Steering Head Grease

2 replies to this topic
  • roylo

Posted November 23, 2009 - 04:07 AM


Ive been playing around with the tightness of the steering head bearings and you would be surprised how much they can affect the feeling of the bike. They are a cheap steering dampener if you ask me.
I want to try some really thick grease in the bearings to stiffen them up some. Its tightened up as far as Im prepared to go without risk of damage but Im looking for some more stiffness to control the odd headshake I get.

Does anyone know a way to thicken up regular grease or a grease thats very thick?

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  • grayracer513

Posted November 23, 2009 - 08:21 AM


With all the concern about improving fuel efficiency and lowering emissions, automotive wheel bearing grease has gotten thinner rather than thicker. But you might try looking at a parts store that caters to heavy trucks and equipment, and look for a wheel bearing grease containing fibers. These used to be quite common, and are somewhat thicker in consistency.

That said, I sort of doubt you'll feel the different in an already preloaded set of tapered roller bearings like this. As far as damaging the bearings by loading them, I think you'd have to go a ways to accomplish that, also. The truth is that you're more likely to ruin them by allowing them to develop clearnace and start slamming around on the races than by over pre-loading.

The typical open adjustable wheel bearing on a car is set by a number of different methods, but rule of thumb can be adjusted one sixth turn tighter than zero clearance. The outer wheel bearing is often no larger than your head bearings, rotates constantly in use, and carry a great deal more load and suffer harder impacts. The pinion shaft bearing in the drive axle of a rear wheel drive vehicle is tightened until it requires 20-40 inch pounds of torque to turn the shaft, and these spin at 2000-3000 RPM continuously while under the load of driving the vehicle.

As long as you don't get too goofy with it, you can set the head bearing significantly tighter than specified. The downside is that it is, in effect, a friction type damper, and resists the start of the turning motion less than the continuation of it, and the damping doesn't increase with speed. A hydraulic damper resists normal steering very little, and the start of stem rotating hardly at all, but aggressively resists fast move
ments such as wheel deflections.

  • roylo

Posted November 23, 2009 - 08:47 AM


Thanks Grayracer. Im going to have a good search for some grease.

What got me started on all this is when I regreased the bearings. I took the stem apart and the bearings were not greased since new and were all gummed up and the grease had developed into a thick paste. I cleaned and regreased them, tightened back up to spec and the steering was super smooth on the stand. But, first ride out and my bike was transformed into a headshaking demon.
Ive since tightened the bearings more and its helped but I think I can get a better feeling with thicker grease aswell.

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