Steering Head Races

by Alan Buehner

Originally printed in the 2009 issue #43 of Still….Keeping Track

The steering races need to be checked on a regular basis to make sure that they are kept greased and are not worn or loose. This is a maintenance item that is often overlooked. The best time to do this is when replacing the oil in the fork tubes.

View of broken race in top steering head
View of broken race in bottom steering head

A close visual examination of the races will determine if they need to be replaced or reused. The top two photos show the inner races inside the top and bottom of a steering head. Notice how the inside and outside edges of the races are broken and have wear marks. These are signs of a race that needs to be replaced. When in doubt – replace it.

There are two types of races used on the Penton Sportscycles – an inner race and an outer race.
The inner race has a machined surface (that the balls ride on) that is on the inside track of the race (see photo E). This race is used in the top and bottom cups of the steering head.

The outside race has a machined surface (that the balls ride on) that is on the outside track of the race. This race is used in the cup at the bottom of the fork stem and in the cup of the threaded top bushing.

To remove the old races is simple. You just tap them out.

For the steering head, insert a long tool down inside the neck. Hold the tool against the inside edge of the race and tap the tool with a hammer and moving the tool around the edge of the race as you tap it to gradually loosen it out of the cup.

Steering stem showing pinch bolt
Steering stem and top bushing showing holes

To remove the old race out of the steering stem, you must first remove the steering stem from the bottom fork plate. Remove the pinch bolt on the fork plate (see photo C), then tap the fork stem out. On the bottom of the fork stem cup are two small holes (see photo D) use a punch inside these holes to tap the race out of the cup.

On the threaded top bushing there are also 2 small holes (see photo D). Use a punch inside these holes to tap out the race.

To make removal and installation of races easier – heat the outside surfaces of the holding cups to make the metal expand.

Installation of the new races is a matter of pressing or tapping in the new races. Make sure that you are installing the proper race – inner races inside the steering head – outer races in the fork stem and top bushing.

Steering race kits are available that include: races + balls + o-rings. Use a Lithium based grease or steering race grease to lubricate the assembly.