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front fork neck bearing mprovement?

2767 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  SoftailBilly
I have a 1999 FLSTF

Sorry this is a long post but trying to relate what Ive done to date.
Front end is stock length. I have puzzle to me on front neck bearing issues.

I've read all the adjustment advice here and in HD manual.

I have to adjust front neck bearings too often. I bought the bike used 2 years ago and driving it off lot neck bearing adjustment was so sloppy it was sin they let it off lot like that. I drive it 1/2 block over RR tracks to hear CLUNK CLUNK. Took it back next day and demanded new neck bearings which was done.
So i understand the whole HD fall away method for adjustment on front for neck adjustment. It doesnt work long for me so I adjust as needed to keep the wobbles and triple tree clunk gremlins away. The fall away method only works for a short while (2-3k).
Many of my trips hit 3-5K round trip.
Perhaps the cups in frame were trashed? And continue to fail after new bearings?
the bike had 40k on it when purchased( new bearings inserted then) Ive put another 40k on it myself.
Just puzzled- I still have my 77 sporster with 6" over front forks and it road like a hardtail lumber wagon and Ive never adusted neck bearing and double checked last year- not a bit of problem.
So my question- do neck bearings wear or cups fail on a 99 fatboy?
I just cant understand why Im adjusting so often, perhaps everyone just gets used to clunk, tank slap what ever you call it- when I adjust it right, all is good and letting go of handle bars 30mph-45 no wobbles. After 2-3k miles it starts clunk, and starts wobbles with one hand on handle bar.
My only thought is they never really replaced bearings but said they did and Ive been just adjusting for excelerating wear on bad roller bearings. Seems a simple thing, how the heck do neck bearings adjustments go away so quickly?
Maybe its just miles- I run about 15-20K miles a year and no i dont do wheelies etc.
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Were the bearing races replaced ?
... My only thought is they never really replaced bearings but said they did...
That was my first thought. Or that if they did put in new bearings, they didn't bother to adjust them. I have no faith in today's dealerships.

Were the bearing races replaced ?
And that was my second thought. I've always heard that if you don't replace the races with the bearings, the new bearings will usually fail quickly. But it's a lot more work to replace the races than to just slide a couple new bearings on the shaft. If they even did that much.

I'm not sure if your stemhead is the same as mine (1987) but it sure doesn't seem they should go out of adjustment that fast at all. In fact, I don't remember the mileage mine had on it when I did my first service on my stemhead bearings (100something thousand), but I just did it a few months ago and the bearings still looked like brand new. I had a little bit of clunking, but nothing so bad as to cause any wobble or other bad handling characteristics. After greasing and adjusting it's been like new for several thousand miles so far.

By the way, that "fall away test" never worked for me either. I took note of how tight they were when I took it apart, then put it back to somewhere close to the same and rode it over some bumps. Sure enough, clunking. So I tightened it a little more and rode over the same bumps at the same speed. Less clunking. I did this a little at a time until the clunking just disappeared then left it at that. I learned from working on bicycles that over tightening stemheads can break the bearings so even though the Harley bearings are a different design I took no chances on doing that.
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I would think the bearings came with races, more work to replace them. Never use old races with any new bearings.
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