Motorcycle Steering Bearings

One of the most difficult, if not THE most difficult engineering challenges that motorcycle research and develpment people have faced over the years has been the design of reliable steering mechanisms. Various manufacturers have tried such things as caged ball bearings, uncaged ball bearings, and tapered roller bearings. I have owned bikes that used the last 2 types of bearings.

Of the million plus miles I’ve ridden motorcycles since 1955, over 500,000 miles have been logged since 1990 when I began keeping accurate service records on my KLR and DR big singles. Both models, by the way, are equipped with tapered roller bearings which are extremely sensitive to adjustment especially after lots of off-road riding.

I’ll never forget purchasing a brand new 1991 KL650A and suffering steering bearing damage on my very first Baja ride of 500 miles. About 250 miles into the ride I discovered the steering stem nut was loose. As soon as I heard the