Gregory Bender

Steering head bearing

Moto Guzzi Quota 1000 and Quota 1100 ES models


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Thanks to Howard Rymes who sent me this information in a private e-mail. In Howard's own words:

Last weekend I tackled the steering head bearings on the old Quota. So I have enclosed the steps I did and I help this may be useful to other Quota owner's.

  1. Make sure you have enough food for a least 5 hours.
  2. Make sure Pet cat has it's blanket so it can supervise the work. (Our cat watched for a few hours and even sniffed some of the parts to make sure I was doing a good job).
  3. Have radio on to relax by.
  4. Need trouble light to see under the fairing.
  5. Place motorcycle on center stand.
  6. Lift with floor jack on the front exhaust cross-over tube and place 6 of 2 inch × 4 inch × 12 inch long in two piles with also 2 of 12 inch plywood pieces. This raises the engine and front end as high as it will go. I like the wood block set up because it is very sturdy. A motorcycle jack would work.
  7. Loosen front wheel axle nut 24 mm in size.
  8. Loosen front wheel pinch bolt nut - 10 mm in size.
  9. I have motolights so I had to loosen the allan screw which allows the motolights to tip down to get at the allan bolt holding the brake caliper on the fork. Motolight allen screw is 316 inch and brake caliper allan bolts use a 6 mm allan wrench.
  10. Remove caliper from front rotor and let hang for now.
  11. Remove axle bolt and spacer on the left side of the front wheel. Remove front wheel.
  12. Remove the four bolts holding the front fender on. Bolt head is 10 mm Remove the fender.
  13. Loosen the fork pinch bolts on the bottom triple clamp. Use a 5 mm allan wrench. I left one bolt just snug to hold the ram in place.
  14. Loosen top triple clamp pinch bolts. Use 6 mm allan wrench.
  15. Now loosen the one lower pinch bolt and slide the fork out of the triple clamp. I had to tap the top of the ram with my sand hammer to help it move out of the triple clamp.
  16. Remove the two allan bolts holding the brake t-piece onto the lower triple clamp. Use a socket type 5 mm allan with a wobbly type 38 drive long extension. Go through the top to get these bolts.
  17. Because I have the Hepco Becker engine guards, I then lifted both brake lines, calipers up and over the right side engine guard. This got the brake line, caliper out of the way.
  18. Place blanket over the gas tank. Place a small piece of masking tape on the center section of the handle bar and mark the bar to the clamp.
  19. Remove the four allan bolts holding the bar to the upper triple clamp.
  20. Let handle bar rest on the blanket.
  21. Use a 28 mm socket (or 118 Imperial socket) to loosen the upper triple clamp bolt.
  22. Now wiggle the upper triple clamp off the fork tube.
  23. Now you can see the round preload ring nut. It has 4 notches in it. My old Raleigh crank lock ring wrench worked to loosen the preload nut. I also tried my Ford 4x4 front hub socket OTC 7157 socket and it's tabs were close enough to loosen it. I wouldn't want to use the OTC tool to tighten the preload nut because it's four tabs are not exact line-up to the nut notches.
    Note: I found out that Moto Guzzi has a socket for the Griso steering head preload nut Part # AP8140190 but I don't know if it will fit the Quota. I think it will.
  24. Now hang onto the lower triple clamp while you remove the preload nut. Remove the nut and the metal cup washer.
  25. Slide the fork shaft and lower triple clamp out from the steering head frame unit.
  26. Look at the bearings. See if they had notched the roller into the bearing race. Unfortunately mine had notched the roller into the race.
  27. I used a long brass punch (about 14 inch size) and drove the lower and upper rings out
    The original bearing were 30205A FAG Made in Portugal. I replaced these with SKF BR30205 Tapper roller bearing from our local automotive parts store. Each bearing was List price 27.09 Canadian.
  28. One gentleman on the internet did a bearing set off a California Special EV and so he used a Dremel tool to cut off the lower bearing. It worked very well. Takes a little time to cut through I then hit the inner ring with a chisel pop it apart. The inner ring then just slid off the fork shaft.
  29. Remove the rubber seal. It can be reused if in good shape but I put a new one on. Moto Guzzi number 14517000. I ordered the rubber seal from MG Cycle and it arrived here in Calgary within three days.
  30. Clean the steering shaft and check for any roughness where the lower bearing goes on. Light sand if needed.
  31. Repack the two bearings with wheel bearing grease.
  32. place new rubber dust seal on shaft and put grease in the seal.
  33. Put bearing on the shaft and tap the bearing down the shaft with a piece of 1 inch electrical plastic tubing. I then used a small punch and tapped the bearing inner ring to make sure it was all the way down. You can feel the hammer bounce off the bearing when it hits the bottom.
  34. Add more grease to the lower bearing. I put about 4 finger blobs of grease inside the steering head to help keep water out of the bearing and the same to the top of the steering frame tube.
  35. Slide in the steering head shaft and lower triple clamp.
  36. Place the upper tapered bearing in place.
  37. Install the cup washer. I added more grease to the cup washer to help add protection of water going throw the cup washer into the bearing.
  38. Thread on the round 4 notch preload nut.
  39. Tighten the preload nut with hook tool just until; it stops with light tightening of the hook tool. Turn lower triple clamp to help seat in the bearings.
  40. Now tighten the preload nut until it is tight. Do not rotate the lower triple clamp.
  41. Loosen the preload nut just enough so the lower triple clamp can swing easy and smoothly.
  42. This is where it gets tricky. Now have lunch.
  43. Lightly sand the ram bore holes in the upper and lower triple clamp and apply a layer of grease on the aluminum bores.
  44. Clean the shine part of the ram and lightly grease.
  45. Install the upper triple clamp but not pressed all the way down onto the lock preload nut.
  46. Install the two rams into the triple clamps. Lightly tighten one of the lower triple clamp bolt 5 mm allan just to hold the ram from falling down.
  47. Install the front wheel axle bolt into the bottom of the fork. This will help align the forks so they are parallel to each other.
  48. I placed anti seize on all the bolts.
  49. Install brake t-piece. Use the 5 mm socket allan wrench to get these little bolts started. They are a little awkward. Tighten the allan bolts from the top with wobbly extension and ratchet.
  50. Now push the upper triple clamp down to it's correct position. The ram filler plug bottom flat washer part should be just above the triple clamp.
  51. Adjust the ram height if required.
  52. Tighten the lower triple clamp pinch bolts with 5 mm allan wrench. Do not tight top pinch bolts yet.
  53. Install the fender and the four bolts. The flat metal washer goes with the holes towards the floor.
    At this time some people will say adjust the preload on the head bearing with the wheel off and just feel the forks as they swing. I installed the front wheel and the brake and the handle bar to have all the weight on the front forks as they swing from center to right and center to left.
  54. Install front wheel, axle shaft and spacer. Hold allan wrench on axle shaft while tighten the nut.
  55. Install brake caliper and moto lights. I will leave the adjustment for the motolights when the motorcycle has all the weight on the front wheel.
  56. I then pulled on the bottom of the forks to check for looseness in the steering head bearing. There should be any looseness.
  57. I then held the front wheel straight and lightly pushed the wheel to left or right and so how it fell.
  58. I then lifted the upper triple clamp just enough to get the hook tool onto the preload nut and played with the preload. I had success doing it this way. I loosen the nut until I felt loosen in the front bearing when I pulled on the fork bottom. I then tightened the lock nut just enough to remove the looseness. I then turn the lock right about 14 inch more tightening and the front wheel was smooth as it fell left and right. Double checked looseness in the fork. All was good.
  59. Pushed the upper triple clamp down and tightened the center bolt 28 mm socket.
  60. Installed the handle bar to correct position.
  61. Use the 5 mm allan wrench to equal tighten the handle bar clamps.
  62. Tighten upper triple clamp pinch bolts.
  63. Double check all bolts on fork triple clamps, axle bolts , axle pinch nuts (10 mm socket).
  64. Lift motorcycle up and pull wood out.
  65. Push on the front forks to make sure the triple clamps are holding.
  66. Lift on engine with jack and small piece of wood to raise tire off the ground.
  67. Check for looseness in the fork, pull on the bottom of the fork forward.
  68. If not loosen is there, check to see how the front wheel falls left and right from center. If it is smooth left and right and no looseness, Pat yourself on the shoulder. Good Job.
  69. Now if there is looseness in the bearing, remove the handle bar, remove the center nut and lift the upper triple clamp up just enough to get the hook tool and tighten up the preload bearing. Recheck fork looseness and tire left and right fall.
  70. When all done, take for a little ride and you will notice a difference in the steering.
  71. I would check the steering preload after 500 miles. Readjust if required.

Note: Some people will tell you to tighten the steering head bearings a little tighter so they have a slight drag. This is so when the bearing seats in, the bearing drag will be zero. Example rear differentials on motor vehicles have 5 foot/pounds of drag or preload on the tapered bearing when properly set up when new. Then as the bearing seats in, the preload goes to zero. The rear differential has a pinion shaft which is rotating in a circle. The motorcycle steering is maybe turning a total from full left to full right 80° to 90° depending on the size of the front wheel and slope of the fork. So the front steering bearing is not rotating in a circle like the rear differential pinion bearings are. So the amount of preload on the steering head bearings is very small.

I will send you through the mail a photocopy of the Raleigh bicycle tool so you have an exact size of the c-wrench opening. Also if a person wants to use their old school compass set and draw a 2.5 cm radius circle, this is the size of the steering preload nut. The notches in the nut are about 3 to 4 millimeters in width and about the same in depth. Then you can shape your c- wrench so it has the correct inside curve. A stone grinder is needed because the hardened metal of the tool or if you have a Dremel tool it would be perfect. The width of the metal between the inside curve and the outside curve is 5 mm. This is important width so you can slide the tool between the ignition switch and the steering preload nut. A wider tool will hit the ignition switch barrel.

I like using the c-wrench because it gave me more feel of how tight the preload nut was and how far I could turn it to get the proper preload. A punch and light hammer will work but for a small investment, the c-wrench really makes it easy.

Hope this is helpful. Its not hard to do but a person should just take their time, relax , have lunch, take pictures, have friends over, and then when all done, enjoy the ride.

Tools Needed: Metric allan wrench set, Plastic sand hammer, 28 mm socket, c-wrench, Anti seize compound, floor jack, 2 inch × 4 inch wood and plywood 12 inch thick pieces, Steel hammer, brass long punch, Wheel bearing grease, paper towels, Brass hammer (to install bearing races), steel small punch(14 inch), Dremel tool, small chisel, safety glasses, 24 mm combination wrench or socket (front wheel axle nut), Metric allan 38 drive set (5 mm), 38 drive 16 inch wobble extension, 38 drive ratchet