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Disclaimer, I'm just a guy, not a motorcycle engineer. When I changed to tapered roller bearings, the manufacturer (Champion rake kit) recommended 30 ft-lbs, to give a damping effect. Looking at posted recommendations, I saw everything from 15 to 40, with some people arguing that another's recommendation was wrong. Having installed them, I have a few thoughts.

5-10 ft-lbs would be a more usual value for a tapered roller. It seems to me that people go higher than that for two reasons. To introduce a damping effect, a kind of informal steering damper. And/or to provide a safety margin against the bearing races not being quite seated. It's pretty easy to get them cocked a bit even at the last, and have one side seat, but not the other, if only by thousandths. Don't ask me how I know. But reports of bearings loosening up shortly after installation are frequent. Even everybody's favorite video star here (Fred) had it happen to him.

All of which leads to a couple of recommendations. Even if you think the races are seated correctly, check frequently after installation for a while for looseness. Maybe resign yourself to redoing the torque later, or, if someone else did the work, having them redo it. Your or their carefully chosen torque is quite possibly going to change. Unless you're trying to introduce a certain personal damping effect, the Honda fish scale approach of measuring drag has the advantage of putting the damping effect Honda intended on the assembly. But it needs to be rechecked also.

And don't think that one recommendation for torque must be right, and all others wrong. I believe Champion recommends 30, Traxxion 23, Honda 20 for the ball bearings on a GL1800, and 15 for the tapered rollers on a GL1500. There are understandable reasons people do this differently, and it may vary bike to bike. The only established standard way I know to do this is the fish scale thing. I think people who like anything more than 30, or even 25, might prefer a dedicated steering damper, although the only one designed specifically for the GL1800 is expensive.

And, to repeat myself, checking after riding for a while is probably more important than exactly which torque value you or your installer pick. Some have reported bearings only finger tight at that time.
 

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When you install new steering bearings, it is a good practice to tighten them down more than what you want the final toque to be (say 30-35 ft/lbs), and then turn the steering full lock-to-lock several times, loosen them up and repeat the process 2 or 3 times. You'll usually feel the bearings loosen up a bit the first couple of times you turn the bars lock-to-lock. Then once you feel you have them fully seated, you can loosen them and set the final torque.

To set the final torque, I like to adjust them by feel instead of using a set torque value. The method that works good for me is to tighten them up until I can feel them causing drag on the steering. I do this by testing how much force it takes at the front tire to make it move off center with the front end jacked off the ground. Once I have them over-tightened, I then start loosening them just to the point that the drag or binding goes away, and that is where I leave them. In general, I've found that 22-23 ft/lbs puts them real close to this point, but it may not be the same value for every bike.
 

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I have done this adjustment twice on tapered rollers on the GL18 and once on a VTX. I had been using a trigger scale per Honda method on the ball bearings, but with the tapered bearings I followed an approach similar to that described by Fred above as recommended by a fellow on the VTX board (Joe Lickatoe, and I hope I did not misspell too badly). When I got the feel "just right" I verified with the spring scale and the result was at the upper end of the Honda spec for ball bearings on all three installs. So getting them seated and then adjusting to where there is just a noticable amount of resistance to movement seems to work well, even if it is subjectively imprecise. Another tip, make sure the cables and wiring is all routed correctly and relaxed or you can't judge the resistance and spring scale wll be all over the place.

prs
 

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I install tapered bearings in the steering very similar to Fred. I initially tighten them down to 40 FT/LB and turn the steering back and forth 3 or 4 times, then loosen them and retorque to 40 FT/LB and repeat the turning. Then I loosen them and retorque to 24 FT/LB. After that I use a fish scale to check if the scale needs 6 to 8 lb of pull to make the steering deviate from dead center. The pull will vary about 2 lbs on most 1800s due to the throttle cables that curve around the steering head. I have done dozens this way and have never had a complaint of being too tight or too loose. I serviced mine that way over 6 years ago and it has not needed a redo in that length of time.:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:
 

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I do what everyone above does. I initially torque to 30 ft/lbs and get a fell at the bars at 23, 22, 20 .... Sometimes as low as 17. I also fish scale and try to keep it below 5lbs although Honda calls for less with nothing else routed (cables, lines, hoses). My final test is to test drive it. I like mine to be able to adjust themselves back to center. A lb or 2 to tight and they travel 50 yards or more to stand back up and center themselves. That is how I know they are right. To tight and they cannot center on a test ride.
 
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