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How are your head bearings doing?

  • Head bearings OK. Under 5,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 42 34.4%
  • Head bearings OK. 5,000 – 10,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 30 24.6%
  • Head bearings OK. 10,000 – 20,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 13 10.7%
  • Head bearings OK. 20,000 – 30,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • Head bearings OK. 30,000+ miles on odometer

    Votes: 5 4.1%
  • Head bearings FAILED. Under 5,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 14 11.5%
  • Head bearings FAILED. 5,000 – 10,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 10 8.2%
  • Head bearings FAILED. 10,000 – 20,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 4 3.3%
  • Head bearings FAILED. 20,000 – 30,000 miles on odometer

    Votes: 1 0.8%
  • Head bearings FAILED. 30,000+ miles on odometer

    Votes: 1 0.8%

  • Total voters
    122
201 - 202 of 202 Posts

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I realize I am late to the party, but I feel I need to chime in.

Let me preface this by saying that Kawasaki is not at fault for anything and they build a fine machine. The parts they use are standard for just about any bike in the current market. The parts are cheap and do wear quickly, but if you read the little book that comes with the bike, it tells you to check this stuff often. The reason is simple, your safety.

I came from a Yamaha R6 and I was already a pretty decent rider before I picked up my 2014 Ninja 300 from the dealership in April of 2014. For me, the head bearings were loose within about 1,000 miles riding. No biggie, tightened them up and off to the races. What was scary was that the triple clamp stem nut was only hand tight when I went to tighten it!!! Moving on, I started noticing wobbles with hands off the bars around the 5K mark. Right about the time the OEM tires were in need of replacement. I didn't get any thunks, shudders or the other common symptoms of loose head-bearings, but I checked the tightness again and all seemed good. A new set of tires on the bike and the head shake was gone. Ok, maybe it was just the worn tires. I would say yes except that within another couple thousand miles it was shaking again and the tires were still fairly new at this point. Check the steering head tightness again and it was minorly loose, but still not shuddering, wallowing or giving other obvious signs of wear. Now after the second set of tires wore out by around the 15k mark ( got almost 10k out of the first replacement set of tires ) I was certain that the steering head bearings were toast. I was getting regular shuddering under hard braking, the bike would wallow or hunt for direction in turns and even with another new set of tires it still shook when I took my hands off the bars. I am proficient enough of a rider that I could care less about some slight wallowing in a turn and shuddering under braking, heck I don't really even care that the bars shake when I take my hands off of them, but after the third set of tires were nearly toast with less than 10k on them, I was getting more interested in going to tapered roller bearings for the steering head as a way to prove it isn't anything else but the crap OEM ones. So at around 25k I finally put in the tapered bearings! That was the fix! The OEM bearings are crap, and if you get more than 10k out of them you are lucky. I do believe that going to a tapered roller bearing setup is the first thing you should consider doing to your bike.
 

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3 Posts
Flew over 6 closely stacked speed bumps at around 40-50kmph and ended up in a massive tank slapper. Luckily I didn't crash, but from then onwards, the handle bars developed a slight wobble when I let go of it. This happened when I was around 3000kms.

Kawasaki service centre resolved this issue by loosening up the head bearings. The same issue started cropping up a month later, and I got it adjusted again from them. Now I'm at 6000kms and a slight wobble is still there even now. It's not that noticeable, but the factory feeling is long gone.



Also picked up the slight wobble at 40-50km/h with 5500km/3500miles on the clock on my Z300. Don't know if it's the head bearing or the tires, cannot see any weights on the rims, so the wheels may not be balanced from day one. The steering does feel more responsive than before, might also be from the settling in of the bearing itself. Now at 9600km/6000miles and when the bike goes in for the 12000km/7500miles service, I will let the agents have a look at it.
 
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