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Thread: 1992 K75 Standard steering head getting tight while riding????

  1. #1
    Registered User 105643's Avatar
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    1992 K75 Standard steering head getting tight while riding????

    This is a weird one. Not certain how to describe it, and never felt anything like it before.

    Took the K75 out today for a shake down to make sure all is well for some long distance fun this summer. Got on the interstate and spun her up to 80mph for about a hundred miles. Just before, and while getting off at an exit it felt like the handlebars were hard to move. Once stopped, I moved them back and forth and they "seemed" ok. While getting back on the interstate headed back home, the handlebars moved normally..........but after half an hour at speed the handlebars felt like they were getting "stiff" again. The bike felt hard to turn on a long sweeper (from I-70 to get on I-465).........and more of this weirdness all the way home.

    I go out after changing out of riding gear (15 minutes) and the handlebars move back and forth with little effort.

    Anyone experienced this before?

  2. #2
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 105643 View Post
    This is a weird one. Not certain how to describe it, and never felt anything like it before.

    Took the K75 out today for a shake down to make sure all is well for some long distance fun this summer. Got on the interstate and spun her up to 80mph for about a hundred miles. Just before, and while getting off at an exit it felt like the handlebars were hard to move. Once stopped, I moved them back and forth and they "seemed" ok. While getting back on the interstate headed back home, the handlebars moved normally..........but after half an hour at speed the handlebars felt like they were getting "stiff" again. The bike felt hard to turn on a long sweeper (from I-70 to get on I-465).........and more of this weirdness all the way home.

    I go out after changing out of riding gear (15 minutes) and the handlebars move back and forth with little effort.

    Anyone experienced this before?
    What was the temperature when you were riding? I've seen the OEM head bearing grease do funny things when it gets dried out. I had to repack the head bearings on my K75S because of old grease. It's been a while but I believe it acted like your bike. I could move it "ok" (however there was too much drag) when parked but it seemed to stiffen up at highway speeds. It was actually scary because it was really hard to get the front forks to turn to the correct position going around corners.
    Greg Feeler
    Ambassador & amateur K-Bike collector, it seems
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

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    Registered User 105643's Avatar
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    Thanks, Greg. The temperature outside while riding was low 50's.

    I took the weight off the front wheel and checked for forward/back play and "notchiness" and found neither. I am not 100% certain of the maintenance history of the steering head bearings, but I think they may have been changed once (124K miles on the bike).

    I may get away with just cleaning the bearings and re-greasing.

    Bill

  4. #4
    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 105643 View Post
    Thanks, Greg. The temperature outside while riding was low 50's.

    I took the weight off the front wheel and checked for forward/back play and "notchiness" and found neither. I am not 100% certain of the maintenance history of the steering head bearings, but I think they may have been changed once (124K miles on the bike).

    I may get away with just cleaning the bearings and re-greasing.

    Bill
    50 degrees might have be enough to chill the head grease enough to aggravate the problem - maybe. I only needed to clean and repack my bearings.

    Are you familiar with Fluid Bloc fork head steering dampener unique to the K75s? If not, it's a rubber collar which fits around the fork stem and the inside of the fork head tube. It has an outer metal collar and the inside fits snugly over the fork stem, and has a square egg-crate-like pattern with the recesses filled with a special silicon grease (more on that in another post). There are two Allen screws with sharp points which are positioned on the fork head at about 45 degrees either side of the center line of the bike's front to back axis. These are to be screwed in until they bottom out so the points grab the outside metal collar of the steering dampener, keeping it from moving. That creates a friction steering dampening effect.

    You might want to do your elevated fork bearing test again but this time remove those Allen screws so the dampener can move freely inside of the fork head. That way you can get an accurate feel for the drag of the fork head bearings independent of the dampener. You leave the Fluid Bloc dampener loose like this when adjusting the fork head preload.
    Greg Feeler
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    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

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    Registered User drneo66's Avatar
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    I'd want to repeat this again a couple times before blaming a mechanical problem. 100 miles at 50 degrees and interstate speed is going to chill you down and stiffen you up. This was a shakedown ride, so it's been a while since you've ridden?

    I'm sure your cold tire pressure was set correctly too? Hopefully the preload on the steering head bearings are set correctly?
    Current: 2007 BMW R1200RT, 2013 F800GS
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  6. #6
    The grease used by BMW in the late '80s and '90s is notorious for hardening as it dries out. I had one K75 that rode just fine one day and hardened grease made it difficult to steer a week later. Summertime in Iowa so cold weather was an unlikely culprit although it would certainly contribute I think. I have seen this problem on both classic K bikes and on Airheads.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    The grease used by BMW in the late '80s and '90s is notorious for hardening as it dries out. I had one K75 that rode just fine one day and hardened grease made it difficult to steer a week later. Summertime in Iowa so cold weather was an unlikely culprit although it would certainly contribute I think. I have seen this problem on both classic K bikes and on Airheads.
    I had a very similar thing happen with my K75S some years back. With in a week of sitting in the garage the fork head grease went from fine to too stiff to ride.
    Greg Feeler
    Ambassador & amateur K-Bike collector, it seems
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

  8. #8
    Registered User 105643's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. All good stuff.

    As for loosening the Allen bolts for the special damper and trying the wiggle test...........too late. Already have the front end disassembled (forks off, gauges out of the way, special running light mounts removed, etc) and just about ready to pull the steering stem out.

    Any other words of wisdom are always appreciated

    Bill

  9. #9
    Registered User 105643's Avatar
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    This is what I found. I did not feel any "notchiness" when rotating the steering head left and right. Yes, the races do show where the bearings normally sit, but running my finger over those spots on the races and I do not feel any indentations. Same for the bottom race. I think a cleanup to remove the old grease (which kinda looks like plain old axle bearing grease that one would use on a 1960's car), repacking with Shell Gadus S2 V220 2 (on order), and re-adjustment of the steering head per the Clymer manual should do the trick.

    Head_bearing5.jpgHead_bearing2.jpgHead_bearing4.jpgHead_bearing3.jpgHead_bearing1.jpg

    Bill

  10. #10
    Registered User 6322's Avatar
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    You've got it apart, put in new bearings. I've found the same thing during disassembly and what you're seeing is what was causing notchiness for me, the marks on the races where the bearings rest 99% of the time. The pounding of the road on the bearing is what causes the mark. Can't say why you were having the issue you were having but I'd bet changing out the bearings and races with fresh grease will fix it. Best of luck.
    gp
    Gary Phillips - #6322
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  11. #11
    Registered User AntonLargiader's Avatar
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    I have found it to be not worth the time needed to get the old hard grease out of the bearings. And I have experience the same steering issues you describe. The grease was like tar, and getting it out of the inside (between the cage and the inner race) was quite difficult. I didn't have an ultrasonic cleaner at the time, though, so maybe that would have done the job.
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  12. #12
    Registered User 105643's Avatar
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    Cleaned the old grease out, re-greased with "Shell Gooey Gadus", put the steering stem back in and.............notchiness. Fine...........ordered the bearings and caps.

    Bearings came in today. Still waiting on one cap (because I didn't order 2 when I ordered the bearings). Pulled the steering stem back out and removed the bearings and races.

    Bill

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