Lubricating Steering Stem Bearing and Swing Arm - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 31 Old 01-20-2019, 05:49 AM Thread Starter
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Lubricating Steering Stem Bearing and Swing Arm

Hello all

I see on my maintenance schedule that it is time for me to lubricate my Steering Stem bearing and Swing arm and pivot bolt bearing on my MY2017 KLR 650

I have never performed these procedures before. I have had a quick look at my Clymer Manual, and to tell you the truth I feel quite apprehensive about it.

Can any one give me any helpful advice about these jobs. Is there anything I can do to make the job easier? Are there any things to watch for that might not be immediately obvious? I have tried to find some videos on youtube but i could not find much.

The manual specifies using water proof grease. Does anyone have a suggestion about what type of grease would be good.

Thank you for any advice or help you can offer

Kind reards

Matthew
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post #2 of 31 Old 01-20-2019, 11:12 AM
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I use Bel-Ray waterproof grease but the brand isn't important and any grease is better than no grease. I'm on a tablet so I can't link it but go to Watt-Man's site and then Info and then "how many miles do you have on that KLR" to get a good idea on maintenance intervals and how long things typically last.

The suspension bushings/bearings are known to have little to no grease and I'd advise taking the linkage apart (loosen rear engine bolt), greasing and putting it back together.

The steering head should be done but it's a PITA.....some people have installed grease nipples and filled the steering head with grease rather than taking it all apart...honestly I haven't done mine yet (2001 with 20,000 miles and a 2000 with 3,000 miles) but I have the zerks and when my new shop is finished, I think that's what I'll do.

Dave
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post #3 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 01:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Dave for your reply.

As usual, your advice is good. I was going to do the The suspension bushings/bearings any way, I think, are they the UNI trak? they are also due according to the maintenance schedule.

I feel a bit relieved that you have not done your steering stem. that relieves me from the feeling of urgency. However, the lubrication is not actually due for another 900 km (559 mile for the flat Earthers)

My brother recently did his head stem on his Ninja, he told me the job is a PITA, but at least he has done it before, He has a fairly good set up in his garage, so i will probably do it at his place.

Are there any special tools I should get Dave?

Cheers
Matthew
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post #4 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 10:02 AM
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There are lots of special tools you can get, but you can get by with standard tools for the most part; good set of sockets and wrenches and a torque wrench.

The Uni-Trak bearings are usually very light on grease and are low on the bike where they can easily be submerged; the swingarm pivot bolt is particulary prone to corrosion due to the design (many plug the little hole in the bottom of the frame tube with silicone or something similar). The biggest "trick" is to loosen the rear engine mount "through bolt" otherwise getting the Uni-Trak link in and out can be extremely difficult.

I'm not one to suggest skimping on maintenance but the head bearings are a pain to grease and to adjust properly. Honestly, if they had enough grease, I don't think there would be any reason to take the front end apart for the life of the bike for most people (Bill got 104,000 miles out of his head bearings http://watt-man.com/uploads/How_Many_Miles.pdf). corrosion and running them too loose seem to be the most common causes for failure; they don't see anywhere near the stress/use of a wheel bearing (for eg.)

Dave
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post #5 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 01:44 PM
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All of the needle bearings, sleeves and seals of the rear swingarm and suspension linkages need re-greasing, as do the steering bearings. And yeah it's a tedious job, just be methodical with your work.

This article may help with dis-assembly & Future servicing, https://www.souperdoo.com/stuff%20th...-zerk-fittings

pdwestman
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post #6 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 01:51 PM
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Or while it is apart, one can install grease zerks into all needle locations, but you also have to drill vent holes. Very tedious work, I'd suggest.

Here is the link, http://www.watt-man.com/uploads/ZerkInstallation.pdf

pdwestman
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post #7 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPelletier View Post
I use Bel-Ray waterproof grease but the brand isn't important and any grease is better than no grease.


The steering head should be done but it's a PITA.....some people have installed grease nipples and filled the steering head with grease rather than taking it all apart...honestly I haven't done mine yet (2001 with 20,000 miles and a 2000 with 3,000 miles) but I have the zerks and when my new shop is finished, I think that's what I'll do.

Dave
I replaced my 83,000 mile 1987 Gen 1 steering head bearings earlier this winter. I had re-greased them one time before.

I have never felt comfortable about installing a steering head grease zerk on an assembled unit. (Just how many or how big is that last chip of metal as we drill thru, even with a greasy bit and same about tapping the hole as well?)

I cleaned the steering neck after removing the bearing races (Requires Special Tools for removal). Then I covered the bottom of neck with duct tape to catch the drill & tap chips from the interior. There were some.
I should have changed my duct tape between the drilling and the tapping to see which was most responsible for which size of chips.

We have a member / formerly very active member that does steering head grease zerk installation on almost every bike thru his garage doors. Says he has never had a chip get pushed into the lower bearing.

With my steering disassembled for the drilling & tapping, I know I don't have to think about the 'possibility'.

pdwestman
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post #8 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 02:44 PM
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Paul,

How'd your steering bearings look? The possibility of a shaving getting in the bearings is a concern but the steering bearings and grease don't get moved around much.....not sure how much of a risk it really is. Contemplating....

On the suspension bearings, I've avoided the grease nipples - I think you can do a much better job by hand and it doesn't take all that much work......I've done both my Gen1's and due to putting on far less miles than I'd like (life and other stuff getting in the way), I'll probably leave them for a couple years at least. I used to do my race bikes every season.

Cheers,
Dave
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post #9 of 31 Old 01-21-2019, 03:11 PM
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My 83,000 mile lower steering bearing race was getting a fairly distinct set of self-centering dimples from all the mileage of steep Rocky Mountain down-hills, pot-holes and hard braking. Primarily at the front & back of the race.

And it could wag the bars a bit at 80mph + because of the dimpling.

There was no rusting of any of the needles or races tho, because there was not an 'Asian Grease Shortage' back in October 1986.
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pdwestman
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post #10 of 31 Old 01-22-2019, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the replies guys

Dave, I have a decent set of spanners and torque wrench and the normal tools. I was wondering if there are any specialized tools. I have had a bit of a closer look at the Clymer manual, and I suppose the only special tool is a Stem Nut wrench. I was thinking of buying a DRC STEERING STEM WRENCH, but I am not sure if it will fit. Has anyone used one on a later model KLR? Dave, I will take your advice on the Bel-Ray water proof grease. Is Bel Ray OK for both the steering stem and the swing arm etc.?

Paul, I have to agree with you. I would not feel comfortable if I did not grease the Steering stem. Greasing the stem allows for inspection of the parts as well as adding lubricant. I think will not add Zerks. They are a good idea, but i would worry that grease is not getting everywhere that it should. Also, greasing in the conventional way allows for inspection of the parts.

I apologize if I seem to be slow to reply. I live up here at the top of the world in Australia, I'm asleep while you guys are online, and I dare say visa versa

Thanks again for your help guys

Kind Regards

Matthew
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