Steering Head Bearings

Our bikes come with steel ball type steering head bearings. We sometimes wish to install tapered roller type steering head bearings. Removing the old ball type races from the steering head usualy isn't a problem, they have a bit of "over hang" into the head inner diameter, and with the assist of a long punch and large hammer, we can catch the edge of the race and remove it, fairly easily. We then install the new tapered races in the old ball race areas, no problems.

We tend to not do ourselves favors for ongoing maintenance in this area. The new tapered races are somewhat smaller inner diameter overall than the ball races were, and, when installed, cannot be removed easily with common tools like the hammer and long punch, because the new race doesn't sit past the cut of the steering head it is indexed into, and the punch won't catch the race to remove it.

To help with removal of the smaller diameter tapered races, after removing the ball type races, use a die grinder and carbide cutting tool to make 2 to 3 cuts into the areas just past the race grooves, into the edge of the inner diameter of the tube, just past the race area itself. This will give you 2/3 recesses in the tube past the edge of the new small race, to get the round punch to contact the race, so it can be pushed out of the steering head.

I also do this cutting on frames that come with the tapered bearings stock. I just took apart a 1983 KZ750 Spectre that came with stock tapered bearings, and, the outer races were smaller than the iner diameter of the steering head tube, so, no place to catch the races to remove them. In this application, I used the same carbide cutter and die grinder I recommend in the above fix.

The carbide cutter has a rounded end, and a 90 degree end from the cutter to the shank. I placed the cutter into the steering head, 90 degree end just passed the race to be removed, and cut the grooves into the head tube past the races, to give me the grooves I needed to catch the races and remove them. After that, it was easy to put the punch into the grooves, against the races, and tap them out. I "cleaned up" the steering head grooves after getting the races out of the steering head, and installed the new races.

Somewhat easy fix for a complicated problem.