TESTED: MOTION PRO STEERING STEM BEARING TOOLS
By Chad de Alva
Steering bearings are one of those parts on a motorcycle that always seem to be ignored until they cause problems. Many riders seem to assume that the factory or the bike’s previous owner greased their steering bearings with some magical grease that lasts forever. But like anything else, steering bearings are susceptible to the effects of time, mileage, and damage caused by water and contaminant ingress. When a bike’s steering bearings need replacing, the best practice is to replace the bearing races as well. Performing this job can be a real pain – getting the bearing races out of your bike’s frame, and pulling and pressing a new lower steering bearing can be a real challenge. Worse yet, the potential for collateral damage to other parts of your bike is quite high if you’re improvising tools. Thankfully, Motion Pro makes a couple of tools that make this job a breeze: the Motion Pro Steering Bearing Installer, and the Motion Pro Steering Stem Bearing Tool.
STEERING BEARING INSTALLER
The Motion Pro Steering Bearing Installer makes installing new bearing races in your bike’s frame as easy as turning a socket wrench. With this tool, getting perfectly installed races takes just a few minutes and there’s almost no risk of damaging something, which is just an errant hammer strike away with other methods.
Like any other Motion Pro tool, the Steering Bearing Installer is a well-made, well thought out tool that makes the job much easier and faster to complete. Included with the tool are drivers for 41-42mm, 47-48mm, 51-52mm, and 55-56mm bearing races. Each driver also has a flat on its outside lip, so even if you are working with a wildcat race size, you can still use this tool to drive races into your bike’s frame. The Steering Bearing Installer works on motorcycle and ATV head tubes between 100 and 240mm in length.
Using the Steering Bearing Installer is straightforward. First, determine the appropriate driver for your races. Then, run the center rod through the race and driver, and secure the opposite end with the locking plate. Next, snug up the tapered plate with the thrust washer and hex nut in place. With everything lined up, use a socket wrench to turn the hex nut and press the race into your frame. In just a couple of minutes, you’ll have a perfectly pressed race. It’s that easy.
If you notice that the center rod is spinning in the locking plate while pressing a race, there are two flats machined into the end of the center rod which are perfect for grabbing with a wrench or my personal favorite, Knipex pliers. Please note that Motion Pro has revised the Steering Bearing Installer from the tool that you see in our photos. Specifically, our tool does not have the tapered plate or the wrench flats, but any Steering Bearing Installer purchased from the time of publication will have these features. Motion Pro is known for striving to improve their tools, and this is a great example of how the new version of the steering bearing installer has all of the features I found myself wishing for in the version I have.
STEERING STEM BEARING TOOL
Replacing the lower steering stem bearing can be quite the project. Pulling and pressing the bearing with common tools is a time-consuming process, and the chance of damaging another part, like your steering tube or bottom triple clamp is quite high. Motion Pro’s Steering Stem Bearing Tool makes this process take minutes, and there’s hardly any risk of damaging another part of your bike, no need to invent a press, or play with fire.The Steering Stem Bearing Tool comes with an almost universal tapered roller bearing puller, and 26, 28, 30-31, and 35-36mm race protectors for driving a new race onto your bike’s steering stem.
To use the puller, simply cut the bearing cage off of the bearing and remove all of the rollers. Next, slide the puller over the steering stem and EVENLY tighten the grub screws to engage the bearing. Now hold the puller with a pair of Knipex pliers and turn the puller bolt with a 19mm socket. With just a few turns of the puller bolt, the lower race will come free. Pressing a new bearing is as easy as sizing the right protector, and driving the bearing on with the tool and a mallet.
To put this ease of use and time savings into perspective, I attempted to remove a lower steering bearing race with a hammer and cold chisel after watching a YouTube video for inspiration. After hammering on the bearing race for some time, I still couldn’t get it to start moving up the steering stem, so out came the torch so I could turn the race cherry red to expand it. Long story short, even with taking the time to be extremely careful, I still managed to chip the race and scratch my lower triple clamp in a few places with my chisel. At least I didn’t burn myself with hot parts, or damage the threads on my steering stem. Completing the job with common tools was measured in hours, and involved lots of hammering and fire. Completing the job with Motion Pro tools took minutes, and no other parts were harmed in the process.
My one complaint about both of these tools is that they’re sorely lacking in the packaging department. Some Motion Pro tools come in blow molded cases, but for whatever reason, these tools come in blister-plastic or just a cardboard box. Given that these tools aren’t used frequently, having a way to protect them in storage or when you’re loaning them out to your riding buddies is key. No one wants to beat up their pretty tools, so here’s hoping Motion pro comes up with more durable packaging or a case in the next revision of these tools.
Replacing steering bearings and races is a textbook example of a specialized service job that can be done in minutes with the right tools, or in hours with lots of brute force and ignorance with common tools. Life is short, and I’d personally much rather spend the money upfront to make this job as painless as possible. That way I can get back to riding sooner, and that’s what it’s all about. If you’ve got steering bearings and races that need replacing, the Motion Pro Steering Bearing Installer, and Steering Stem Bearing Tool are absolutely worth it. They may even earn you free beer in the future if you happen to loan these tools out to your riding buddies, and free beer is never a bad thing.
To buy Motion Pro Steering Head Race Puller: CLICK HERE
To by Motion Pro Steering Bearing Installer: CLICK HERE
For all Motio Pro tools offered in the Upshift Store: CLICK HERE