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Just an update… I have 3 bikes in the works but they have been taking longer then expected.  I’m trying to customize many features vs buying the available parts out there.
And, I’ve been busy over at helping to develop some Airhead aftermarket parts that look good, and function, for customizing these old BMW’s.

Recent additions are rear sets, and top clamps…  more ideas to come!!

Black Rear Sets for 1970's BMW motorcycles

Black Rear Sets for 1970’s BMW motorcycles



That Damn Steering Lock!

It is hard to explain the time it takes to build one of these bikes.
I totally forgot that the new BMW steering lock kit needs modifications. It was one of those jobs that should take 5 minutes and instead took over 45 minutes.
I first installed the lock and realized it wasn’t activating properly.
And then scratched my head and I remembered that I have to modify it as seen in this post:
So here it goes.

And then it came time to add the cover and quickly realized that it needs modifications as well.
Here is the front side of a new cover, and an old one I had cad plated:
Here is the rear:
IMG_4192It takes a care amount of time to rout out the rear of the plate for the notch on the frame that guides the cover as you open and close it. It isn’t a perfect work of art but luckily nobody will ever see the rear of this cover.

Old Steering Bearings

I am glad I am doing a complete rebuild of this bike. The steering was a bit stiff and not smooth. Once I got the neck out of the frame, I realized why.
Rusted Steering bearings.
Since the frame is going to be powder coated, the races have to come out anyway. I could see somebody buying the bike and not getting this deep into the restoration and it would be dangerous to ride with bearings like that.
These went straight to the trash.


Steering Lock Install

This job should have taken me 3 minutes. Instead, it took nearly an hour and a few new curse words were invented.

You can remove the lock easily if you have the key.
Simply remove the chrome cover, and then insert the key, turn it counter clockwise until it stops (around 10 o’clock) and then wiggle and pull the key/assembly out.
If you don’t have the key and you removed the steering assembly, You can use a drift on the front of the lock, and punch the entire lock assembly through the neck. It will ruin the lock.
If you don’t have the key and you didn’t remove the steering assembly, it can be drilled out if your run a small drill bit between the brass and silver part of the lock…at the 2 o’clock position.

For more on Lock Removal, check out Duane Ausherman’s site which is chock full of other BMW tips too:

With a new lock, chrome cover and pivot pin from BMW, i thought the installation job would be a simple task.
It turns out that these new locks and chrome covers are different then the originals and require some modification.

Here is the new assembly from BMW:

With the key inserted, you turn the lock to line up the small flathead screw-pin with the upper shark fin and slide it into the frame.
Once it is inserted, you can turn your steering assembly/handlebars to the right.
Turn the key and press the lock into the frame. The lock’s end should insert into a hole in the neck of the tripple tree. It should go deep enough into the frame/neck that when you twist the key back, it will catch in a receded position.
Here is the hole I am referring to:

This is what a locked steering lock looks like. Notice how it is receded into the frame:

After scratching my head and swearing a few times, no matter how hard i pushed that lock into the frame/neck, it would not reach the second “catch point” to lock.
I tested the lock to make sure it fit in my spare triple tree and it did.
I then wondered if the notch wasn’t deep enough so i ground it down on both sides a bit.
It still didn’t work properly. I cleaned out the inside and then started doing some tests with grease on the lock. After i made some failed attempts with a greased up lock, i would remove it and see where grease was hitting and not hitting the innards of the frame. It seemed that i had to grind the notch even further.

I did a test fit and Bingo! It worked!
Don’t forget the small spring that goes around the end of the lock!
That spring is what provides the resistance to do the locking and unlocking.
It is BMW part number 32 32 9 016 104

I then lubed up the spring and lock and inserted it into the frame.

Then it came time to attach the chrome cover and pivot pin. I put it all together and then realized that the cover doesn’t slide as nice as the old one. I took it apart and realized that the old cover has a notch on the back that leaves space for a small pin that sticks out of the frame and acts as a ‘catch’ point to either open or close the cover.

Son of a B$#@@. Why can’t this job be easy?
I pulled the cover off the bike and saw that the protruding pin from the frame left some convenient scrapes on the back of the cover.
I put the plate under my drill press and shaved down a small pocket where the pin makes contact with the cover. Not the cleanest job but it works and nobody will ever see the rear of that cover.

Here is a second attempt at the rear from another bike restoration. I routed it out with a tiny routing bit:

Phew. Finally done.

Steering Race and Bearing Install

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.)

Pulling steering races from BMW motorcycle frame

I finally broke down and got a race puller from Cycle Works. Here is a step by step on how to pull the steering bearing races from the neck of the frame.

Photo courtesy of Cycle Works

Note the way the split washer sits on the bolt.

The washer needs to go behind the race. You may need to tap it into the neck.

I had to use a few long sockets and extenders to reach the 10mm head of the bolt through the other side of the neck.

When you tighten the nut onto the bolt, it expands the split washer to fit tightly behind the race. This will help pull the race out.

Insert the slice of tube(collar) and attach the nut with the large washer as shown. Make sure the piece of tubing sits centered on the frame aligned so the race can slide out into the tube.

27mm socket to tighten the nut. Breaker bar with socket extension through the neck attached to the 10mm nut on the bolt.

After some torque and cranking, you can feel the race start to pull out into the collar. Eventually, everything will pop out as shown. Save an old race. Next time you use the tool, you can keep an old race in the collar to prevent the collar from warping, and to help guide the next race out.

Cycle Works triple tree bearing removal tool

A while back I finally broke down and purchased some much needed BMW ‘only’ tools from Cycle Works. I’ve made my own tools in certain instances but i had no means of pulling the bearings from the steering column or triple tree neck.
I wish i did this on my own cafe build. I was able to clean the lower triple tree better then ever.

Cycle Works steering stem bearing puller.

Clean lower Triple Tree.

Stay tuned for photos of the races being removed from the steering column…