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Steering Race and Bearing Install

2012 June 28
by Dirty Fingernails

How to install races and steering bearings.

First, freeze your races for a day. Hopefully this will allow the metal to shrink for an easier install. Does anybody else shop at Trader Joes?
While they are cold, quickly set them into the frame and use a drift to hammer them in EVENLY.

It helps if you have an old race handy to drive the race into the frame until it bottoms out. If you don’t drive it in all the way, it will eventually settle while you are riding and your steering will require constant adjustments. If you are using an old race, try to cut a slice in the race or shave it down a bit so it doesn’t get stuck in the frame.

Here is a photo of the bottom race that is receded into the frame (with some grease on it).

Now it is time to prep the triple tree. /5′s have a small dust protector cup that sits at the base of the yolk under the bearings.
When it comes time to install the bearing, you will notice that it will not fit onto the stem.
You need to arm yourself with heat. I ended up only using the heat gun but still managed to set off a fire alarm (my wife wasn’t happy). You only heat the lower bearing by itself. That’s it. I had a scrap piece of plywood that i used as a surface to heat the bearing on.
Be CAREFUL when installing the bearing. If it is hot enough, it should drop right on. Make sure it is seated properly (Flat on the base) and it will quickly cool into position.

I noticed that the upper tightening clamp was NASTY. So i did a quick cleaning and polish… Only to realize from another BMW guru (Duane) that they were only used for a year or two on /5 and then quickly replaced by something better.

Here are all the parts. Grease up the bearings REALLY good. Grease up the races too. Plan on getting messy and working the grease into the bearings as much as you can. Then add a wee bit more.

I don’t have photos of the upper bearing install.
When you install the lower triple tree and steering stem into the bottom of the neck, you hold it into the neck as tight as possible. You don’t need to heat the upper bearing.
You set the bearing on the neck,
Then install the chrome dust cover,
Then let the tightening ring do all the work and ‘seat’ the upper bearing into the upper race.
The manual says to tighten it all the way until there is no free play anymore, and then slightly back off.

Here is the /5 Tightening nut. BAD:
Here is the /6 tightening nut. BETTER:

Then you can install the upper triple tree and steering neck nut. (Note: a San Jose Triple Tree is in the photo. Toaster Tan is another aftermarket option for triple trees.)

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