Steering Head

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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?

You can feel a flat spot in your steering at 12 o'clock or while riding in a straight line. Because you do most of your riding straight ahead, this is the position where the bearing gets used the most and where you get a wear-point in your bearing sleeve.

The Rewaco (Bon Trike) steering head is pretty strong. 25mm solid steel with one bearing at the top and one at the bottom, and they are tapered just like the good old Holden wheel-bearings or your trailer bearings. They donít cost a fortune and if you think they need replacing you are probably right.

There are plenty of ways to skin a cat but this is how I do it and so far it has worked fine.

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Step 1.

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.

Jack up the front end of your trike, preferably with a floor-jack under your foot pegs or running boards. There is a bracket right on top of the steering head which holds the tacho/speedo and keeps the handlebars tight in place. While you loosen the two bolts hang on to the handlebars so they don't do any damage to your paintjob. 

Cover the front of your fibreglass with a big rag so you don't scratch it with your handle bars. 

On the back of the speedo/tacho there is a black plastic cup which needs to be removed so you can disconnect the speedo cable.

Fork01.jpg (34606 bytes)
Fork06.jpg (32148 bytes) After you have secured the handlebars and other loose bits hanging off your front end, remove the handlebar blocks completely. All nuts and bits and pieces are best stored in an old ice-cream container, which should be empty after the job is done.

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Step 2.

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. 

The big dome-nuts top and bottom come off now and the same with the two other nuts holding the steering head bolt in place. Have another rag handy because you will find a lot of grease inside the steering head. You might have to push the fork top and bottom block apart to get the bolt out and do a bit of wiggling. Fork13.jpg (40248 bytes)

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.

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Step 3.

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.

forkpin2.jpg (26807 bytes) The bearing seat is slightly thicker than the head. With a steel-pin 12mm or thicker you can drive the old seat out by tapping around in a circle on the seat. It should come out, slowly but surely. Once you drive out both seats you will find the spot where they are worn. I use the old seats to drive in the new ones. If you store the new ones in the freezer overnight they go in much easier (That's the little fridge door right above the beer).

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.

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Step 4

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

I find the best way to do this is by putting a heap of grease in your hand and scrape it off with the roller-side of the bearing until you can see the grease coming out on the other side. 

This would be the time when the phone rings, both hands full of grease. At least at my place it works like that. 

Every mechanic will show you a different way of doing this and thatís fair enough. What it all means is grease has to be everywhere in the bearing to keep it in good shape and make it last.

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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.

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