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I'll share. I bought my SDGT w/ 6,000 mi. on it. The steering head bearings became loose a couple of thousand miles later and have needed regular retightening every 4-5k mi. since then. I have even taken the forks off and cleaned, inspected, and repacked the steering head bearings with new grease and the problem still persists. I use a torque wrench every time. There have been threads where this has been discussed. There seem to be an above average number of owners with similar stories. I've never owned a bike that needed this many steering head adjustment.
 

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I don't know much about motorcycles mechanically but if the steering head bearings are the cone type bearing, then torquing them is overtightening them. Cone type bearings should not be tightened. They should have a slight preload applied that is done by feel.
On older cars I worked on that use cone type bearings for rear wheel bearings, it is quite normal to have slight play. You adjust new bearings to no play by feel, but a few k's down the road, the bearings settle and you will have a little play. It is preferable to have slight play than no play at all as being too tight causes premature wearing to a point where the play can't be adjusted out anymore and the bearing cone starts to pit.
 

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The Sanitized Comic
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Maybe it's because these bikes wheelie too much? Every 5 thou and a re-tighten sounds excessive.
Put me on the list when someone finds tapered bearing replacements (cone) ... they are the best.
 
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2015 KTM SDR
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Maybe it's because these bikes wheelie too much? Every 5 thou and a re-tighten sounds excessive.
Put me on the list when someone finds tapered bearing replacements (cone) ... they are the best.
The only options I found were from All Balls (US) and a seller (showperformance) from across the pond selling NTN steering bearings made in Japan. I ordered the NTN nine days ago and they should arrive within the next month or so showeperformance on eBay.
NTN Steering Bearings & Seals Kit for KTM 1290 Super Duke R 2014 - 2016



Condition:
NewNew

Quantity:
4 available / 1 sold


Price:
C $41.32
Approximately US $31.61
 

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The Sanitized Comic
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Geezer, if I wasn't such a homophobe I'd kiss ya!
Thanks for this .... makes me wonder why I assumed that nuthin existed? To all you bearing adjusters out there - get these and you will be done with any steering problems.
Tapered bearings last hundreds of thousands of miles on your auto wheels, these are indestructible in a steering head.
Just have to be sure they fit my 17 GT?
 
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The Sanitized Comic
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Found a match and ordered them. Thanks again KTMgeezer!

 

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Maybe it's because these bikes wheelie too much? Every 5 thou and a re-tighten sounds excessive.
Put me on the list when someone finds tapered bearing replacements (cone) ... they are the best.
Yeah it is excessive but adjustment is quick and simple. When the "clunk" comes back the bike goes on the stand and and 4 retorqued bolts later it's sorted. FWIW, I don't wheelie. I've done both ball and tapered bearings and love how the tapered bearings last so long. I use to think tapered was better too until an engineer I know reminded me that GP bikes use ball bearings since they offer better feel. Now I use tapered bearings in touring bikes and ball bearings in sport bikes. It seems like the correct applications.
 

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Geezer, if I wasn't such a homophobe I'd kiss ya! Thanks for this .... makes me wonder why I assumed that nuthin existed? To all you bearing adjusters out there - get these and you will be done with any steering problems.
Tapered bearings last hundreds of thousands of miles on you auto wheels and are indestructible in a steering head.
Just have to be sure they fit my 17 GT?
You are certainly welcome. When I found out how much my steering head bearings needed to be tightened, I knew they had to go, and (depending on application) caged rollers are intrinsically much stronger and more durable than ball bearings, that's why they are used on automobile front wheels like you mentioned. I was hesitant to post the link for the Japanese bearings because of the negative reviews on that seller, but I checked before posting and my order cleared Chicago a few days ago, so should have it in next few days.
 

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A good bearing shop (We have one called Joint, Clutch and Gear) can match up any bearing you need if you can't find a kit to buy. Only downside is you'll have to press the old bearing out to be precisely measured.
 

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Never when new, yes, on all my new motorcycles I noticed the tiniest bit of slop after the first few.......

Never or always?
Let’s extend the quote a little further to put it into context?

”Never when new, yes, on all my new motorcycles I noticed the tiniest bit of slop after the first few 1,000 miles.”
Yeah I could have worded it a little better, but I still don’t think it’s that un-clear is it?

So when the bike is NEW, as in off the dealer forecourt, I’ve never experienced any play in the head bearings. Just to clarify, in case others have experienced this on a “0-mile” motorcycle. I have no experience of this. Normally they are good front eh factory.
However on my 3 brand new motorcycles, they tend to loosen up just a little bit after the first few 1000 miles. (It’s not new anymore, they were new, but not after a 1000 miles+)

Things like this are why they have a shortened ~600 mile service interval for the first service.

@Hammerhead I hope that helps clear-up my poorly written sentence there for ya bud? (y)
 

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Let’s extend the quote a little further to put it into context?

”Never when new, yes, on all my new motorcycles I noticed the tiniest bit of slop after the first few 1,000 miles.”
Yeah I could have worded it a little better, but I still don’t think it’s that un-clear is it?

So when the bike is NEW, as in off the dealer forecourt, I’ve never experienced any play in the head bearings. Just to clarify, in case others have experienced this on a “0-mile” motorcycle. I have no experience of this. Normally they are good front eh factory.
However on my 3 brand new motorcycles, they tend to loosen up just a little bit after the first few 1000 miles. (It’s not new anymore, they were new, but not after a 1000 miles+)

Things like this are why they have a shortened ~600 mile service interval for the first service.

@Hammerhead I hope that helps clear-up my poorly written sentence there for ya bud? (y)
The word "never" threw me, but I see you meant showroom new. Hard to believe ANY manufacturer's quality control team would let loose head bearings pass.
 

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The Sanitized Comic
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Well that was fast, new tapered bearings delivered today.
 

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I've always adjusted tapered rollers by tightening the nut until you feel a "bite" then backing off a half-turn. Pack 'em as you would any other bearing; push as much grease as possible into the gap in the races and on the rollers themselves. I've known some people to use them as defacto steering dampers, overtightening to inhibit movement. Accelerates wear, but it can be done. Tapered bearings can take this sort of abuse much better than regular rollers.
 

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The steering head bearings, races, etc. for my 2015 SDR arrived from GB yesterday, 15 days is not bad. Tore into it a couple of hours ago (I didn't remove handlebars, headlight nacelle or anything else I didn't need to).
I had thought I had ball bearings because of how loose the steering was and had read somewhere that they could be ball or tapered. The stock bearings in my bike are caged tapered/roller SKF (made in Brazil), I'm a big fan of SKF and pay extra for them over GM, etc. for my Chevy. The bearings appeared well greased and to have nothing at all wrong with them, but had everything all apart and new bearings from Japan so I went for it. To pack grease into caged roller bearings I put a golf ball size glop of grease into the palm of my hand, with the other hand I grab a bearing with the small end up and scrape off grease into the larger side of the bearing and continue several times around the bearing until grease comes out the small end of the bearing consistently all around, then smear grease around the roller side and race. Include are a couple of pictures showing what it should look like. Also shown is the grease I used, not indorsing it but an internet search showed a few favorable opinions, I will say that it is very water and soap resistant because I still haven't been able to get it all off of my hands. The packing is not exactly fun but I have to admit it was somewhat strangely satisfying.
 
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