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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. Just wondering if anyone has a video kicking around of their bike up on a lift. I am looking to see exactly how the steering should be as far as tightness. Thanks
 

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In case you haven't read this before;

KLR650
Steering Stem Nut
By The Patman

The upper t-clamp sits on top of the spanner nut that adjusts the bearings.

The front wheel should be off the ground, so you can adjust it properly. The spec is: the bars, when pushed with your back of your pinky finger should not flop over to one side or the other, if they do, the bearing is too loose. If you can't push the bars from one side to the other with your eyelid, the bearing is too tight. Now that a narrow range.

It's also the difference between headshake, and the ditch. Too loose and you'll ruin the bearings, and be prone to headshake and a crash, and too tight and you'll be prone to the bearings getting hot, swelling up, and not turning...generally this happens exactly when you need too.

Loosen two right and two left upper t-clamp fork tube pinch bolts.
( the t-clamp wont move down if the fork pinch bolts are tight, it needs to slide down on top of the spanner nut after you adjust it, in order to KEEP it tight ...the steering stem nut is what will pull it down...provided that you loosened the pinch bolts on the fork tubes uppers only of course. The dealer often misses this stem and the bearing adjustment comes loose again in about 450 miles )

Mark the bars down at the clamps so you can put them back to a position that will never feel exactly like they were yesterday.

You may have to loosen or remove the bar clamps and lay the bars down on the tank ( use a big fluffy towel to prevent scratches, and to keep the bars from flopping around )

Loosen the top nut a turn or two ( steering stem nut )

Use (the Kawasaki tool) to turn the spanner nut ( under the t-clamp ) to tighten it.

Go a little at a time until a slight resistance is felt when moving the front wheel side to side ( don't screw around and knock the handelbars off the tank ! )

I use one clamp and stick the bars back on for a second to check the bearing tightness.
You should have to push the bars from one side to the other with the bearing at the proper tightness.
But just barely.

In other words, the bars shouldn't FALL from one side to the other when you give them a slight push. If they do, tighten it some more and try again. When it gets to where you have to use the pressure of your pinky finger to push the bars from one side to the other ( I use my eyebrow to push with ) but it wont FLOP over, you've got it.

Note: one side will have enough "cable drag" to make it a little harder to push than the other. I set mine so that NEITHER side ( that is going left or right ) will flop over on it's own. WARNING: If ya get it too tight you WILL crash. Remember JUST TIGHT ENOUGH TO NOT FALL OVER TO THE SIDE BY ITSELF.

At this point use the steering stem nut, to pull the upper t-clamp down on top of the spanner nut and washer assy. ( the washer has two little "teeth" that when squeezed by the upper t-clamp, will hold the bearing adjustment ( spanner nut ) where you put it.)

As you tighten the steering stem nut, tap the two pinch clamps on each side of the t-clamp to help it slide down the fork tubes, and on top of the spanner nut.

Check it again for "not too tight but wont flopedness".

If you find it's too tight. loosen the upper steering stem nut a half a turn, use the screwdriver and mallet to knock the spanner nut loose by about one half of one quater of one millionth of an inch... ( an eigth of a turn...or less ) then retighten the steering stem nut to specs and try it again for the "not too tight, but wont flop over" test.

It should WANT TO flop over, but it's just a bit to tight to fall over on it's own.

Tighten the pinch bolts on the fork tubes.

Adjust the bars back to where you think you had them before.

Tighten the bar clamps.

Ok I added a bit to the post above so ya might wanna refresh and re-read.

Also I just thought of this, if you can hear it twice, indicating an "in and out" movement of the bearings, then you can often feel it in the bars as well and that's almost always a dead giveaway.
Also if you're still not sure that steering bearings are the problem, get the front wheel off the ground, and sitting in front of the front wheel, grab the fork legs close to the bottom, and push 'em forward and back and you may be able to duplicat the noise that way in order to verify.

Make sure you hold the wheel straight as you do this and don't confuse any turning movement that you might be allowing...just straight back towatrd the engine, and straight out toward your ...crotch.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. I read that before. I thought I had them tight enough but saw a video (masons adv ) and his steering looked tighter than mine. Stopped by a buddy of mines house(he has a klx) his bike was up on a lift and his wheel stayed perfectly straight no flop. Mine kinda falls to one side or the other.
 

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Thanks. I read that before. I thought I had them tight enough but saw a video (masons adv ) and his steering looked tighter than mine. Stopped by a buddy of mines house(he has a klx) his bike was up on a lift and his wheel stayed perfectly straight no flop. Mine kinda falls to one side or the other.
No higher speed head shake or wobble, NO Problem.

Actual slack/lash in the steering bearing assembly is usually when head-shake rears its UGLY head.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That makes sense. It’s really tough to tell. Around 110km/hr I can get a little “sway” feeling almost like the front tire is on something smooth if that makes sense. I am running kenda 80/20 tires on it(came with the bike) I have increased the tire pressure after reading posts here. There is no knock or thud when pulling on the front end while up on my lift. I just have doubts. To be fair and honest I had doubts about my doohickey after the repair and I went and double checked that.
 

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it's also easy to OVER tighten the bearing preload; when I first followed Patman's procedure, I had them too tight and the bike steered poorly - mostly noticeable at low speeds. I ended up having to back them off. As long as there isn't any actual vertical slack, it should be fine as Paul notes.


Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you guys very much. I am going to put it on the lift this weekend and take a gander. Make sure it’s all good, no slack. Just for peace of mind
 

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Thank you guys very much. I am going to put it on the lift this weekend and take a gander. Make sure it’s all good, no slack. Just for peace of mind
The best way that I have found to feel for slack in the steering bearings of a motorcycle is to ride it.

Place your un-gloved LH index finger along side of the upper steering bearing water shield,
Ride 20 - 40 mph and feel for fore & aft movement when riding thru speed-dips and pot holes. Feel for fore & aft movement when aggressively 'yanking' on the front brake lever with 2-3 fingers.

If there is Any lash in the steering bearings, you should feel it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
well I took it out and didn't feel anything as far as movement goes. Did some braking as suggested and took it along the roads here, which couldn't get much worse if they tried. Nothing at all, no feeling of movement. Of course I got to thinking, is this all in my head. While cruising along a nice smooth stretch, I had to adjust my right hand glove. I didn't notice how weird it felt when I put it on, well I of course continued driving, let go of both handle bars fixed the glove and kept going. Now, I am no mechanic by any means. I can fix things, learned some basic mechanical things while I was in the Army, I was infantry. Took a military driving course way back and learned basic stuff which I have expanded on over the past 25 years. YouTube also helps. Where I am going with this is, if my steering head was loose and sloppy, I wouldn't have been able to drive with no hands right? So that combined with doing what pdwestman suggested makes me think things are all good. Is that a fair assumption?
 

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Depends on what your definition of "all good" is.

The owners manual for my '09 states that the steering head bearings play should be checked every year, and clean, inspected and lubricated every 2 years.

Since this post is in the Gen 1 area, I'm assuming your bike is an '07 or earlier model. Do you know the last time the steering head bearings were lubed?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Actually I don’t know when they were lubed last. I can tell you that I did adjust them earlier this season. There doesn’t seem to be any notch feel to them. The bike was stored indoors and has very low km on it for the year. When I took ownership it had 14k km. So around 8700 miles on it. I don’t really know if take apart the steering head is something I want to do myself. I will have to take it in to have that done.
 

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Disassembling, inspecting & re-greasing the steering head bearings is Not Rocket Science. But it is a time consuming pain in the ass for the owner or a paid mechanic.

Break out your check book, or dive into it, head first.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I guess I will have to weigh my
Options. Do it myself and take my time, first time will be the longest but every time after that will be quicker or spend the money and have it done. I have a shop that I use locally, he’s not a dealer but he’s a guy around my age that started off working for the shop and ended up buying it. Only 2 guys that work there. Small business owner, been going to him for repairs that I won’t do and tires since my
First bike.
 

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I'm not one to slack on maintenance but I'd suggest that despite the Owner's Manual, most bikes never get their head bearings checked or greased.....and most are fine for years....perhaps decades of use. I also dislike "time based" maintenance items - mileage and usage is infinitely more important IMO. I bought my 16 year old KLR with 577 miles on it and though I did take the suspension apart to grease, replaced the wheel bearings, etc.......it was all in mint condition. Didn't bother with the head bearings and unless I detect a problem, I won't touch them for a while yet. I'm not suggesting that it's the right thing to do, but I'm comfortable with it.

IIRC, Bill got 103,000 miles from his head bearings. just an FYI while we're on the subject.

Cheers,
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That’s kind of where I am too, timeframes and much different than kms. I could see if there was a ton of mileage on the bike but there isn’t. I could also justify if there was a notch when steering or a lack of smoothness but again that’s not the case. I guess and I am not trying to sound passive with this, I will drive it until
I feel it really needs the work. I have had the bike all over, highway up to 130km/hr, twisty back roads, some dirt roads and regular city riding seems to work well and no real issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
ok so a little update, I put the bike up on my lift, level ground, level bike. The steering definitely flopped over to the left, going to the right was a little different because of the cables and wiring for my aux led's. So...I took things apart, things are now very good. So good that the highway isn't as nerve wracking as it was. Now after getting things back together and properly adjusted I find things feel more like I think they should. Everything is smooth, I don't have any flop and best of all no head shake. I went out last weekend did around 300km on 2 Saturdays ago, some secondary highways, some on the Trans Canada highway and all was good. I went for a nice run this past Saturday and spent about 5-6hrs of riding, some highway, city, secondary highway and really loose chip seal roads. Things went well. Today is my new tire day, ordered up some shinko 705s to replace the kenda tires that were on from the previous owner. I have a an upcoming road trip planned in July and I am hoping that the interprovincial borders are open for travel.
 
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