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Discussion Starter #1
Just got my bike back from the shop at they indicated that my steering bearings were notched. My '07 has 31,500 miles, combo street/freeway driving, kept indoors at night inside garage. They commented that they can 'feel it' when turning the wheel/steering. I haven't noticed anything abnormal or different when steering-it's smooth and fluid. Braking seems fine as well. I read a similar post on a vespa scooter forum page to try and get a better idea of what's happening, what I should be looking for, feeling, etc. but would love to get feedback from those in my Burgman community. Is there a big issue driving it? And for how much longer can/should I go before doing this service (which will be a 4 hr/$360 job)? Please feel free to let me know if there are any warning signs I should look out/listen for when riding.
 

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Only thing I can tell you is my 07 never had any steering bearing problems & that was with 46k + miles when I sold it. Still had the OEM brakes pads on it also when it was sold.:D
 

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Well get the bike on the centre stand and support the front of the bike with a jack so the front wheel is clear of the ground and investigate how the steering head performs. Operate from lock to lock and 'feel' how smooth or otherwise it is. Note if you leave the steering slightly to one side of centre and let go and observe how it behaves, then repeat for the other side - compare and contrast.
Then attempt to 'lift' the handlebars is the play excessive?

It may be the mechanic is being cautious or looking for extra work. make your own assessment.

If you are not sure, or not confident, find an independant mechanic and ask for a second opinion.

If the bearings are deemed to be less than satisfactory it would be undervaluing your life not to attend to effect a repair.
 

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Like Desert Rat, I sold my 2007 400 with 49,000 miles and didn't have any steering bearings worked on. They felt fine to me when I sold it...probably about like yours feel now to you.

I'm sure there are some YouTube videos online that show how to check steering bearings, even if they are on other bikes. The same principles will apply.

I noticed, before I quit going to the mechanics I had initially, that they had changed their philosophy. Before, they worked with you to come up with the least costly solution to keeping you on the road, and might suggest you keep an eye on something for the future. They went under new management and began suggesting work that frankly I think could've been delayed for a couple years perhaps. Perhaps their bottom line was better with the new philosophy.

Chris
 

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Here's a YouTube video that might help.


Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just a little update from a test that I did. Sitting on the bike and moving the steering wheel left to right and back again, I can indeed feel a slight 'bump' or hiccup if you will, at the center/straight position. As it moves from side to side, it feels like 2 little bumps or indentations when I hit this part. So it is indeed not 100% smooth. NormanB, unfortunately I don't have a jack to lift the front wheel free and clear. (And apologies, I don't understand/know what you mean when you say to 'attempt to 'lift' the handlebars is the play excessive?') But this might be a moot point since I can't put it up on a jack.

So given I can indeed feel this slight notching turning the wheel, what's the extent of danger (for lack of a better word) one would/could be exposed to when driving? How much more time/miles do I realistically have? thanks all.
 

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You are asking a question that is difficult for anyone to answer. I refer to the advice I gave you earlier, and specifically:
If the bearings are deemed to be less than satisfactory it would be undervaluing your life not to attend to effect a repair.
 

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My 07 400 has 55k+ miles on it, and yes, my steering bearings are notched. I Can EASILY feel them. Been that way for 2 years now, last year the guy that does my VA Inspection (whom I trust, which is rare for a mechanic) warned me that it might not pass next time around, he did warn me 2 years ago, and noticed last year that they were worse than the first time around. Well, I'll find out next month when its time for re-inspection in august if it will pass or not

For me personally, it does not effect how it rides or handles, i mainly only notice it when turning the handle bars at a stop, or at "walking-the-bike" speeds, never really notice it while moving.

Going off memory of when I looked into it a year or so ago, its 2 bearings, and they were about $30 a piece at a local bearing shop (not OEM, since its just a standard tapered bearing), but the labor to change them was a lot of work, lots of tupperware to remove, and a lot of cables and wiring.

My daily commute involves alot of city traffic, on poorly paved streets. However, after the many many years I've drivin on this junk roadway, they JUST finally paved the worst section of it last week, its like heaven now, but still a few 'speed bumps' if you will in the middle of the roads. These are what notches the bearings over time. Hard hitting bumps, and usually done when steering is straight, so it hits on the same spot over and over again.

As far as me riding with the bearings the way they are, that is my personal choice. In my personal view, its safe, while to others, their views might differ. With the 'notching', I don't feel the steering is hampered, nor do i feel that the steering is going to lock up in the middle of riding. But please do not take my views as how you should proceed in your situation.
 

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On the 400 you don't really even need a jack. All you need is a block of wood (or several stacked on top of each other) that is higher than the bottom of the frame. With the bike on the center stand it's fairly easy to lift the front of the bike up by hand and push the block under the bike frame with your foot.

As for how long you have to take care of it, that depends on how much deterioration the bearings have suffered. The only way to really know that is to pull them out and look at them. Short of that, the procedures in the video Chris posted will give you an idea of condition. If you feel any of the movement when pushing the forks side to side or front to back that he talks about in the video then it would probably be a good idea to change out the bearings sooner than later.
 

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:) Now let me throw a little opinion into your decision making process to make it more difficult. :lol:

My philosophy is like Dark Cutlass's. In a perfect world, I'd replace my bearings with any show of wear. But I think that the roads I travel on, would put the same notch in my bearings in less than a year and put me back in the same situation I have with 26,000 miles in two years. So how often do I change the bearings? With every tire change? Or...

I suspect the bearings in my two 400s would be considered great in the 1950s. Bikes weren't as sophisticated back then, or in the next several years. Yet they worked.

The decision of what to do, is obviously yours. What I plan to do, is the same as I did on my 2007 400, and keep an eye on things...see if the feel changes over time. If I don't feel a change, I'll leave them alone. If the "notch" gets worse, or I begin to feel sloppiness in the front forks when tested like the movie shows, then I'll get the bearings changed.

If you're the type of person who isn't in tune with the feel of your vehicle for how it is running, then change the bearings immediately to be safe. On the other hand, if you're the kind who pays attention to your bike and knows when something is not sounding right or doesn't feel the same as it did last week...then you can probably monitor the situation and put off the repair for a bit.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks much for the detailed reply....all good advice. I will try getting it up and doing a bit more testing to the front wheel to see if I notice anything different. Chris' last post/advice makes total sense, as does that of my esteemed fellow rider in VA. As this is a new situation/repair for me, I was just trying to get a sense of what to look for, how this can or could get worse and what those warning signs are. Those were the factors that would determine how quickly I end up making the change. Nothing is noticed while I ride and the notched feeling is very little (like a slight pimple or dimple) when I turn the wheel from side to side...just wasn't sure how to determine if it can/does get worse, what to look out for, etc. Cheers. Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I did end up getting it changed sometime last August-September. Fast forward to this week when I discovered that someone had damaged my bike while it was parked in a parking lot. While it was found upright still on the kickstand, there was some cracking/breakage to the right front side outer frame near the wheel; the left side mirror was all loose (not tight) and there was considerable other scratches to the back, so it's fair to assume that it fell or was dropped. (Go figure but the person(s) also decided to lift the bike and put it up and over the rectangle concrete strip/bar at the front of the parking space instead of in front so that the front wheel was now straddling over it). I only mention this because I noticed after bringing it back home when it was parked that there was a noticeable small/slight notching once again. Now, since I had them replaced a few months ago I have gone over and through potholes so it has been exposed to the road. Can I honestly say that I've noticed it or tried to feel for it before this week...not really. So my question really pertains to the damage/vandalism that was done...could that have caused the notching once again? Or could it just be from wear/tear of riding? I only ask because when I take it in tomorrow to get the estimate (for insurance) to repair/replace the body work, should I also include the replacement of the steering bearings once again? As I've never had an accident or dropped the bike, I was unsure as if this could play a part in causing the notching. thanks
 

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Steering Head bearings notched after 10 months 2008 Burgman 400

Bring up this topic again because I just had the dealership replace my steering head bearings in August of 2013.
So here I am 10 months later and maybe 3,700 miles on the clock and the notch is back.
That's not normal right? I mean I had it from 2008 to 2013 before I even had the first replacement done.
Is there a TSB out for it or anything that will make it more likely I won't have to be out of pocket for the full repair this time?

Last time I rode with a slight notchiness for maybe a month or two before it got bad enough to be worth my while to take it in.
This time it seems to have gotten worse much more quickly from the first time I noticed it again.

Thanks.
 

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Seamorob - maybe they cheated and replaced only the bearings and not the races or, they had them too tight and wore them out extra quick.:sad10:
 

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I had the same issue with my 08 400. The picture below is of the lower bearing race if you look closely you can see grooves gouged into it causing the notchiness in the steering. I replaced both the upper and lower but it was the lower that was causing the problem. I have to say it is not an easy job replacing them especially the lower one (the bearing has to be press fit onto the steering shaft and getting the Race out is tricky), perhaps they just re-greased the bearings and didn't replace them.



 

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Oh I'd be super pissed if they pulled either of those shortcuts on me. I should have asked for the used parts like people say you are supposed to so as to avoid that possibility.
All I can do is take it back in when I save up the $$ and ask them to do right by me.
Thanks.
 

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When you have them replaced this time make sure you ask for the old replaced parts. You also might think about having them replaced with tapered bearings. Tapered bearings give you a lot more bearing surface against the races and wear much better than the ball bearing type of bearings that that are OEM for motorcycles. As to why the manufacturers don't use tapered bearings in the first place? Well you would have to ask them to be sure but I suspect it is all about the cost. Ball bearings work okay even if tapered bearings are much better. Tapered bearings cost more though so a dollar per motorcycle made adds up in a hurry when you are making thousands of motorcycles...

Doug from Kentucky
 

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When you have them replaced this time make sure you ask for the old replaced parts. You also might think about having them replaced with tapered bearings. Tapered bearings give you a lot more bearing surface against the races and wear much better than the ball bearing type of bearings that that are OEM for motorcycles. As to why the manufacturers don't use tapered bearings in the first place? Well you would have to ask them to be sure but I suspect it is all about the cost. Ball bearings work okay even if tapered bearings are much better. Tapered bearings cost more though so a dollar per motorcycle made adds up in a hurry when you are making thousands of motorcycles...

Doug from Kentucky
The OEM Bearings for the steering neck are tapered bearings.
 

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The OEM Bearings for the steering neck are tapered bearings.
Wow. Hadn't looked into that as I don't need new bearings yet. That is amazing. First motorcycle I have found that has tapered bearings from the factory. Not even the Gold Wing comes with tapered steering stem bearings.

Doug from Kentucky
 

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Wow. Hadn't looked into that as I don't need new bearings yet. That is amazing. First motorcycle I have found that has tapered bearings from the factory. Not even the Gold Wing comes with tapered steering stem bearings.

Doug from Kentucky
WOW I thought a machine such as a Gold Wing would use the better bearings, go figure.
 
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