Steering stem bearings

I think my steering stem bearings are shot on my bike. There is some play in the steering stem, but its not too bad. I was wondering if I should bother replacing the bearings. Is it dangerous to ride with bad steering stem bearings (I don't want them to break or anything)... or is it more of just an annoyance? I don't notice it while riding, but when its on the stand I can feel movement.

Thanks

If the bearings are OK, you can simply adjust that out of them. Open them up and have a look.

You may wont to check and see that the steering head nut is at the proper torque spec. I believe it is suppose to be at 105 foot pounds.

I have never had one to have play in them just a rough feel when like the front tire was off and the fork tubes off. When these items were taken off you could feel unsmooth movement in the bars.

It felt as if the bearings had rough spots in them due to rust pits.

You may wont to check and see that the steering head nut is at the proper torque spec. I believe it is suppose to be at 105 foot pounds.

You do understand that the crown nut torque you quoted does not set the pre-load/clearance on the head bearings don't you?

If the bearings are OK, you can simply adjust that out of them.

Could you explain how I am able to adjust the play out of the bearings? Sounds like great advice, I'm just not sure how you are able to do that.

And CaptainKnobby, yes my forks are off because I was replacing fork seals, and I happened to notice the play in the steering stem.

Since the play is something that has developed (wasn't there, now it is), you should inspect the bearings visually. If they are OK, simply set them up by the book:

  1. Run the ring nut down to about 25 ft/pounds and rotate the stem several times.
  2. Loosen the nut and retorque to about 5 pounds
  3. Slip the forks in place to align the top clamp, set the top clamp on, and torque the crown nut to 105 ft/lb

If you already knew the bearings were OK, you could loosen the crown nut, take the play out with the ring nut, then reset the crown nut.

is there any real risk or danger to riding on bad steering stem bearings??

Is turning important to you? ;-)

Seriously, if you don't have the time/money/skills to check the bearings try adjusting them like Gray said. If it feels good, you're probably fine (in my opinion).

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