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· Registered
145 Posts
There has been a lot of discussion of the "Wobble" on the VTX. Well, I had the wobble and decided to fix it once and for all. I replaced my stock tires with Metzler 880's. It helped a bit. However, not all the way. The next step is the steering bearing replacement.

Here is my write-up for the process. I must give a great amount of credit to Catoma (Chuck) for his experience with his own bearing R&R a couple of weeks before. He custom made the tools for the top stem nut removal and tools for re-seating the bearing races. You will see them in the pictures. I really could not have done it without him. He is a great guy. Thank you.

Now for the stats:

Cost: Bearings - about $31 + shipping
Moly Bearing Grease - $7
Steering Nut Lock Washer - $7 (didn't really need)

Time: 4 1/2 hours including driving to shop to press on new bearings on steering stem.

Special Tools: Service Manual
Steering Stem Nut Removal Tool (Catoma made one)
Bearing Race Removal Punch (Catoma made one)
Bearing Race Installation Tool (Catoma made one)
Lightweight pull scale. We used one for fish.
Torque Wrench
Normal set of metric tools and allen key sockets
Bike Lift

Here are the bearings:

I wanted to take a lot of pictures to show the routing of brake lines, clutch cable routing, etc. I found this very valuable when putting things back together.

Throttle cable:

Cable routing:

More cable routing:

Clutch and turn signal:

OK, enough cable routing, let's get to removing stuff:

Lift the bike and remove the front fender, front brake caliper, and front tire. We let the brake caliper hang until we removed the brake control lever later.

Axel and spacer:

Front forks with the brake hanging:

Remove headlight screws:

Pull out assembly and disconnect headlight. It can be kind of tough. Then unbolt the headlight housing and remove.

Headlight removed. You will need to disconnect the green, orange, and blue wires in order to remove the turn signals later. They are quick connect and pretty easy.

Remove Handelbar
Remove clutch holder:

Remove turn signal housing:

Remove brake holder:

Remove throttle screws. We didn't have to take the assembly completely apart; just enough to slide off the bar. There is a small notch in the handlebars that keep the throttle assembly from twisting. Once you loosen the screws you can split the housing. This will enable you to slide the throttle off once the handlebar is detached from the tree.

Handlebar bolts:

Handelbars removed. After removing the turn signal housing and the handlebar bolts we lifted the handelbar off the trees and ended up sliding the throttle off the end of the bar. That way we only had to loosen the throttle and not take is apart. It slid right off.

Front fork removal:

Loosen both turn signals. You can remove them if you want. We just loosened them up and they slid off the forks.

Measuring the top of the forks. Mine were 5mm. Loosen the upper and lower tripple tree pinch bolts. The forks slide down fairly easily.

Forks removed:

Remove the steering stem nut and lift off the top bridge of the tripple tree. You will see the top steering nut.

Take a small screw driver and bend down the two tabs for the steering nut lock washer. The lock washer comes off fairly easily.

This is the steering stem nut removal socket that Catoma made. It doesn't look anything like a normal socket and it would be very difficult to do this job without this tool.

Steering stem nut removal:

Steering stem nut removal. When we removed the nut the entire steering stem dropped on the floor. No damage done but it was kind of embarrassing.

Remove the upper bearing:

Slide down and punch out the lower bearing race:

Knocking out the lower bearing race:

Knocking out the upper bearing race:

Old bearings, races, and steering stem with lower bearing race still attached. The original bearings really do look cheaply made compared to the new taper bearings.

We elected to grind off the lower bearing race. Here is Catoma at work:

Lower bearing race and dust seal after careful grinding:

Off to the shop to press the new lower bearing onto the steering stem. We packed the bearing with moly grease. This stuff is really good and really nasty to get off.

New bearing and dust seal:

We used the old bearing for the press directly on top of the new bearing. This ensured a good fit and no offset between the press and the new bearing.

A hand made tube for pressing the bearing over the stem:

Catoma pressing the bearing:

We drove back to my garage and now had to assemble the rest of the bike. The next tricky part would be to install the new races into the steering head.

Race installation tool that Catoma made along with the new race and dust seal:

It fits perfectly with the new lower race:

Fitting the lower race:

Tapping in the lower race:

Lower race installed:

Switching out the size to install the upper race

Upper bearing race:

Tapping down the upper race:

Upper race installed:

Insert the steering stem from the bottom. Install the upper bearing. Don't forget the dust seal:

Now we need to replace the steering stem nut:

The book calls for a torque of 15 ft-lb. Then move the steering assembly back and forth to help seat the bearings. Loosen the nut, re-torque to 15 ft-lb and do this again. The bearings felt tight at first but loosened up considerably with more turning.

Install the lock washer to align its bended tabs with the grooves in the adjustment nut.

Install the lock nut and fingert tighten all the way.

Further tighten the lock nut, within 90 degrees, to align its grooves witht he tabs of the lock washer. Bend up the lock washer tabs into the grooves of the lock nut.

Install the top bridge, washer and stem nut.

Temporarily install the fork legs into the bottom and top bridges.

Tighten the stem nut.

Torque: 103 N-m (10.5 kgf-m, 76 lbf-ft)

Remove the fork legs. Make sure the steering stem moves smoothly, without play or binding.

Install the lower and upper fork covers with the four bolts.

Install the fork legs, handlebar holders, cables guides, turn signals, headlight assembly. Remember to connect the turn signals.

Install the handlebars and front wheel.

Next you will do the steering bearing pre-load test. Hook a spring scale to the fork tube between the fork top and bottom bridges. Pull the spring scale at a right angle to the steering stem. Read the scale at the point where the steering stem just starts to move.

You should have between 1.8 and 2.6 lbs. If the reading isn't between these values, readjust the steering bearing adjustment.

I am glad I took pictures of the cable routing so I could refer to them.There are a lot of bolts (fork pinch bolts, turn signal bolts, throttle, brake, turn signal, clutch, handlebar bolts, headlight assembly, brake caliper, front fairing, front wheel, lower fork pinch bolts, etc.) so take your time and double check. The front brake will need a couple of good applications before you take it out for a ride.

Results: Fantastic. Turning is much smoother and lighter to the touch. So far, no wobble.

I really enjoyed this project. Working with Catoma was great. I hope this write up helps and gives you a good idea of what is involved in a steering bearing replacement.

The end.

--Please let me know if this can be edited and corrected, or if I should just add on another post onto the thread.



· Registered
5,838 Posts
Wow, Gills, thanks for all the pics and write up. Great job! You and Catoma are gonna be old pros at doing this. SO, when can we all come to your place for a bearing replacement Tech. session? LOL

Thank you both for taking the time to take all the pics.


· Registered
6 Posts
1300 Bearings

Nice job guys, great step by step pictures too. I had mine done at the Honda dealers and so had to shell out the big bucks but it was well worth it. My wobble disappeared and the bike handles so much better now. Upgraded to Metzlers also, great tires.
Hope we have some good riding weather soon.

· Dapper Dave
2,202 Posts
Wish you guys lived in AZ, would like to do this but would not without the help of someone that has experienced first hand like Catoma. Great job, good pictures!

Question, did you check the torque of the stem nut before you replaced bearings? Tony AZVTX'er mentioned that his mechanic says tha the majority of wobble problems can be addressed by torqueing the stem nut.
Just curious.........

· Registered
145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi DD,

The Honda mechanic said the steering bearings were a little loose when he switched out the stock tires for the Metzlers. He suggested a tightening since the front was partially off anyway. An additional $64.00 later and still had the wobble. That was less than 200 miles ago.

The stock bearings really are cheap compared to the taper bearings. No comparison really.

I took the bike out for a ride on the Blue Ridge Pkwy today and really tried to get the wobble back. I couldn't find any trace of a wobble. The bike turned in better/smoother too. I didn't expect the additional smoothness. I was just looking for "no wobble".

I wouldn't hesitate to do this project again. Even if you don't have the tools (or Catoma around) I think it would be worth the price to get rid of the wobble.

You can check with Catoma. I'm sure he said he will be happy to send anyone the tools if they need. The only additional part would be getting the lower bearing off the steering stem. We used a dremmel and cut it off. You could then take the stem and new lower bearing to a shop for them to press the bearing on. I'm sure they could remove the old bearing also.

Of course, maybe we could have a tech session here someday. Several bikes could be lined up and done at the same time. I don't think it would take too much longer to have 5 people working on their bikes at the same time (with a little help) as opposed to 1 bike. The problem is we would need a lift for each bike. I think most people would have a set of basic metric tools. Anyway, it is something to consider.

· Registered
1,924 Posts
I agree, what a great write up. really like the pictures, step by step. I have one question.....

:coffee:What does that beige Apple Computer ADB port cable go to on your bike? We are talking something that works with the Mac "Classic" MacOS9 or before cable. I don't think I can mount my old 1984 ;)MacSE anywhere on the bike.

· Registered
145 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm glad you like the write up.

The extra wires you see in the second "cable routing" section are for a Chatterbox unit and MP3 player. I mount the Chatterbox with a Ram mount on the handlebars and plug in the MP3 player with the black wires. I let the small MP3 player just hang. No problems.

The beige cable plugs into the Chatterbox and runs under the tank, under the seat, and to the back of the bike. If I ride 2-up then the passenger plugs into the beige cable. That way we can both talk and listen to tunes. It works pretty well and is a cleaner look than having the rear passenger plug directly into the Chatterbox unit up front. I don't like a wire going past my left side.

My wife also has a Chatterbox on her bike so we can talk bike-to-bike. Works great.

· Dapper Dave
2,202 Posts
I'm having this done by my mechanic this week. Hope it gets rid of my horrible death wobble.....that and my new Metz's.
Make sure you have your wheels balanced!
Might as well do it all, both wheels will be off for the remount so you can have them balanced then.
Just my .02

· Premium Member
579 Posts
Question 1) Yes
Question 2) Have to make sure there is enough swing. Don't know how long the steering shaft is. You'll have to measure it and give yourself a few extra inches for clearance.

· Registered
67 Posts
so, when are you guys planing to get that tech session so I can send you guys email and bring some ice cold adult beverages ....:cheers:
I am in Jamestown, NC, between Greensboro and High Point, so it would be few hours ride to your place
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