Advice sought: himalayan feels 'odd' in corners and doesn't ride in straight line

Fritzltouw

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I was wondering if I could ask anyone's advice here. Last weekend I made a trip with my SO and noticed when making a left turn it felt as if my SO was leaning the other way. She said no. (and I trust her of course).
I stopped for a minute, checked, nothing noticeable. We completed the trip and a few times it felt odd in corners, as if it didn't want to lean in or leaned in very abrupt. This morning I left and stopped after 2 km since it showed the same issue but now riding single. I went back home riding slow since the bike felt odd.

When pushing the front fork I feel it's a bit soft and it's making a hissing noise but no oil leakage. I guess the hissing noise could be air that is pushed out from the fork gaiters. Seals are in tact no corrosion on the forks. When I bottom it out hard with the front brakes pulled, I hear a popping sound around the steering head bearing but the bearing doesn't feel loose. so when I push it against the wall with the tire there's no play in the steering bar.

When accelerating the normal free play you feel when moving the steering bar at low speeds doesn't gradually go away as normal but feels really odd and abrupt.

All of these problems come and go but I don't dare to ride it on the road anymore since it doesn't really want to ride in a straight line at times. I checked the tires and these are brand new and don't show any signs of uneven wear.

So I have a few ideas what might be wrong:
1. head bearings gone?
2. One of the fork springs is broken and bottoms out uneven which could explain the odd road balance and cornering.
3. crack in chassis somewhere? Apparently there were a few Himalayans that had a problem like that in India. I can't seem to observe anything though.

Any ideas?
Thanks
 

Fritzltouw

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Some additional info. I think I found the issue already. Just got it up on a stand and when moving the steering bar from left to right it seems it's not moving freely, as if it needs to go over a little threshold all the time. In other words, I guess the steering head bearings are shot. This is quick after 10K km. I remember itchyboots had to change hers about 3 times in 36K km going from india to europe.
 

canthai

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Some additional info. I think I found the issue already. Just got it up on a stand and when moving the steering bar from left to right it seems it's not moving freely, as if it needs to go over a little threshold all the time. In other words, I guess the steering head bearings are shot. This is quick after 10K km. I remember itchyboots had to change hers about 3 times in 36K km going from india to europe.
That would have been my first guess, but you posted the answer before I could reply.
3 times in 36 K Km - Yikes !
 

Fritzltouw

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That would have been my first guess, but you posted the answer before I could reply.
3 times in 36 K Km - Yikes !
haha yeah I'm good at answering my own questions. Or perhaps too soon with asking for advice?!? Did a bit of searching and apparently it's a design fault from RE. The steering head bearing cover is designed in a way that the seal doesn't stop any water from coming in even if you're not using a pressure washer to clean the bike.
 

Fritzltouw

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Called with RE today. Talked to the mechanic today and I can only have it fixed next week. There goes my weekend trip we had scheduled. Then he said it's a recurring problem that needs to be addressed every 5-10K km. This means that every 5K you'll be adding 2,500 thb to the regular service bill for a set of head bearings. Not sure what to think of it but it sort of corresponds with my own experience. The popping noise in the steering head bearing started occurring around 5K and the bike become difficult to handle around 9K. RE says they have no way to fix this due a design fault. The BS6 model has apparently addressed this issue. Interceptor models seem to have a similar problem.
 

canthai

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Is it a captive ball bearing ? No machined race ?
If me, I would measure the inside of the steering neck, outside of the steering stem.
Check with SKF - bet they have a pair of tapered roller bearings and races to fit in the size you need.
If they have the OD correct but the steering stem is too large, quick trip to a machine shop, chuck the stem in a lathe, machine to size.
Then just sort out a seal - not hard as all it has to do is keep splash and rain out.
Good to go.
 

Fritzltouw

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Is it a captive ball bearing ? No machined race ?
If me, I would measure the inside of the steering neck, outside of the steering stem.
Check with SKF - bet they have a pair of tapered roller bearings and races to fit in the size you need.
If they have the OD correct but the steering stem is too large, quick trip to a machine shop, chuck the stem in a lathe, machine to size.
Then just sort out a seal - not hard as all it has to do is keep splash and rain out.
Good to go.
Thanks for the tip. I'll have to look into it. They are tapered roller bearings. I am not quite sure where the water gets. I'll have to do some more reading on the issue. Time is a bit of a problem for me. I'm working full time and leaving for work abroad next month again.
 

Hoghead

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RE does not have a solution? Harris designed the frame on the Interceptor, and difficult to believe that they could not get this right

I had to machine my old Bullet to a tapered roller with race, as Canthai suggests. I used a 1" Timken Harley bearing I had lying about, and machined the bottom of the stem to fit. If the new Enfields have tapered rollers, buy a quality bearing with race, and see if you can get a better seal. Most bikes do not have a great seal, so keep the pressure washer away, and use waterproof wheel bearing grease.
Done and adjusted properly it should last a lot longer than 9000 km

I have a Interceptor with 7000 km so will be finding out it seems
 

Fritzltouw

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I'm at RE now. There was another branch in Bangkok (Praram 5 owned by Motoholic) that called me back and said they had time today to service the bike. I talked to the head mechanic and he said RE does not have a solution for it. A combination of factors is at play, bad design, RE unwilling to do a recall and address the issue, probably poor lubrication from the factory/assembly line and low quality standard bearings. RE seems to just approach it as normal wear and tear. So I asked if they had any better aftermarket bearings but they didn't. So I've decided to just change it for now and in the meanwhile carefully look at the suggestions that everyone has given here. The interceptor apparently has exactly the same problem with poor lubrication from the factory.

I'm happy they were able to help me out today. The Praram 5 branch on Chaiyaphruek road is cheaper and better than Thong lor. I was quoted half the price in labor than at Thong Lor. At Thong Lor they really don't like it when you walk around and have a look at the bike while they're working on it. Here there's just a big glass wall dividing the showroom from the service area and you can just sit and watch your bike. The 5,000 service the last time was done very well and they work very precise. They have had the same crew working there for a few years now.

I guess it is what it is for now.
IMG_20211209_151133.jpg
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canthai

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Did you get a look at the bearings - who is the manufacturer
Aisin Seiki I imagine being as it is made in India / Thailand
 

Fritzltouw

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Did you get a look at the bearings - who is the manufacturer
Aisin Seiki I imagine being as it is made in India / Thailand
We looked at the package and it just said Royal Enfield, no other brands were named on the pack or the bearing itself.
 

mikerust

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You simply need the bearing number then you could buy any manufacturer. The only benefit from a bearing perspective is that the cage could be stainless but the frame still won't be.
 

Hoghead

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Replacing it with the same problematic bearing is not a solution but luckily bearings are made to common standard sizes. Every bearing has a number on both the bearing and race - very odd that this one did not?
Perhaps a Dealer is not allowed to use non RE parts?
Pity that you did not measure it, then it would be a simple matter of sourcing a quality SKF, Timken, etc. Sounds like that I will be doing this in the near future...............

Looks like the same grease they slathered all over the relay connections - odd that they had no problem using a shitload there to cause problems, but could not get enough on an important bearing
If you have not cleaned this out of your bike yet, so do, and replace all the relays with quality Desno ones. The grease and crappy relays are a known problem

Every bearing on my old Bullet was a problem due to Indian domestic market quality and I replaced every one of them. I would have thought that RE would be using something a lot better when selling to the world.

A Thai company ignoring a recall for QC or even a safety issue - say it isn't so!!
 

Fritzltouw

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You simply need the bearing number then you could buy any manufacturer. The only benefit from a bearing perspective is that the cage could be stainless but the frame still won't be.
Thanks. I think for the next replacement I'm going to buy the bearings myself in advance and have them replace it with quality ones or do it myself if I have enough time. I'm really busy with work at the moment so doing anything at the moment costs a lot of time and energy. Next time I will.

Someone on Reddit sent me a link to a company in India as well that seems to have developed an after market solution for this. Art of motorcycle is the name of the company.
 

Fritzltouw

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Replacing it with the same problematic bearing is not a solution but luckily bearings are made to common standard sizes. Every bearing has a number on both the bearing and race - very odd that this one did not?
Perhaps a Dealer is not allowed to use non RE parts?
Pity that you did not measure it, then it would be a simple matter of sourcing a quality SKF, Timken, etc. Sounds like that I will be doing this in the near future...............

Looks like the same grease they slathered all over the relay connections - odd that they had no problem using a shitload there to cause problems, but could not get enough on an important bearing
If you have not cleaned this out of your bike yet, so do, and replace all the relays with quality Desno ones. The grease and crappy relays are a known problem

Every bearing on my old Bullet was a problem due to Indian domestic market quality and I replaced every one of them. I would have thought that RE would be using something a lot better when selling to the world.

A Thai company ignoring a recall for QC or even a safety issue - say it isn't so!!
I know, I should have measured it but I was working on my laptop on the showroom while they were fixing it. I needed the bike fixed for the weekend. I think the bearing numbers are in my manual as well. It has a part list. Once I get round to it I'll post the numbers here.

RE at praram5 did a great job cleaning it all up and replacing all the bearings making sure not to make a mess out of it this time.
 

Hoghead

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No need to buy a common bearing from India. If the 30205 bearing shown is the correct one then an international spec part from NTN, SKF, Timken etc
dimensions are 25 x 52 x 16.25mm

Item # 30205, Tapered Roller Set - Metric Series On NTN Bearing Corp. of America


SKF

Any decent bearing shop will have this or can get it, and cheap as chips. Some waterproof wheel bearing grease, and a poly washer and you are good to go with a DYI solution that should not fail in 9000 km
 

Fritzltouw

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No need to buy a common bearing from India. If the 30205 bearing shown is the correct one then an international spec part from NTN, SKF, Timken etc
dimensions are 25 x 52 x 16.25mm

Item # 30205, Tapered Roller Set - Metric Series On NTN Bearing Corp. of America


SKF

Any decent bearing shop will have this or can get it, and cheap as chips. Some waterproof wheel bearing grease, and a poly washer and you are good to go with a DYI solution that should not fail in 9000 km
The set that you can order from india through the art of motorcycle for the himalayan is a set of NTN bearings including waterproof grease and a nylon cap.