Intermittent sticky steering

Discussion in 'Suspension' started by William_, Mar 13, 2020.

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  1. Mar 13, 2020 #1

    William_

    William_

    William_

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    Hi folks,

    Is it possible for steering bearings to seize intermittently? I am having a problem where the handlebars turn to the left nice and smooth 90% of the time yet that other 10% they seize sold at about the half way point.

    Takes a good bit of force to unstuck them and obviously this makes the bike ropey when cornering.

    I havent had the vmax long and it has braided hoses so I'm unsure if maybe they are getting jammed up in some way. It's very difficult to conjure the problem on command.

    Thanks
     
  2. Mar 13, 2020 #2

    Fire-medic

    Fire-medic

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    I would NOT ride the bike again with that type of problem. All-Balls has reasonably-priced steering head bearings and seals kits, or buy the OEM.

    Sounds like you may have bad steering head bearings. If they are doing that, you need to see what shape the grease is in, and determine if the bearings have become 'notched,' where they have made indentations in the bearing races. The feeling is 'bumpy,' when you move the bars from right-lock to left-lock. If you have that, the bearings need to be replaced. That means the steering head and triple trees have to be disassembled. You usually can get the upper outer-race out, but the lower outer-race is more-difficult.

    One way is to put a bead of weld onto the lower outer-race bearing surface, so you have something for a chisel or punch to contact, and then hammer-out the outer-race. Put the beads at 180 degrees apart. Sometimes the heat of doing the weld-bead causes the lower outer bearing race to free-up, and it comes-out. You tap a bit on 1 side, then 180 degrees apart, on the other weld bead, tap again. Your punch or chisel is inserted from the top of the steering head for the lower outer-race, and the opposite for the upper-race: you insert the punch or chisel from the bottom, and hammer-upwards. The top race usually you can catch the edge of the outer bearing-race, and tap it free, working your way from one side to the opposite side. The lower bearing outer-race, there isn't a protruding 'lip' on the circumference of the outer-race, that's why you have-to put a bead of weld on the lower outer bearing surface, for the lower outer bearing-race.

    The alternative is to use a small die-grinder and to cut a slot in the lower outer bearing-race. Sometimes cutting two slots in the outer bearing race will give you enough slack in the outer bearing-race, to drive it out with the punch. This is hard to-do without cutting-into the steering head steel itself. You have-to minimize the amount that you notch-into the steering head, instead of the outer bearing race.

    Some bikes have a relief notched into the inside dimension of the steering head bearing seat, where the outer bearing-race seats. It's usually covered-up by the grease, and you have to clean-out the grease to find the two relief notches which is where the punch would go, to contact a larger area on the outer bearing-race, to be able to drive it out with a punch. Unfortunately, Yamaha does not use this machining on the VMax.

    After removing the outer bearing-race, you could use a die-grinder to make two reliefs like that so 'the next-time' you have to-replace the steering head bearings, it's an easier job for you. In most bikes' lifetimes, one steering head bearing replacement is all that's called-for. If you pull a LOT of wheelies, and let the front end slam-down, you might need the bearings replaced more-than once. FYI, the name of the deformation of the bearing races where you can feel the notches, as you move the bars side-to-side is ' brinelling.'
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2020
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  3. Mar 13, 2020 #3

    William_

    William_

    William_

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    Wow what a detailed reply, thank you Fire-Medic.

    I'll pull the bearings out over the next few days and get a look at them. I've no doubt they are finished at this point as I've eliminated the cables/hoses as the cause of the issue.
     
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  4. Mar 13, 2020 #4

    Fire-medic

    Fire-medic

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    Sure, you're welcome. We want our brothers to have info on keeping their rides safe and operational. You will find plenty of other riders here who can and do-offer assistance, too.
     
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  5. Mar 15, 2020 #5

    mavgrab302

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    You need new bearing, over time the actual bearings will create their own seats (valleys/peaks) because they never spin around the races but just in the area in which you turn left to right..so yeah if you feel them "catching" they're old bearing.
     
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  6. Mar 19, 2020 #6

    William_

    William_

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    You guys were 100% right. The bearings were not in good condition and the rollers are very stiff.

    Now just to get that lower race out...

    Thanks again!

    20200319_165915.jpg
     
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  7. Mar 20, 2020 #7

    Radioguylogs

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    Yikes!. That's the worst steering bearing I've ever seen.

    Usually the worst thing you see is the wear spots on the race where the rollers have settled in.
     
  8. Mar 20, 2020 #8

    Fire-medic

    Fire-medic

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    VMax steering head relief cut.jpg
    That bearing looks like it was placed into service dry! I don't see any grease. Oh well, time to do the job of removing the lower outer bearing race.

    As I previously-mentioned, steering head bearing replacement is usually a 'once-in-a-bike's-lifetime' event. However, on the rare chance that it won't be, I strongly suggest that you use a Dremel tool, a bastard (round) file, or steel-nibbling wombats to cut into the seat 'shoulder' of the lower outer bearing area of the steering head. What you want to-do, is to provide a place for a round flat punch to be able to make contact with the outer bearing ring, should you need to remove it in the future. It doesn't need to be deep, or wide, 1/4" wide and just to the outer dimension of the bearing diameter. Make two, 180 degrees-apart. Doing the grinding/filing won't take but a few minutes, and the next-time that you have to do this, tap-tap-tapping, alternating from one side to the opposite side will quickly and easily-remove that outer race, and you can do it from the top, easy as-pie.
     
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  9. Mar 21, 2020 #9

    William_

    William_

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    The lower race really is an awkward job I'm not sure what yamaha were thinking. Thanks! I ended up welding two blobs onto the race and hammering it out.

    On final question! It's been quite a while since I last had a bike where I had any issues with steering bearings. I have some free play (knocking when pulling forks forward with wheel off ground) but only when the lower fork clamps and top nut are loose. Once I torque the top nut and clamps, free play and knocking are gone.

    Should I continue to tighten until knocking is gone when top nut/clamps are loose or is it fine? I did not torque the stem nuts to factory as I didn't have the notched tool!
     
  10. Mar 21, 2020 #10

    Traumahawk

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    Check out this video.

     
  11. Mar 30, 2020 #11

    William_

    William_

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    Thanks Truamahawk.

    All sorted now, the difference between the new and old bearings is unbelievable. I really dont know how I was managing to drive it before!
     
  12. May 13, 2020 #12

    William_

    William_

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    Sorry to drag this back up but I still seem to be having some kind of handling issue which I just cannot figure out. The bike feels like its on a tight rope when driving, as if when I go to steer into a corner it wants to just drop to the side, it makes it feel extremely unstable. Even in a straight line it feels weird.

    The bike felt like this prior the bearings being changed and so far the head bearings, both tyres and the wheel bearings have been changed. No calipers are binding either. I have also tried a range of bearing torques, including so tight it causes a weave and so loose that it wobbles. I tried following Sean's video but I am running into an issue were the bike is tight when the bar is turning to the left side and loose on the right side, I also removed all cables, headlight, throttle, etc so there is no binding but it still is stiff on the left side.

    I'm fairly sure this is whats causing it but what would cause this odd range of tightness as the handlebars are turned? I also noticed when you turn the bars hard to the left they will bounce off the radiator guard instead of the steering stop but on the right side will hit the stop correctly. I assume this isn't normal so I am leaning towards a bent lower stem or even a bent steering tube? There are no signs of accident damage except that the cabling at the front of the bike had been routed incorrectly.
     
  13. May 14, 2020 #13

    ouchez

    ouchez

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    What you mentioned about the Wheelies really makes one wonder!! I also would not ever mess with different exhaust systems on a machine like the Gen2 MAX as pulling plugs if they foul is a real chore!
     
  14. May 14, 2020 #14

    redneksoldier

    redneksoldier

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    Is the steering stem bent?
     
  15. May 14, 2020 #15

    ouchez

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    Bouncing off the radiator,,wtf? That is not right,,you may indeed have damage to frame neck or forks,,and what year is this Max again?
     
  16. May 14, 2020 #16

    William_

    William_

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    Yeah it is bouncing off the radiator on one side. I think it may be mounted wrong as there is no signs of accident damage at all. The steering stop isnt damaged either.

    The handling issues I suppose could be from a lack of confidence in it after the steering froze mid corner prior to the bearings being changed. It's hard to say going to get a second opinion on it.
     
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