when turning the bars? My stem was loose when I took delivery, had t be adjusted before I even left the dealer.

Just a guess, I have changed forks, and dropped the head to lube the bearing but not replaced. I would think somewhere around 3 hours labor at whatever the prevailing rate is in The UK plus parts.

If I was at an independent shop or in my case doing it myself, I would swap to tapered roller bearings.

My .02
 
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#3
Lose, or feel a notch when turning the bars? My stem was loose when I took delivery, had t be adjusted before I even left the dealer.

Just a guess, I have changed forks, and dropped the head to lube the bearing but not replaced. I would think somewhere around 3 hours labor at whatever the prevailing rate is in The UK plus parts.

If I was at an independent shop or in my case doing it myself, I would swap to tapered roller bearings.

My .02
I only feel notch when checking left to right on centrestand (slowly). Can feel it settle into the notch.

I was guessing, but thought 3 hours myself. One good thing Yamaha are not as expensive as HD for hourly rate!

It's not a job I could confidently do myself.

Thanks for the help
 

steve68steve

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#4
How timely.

I have 43k miles and just finished replacing the steering bearings yesterday. Handling was getting slowly worse / vague culminating in pulling over to make sure my front tire was not low on air (it wasn't). On the centerstand with the front wheel off the ground, I had a very, very, noticeable detent moving the bars back and forth thru center. I'd guess it took a a pound or two of force to move the bars out of the detent.

First test ride today and it's like a different machine. Handling feels brand new.

I was really surprised how good the old bearings looked. There was a lot of rust and sand in there and I assumed the bearings were going to be completely trashed. After cleaning everything up I was surprised to find only very light witness marks from the rollers in the outer races - can't even hook a finger nail on them. The cages rotated by hand with no slop. The inner race of the lower bearing also looks/ feels great (upper bearing still intact, so no clue). I can't square the good visual condition of the bearings with the horrible detent.

The is the first maintenance they've received, as I didn't have a 36mm socket to get the big nut off, and I couldn't budge it with an adjustable wrench.

It's very worth doing, and it's not that hard for a competent shade-tree mechanic if you take your time and invest in a few tools. I got the 36mm socket for $8, the spanner for torquing the castellated nuts for $22, and the bearings for $32.
The whole process from start to finish took about 4 or 5 hours, but I'm not a pro. I removed the windshield, handlebars, top triple tree, front wheel, brake calipers, fender, forks, horn and the little bracket bolted to the front of the lower triple tree to get access, and there's more time in all that than there is in doing the bearing job itself.

Driving the races out of the frame takes only a few minutes, as does driving the new ones in. Packing the bearings and re-assembly is only a few minutes each. The wildcard is getting the lower bearing off the shaft. I ended up having to cut it off after failing miserably at being able to drive it off with a hammer and punch/ screwdriver/ cold chisel, each of which just broke pieces off the lip of the bearing.

Sorry for length. Just all fresh in my mind having just done it yesterday.
 

~TABASCO~

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#5
Anyone doing the normal maintenance, check the lower race with your finger nail. I found one that was cracked. Or broken all the way across. Was replaced. Just look carefully.
 

steve68steve

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#6
Anyone doing the normal maintenance, check the lower race with your finger nail. I found one that was cracked. Or broken all the way across. Was replaced. Just look carefully.
Further to this, I cut my lower bearing off the shaft by milling back and forth to create an axial slot in the the bearing. It was down to about .010" of meat left when I heard "PING!".

Withdrawing the mill, there was a hairline crack in that little strip of metal left. The bearing was easily spun around 180deg on the shaft, exposing unbroken lip which enabled easily tapping it off the shaft. When it came off, there was ZERO corrosion, galling, dirt, wear, etc. between the shaft and the inner race surface.

To my mind, this squares with the idea that the bearing has a LOT of interference fit. Enough that compression between the shaft and bearing race is stronger than the metal lip itself... enough that reducing the thickness of the bearing results in it breaking off... enough that even sitting in the freezer for a couple hours still required quite a bit of hammering to get the new on one...

and enough that I'm not at all surprised of your report that they sometimes crack on their own.

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to measure the OD of the shaft before and after the freezer to see how much interference there is. I'd think it would only need a few tenths (.0001"), but I'd bet a jillion bucks the are pressing the shaft into the lower Al triple tree casting at the same op as they are pressing that bearing on the shaft, so their process is not sensitive to how much force it takes to install (and hence remove) that lower bearing.

Disclaimer: that's an awful lot of opinions for a guy with exactly ONE data point.
 
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#7
Thanks all for the help and advice. It's booked in at the yamaha dealer to sort. It's just a little beyond my capabilities.
 

Squibb

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#8
The head bearings should get a check at every service & re-pack with lithium grease at 30k.

Thus 20k seems a low mlg TBH, so I suspect they were over-tightened at some stage.

I have no idea where you are based in the UK, so we cannot give you feedback on dealer quality. However, do make sure your dealer always quotes for the work in advance, to avoid surprises.
 
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#9
The head bearings should get a check at every service & re-pack with lithium grease at 30k.

Thus 20k seems a low mlg TBH, so I suspect they were over-tightened at some stage.

I have no idea where you are based in the UK, so we cannot give you feedback on dealer quality. However, do make sure your dealer always quotes for the work in advance, to avoid surprises.
 
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#10
Yamaha is known to set head bearings on the loose side,and if not checked and adjusted lower bearing gets damaged.With notch you feel my 2 cents is your lower bearing needs replacement.
 
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#12
The head bearings should get a check at every service & re-pack with lithium grease at 30k.

Thus 20k seems a low mlg TBH, so I suspect they were over-tightened at some stage.

I have no idea where you are based in the UK, so we cannot give you feedback on dealer quality. However, do make sure your dealer always quotes for the work in advance, to avoid surprises.
Just today was quoted £200 from Yamaha dealer I've been using for a long time. That includes OEM parts and fitting. I'm happy with that, thought it would be nearer £300. Only down side is I have to wait 3 weeks.
 
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#13
I did mine last year after a 10,000km trip , same as you it had a notch in the center position worked a bit like a steering damper in the sand :D I took it apart but couldn't get the bottom bearing off so I took it to the bike shop, he told me he had special bearing puller for that job but even that couldn't get it off so he had to grind it off with a 5" grinder, it only cost me a set of bearings and $40 for removing the bottom bearing its not a hard job
 

Gigitt

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#14
2015 ES Super Tenere with over 58,000KM

About 5-6,000 km ago I have noticed randomly a weird knock coming from the steering when going over speed humps, it was not consistent so I made myself aware to listen and feel for it again. Heard it a about 3 more time, I read about steering head bearing making knocking sounds when suspension is bumped, so check the front wheel by pulling and pushing wheel etc. nothing all good.

About 1200km ago i felt that steering center line notch when turning the bars when parking... I tested again lifting front wheel and pulling and pushing - nothing, could not reproduce it. Felt the notch again 600km ago.... ok might be time... well time did sneak up on me and when riding to work felt the steering was dipping to fast into slow corners - kind of felt like the time the farm ag bike front wheel axel bolt was loose the ride was good in the straights but turning it wobbled the bike a bit. I got home safe.

So on the weekend set the bike up on center stand and tested again for notch and yep it was definitely there when tuning bar side to side.
I pushed and pulled the front wheel and I did hear a knock/clunk once - but then I could not make it do it again - was I hearing things!
I then sat on the bike and leaned back to lift the front wheel off the ground shifting the weight on the bearing to feel for the notch - yep I could feel a notch.

So pulled the bars off and undid the top triple and yes the top retaining nut was not done up as others have commented on. It was not loosey goosey freely rotating, but it required zero effort to undo it from the rubber washer under it. Main retaining nut was tight and needed some effort to undo.

I do not have replacement bearings or a garage to do all this in, so all I was going to do is inspect, re-gease and re-tighten and see how it goes.

I Inspected the top bearing only - they were still greased and the races were unmarked, I repacked bearing with Bellray waterproof grease and nipped it all back up to service manual specs. I dont know how hard to 'finger tighten" the top nut so I finger tightened then finger cranked a bit harder till the next flat. I alos noticed the locking washer tabs were splayed out and not really making any contact into the lower nut flats... so I squeezed the tabs in so they at least pressed against the nut flats so they did their job!

Test ride was all OK.
 

Vins

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#15
My 2015 got both steering heads bearings changed at 55000 km. Looks like a Yamaha flaw. At the same time, the steeringbar's rubbers were shot and the clutch contact (cruise control and starting in gear) and the cruise control contact in the engine needed changing because the cruise control wouldn't work anymore... still waiting on he invoice.
 
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