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Assuming the 5th gen has newer tires, in short, the Wing should feel light, free, and playful.

I had one come in that recently had tapered bearings replaced at another shop. He probably has less than 1000 miles on them. He stated that he knew the bearings had been torqued to 30ft/lbs, and felt that there was something wrong with the handling. After a test ride, I asked him if he would describe the handling as too predictable, and ridged feeling. Those were the handling characteristics I felt. Additionally it had no pull, with one hand on the bar and lightly pushing right/left, it would return to center. There was no wobble except at around 30mph, and the handlebars would snake back and forth. When trying to lock the steering, it only locked in one position instead of both.

I know some shops recommend torquing to 23ft/lbs, and that could be a blanket torque when upgrading to a full suspension package; however, that's not what I find is best. A fish scale must be used. Usually my final torques are in the 17-21 ranges. When finished, I would describe good handling characteristics as light, free, and playful. There should be no pull, no wobble from 50 all the way down to 30. No snaking in the 30mph rage. When lightly pushing left/right the bars they should return to center. The steering head should lock in both positions, left and right.

Also, tapered bearing life is not as long as we'd like. Be sure to do full services which includes suspension inspections every 8k. I believe my last set wore out at about 70k. So be on the lookout for needing to replace them again as your mileage racks up.
 

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I've never had to replace the stem bearings on my '06. Are tapered bearings OEM bearings?
 

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Is there a video on how to use the fish scale to torque up the head stock somewhere Greg?
I realize I'm just a country boy/backyard mechanic, but seems to me that a good 'ole wire tie wrapped around the front of the tire would suffice. Hook (pun intended) your scale to the tie, easy-peezy.
 

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Assuming the 5th gen has newer tires, in short, the Wing should feel light, free, and playful.

I had one come in that recently had tapered bearings replaced at another shop. He probably has less than 1000 miles on them. He stated that he knew the bearings had been torqued to 30ft/lbs, and felt that there was something wrong with the handling. After a test ride, I asked him if he would describe the handling as too predictable, and ridged feeling. Those were the handling characteristics I felt. Additionally it had no pull, with one hand on the bar and lightly pushing right/left, it would return to center. There was no wobble except at around 30mph, and the handlebars would snake back and forth. When trying to lock the steering, it only locked in one position instead of both.

I know some shops recommend torquing to 23ft/lbs, and that could be a blanket torque when upgrading to a full suspension package; however, that's not what I find is best. A fish scale must be used. Usually my final torques are in the 17-21 ranges. When finished, I would describe good handling characteristics as light, free, and playful. There should be no pull, no wobble from 50 all the way down to 30. No snaking in the 30mph rage. When lightly pushing left/right the bars they should return to center. The steering head should lock in both positions, left and right.

Also, tapered bearing life is not as long as we'd like. Be sure to do full services which includes suspension inspections every 8k. I believe my last set wore out at about 70k. So be on the lookout for needing to replace them again as your mileage racks up.

On my '02, I had the OEM bearings replaced several years ago with All Balls. The mechanic I had do it for me is very good and I trust him to do any job correctly. However, he insisted that pre-load bearing torque MUST be 23 ft lbs as called for by All Balls. He test rode and declared it good. I rode home but didn't like handling as it would not hold a straight line without frequent correction. After allowing a few thousand miles of riding to see if handling would improve, I decided I would myself reduce torque. Didn't have a scale to test fork rotation resistance. Relied on "before and after" feel and settled on 21 ft lbs. That was the ticket for me.
 

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So, if using a fish scale, just what should the 'pull' be?

My '01 - '02 service manual states 2.0 - 3.1 lbs. Start with steering stem straight ahead. Scale must be attached to fork tube between top and bottom bridges. Must ensure there is no cable or wire harness or hose interference. Must ensure pull is at right angle to the steering stem throughout pull. If/when I do this again, I will be sticking with the the "how does it feel" method.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've never had to replace the stem bearings on my '06. Are tapered bearings OEM bearings?
OEM bearings are made of high quality metal with an expensive, curved grind mating the balls to each race. The AllBall tapered bearing brand uses cheap metal from China and the cheapest of all grinds, tapered and flat.

366679

366680


If yours are still OEM there are a couple of test which will show that yours are bad. The easiest one is to find a flat road, be in 5th gear, get up to 50mph, and take you hands off the bars allowing the Wing to decelerate. You will probably find that handle bars will begin to severely wobble around 42mph. To stop the handlebar wobble, use open hands to stop the wobble.

Another way is to center stand the Wing and raise the front wheel off the ground. On a work stool, have the front wheel between your legs and slowly move the wheel back and forth just off straight-a-head position. At your mileage, there should be definite notching felt in the movement.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
On my '02, I had the OEM bearings replaced several years ago with All Balls. The mechanic I had do it for me is very good and I trust him to do any job correctly. However, he insisted that pre-load bearing torque MUST be 23 ft lbs as called for by All Balls. He test rode and declared it good. I rode home but didn't like handling as it would not hold a straight line without frequent correction. After allowing a few thousand miles of riding to see if handling would improve, I decided I would myself reduce torque. Didn't have a scale to test fork rotation resistance. Relied on "before and after" feel and settled on 21 ft lbs. That was the ticket for me.
There is nothing wrong with trial and error. Well ... except for having to spend time pulling the top bridge again. Also, I believe your mechanic came up with 23lbs from somewhere else. The ones in the AllBall kit says 32ft/lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Is there a video on how to use the fish scale to torque up the head stock somewhere Greg?
Let me re-answer that. I'm very big on free information ... so much that I'm probably the only one who pays to share it freely here. Let me explain ... I could care less about promoting business here on the forum. I only do it because I'm allowed too ... you guys, and word of mouth, have been successfully doing that for me for 13 years now. However the owners of this web page believe differently, so because of my passion to share freely, I pay to share what I know.

However, stay tuned to my web page. I'm currently having a new one made, and it will have free DIY videos. The reason, there is so much junk out there !!!
 

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A hands-off deceleration wobble can result from several things and doesn't always indicate R & R steering bearings. Having just enough wear in one or all of the wheel bearings, swing arm bearings, or a bad front tire alone are all causal with tires a common culprit.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A hands-off deceleration wobble can result from several things and doesn't always indicate R & R steering bearings. Having just enough wear in one or all of the wheel bearings, swing arm bearings, or a bad front tire alone are all causal with tires a common culprit.
You are absolutely correct. However every m/c made comes with certain characteristics. Although no one, including me, can guarantee a Wing may not have those other issues going on, I can tell you that the chances of tapered steering bearings correcting a wobble issue is extremely high. Even with badly worn and cupped tires.

When a customer is paying to have them installed, my guarantees and results are as follows.
  • I conservatively guarantee a 70% chance their wobble will go away
  • if not, I guarantee that after installing new tires, there is better then a 95% chance that their wobble is then gone.
Results, and I have no idea how many sets I've done. I have enough demand to usually have 3 or 4 sets on hand at any given time.

All but 2 had their wobble disappear. For the other 2, once they got new tires, the wobble was gone. One of those had 500ish miles on his newer set of tires, before having his bearings replaced. Unfortunately for him, a m/c tire can quickly establish a wear pattern, that may or may not be visible, that will still cause a wobble. If you do that simple math, thus far I am batting 100%.

Of coarse I would never do any repair without properly inspecting the Wing first ... everything starts with a pre-inspection.
 

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There is nothing wrong with trial and error. Well ... except for having to spend time pulling the top bridge again. Also, I believe your mechanic came up with 23lbs from somewhere else. The ones in the AllBall kit says 32ft/lbs.

Hmmm.. Are you sure about 32 ft lbs Greg? Sounds like too much. Maybe that only applies at initial installation vs a lower value for follow up re-torque after several thousand miles?
 

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Hmmm.. Are you sure about 32 ft lbs Greg? Sounds like too much. Maybe that only applies at initial installation vs a lower value for follow up re-torque after several thousand miles?
Absolutely positive. However, I just looked and of the 4 kits here have their little "fortune cookie" slip of paper stating 32ft/lbs. Also, I'm sure their 32ft/lb recommendation is nothing more then a CYA for them. That way when their bearings wear out a 70k, they can say "did you have them torqued to 32ft/lbs ???"

Some Easy Steer kits for trikes recommend 32 or 35 ft/lbs.
 

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Let me re-answer that. I'm very big on free information ... so much that I'm probably the only one who pays to share it freely here. Let me explain ... I could care less about promoting business here on the forum. I only do it because I'm allowed too ... you guys, and word of mouth, have been successfully doing that for me for 13 years now. However the owners of this web page believe differently, so because of my passion to share freely, I pay to share what I know.

However, stay tuned to my web page. I'm currently having a new one made, and it will have free DIY videos. The reason, there is so much junk out there !!!

Onya ( thats Kiwi for your a good *******, thanks for that ) Greg, look forward to that.
 

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Different things going on here. Torque is the actual lb-ft applied in tightening the stem bearing nut. The fish scale is used to measure the resistance force in ounces or pounds of the handlebars to turning after the stem bearing has been properly torqued. Tightening of threaded fasteners is not the same as friction resistance to movement. A similar comparison can be made when working on tapered wheel bearings on your truck or trailer. You tighten up the big castle nut using torque and then spin the wheel to feel the resistance. There is no reason to use a fish scale to measure fastener tightening torque when you can buy an actual torque wrench.

In actuality, with ball bearings, the nut tightening torque is critical to keeping everything tight but does not significantly change the rotational resistance. Tapered bearings will wedge tighter and resist turning to a greater degree the more they are tightened until/unless the nut bottoms out on the threads.
 

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Different things going on here. Torque is the actual lb-ft applied in tightening the stem bearing nut. The fish scale is used to measure the resistance force in ounces or pounds of the handlebars to turning after the stem bearing has been properly torqued. Tightening of threaded fasteners is not the same as friction resistance to movement. A similar comparison can be made when working on tapered wheel bearings on your truck or trailer. You tighten up the big castle nut using torque and then spin the wheel to feel the resistance. There is no reason to use a fish scale to measure fastener tightening torque when you can buy an actual torque wrench.

In actuality, with ball bearings, the nut tightening torque is critical to keeping everything tight but does not significantly change the rotational resistance. Tapered bearings will wedge tighter and resist turning to a greater degree the more they are tightened until/unless the nut bottoms out on the threads.

I didn't see any confusion above about distinguishing steering bearing pre-torque and testing the result on the stem with a scale to verify satisfactory results. And I wouldn't advise anybody to simply apply the specified torque, and button it all back together without some sort of follow-up testing no matter how accurate the torque wrench. Stuff happens. As President Reagan famously stated - "trust but verify". As I stated I wouldn't be using a scale but would satisfy myself that the stem turning resistance was what I wanted, then reassemble.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Primarily I use a torque wrench to get me within range, and adjust the torque from there. I also start by over torquing and backing down. It also allows me to make a mental note on where "this one's" final torque ended up. From doing so many, I know they will all end up somewhere between 17-23ft/lbs. However, if in the higher range, my pull will be 6, 7, and maybe even 8lbs of pull.

In the above example, after reducing the torque from 32 to 19ft/lbs, I also had to raise the fork pipes. When I stared the pipes were a little recessed into the top bridge, and when the torque was lessoned, they where recessed even further.

When I first fish-scaled their pull was between 12-14lbs.
 

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A side benefit of changing fork oil on a regular basis is that you get advance notice of head stock bearing wear. Without the weight and mass of the front wheel and forks installed the notch that forms at the straight ahead handlebar position is apparent well before it can be noticed with everything assembled. With forks and wheel off and the handlebar straight ahead, a gentle tap and release of one bar end will reveal a self centering action if the upper race is brinelling from loose bearings.

I did replace my head stock bearings at 85,000 mile with OEM. The service manual is easy to follow and I used the 21 ft/lbs torque setting.
 
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