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I have a question? What does it mean when the OEM steering head bearings developed a notch in it. What does it feel like and look like?
Thank you in advance :)
 

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The OEM stem bearings are ball type. The only time I have found a notch or stick with this kind of bearing is when one or more balls has failed. The solution is replacement.
The aftermarket roller bearings or Alls Balls that some are installing have had some reports of the bearing race getting grooves or notches in them. Probably from poor quality material.


Steering the front wheel with either weight on the tire or raised off the ground, one should not feel any stick or notch turning Left or Right.


Corventure Dave
 

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The steering will literally feel like it is dropping into a notch. Movement gets easier as it approaches the notch, and requires a little extra effort to pull the steering out of it.


Notches are almost always at dead center in the steering because that is where most impacts on the suspension ocurr. Most times, a notch is caused by riding with loose bearings. The slop allows the bearing to accelerate and slam into the race every time you hit a bump. Dried up bearing grease can also give the feel of a notch in the steering. The hardened grease develops a flat spot in it.


Properly adjusted bearings will rarely develop a flat spot unless you have a habit of riding often on really bad roads. I mean REALLY bad roads! But if you ride long enough and far enough, all bearings will probably eventually fail.


Put your bike on the center stand and lift the front tire. Slowly move the steering very lightly. If you have a notch in a bearing, you will easily feel it. If you can't lightly move the steering, your bearings are too tight.
 

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Put your bike on the centrestand, get someone to lean or sit on the rear seat, this will lift the front wheel off the ground. Very gently turn the front wheel from lock to lock. If the bearing is indented you will feel slight notchiness. The notchiness is normally smooth but just a little tighening and slackening of the movement.

If it's really jerky or gritty the bearing(s) is on its last legs.
 

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Yep, the descriptions above are exactly what I found to be the cause of my difficulty in coming to a stop w/o wobbling/weaving around. As soon as I raised the front tire up and turned the bars to each side it was immediately apparent what was wrong. I ordered the replacement All Balls tapered bearing kit right away but since I had no issue(s) at speed, I have put the project off until riding season is/was over for me (which is pretty much now). I adjusted to it some the more I rode it but it definitely needs to get done now and/or before spring. Not looking forward to the project too much but it's just another maintainence item.
 
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Honda typically uses ball bearings in the steering head and the Goldwing is no different. You can imagine the point loading of a round ball bearing pressed against the race compared to the area of a roller in a set of tapered roller bearings. The image can be illustrated with an 8 lb rolling pin laying on a bowling alley compared to an 8 lb bowling ball. The same 8 lbs is supported across greater area with the roller compared to the ball. The point loading is less.



OEM caged ball bearings when adjusted correctly have wonderfully light steering but if they get even slightly out of adjustment the balls can hammer small dents in the outer race that the balls press against. They are also somewhat harder to set up and torque properly when replaced. The answer for many DIY owners is to install aftermarket tapered roller bearings that are less fussy to set up and resist denting because the point loading is less. The proper term is brinelling instead of denting.


All the above are good descriptions of diagnosing brinelled bearings. I will still add one. With the front of the bike supported and the front wheel off the ground place the handlebars straight ahead. Gently, very gently, push forward on a bar end just enough to move off dead straight ahead then release the pressure. A brinelled bearing will "self-center" back to straight ahead. This will be noticed more easily with the mass of the front wheel removed so I always check for this when the front wheel is removed for a tire change or brake work. By the time you can notice the self-centering with the front wheel installed the bearing is really bad.
 

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You can imagine the point loading of a round ball bearing pressed against the race compared to the area of a roller in a set of tapered roller bearings. The image can be illustrated with an 8 lb rolling pin laying on a bowling alley compared to an 8 lb bowling ball.
Hmm.... That's not entirely true. The balls of the bearing run on a race where the radius is matched to the balls' radius so it's not a single point loading the way you describe.

The rollers of a taper roller bearing are an entirely different radius to the races which they run between so the contact patch is a line of miniscule width.
By design they do have good alignment but if run preloaded and not spinning the wedging effect can't be ignored, that and the extremely narrow contact patch combine to produce a loading greater than one might initially imagine.
 

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Also, tracking bearing notching complaints on here would indicate a much more common occurrence with roller bearings than with the OEM ball type. Probably because it is often used as a fix for the famous deceleration wobble and gets overtightened to do it. I still have the first thing that I bought to add to my first wing. It's a set of All Balls tapered bearings for the wing. They are still in the blister pack. I never used them and I have had 3 more wings since then. I'm never going to use them so if anyone still believes that they are a better choice, they can pm me an offer because I just came across them again the other day.

Richard
 

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Also, tracking bearing notching complaints on here would indicate a much more common occurrence with roller bearings than with the OEM ball type. Probably because it is often used as a fix for the famous deceleration wobble and gets overtightened to do it. I still have the first thing that I bought to add to my first wing. It's a set of All Balls tapered bearings for the wing. They are still in the blister pack. I never used them and I have had 3 more wings since then. I'm never going to use them so if anyone still believes that they are a better choice, they can pm me an offer because I just came across them again the other day.

Richard
PM sent.
 

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The All Balls tend to develop notching at the center after about 30K miles, especially if they are over-torqued. One symptom is the bike will start to wander in it's lane at speed above 70mph. It's easy to check with the bike on the centerstand and the front tire off the ground. If you feel a notch at center, replace them.


I think the OEM ball bearings are actually less prone to notching than the tapered roller bearings are, but both types can do it.
 

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OEM caged ball bearings when adjusted correctly have wonderfully light steering but if they get even slightly out of adjustment the balls can hammer small dents in the outer race that the balls press against. They are also somewhat harder to set up and torque properly when replaced. The answer for many DIY owners is to install aftermarket tapered roller bearings that are less fussy to set up and resist denting because the point loading is less. The proper term is brinelling instead of denting.
Not to beat you up, but in addition to what J.W said, the statement in bold is misleading. Ball bearings are not used because they have a lighter feel. If you compare datasheets for any comparable ball bearings vs roller bearings, the COF on both of them is virtually identical. If you don't have a light feel with roller bearings, then they were either installed wrong or they are defective. And this is exactly what owners are doing when they follow the All Balls recommendations for torque. This is probably an even bigger reason why so many of them fail than the quality of the bearings. Bearings of any kind are not designed to be used as dampers. Both types are intended to eliminate, or at least minimize rotational friction, not increase it.

Roller bearings do typically have a higher loading capability than ball bearings. But over the years, manufacturers have determined that the high loading capability is not needed and doesn't offer any advantages. And when you factor in the unique problems that roller bearings have, such as cage creep, it just doesn't make sense to use them in this application. The higher load rating on rollers is exactly why All Balls uses them to support their excessive preload adjustment.

I'm not sure what to say about adjustments issues. The preload procedure for both is identical. It is a delicate adjustment for both types if it is done correctly.
 

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Question here:
My bike is now in the shop for a bushing leak in my front forks... So I'm replacing the bushing as well as the front springs... Would these "Ball bearings" be also checked at the same time???

I need an answer very fast before bike is put back together, and I still have bad bearings.... I would want them replaced before front end has been put back on the bike..

Thank you

Ronnie
 
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Question here:
My bike is now in the shop for a bushing leak in my front forks... So I'm replacing the bushing as well as the front springs... Would these "Ball bearings" be also checked at the same time???

I need an answer very fast before bike is put back together, and I still have bad bearings.... I would want them replaced before front end has been put back on the bike..

Thank you

Ronnie
Yes, there's no reason not to since its half way pulled apart. Just rotate the yolks gently and feel for notchiness in the bearings. Don't confuse it with a catch from any cables or hoses you may still have attached.
 

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Question here:
My bike is now in the shop for a bushing leak in my front forks... So I'm replacing the bushing as well as the front springs... Would these "Ball bearings" be also checked at the same time???

I need an answer very fast before bike is put back together, and I still have bad bearings.... I would want them replaced before front end has been put back on the bike..

Thank you

Ronnie
A notch in the bearings is very noticeable during riding and when you move the handlebars. You don't have to be a mechanic or even a highly experienced rider to sense it. If you have never noticed anything, I would not worry about it. The center line wandering that Fred mentioned is a common side effect, that that is not as easily discerned as a bearing problem unless you are experienced.

It would not be a bad idea to have them check for a loose bearing adjustment. But that has to be done while the forks and front wheel are in place. It is actually an easy check that every owner should do every year, but few people do. Stem bearings and the adjustment have become so reliable that it is often no longer on our minds when we do safety checks.
 

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I have also experienced the all-balls notched race issue. The worst thing about this was when you were hard on the front brakes, it made it very difficult to steer, as the extra load from braking wouldn't allow easy steering adjustments.
 

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bearings

My all= balls 0n my 01 with 200,000 plus on them have the notch now for 60,000 now. I'm use to it . When I get on the 14 with oem. it feels like sport bike.>:)
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thank you everyone very much for your experiences and knowledge, it is greatly appreciated by me. So this is what I have so far, I put bike on the center stand with my wife sitting in the back seat, front wheel is off ground, I'am standing along side my bike in front of my wife, I moved the handle bars very slowly form left to right or lock to lock, I can feel what maybe a notch, so I did this a few times, handle bars would feel like they hit a small groove (notch), so I moved the handle bars a little past this grooved (notched area) and the handle bars would not return back to the grooved or notch area by it's self, I had to help it back. Also the notch area was not at the 12:00 or 6:00 o'clock position. Standing next my wife and looking down at the handle bars, it looked to me as it was at the 12:00 or 6:00 o'clock position, leaving the handle bars in the notched area, I went up to the front of the bike (still on center stand with wife in the seat) and noticed that the front wheel was between the 12:00 and 1:00 o'clock position, more closer to the 1:00 o'clock. I'am going to check to see if there are hoses, cables or my GPS wiring cable that maybe causing this notch feeling, interference or resistance. For the record, the bike is a 2004 with 84,xxx miles on her, has always been serviced by the dealer at the regular service intervals. I will up date this post as I discover what may be the problem. Feel free to voice your opinion(s). Thank you everyone again.
 

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I have a question? What does it mean when the OEM steering head bearings developed a notch in it.
It is called brinelling. Google it for pix.
 

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what about just taking your handle bars off? 4 bolts, lay them out of the way. That should eliminate any possibilities of cables.? Then just move your wheel.
 
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