All Balls steering bearing conversion
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Thread: All Balls steering bearing conversion

  1. #1
    Senior Member silverhead's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Central Iowa, USA
    If you suspect your bearings are bad for any reason, you should probably jump on a set of tapered steering bearings to solve the problem. When I got my bike it just felt weird, like you were constantly fighting the front end. I just assumed it was the wide tire and frame geometry of the TW200 until I noticed that the steering head bearings were indexed. This means that the bearing races had 'dents' in them and the bearings themselves may have been egg shaped. This can happen when you bash the front end on a hard jump, or you weigh 500 pounds or whatever.. Who knows, the previous owner did it, not me.

    Anyway, here's a video I made to show you how badly my front bearings wanted to live in one place and one place only.

    If you tried to ride the bike no handed, it immediately veered left. Riding on gravel, the bike constantly felt like it was going to slide out from under me or go into the ditch.

    This conversion made riding the bike a night and day difference from being somewhat scary to being a hooligan machine that makes me act like a 16 year old kid now.

    I didn't read any tutorials or anything.. The TW is simple enough that it didn't scare me. The wiring was easy enough to remember as well. Everything up front has to come apart. Front wheel, forks, speedo, ignition, cables, yada yada.. The job took me two hours start to finish and I took my time, cleaning up everything as I went (cleaned the brake drum out, cleaned all the electrical contacts, changed fork oil, etc...)

    Heads up about the All Balls kit. The top bearing is taller than OEM. The bottom probably is as well. This means that the spanner nut that holds the tree together BARELY gets any threads to tighten down with. This is a problem, but not a show stopper. Just be aware of it. Second issue is that the bottom race just slipped into place with my fingers. This is probably another no-no, but whatever. If it starts to knock around I'll do something about it later. It fits tightly, but obviously, it's not press fit into place. The top race needed to be drifted into place carefully.

    Here's some photos I took.. Not really good enough as a write-up. Just me stopping to take notes.

    First: Remove everything.. Light, gagues, ignition, handlebars, forks, front tire.. it all has to come off.

    Keep removing stuff..

    OK, you can stop removing stuff...

    I had the same problem both high and low. Index marks in the races.

    Knock those old races out with a drift.. They came out easily.

    Use a chisel or something to carefully remove the lower race from the bottom of the tree. Then seat the new dust seal and lower bearing.. I used a plastic shop vacuum tube and a rubber mallet to carefully send it home. The dust seal will be loose because the bearing sits up from the bottom a bit.

    Pack it with a lot of grease.

    Use a bearing drift or whatever to -carefully- seat the top race. It only goes down this far. Not ideal, but what ya gonna do?

    And, oddly enough, I was able to seat the lower race with my fingers.. That's right, it wasn't a press fit. It's close, but no... This is probably not ideal, but what ya gonna do?

    Last step: torque down the tree with the spanner nut.. back off it until it feels good and then reassemble the whole bike... Easy peezy..
    1993 TW200

  2. #2
    Senior Member old white truck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Northwestern Oregon

    I will be installing new steering bearings soon - thanks for the writeup!!

    Quote Originally Posted by silverhead View Post
    Heads up about the All Balls kit. The top bearing is taller than OEM. The bottom probably is as well. This means that the spanner nut that holds the tree together BARELY gets any threads to tighten down with.


    Second issue is that the bottom race just slipped into place with my fingers.

    The part about the bearings being taller has been mentioned by others in the past. Thanks for highlighting it.

    This has always worried me and I am leaning toward going with regular bearings rather than All Balls for this reason only.

    My bike and my life are riding on my forks and steering and it seems a little scary to have it held together with "BARELY any threads".

    I would be interested in hearing what others have to say about this?

    Thanks again for your informative post. I am giving you a green +1. I know there is a sticky on this (Rainman did an EXCELLENT job) but it is always good to hear from multiple people.


  3. #3
    Senior Member old mad max's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Gobles, michigan
    Well done dude.................

    Not to highjack your thread here but I've got to say something. A lot of guys show photos of the garage they are working in, has anyone else notice how many cycles the owner seems to have........ "REALLY" that is so cool.. It really shows how much dub owners love cycles... It's great stuff.. I own 5 bikes. Has anyone ever started a thread on how many cycles we own??????? OMM.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Rainman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Ephrata, WA
    I'm glad you got your bike fixed up. My TW was indexed just as bad as yours so I replaced mine as well. I kind of liked the indexing (well, actually got used to it) but I knew it was bad. The All Balls kit is excellent and not really hard to install. I didn't know anything of races and bearings before I did mine, but I did some research, watched some videos and finally tackled them. I did my dad's TW and it took me half a day. I did mine the next week in a few hours.

    @ Old White Truck-go with the All Balls. They are an excellent product. The upper race does stick up, but the tree is held on by a ring nut and top bolt (don't remember the technical term for it, but its the bolt that goes through the top triple clamp). The triple clamp isn't going anywhere. If you make it up into my neck of the woods, stop by and I'll help you...heck I'd do them for ya.

    The All Balls product is robust and should outlive the bike. By looking at the stock ball bearings and race setup, it would be a pain to reinstall them. The All Balls roller bearings are caged so they aren't going anywhere.

    You'll need some common hand tools, a long punch (screw driver or socket extension would do), and a hammer to complete the job. Took me longer to remove everything from the front end (tire, forks, speedo etc.) than it did to remove the old bearings and install the new ones.
    If you can't find it, grind it

    1990 TW200

  6. #5
    Senior Member silverhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Central Iowa, USA
    The spanner nut is what sets the tension of the turning action. The top bolt (big chrome one) is what holds everything together safely. I'm not worried in the least that it's unsafe. Maybe that it'll start knocking around due to that loose lower race, but I doubt it'll happen.

    As for bikes, I think I have eight in the garage at the moment. I can like almost any bike you show me for some reason or another. They're all different and I notice those differences. That means I usually cycle through a lot of older, cheaper bikes over time. I will probably always have Italian stuff. Vespas, my Benelli, etc...

    I like fixing stuff that other people have let fall apart.
    greenbomb likes this.
    1993 TW200

  7. #6
    Senior Member jbfla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    FL. GA, NC
    Nicely done, Silverhead.

    While everything is apart, it seems this would also be a good time to change the fork oil...another often neglected maintenance item.

    2018 Triumph Street Twin..............2016 CB500F
    2014 XT250 ..................................2008 H-D Softail Deluxe
    2008 SV 650..................................2007 DR 650..

  8. #7
    Senior Member elime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    San Jose, CA
    My friend Darrell complained about "notchy" steering while riding my parts bike on the Sheetiron 150. I have new bearings -- I just have to install them -- hopefully before the second half of the Sheetiron 150.
    Long live the internal combustion engine!

  9. #8
    Senior Member Omega Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Nice job! When I purchased my bike it came with a kit to do the job. Carb first, then this. Between this and the other great write-up on the subject- I should be good to go. Thanks. OM
    "It's more fun going fast on a slow bike than going slow on a fast bike" UK

    1994 TW200, 2009 F800GS loaded,

  10. #9
    Senior Member Trikstr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Oak City, UT
    I just recently changed mine and we were able to replace them without disconnecting the wiring. Just unbolted everthing and let it hang.

    I also added YZ80 upper fork tubes and progressive springs. My lower tubes have the the castings boses for the oil drain screws so I had them modified to accept the YZ fork drain screws.
    '99 TW,Ricochet skid plate, Seat Concepts, Jimbo shield, 2" extended swingarm w/Maxxis Bighorn, 5.10 Kenda K270, Stealth exhuast, YZ80 hybrid front forks w/HyperPro proressive springs, ProCycle high mount front fender, ProCycle wide foot pegs, TT-R stainless head pipe, Lizrdbrth cooler, D-Flex hand guards, XT350 gas tank.

    2002 Honda Spirit Shadow VT750

    1987 BW350

    '78 Honda XL100

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