How To Service The Steering Stem Bearings On Your 2009-2010 Honda CRF450R
Servicing the steering stem bearings on your dirt bike is much simpler with the right tools. You will need a steering stem nut wrench, a long nut-and-bolt bearing press, and a metal pipe that fits over the steering stem, but small enough to match the diameter of the inner bearing race.
The adjustment nut wrench will cost around $13. You can get your press parts and metal pipe from your local hardware store in exchange for money.
The Tools You Will Need Are:
- Steering Stem Adjustment Wrench
- Smackin’ Pipe
- Bolt Press
- Chisel / Dremel
- 32mm Socket
- 10mm Socket
- Breaker Bar
- Long Flat Screwdriver / Blind Bearing Puller
- Torque Wrench
The Parts You Will Need Are:
- New ’09-’10 Honda CRF450R Steering Stem Bearing Kit
- Lithium EP Grease
You can get all the parts and tools you need through our partner links HERE!
Start with your bike on a stand with front end disassembled except for the forks.
Steering Stem Removal
Loosen and remove the steering stem nut and washer, followed by the forks and upper bridge. Remove the steering stem adjustment nut, and lower the steering stem out of the steering head. Related: Can I Run AvGas In My dirt Bike?
Clean & Inspect
Clean all components and check for obvious damage or wear to the bearings and welds.
DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE THE LOWER BEARING front the steering stem unless you need to replace it.
Clean and inspect the steering head, and check for damage to the races and welds.
The bearings are two pieces, with the outer race mounted inside the steering head.
DO NOT REMOVE THE OUTER RACES FROM THE STEERING HEAD unless you will replace them.
Steering Stem Bearing Removal
You should be able to separate the bearing from the stem with a hammer and chisel. The hammer and chisel never work for me, so I went straight to the cut off wheel. This cut is a three-part cut because you can not get a perpendicular angle to the bearing. So start with a parallel cut about 2mm from the bridge, then make two cuts in a V shape between the edge of the bearing and the parallel cut.
Make sure to take your time and watch your depth, and you will be fine. I got a little too deep on my angle cuts, but it buffed right out.
Outer Steering Stem Race Removal
The outer bearing races have a small lip that sticks out inside the steering head.
Take a screwdriver, or another long flat tool, and hammer the race out of the steering head, working around the race as you go. My outer races were not cooperating, so I used a blind bearing puller to avoid damage to the steering head. If you don’t have a blind bearing puller set, most chain auto parts stores have loaner tools available with a refundable deposit.
Inspect the race bores and correct any damage before installing the new races.
New Steering Stem Bearing
Steering Stem Bearing Installation
Slide the new seal washer onto the steering stem with the broad side facing away from the bridge, followed by a thick layer of grease. Place the bearing on the steering stem with the small side facing away from the bridge and drive the bearing home with your metal pipe and hammer over a solid surface.
Outer Race Installation
Place your new bearing race in the bore with the broad side facing out. Assemble your bearing press with the bolt head on the pressing side. I like to use the top bridge as a spacer because it rests flat on the bottom of the steering head. On the bolt side, you need to find a washer that will fit over the race but still clear the outer bore. As with most bearings, some adjustments may be necessary to keep everything aligned.
Press the bearing race into the bore. These steering stem bearing races are NOT an interference fit so that they will press in quickly. If you are forcing them in, something is wrong, so check your angles and try again.
Run your fingernail along the bottom side of the race to check for any gaps. My outer race did not press into the bore completely, but I was able to correct this with a socket and hammer. Repeat with the bottom race.
Steering Stem Installation
Steering stem bearings require an Extreme Pressure grease. There is very little heat generated in the steering head, so the grease can’t be too thick, or it will not move around the bearings.
Moly based greases provide the best protection under extreme load, but they are also incredibly thick. General-purpose grease is the right consistency but provides very little pressure protection. I find that a Lithium-based EP grease offers the proper level of protection at the right consistency.
Apply a thick layer of grease around each bearing and outer race. You want as much grease in those rollers as possible, so don’t be stingy. Install the top steering stem seal washer with the broad side facing down. Install the adjustment nut tight to the steering head, then work the stem back and forth. The force of the tight adjustment nut will disperse the grease, and allow you to check for any rough spots. Loosen the nut to the point where the steering stem rotates freely with no play. Install the forks, but only tighten the upper pinch bolts. Install the steering stem nut and torque to 108-foot pounds. Recheck the steering action; You should still be able to rotate the stem freely with no play.
Assemble your front end without the steering stabilizer, and ride around for about 30 minutes,
Keep Your ’09-’10 CRF450r Running Right!