XS650: Steering-head Bearings   1 comment

Many of our girls have been steadily rolling those kms by year after year. Others have been doing regular service on flattracks, in sidecross, as offroaders etc..

Today, as we uncover these grand ol damen, years of riding and often neglect have taken their toll. A common complaint is ‘positive click’ steering, great when you only want to go straight.


1 .. positive click steering ... dry

positive click steering … dry



Original balls and races are commonly replaced with tapered roller bearings. The upper and lower have differing dimensions so dont mix them up.


2 .. bearing dimensions

bearing dimensions



  • Upper:  25 x 48 x 15.2
  • Lower:  30 x 48 x 15


3 .. tapered roller bearings

tapered roller bearings


A word of advice. The roller bearing races are not as wide as the ball races. Makes it difficult to tap them out when replacing later. Before pressing the roller races in, cut 2 notches in the steering head race seats. Top and bottom.

If you dont do this you might have to weld tabs on the races so you can get them moving before removing them next time.


4 .. handy tool ... actually for my downhill bikes

handy tool … actually for my downhill bikes


I had one of these lying around. I use it for my and my mates Downhill bikes. Pack the new races with those you removed, they’re the same OD so will clear the insides of the steering-head end flanges. This works great too.


5 .. a bit of old threaded rod ... use the old races as spacers

a bit of old threaded rod … use the old races as spacers


If putting your machine together from bits n pieces don’t mix the early and late triple trees. They both take the same bearings. The early are for 34mm fork tubes. The later for 35mm tubes. The earlier shaft is shorter too.


6 .. early and later stems ... early is threaded all the way and shorter ... won_t fit into a later steering-head

early and later stems … early is threaded all the way and shorter … won_t fit into a later steering-head


The tapered roller races are somewhat narrower. This could be a problem if needing to remove them. Something like this may come in handy.



7 .. removing races

removing races


8 .. So



Now, if you’re serious about handling, are looking for that exstra little handling advantage, steeringhead and swingarm bearings will be one of the first places to look for results.

This is all well and good, and for the average rider, gives positive results for sure.

Problem is that the stem bearing seats themselves are often found from new to have up to 0.1mm play between them and the bearing ID.

And, as the roller races are so thin, they get squeezed out-of-round when pressed into the steering head. This is what gives the infamous clacking sound commonly heard in roller bearings. Point loading. Not good. Run a 48mm ream around the inside of the race-seats to rounden them up – no tight spots. If necessary spin a little off the outside of the races – just so they can drop into place. Glue with something like Loctite 638. Work quick. Get the triples in before the glue sets – insures the races are in line.



9 .. up to 0.1mm play from new ... easily 0.15mm with wear

up to 0.1mm play from new … easily 0.15mm with wear


Emil Schwarz produces precision bearings with this in mind. Bearings are pressed onto steeringhead nuts and tightened down for a perfect form fit. No tolerance. No play. Use Type 5 for the XS650.



10 .. upper bearing

upper bearing


Emil Schwarz also produce precision swingarm bearings. Couldn’t find a listing for the XS650. They provide an installation service and state….

Wir geben eine 100.000 km Garantie auf Spielfreiheit dieses Lagerumbaus !!!

We give a 100,000 km No-play Guarantee on this modification!!!

They sure believe in themselves.

One response to “XS650: Steering-head Bearings

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. For the steering heads (without the head lock and stem with the lock hole) installation of a grease fitting about mid way up the exterior allows grease to be added to the interior of the head between the stem and frame. You would want to pack the space with grease prior to reassembly though to not waste time pumping it full. And don’t forget to install the rubber gasket under the bottom race on the stem upon reassembly.

    For me, a piece of copper plumbing tube and a large hammer allowed removal of the roller bearing races if required say for welding on a broken steering stop or badly crashing the bike and seeking to renew parts. In regular use, you should never have to renew the roller bearings again versus the junk original ball bearings…

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: