This video gives us a look at removing and replacing upper and lower neck bearing races on a Twin Cam Softail frame. Some early model Harleys will have a press in neck cup that fits into the neck of the frame. This neck cup holds the bearing race rather than the frame.
The process of removing the neck bearing races and servicing the bearings is very much the same on Touring, Dyna, and Sportster models old and new. However, the process of removing and reinstalling the front end will differ greatly between these models.
Jim’s Tools makes a split collet that is used in conjunction with a driver handle that is used to remove these races. Jim’s also offers a wedge, type, spacer that can be installed at the end of the driver. This piece is used to space the collet halves equally at their split.
Using heat to remove these neck bearing races can be more harmful than good if used incorrectly. Bob suggests only using heat when necessary. If corrosion has made a tight bond between the race and the frame, heat can be used to aid in breaking that bond of corrosion.
Worn neck bearings will most typically show wear on the center front of the lower bearings and races and the center back of the upper bearings and races. This is due to the fact that the handlebars are held straight and centered for the majority of all riding. If you feel a “flat spot” when passing center as you slowly swinging your bars from left to right, you have bearings and races that should no longer be in service on your motorcycle.
Neck bearings and races should only be replaced as sets. You should never replace only one set and never install a new bearing into a used race. Doing so is a waste of time and money.
The best way to service and maintain your neck bearings is by hand packing them on a regular service interval. This, of course, would be reserved for a bigger service, like a 10k.
After servicing the bearings you will perform a fall away test in order to set proper steering head adjustment. Proper maintenance and adjustment of steering head bearings is vital to correct performance and safety on your Harley Davidson.