Steering Head Bearings Replacement
The bearings in the steering head will need replacing from time to time. They last between 25,000km and 50,000km depending very much on the way you ride and how they were fitted in the first place.
How do you know its time to replace the bearings?
There are plenty of ways to skin a cat but this is how I do it and so far it has worked fine.
As with most jobs you perform on your trike, the thing you should do is find a spot with lots of room, lots of light and in reasonable walking distance to your beer-fridge. Make sure you have enough seating for friends and neighbours who will help you with good advice.
Before you undo the fork-bolt secure the fork with a rope from above and put a stopper in front of the wheel so that the whole lot doesn't take off on you.
Time to get serious.
Clean all the old grease off the bolt and remove the old bearings. Donít put them away for emergencies, they will never get used again and one day you chuck them anyway. Now is a good time.
If you take a closer look inside the steering head, you will find a bearing seat in the upper part of the head and one in the bottom part. These seats have to come out, they are more worn than the actual bearing.
The bearing seats are home (right down or up) when they are about two millimeters inside the steering head, you can tell when they don't go any further.
Time to get greasy now. The new bearings will not have any grease inside, that's the next job on the list. I use Castrol Boating grease which is waterproof and doesn't melt to easy if I park the Trike in the sun all day. There is no need for super grease here, no fast moving parts and no high stress on the bearing
Now we have to put it all back together - preferably the way it was before we started. The most important part is to adjust the bearings correctly and to fit the old dust caps back on top of each bearing.
Put it all together without the two top and bottom dome-nuts, which you fit later to keep it adjusted right. If you use your steering lock, you have to make sure to point the slot in the centre ring in the right direction. You need the key and lock it to find the right spot before tightening the bolt in place.
Tighten the top and bottom nuts while the fork points straight ahead (still up in the air) until the fork doesn't fall right or left anymore. You have the pressure right when you need to push the fork about 50 mm or two inches off centre before it falls by itself.
Try this in both directions and tighten the dome-nuts against the other nuts without changing what you have just achieved. Lock the two together and the job is done.
If the fork feels a bit tight, I would wait a few hundred kilometres to allow the bearings to settle in. If things aren't moving easier, just undo the nuts top or bottom by just a touch and go for another ride. You will get it right after a bit of playing with it.
Another job done to make riding more fun and safer.