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F-Twins Tech - F800GS Steering Head Bearing Adjustment


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The articles, posts and comments in this tech section are posted by individual members and reflect their personal thoughts and experiences with repairing, maintaining, and generally working on motorcycles. This information may require specific knowledge and skills, may or may not be correct or current to model.

The authors of information found here and the BMW MOA take no responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of any information (including procedures, techniques, parts numbers, torque values, tool usage, etc.), or further for any damage of any kind or injuries incurred or caused by anyone following the instructions or information found here.

It is the duty of the individual to either assume the liability himself for responsibly using the information found here, or to take the bike or accessory to a Dealer or other qualified professional service.

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Final note: When in doubt, take your motorcycle to a reputable dealer.


Adjusting the steering head bearings on your BMW F800GS

Making sure that you have the appropriate load on the steering head bearings allows for smooth steering and long bearing life. If the bearings are too tight, it's difficult to steer the motorcycle. If they are too loose, then you run the risk of ruining the bearings prematurely.

To check if your bearings are loose:
1. Raise the the front wheel off the ground, and grab the forks on the lower end of the bronze fork tubes (about midway up the fork tubes)
2. Rock the forks back and forth as if you were rolling the front wheel back and forth.

If you hear and feel a lot of clunking, then the bearings need attention.

To check for worn bearings:
1. Raise the the front wheel off the ground
2. Turn the handle bars side to side from one stop all the way to the other stop

If you feel a catch where they handlebars suddenly stop and don't want to move freely, you need new steering head bearings as the bearing cup has a groove worn into it.

Motorcyclists Magazine has a very nice video that covers how to check your steering head bearings

Note 1: The specific bike shown is a 2013 F800GS
Note 2: The tools and materials used are by personal choice and are not due to any affiliation with any brand

Tools Required:
- T45 star (Torx) bit
- 10mm hex socket
- Ratchet(s) that fit the above
- Torque wrench
- Suitable way to raise the front wheel and keep the bike steady
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This service is done correctly with the bike's weight on it's wheels, so place the bike on the center stand. You may want to wrap a strap between the front wheel and the centerstand so the centerstand doesn't fold up.

If you don't have a centerstand, then a bike lift would work, but a car or bottle jack could also work. The bike just needs to be held vertically, so however you choose to do it, make sure it's safe.

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We need to remove the handlebars (if you don't have risers). Take a marker (I use a grease pencil), and mark the current location of your handlebars. Place a couple rags or a towel on your gauges to prevent any scratching. Use your T45 star (Torx) bit to remove the 4 bolts holding on the handle bars and remove the two clamping blocks. Gently set your handlebars on your padded surface. I use a bungee cord (orange in the picture) to secure the handlebar from rotating.

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Remove the BMW roundel that sits underneath the handlebars - a simple pull will release the plastic piece. If you have trouble, a small flat screwdriver can help you lever it out.

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Using your T45 star (Torx) bit, loosen the top fork clamping screws on both the throttle and clutch sides (as indicated by the green arrows)

Rotate the steering yoke to the left, and using your T45 star bit, loosen the clamping bolt (as indicated by the red arrow).

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We want to make sure that there is an appropriate amount of play in the bearings - think Goldilocks - not too tight, and not too loose. This requires a rather unique five step process to properly set the bearing preload.

Step one: using your 10mm hex bit, loosen the steering head adjustment screw so it has a little slack.

Step two: tighten the screw to 25 Newton Meters (18.4 Foot-Pounds or 221 Inch-Pounds).

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Step three: swing the forks through their full range of travel three times - all the way to the right, all the way to the left, etc.
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We then need to loosen the steering head adjuster by 60 degrees. You can do this with a digital angle-of-rotation tool, or you can just go from one "notch" of the hex bolt to another.

I have marked the original position of two of the notches, as well as marking the top yoke. The picture is the original tightened position, I haven't moved anything yet.

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Step four: We will now loosen the adjuster by 60 degrees.

In the example below, that is us taking the green line on the adjuster and aligning it with the red line on the yoke.

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Step five (final step): tighten the adjuster to 11 Newton Meters (8.1 Foot-Pounds or 97 Inch-Pounds).

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Tighten the clamping screw (red arrow) using your T45 star bit to 20 Newton Meters (14.8 Foot-Pounds or 177 Inch-Pounds).

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The process to torque the pinch bolts on both sides of the triple tree is a bit unique.

You'll need a torque wrench and your T45 star bit. Each bolt is torqued to 19 Newton meters (14 Foot-Pounds, 168 Inch-Pounds) each time it is tightened. Starting on the top bolt, torque this pinch bolt, then torque the bottom pinch bolt, and continue going between each bolt for a total of six times (each bolt is torqued three times).
(In the picture below, you torque bolt A, then bolt B, then bolt A, then bolt B, then bolt A, and finally bolt B.)

Repeat that same unique torque pattern on the other side.

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Turn the forks back and forth a couple times from lock to lock; checking that there isn't any binding. You can also grab the forks as you face the bike, and push/pull them to make sure there isn't any play in the bearings.

You can pop the little BMW emblem back in the adjuster.
Grab your handlebars, and loosely reinstall the two clamping blocks and four bolts (T45 star bit). Make sure that everything is aligned as it should be, then torque the top bolt (the one closer to the front wheel) to 19 Newton Meters (14 Foot-pounds or 168 Inch-Pounds), then torque the rear bolts (closest to the seat) to the same 19 Newton Meters.

Double check that everything moves freely and ride off into the sunset!

Note - this particular bike has handlebar risers, so the bolt pattern is different (6 mm).

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