1983 BMW R100RS Replace Steering Head Bearings

The steering head bearings are roller bearings. But, roller bearings rely on the roller rotating to keep distributing grease between the roller and the outer race to prevent metal-on-metal contact. However, the front forks spend most of their time in one position and are subject to shock loads as the front end goes over bumps. This means grease gets extruded from between the rollers in the inner race and the outer race allowing metal-to-metal contact, and the shock loads pound the roller against the outer race creating grooves in the race. This creates notchy steering, and when it’s really bad, you can feel resistance when trying to turn the forks from the center position.

When I removed the steering head bearings, they showed the distinctive vertical stripes indicating the outer race has Brinelling, which is the groove pounded into the outer race.

Original Bottom Outer Race Showing Moderate Brinelling

Original Bottom Outer Race Showing Moderate Brinelling

I use the Cycle Works tools for removing and installing the steering head bearings. See the “Replace Steering Head Bearings” section below for a link that shows the Cycle Works tools are assembled and used.

Outer Race Puller Plate Parts

Cycle Works Outer Race Puller Plate Parts

Cycle Works Steering Stem Lower Bearing Puller Tools

Cycle Works Steering Stem Lower Bearing Puller/Install Tool Parts

Outer Bearing Race Installation Tool Parts

Cycle Works Outer Bearing Race Installation Tool Parts

I removed the old outer races and the inner race on the bottom of the steering stem. Then I refinished the lower fork brace and then installed the new lower inner bearing race and then installed the steering stem in the steering head.

Cycle Works Draw Bar Top Cover Detail with Top Outer Race

Cycle Works Draw Bar Top Cover Detail Used To Install Top Outer Race

Looks Like Wheel Bearing Grease Was Used and Melted Making A Mess

Looks Like Wheel Bearing Grease Was Used and Melted Making A Mess

Pulling The Lower Inner Race

Pulling The Lower Inner Race

Final Product

Refinished Lower Fork Brace Looking Like New Again

Steering Stem Nut Installed

Steering Stem Nut Installed on Steering Stem

Here is a link to the description of how I do this work

And here is a video summarizing how I remove and install the steering head bearings.

VIDEO: 1983 BMW R100RS Replace Steering Head Bearings

8 thoughts on “1983 BMW R100RS Replace Steering Head Bearings

  1. I can’t believe the timeliness of this excellent video. I’ve been waiting for a reason to pull apart my steering head and today when I finally did I find they need to be replaced. The video was perfect. I ordered the Cycle Works tooling and the bearings and I’m sure it should be easy thanks to your help. Much appreciated!

      • Got both races pulled while waiting for the bearing to heat up to temp.
        Let me tell you when it dropped right into place on the frozen steering stem I couldn’t have been more satisfied. Thanks again!

  2. First, thank you so much for your website and sharing such detailed information as well as so many lesser known tips and tricks. I’m just getting going on a ’77 R80 project that was completely torn down in boxes when I bought it and your how-tos are proving invaluable.

    The lower triple tree, fork lower screw plug, guide support, and cap nut were all poorly rattle canned black (along with many other metal parts) so I stripped that and the stock grey/green paint down to bear metal. You said you refinished the lower triple tree above and it looks amazing. And I found your notes about your aluminum polishing and protecting methods in your refinishing thread, but I couldn’t find anything referencing polished steel. Do you have any tips for protecting the bare steel parts mentioned above once polished?

    • Hi Mark,

      I’ve heard you can use single stage clear coat on polished steel to protect it. There is also two stage clear coat that lets you activate the catalyst inside the can. It will damage you lungs so you do need to be very careful you don’t breath any of it.

      Rust is the reason folks don’t typically polish steel. BMW Cadmium plated all the steel fasteners and parts to prevent rust. If you polish those, you will remove the Cadmium, which is very toxic BTW and you DO NOT WANT to breath that in, and then the steel will rust. Folks do polish stainless steel which doesn’t rust.

      I hope that helps.

      Best.
      Brook.

      • I was unaware of the cadmium coating. There was a grey/green paint coat on these parts that was much higher quality than the spray paint and, it was worn off in places, it was more difficult to strip but some did come easily away while I was stripping the spray paint. I assumed it was a stock paint. I’ll be careful with them and look into ways of protecting the bare metal if I messed up the coating at all.

        Thanks for the tips!

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