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Old 10-28-2019, 06:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: California
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Steering stem too loose

Turns out my steering stem nuts have been too loose for a little while. I am going to fix it, just ordered a front stand, but I have one important question:

Can too loose of a steering head cause damage, or just instability?
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Old 10-28-2019, 11:20 PM   #2
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Re: Steering stem too loose

Bearings can get damaged.
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Old 10-30-2019, 01:34 PM   #3
China Greg
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Re: Steering stem too loose

Be aware that just "buying a stand" will not allow you to make the proper adjustments to your st. head bearings.
Most front stands support the front of the bike through a hole in the center of the steering stem tube (and I assume you already HAVE a rear stand, which is necessary to using a front stand)... and if you support the front end in this manner there will be a big load pressing against the stem. This will deny you the ability of spinning the handlebars freely to check how tight your head bearings are.
To do that job correctly you need to HOIST the front end off the floor so that no strain is put on the handlebars/triple clamp/steering stem.. in other words, to let the bars spin completely free. Only then can you move the bars side to side for legitimate checks.

There is a WEIGHT number involved, in your manual (you have one?).. that when you pull on one side of the bars it should take so much pressure (a kilogram or so..check the book) before the bar ends will move. This is usually checked by way of a fishing scale, which can be bought cheaply on Fleabay or in local stores.

You COULD just eyeball the movement, if the front is unloaded; you can play around with the pressure to turn the bars SEEMS about right by feel; start it a little tight (sticky) then back off incrementally until it moves smoothly with a bit (a pound or so) of pressure... but that's certainly not very accurate. Overly-tight bearings will give you a slow-speed weave and may wear out more quickly.

However you do it, make sure you re-check it again AFTER all the parts are fully tightened-up again, (using the torque values in your manual, right?) as it WILL be different from when the lock nuts are loose.

*ALSO: while you have the front end off the ground and the bars move freely, move them back and forth across the centerline, gently feeling for signs of any NOTCH or clicking that will be evidence that your head bearings are damaged and need to be replaced.

If you don't have the necessary tools or confidence to do this; it's best to bring it to a competent tech who can. It's not hard of you have the equipment and can hoist the bike properly... otherwise... bring it to a shop and bite the bullet.
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