15 Minute DRZ400 Steering Head Repack

in DRZ400, howto, suspension, Suzuki

The shop manual tells you to remove the fork legs to pack your steering head bearings. But what do they know? Ok Ok, they know a lot, but that doesn't mean you can't take a shortcut here and there. If you know your bearings are in decent shape, theres no reason to go through all the hassle of removing the fork legs. Simply start by removing the top triple clamp pinch bolts that hold the legs on.

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Mark the position of your handlebars, unless of course you enjoy endless hours of trial and error finding that perfect rotation you were used to.

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Remove the handlebar clamp bolts and then remove the clamps. Let the handle bar hang over the front front of the light or number plate.

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Remove the steering stem top nut.

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Now you should be able to remove the top triple clamp. You should be able to move it out of the way enough to access the adjuster nut.

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Now you can remove the adjuster nut using the proper tool. If you hammer and punch it out of there you will make a mess of the nut. Nobody likes hammered nuts. Take pride in your work and use the right tool.. unlike me. I used the wrong size spanner wrench because I didn't have the right sized one available. Luckily, it should only be slightly tighter than finger tight. If not, somebody tightened it down too much or you have a lot of corrosion. Make sure you have a brick or something to keep the fork assembly from taking off.

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You should now have easy access to your bearings. The bottom bearing won't be removable unless you have enough cable and wiring harness slack, but you will still be able to clean it and pack it with grease for re-assembly. Make sure you wipe all the dirt out of the bearing. You may use the parts cleaner of your choice, then liberally pack it with grease. Make sure you squish the grease all the way through the race and roller bearings, then use enough extra to cover and seal the bearing in grease. I prefer to use lower marine housing synthetic grease on my suspension bearings and bushings. It's highly resistant to water and seems to repel dirt and grit better than regular grease. Believe it or not, I got my last batch at Wal-Mart.

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When re-assembling, make sure to clean the threads on your clamps. Steal bolts threading into aluminum can wreak havoc on the threads if dirt is involved. Also, I use a cycle wash product that apparently has been corroding the threads. Make sure to clean the corrosion off with a wire brush. I won't be using the cycle wash on the whole bike anymore. From now on only the chain will get it.

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When adjusting the bearings I like to just get the freeplay out of the bearings then install the top clamp and locknut. This seems to provide the best adjustment. The book recommends that you torque the bearings to a specified amount, then back the adjuster off and finger tighten it. I find that usually leaves it too tight and subject to flat spotting the bearings rather quickly. Some people like to tighten the steering head bearings down tighter than spec to act like a cheap steering damper. Well, if replacing notchy bearings is cheap then go ahead. Whatever method you choose, be sure to grab the fork legs and wiggle them fore and aft to make sure you have removed any freeplay in the bearings. And as always, if you break it, wreck it or hurt yourself doing it, it's not my fault. You decide to work on your own stuff at your own peril. And by no means should you drink any beer while performing this delicate task.

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