Aftermarket tapered roller bearings vs OEM steering head bearings
My 1983 R100RS is getting a little notchy. Has anyone installed the All Balls kit? People seem to like them on other bikes. I haven't heard anything specifically about using them on an Airhead.
I just looked these up, I didn't realize they already were tapered rollers. That being said, is there any problem with just getting 28x52x16 sets from a bearing distributer?
I'm new to airheads, and haven't reached that part of my rebuild, but I have used All Balls and Slnky Glide on steering stems on other bikes without problems. Cant see why generic bearings would be inferior.
Your stearing head bearings are industry standard 320-28 tapered roller bearings. They are available at any bearing supply house for less than $20 each, or from the internet. The bearings are not worked hard in this application, but as the bearings only rotate through 66 degrees on the RT models, they can develop wear in this small area of the outer race. Typically, only cleaning and re- greasing is all that is required for maintenance. That beautiful RT fairing adds some complication to the job. The airhead Guru Snowbum has a very thorough article on stearing bearing servicing: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/frontforks.htm. Cleaning and re-greasing is fairly simple, replacing is much more complicated as special tools are required to remove the old races, adjusting the bearing preload takes some patience and 'feel'. All of this is addressed on the referenced web page, along with recommended greases. This forum is standing by for any assistance you may need in your quest for smooth, stable steering from parade speeds to high speed cruising.
The bearings are not worked hard in this application, but as the bearings only rotate through 66 degrees on the RT models, they can develop wear in this small area of the outer race. Typically, only cleaning and re- greasing is all that is required for maintenance.
Let me second that opinion. I've restored 2 RT's in the last 4 years and both only needed the head post cleaned and repacked with new waterproof grease. The bearings are far too robust to sustain any damage, unless you do something like hit a stone wall at 100 mph or let the bearings go and get rusty.
Some solvent, 2 old tooth brushes, and $15 worth of grease is all you most likely need.
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