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Old 11-03-2012, 11:37 PM   #1
freedombird777
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Default vulcan 500 steering head bearings

A few thousand miles back I noticed a notch or detent when turning the handle bars from side to side while parked. I think the notch has gotten "deeper" and now I am getting a wobble of the handle bars around 42 - 52 mph. I suspect the steering head bearings are need of replacement. Any one know if these are bearings I can buy or match at local auto parts store?? I hate to tear her apart to try and match, only to have to wait to order bearings any way. If I have to order, I'd like to have on hand to replace as soon as I tear down, so as parts placement is fresh in my mind. Just to mention, I did just put a new front pirelli tire on about the time the wobble started. I thought it might be out of balance, so I bought a black widow static balancer, rebalanced and tried again, but the wobble is still there. Could front wheel bearings be a cause??

Last edited by freedombird777; 11-03-2012 at 11:40 PM. Reason: misspelled word
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:26 AM   #2
bikerbill
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freedombird,

I don't know about 'generic' bearing numbers but here is what you'll need from Kawasaki:

1 - 92116-1009 Lower Bearing 18.81
1 - 92047-017 Upper Bearing 22.42
1 - 92049-1162 Seal 4.26

I get my parts from ronayers.com and receive them in about 10 days from order.

You're at about the same mileage Hidalgo was when I replaced her 'lumpy' steering bearings. Don't forget to give the bearings a pre-load when reassembling them. I didn't do this and the bike never felt solid in corners or higher speeds (75+ mph) until I gave them the proper pre-load. Wheel bearings are easy to check, just give the wheel a side-to-side shake. The bearings will 'clack' if they're loose.

Hope this helps ya.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:41 AM   #3
freedombird777
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thanks bill, I'm around 86,000. I asked about the wheel bearings, because when I tightened the front axle nut I spun the front wheel and noticed it slowed to a stop as I tightened. I torqued to 65 ft/lbs according to haynes manual, just never noticed before when I changed front tires.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:30 AM   #4
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Does the front wheel still spin freely now?

I have changed the front wheel bearings twice on Hidalgo. Once at 20k then again at 134k. Both times there was a looseness that could be felt when moving the wheel/tire side-to-side. You don't even have to lift it off the ground to check it.

They're not difficult to replace at all. And good insurance too. Just be sure when installing the bearing to press on the outer shell of the bearing.

Last edited by bikerbill; 11-04-2012 at 09:17 AM. Reason: removed sig
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:09 AM   #5
freedombird777
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with front wheel off ground I gave it a good spin with my hand,--- spins free and easy. Once tightened, it spins without binding, but wheel want spin as fast, or near as long if spun by hand... similar to adjusting wheel bearings tight on old cars or trucks. While on the ground me sitting on it, I noticed it pushed smooth, just seems like it takes more effort to roll, as if it were a heavier bike.
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:16 AM   #6
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If it's that noticeable I'd check tire pressures too, which I'm sure you have.

Have you gone 'Darkside' yet?
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:52 PM   #7
freedombird777
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tire pressure good, bearings seemed smooth... probably just order front wheel bearings and steering head bearings at same time and change all. Yes on the dark side, I've got 3900 miles on the bf goodrich so far. How many miles do you have on your bf goodrich? How many miles do you think it will last??
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Old 11-04-2012, 03:11 PM   #8
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I'm at 12k miles with 4/32" tread depth in the center. At this rate it'll probably only last about 15-18k miles. About the same as a Dunlop 404 Elite II but at 1/2 the price.

If I had the time to play with the pressure more I might be able to get a lot more out of it because there is about 7/32" of tread on the outer sipe. I'm running 33psi in it right now. Probably gonna have to stay with handling/comfort over treadwear.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:11 PM   #9
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Datapoint on tire:

I'm at 17k miles on the 'darkside' BF Goodrich now. Tread is a bit under 3/32". I lowered the pressure to 28psi also to even out the wear. (it was wearing a lot in the center)
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'Biker' Bill
'97 EN500LTD 'Hidalgo'
164,000+ miles so far
VROC #3833
IronButt #6024
Levelland, TX

SlipStreamer Enterprise II, Vista Cruise,
Fiamm air horns, Cobra Spots, Drifter solo seat,
Pro-Tac backrest, 17/42 sprockets, Darkside rear,
ScottOiler, F&S luggage rack ,Throttle Rocker,
Viking bags, Victory Vegas handlebars,
Kuryakyn grips, LED & HID lighting,
4-gal AUX fuel tank

http://bikerbillsvulcan500rebuild.shutterfly.com/
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:37 PM   #10
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You went darkside on the 500? What tire size did you use? I'm thinking of going darkside on my next tire change.

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