Steering seems 'stiff'; hard right to left movement - Honda RC51 Forum : RC51 Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Steering seems 'stiff'; hard right to left movement

Team, I just purchased a 2003 and my first impression is that steering feels 'stiff'. In my words, turning the bars from right to left seems to take some effort. The bike does not have a dampener. I have not had enough seat time to get a sense of whether this is typical so just putting it out there to get a perspective.

Thank you for your insight.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 06:21 PM
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Front tire pressure low ? Front tire worn ? Raise the front wheel off the ground and see how it moves.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-20-2020, 08:28 PM
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Agree on Joe XR's comment on low tire pressure, but the OEM "ball type" headstock bearings are also a very likely culprit if the tire pressure is correct. Dry and rusty, with indentations on the races is very typical. Mine certainly were when I replaced them in 2010. What a difference!

Solution is to go with All Balls tapered rollers. https://www.allballsracing.com/22-1039.html

Franklin NC, huh? Not a bad place to own an RC. Perfect roads in every direction for hours on end. I've had mine up there dozens of times over the years, although now it's usually my Duc.
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Last edited by Trace; 02-21-2020 at 01:48 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-21-2020, 11:01 AM
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If the steering head bearings have been recently replaced, the steering stem torque may be out of spec and too tight.
If the steering head bearings were replaced by tapered roller bearings (such as All-Balls replacement) they require less torque than the OEM ball bearings.
If the bearing races were not fully seated into the frame, a side load can be created during torquing which can tend to bind the bearings.
Not only will it wear the bearings out quickly, but also cause a bad wobble.
Too tight steering head bearings can induce a wobble even at low speeds, and can be very dangerous.
Have them checked pronto.

As a side, I replaced the OEM steering head bearings on my old VFR800 with All-Balls tapered bearings.
What I found was, the bearing races were not exactly the same O.D. as the OEM bearings and did not fully seat, regardless of how many times I tried to install them. Unsure if this was a manufacturing issue or what.
I ultimately removed the All-Balls tapered bearings, ordered OEM ball bearings, and they popped right in and seated easily after freezing overnight.
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Last edited by SubSailor; 02-27-2020 at 12:15 AM.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-21-2020, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SubSailor View Post
If the steering head bearings have been recently replaced, the steering stem torque may be out of spec and too tight.
If the steering head bearings were replaced by tapered roller bearings (such as All-Balls replacement) they require less torque than the OEM ball bearings. If the bearing races ....
Yep, agree with all your points. Good thinking about overly torqued new bearings.

I installed Balls in my 5th Gen VFR....no issues at all except that I originally torqued to OEM specs. Not good! I went to a "finger tight plus a scooch of rotation" setting. I discussed this with Balls and fussed at them for not providing that VERY important bit of info. Ten years later that VFR is still being nicely hammered on NC mountain roads by the next owner.

Same "finger tight" deal when I did the RC's bearings shortly thereafter.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-21-2020, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Trace View Post
. . .
Solution is to go with All Balls tapered rollers. https://www.allballsracing.com/22-1039.html
Great tip there. Hadn't heard of tapered for head stem before - possibly because I haven't needed any. But when the time comes, I'm now equipped. Thanks!!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-21-2020, 06:23 PM
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angular contact ball bearings are used in headsets because they provide better steering feel than tapered rollers, so keep that in mind.

tapered rollers are best suited to high axial loads (like car wheel bearings), less so for delicate feely type stuff.


also keep in mind that all balls just buys cheap chinese bearings, puts them in bags, and then marks them up. if you want quality bearings go down to your local bearing supplier and buy SKF, NSK, FAG, etc.

all balls is the easiest way to overpay for cheap stuff. they've completely captured the market of people who are too lazy to do anything but go to ebay or amazon and type in "rc51 steering head bearings"

Last edited by Wibbly; 02-21-2020 at 06:25 PM.
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