Sterring Head Bearings - Cali Vintage


I’ve been having problems with the steering head bearings on my Vintage. They were feeling ‘tight’ and ‘notchy’ on slower speed manoeuvres. My local workshop adjusted them a couple of times but they are now getting worse. I guess they require replacement. I was interested to know if this is a common fault on Cali’s?

The bike had only covered 6,000 miles when the problem became apparent to me. I would have thought these bearings should last a lot longer than this? Could the cause have been bad or no adjustment originally and being ignored or unnoticed by previous owner? I’m just curious…

I have just arrived home after riding 1700 (trouble-free) miles in a rain-soaked France and of course, the bearings are now worse. I understand lots of straight-line miles only serve to make the problem worse…
Like I say, just interested and any comments appreciated.

Oh, suggestions for where best to obtain replacement bearings? Thanks

“gutsibits” for the bearings, ther was a dislike of greas at the factory minimal grease was used jap bikes are the same. the head stock bearings on my 05 cali failed at 7600mls. also if you or the previos keeper have yoused a power washer thay will blast the greas ouy of the bearings ( wheel/hedstock)
all the above will have the bearing or get the part number and go to a bearing supliyer and save your self money,buzz2014-07-15 12:07:15

Yep, many thanks for your feedback. Lack of grease/proper adjustment from the outset seems to be the issue.

Gutsibits, here I come.

Thanks again.

Hi just done the head bearings on the EV.
What level of mechanical aptitude & workshop equipment do you have?
All the best

Hey Steve,

The short answer is not enough!! I have a grown-up who does the more technical stuff for me, so he’ll be doing the bearings on the bike. I am always interested in finding out the causes/niggles on the Guzzi though and relish the advice and any info I get on here. How many miles has your bike done on those bearings?
Best regards, Roger

ours are failing at around 8000miles…not really good enough…Can you imagine the uproar if cars needed a new steering rack at just 8000miles!
I suspect water ingress is the cause, poor design if water can penetrate so easily, and altho the bike is just under warranty I doubt if any dealer will want the job…

Yep, water is the problem. After reassembly with copious amounts is grease I packed a heavy grease into all the little gaps around the top yoke and closed the hole in the nut with a rubber gromit…So far, so good

Sounds like another case of the Mandello grease famine. If you haven’t already, it might be a good plan to get the swing arm out and get that greased up before it seizes up.There have been several cases of the carc models running dry in the bottom pivot mechanism. It seems that Luigi doesn’t like getting his hands dirty when assembling the bikes.

Hi Roger,
The bike has done 65000 miles.
I’ve got a lot of service information and receipts from the previous two owners.
The previous owner seemed to concentrate on oil/filters/necessities and the bike had year round use not far from the coast.
The bearings I took out were heavily greased.
From the available evidence I’d say the bearings have done >2500 miles.
All the best

Received replacement bearings from Gutsibits today. I will be having them fitted next week. Can’t wait to ride the bike with ‘free’ steering! Rossoandy, I know what you mean about bearings failing at these low mileages. I also felt like sending Guzzi a bill for the repair to the poorly designed fuel pump, when the feed pipe dislodged itself inside the tank the other week!! That said, I love my Cali!! :wink:

As said, if this was a car it’d be shamed on Watchdog!

Renault still haven’t shaken off the stigma of the sticking bonnet release on the Clio 2 all those years ago.

Good luch Roger.
A couple of points which may be useful.
It’s worth getting a set of the outer seals for the top and bottom of the steering yokes as these can degrade/get damaged. They are the barrier between the bearings and unwanted ingress.
The lower bearing inner is usually difficult to remove on all bikes. A few minutes on Google is terrifying!
Despite best advice (grinder, Dremel, saw, file etc) I didn’t fancy risking a set of yokes.
I removed the outer shell and the rollers by scoring and a light tap with a small, sharp chisel. This left just the ‘top hat’ collar. Then made a bracket of slotted strip and M8 bolts to hold the clamp firmly in the vice. Using a mineral water bottle I filled the rubber seal noted above and used a fine blowtorch to warm the collar. Steady progress and some releasing agent meant that I saved the rubber seal and got the collar moving. As the collar moves along the shaft it becomes progressively easier to move.
Sorry if this is stating the obvious.
All the best

Thanks, Steve. We will tread carefully! Will let you know how I get on…

It’ll be worth the effort and once done you know it will be good for a few miles to come
Have fun

Maybe a point for the future, though hopefully not for you, have replaced the steering head and wheel bearings on my T3 with like for like SKF bearings from RS Components for half the price Gutsibits were asking.

Me Too. I also use marine grade grease (thick goo) on all low speed bearings, over the years I have never had to replace a set twice, current are as new (no adjustments) after over 20,000mls but I had a gpz900 that was the same after over 40,000mls.
I stripped both my swingarms and driveshafts this spring and used the marine goo on their UJ’s etc, see how they go.

New head stock bearings fitted today. Four hour job. The old bearings were completely knackered because of water ingress. Obvious traces of ‘rusty water’ on the spindle etc. Technician reckons I was lucky to get away without complete failure, during my recent visit to France! Phew. Not sure how the water got in. Possible suspect is jet wash? We’re not sure but certainly water was the issue. Anyway, the transformation in the Cali is unbelievable! All handling (not only slower speeds), has improved beyond measure and I am delighted!! So, in three months of ownership, I’ve replaced both front discs (warped), had a repair to the fuel pump (dislodged supply line), had full service done, adjusted gear change linkage, replaced steering damper and two weeks ago, completed 1700 miles in a rain-soaked France. Gradually sorting this machine out and it’s worth it. What a bike!! Oh, too late for the SKF bearings, Jimble but good tip for future… Thanks


Moral, don’t use jet washers. Modern computerised electronics doesn’t like it either.

I use a jet wash all the time and so long as you don’t go point blank with it they’re fine, whats the difference with 80mph in the rain? once a year I clean and protect all electrics with ACF50. Job done. Tho I do now have a charging problem to solve but I think Its a failed part and nothing to do with water. Just Italian!

the " seal " on the lower bearings …isn’t. the factory put in a minimal amount of grease , i have changed head bears at less than 5k miles . i repack bearings , and load up the steering stem with grease when i do them ( cv grease is too thick for most people )
ps i never jet-wash my bike …ok i never wash my bike !