Adjusting steering head bearings on a 250 GTS
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Molto Verboso
SYM HD200, Vespa GT200
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 1674
Location: San Jose, CA
Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:53 am quote
Periodically, all Vespa's steering heads need to be adjusted. To get to the adjusting ring nuts, several parts have to be removed. This is how I go about it on my GTS. (Note: To loosen and tighten the ring nuts, special tool 020055Y is called for. Also, a torque wrench is necessary).

Remove rear view mirrors, after loosening the brake reservoir covers.
Remove horn cover by removing screw under Piaggio badge. (Carefully prise badge off with small screwdriver.)
Remove screw under headlight.
Remove two screws on either side of handlebar cover. (Refer to photos).
The front cover can now be removed. This can take some wiggling and persuading!
Unplug the headlight connections and set the cover aside.
Locate and remove the 4 screws holding the rear cover on (refer to photos) as well as the small nut and bolt at the bottom of the instrument housing.
Unscrew the speedo cable from the instrument panel.
The cover can then be moved out of the way. (It is still attached by the wiring harness).
Remove the handlebar clamp bolt. (It's a tight bugger!)
The handlebars can now be pulled off the steering stem and carefully hung behind the legshield. Use a shop rag to prevent scratches to the paintwork.
Lift off the black plastic cover and finally get to see the steering head ring nuts, spacer washer and bearings!
Remove the top ring nut with the special tool, then the spacer.
Torque the lower ring nut to 12-14Nm.
Replace the spacer and locking ring nut, torquing it to 35-40Nm.
That's it! All that remains is to reassemble the whole mess in the reverse order. The handlebar clamp bolt should be torqued to 45-50Nm. refitting the handlebar covers is a royal pain, but with a bit of patience and wiggling it can be done. Make sure the locating tabs are in the right places. I recommend stuffing a shop rag down the open tunnel below the steering assembly early in the proceedings, to prevent nuts, bolts and screws from disappearing down there! I also test that the speedo cable is properly connected by raising the front end of the bike and spinning the front wheel by hand and checking the speedo needle for movement. This requires a helper!
At this point I have a confession to make - I don't have the special tool to remove the ring nuts, so I have to improvise. Because I don't advise this procedure, I won't describe it, other than to say that it involves a hammer and screwdriver! The important thing to remember is that the handlebars should turn freely and smoothly, with no binding. On the other hand, there should be no play in the steering head at all. This can be checked by raising the front end and pulling on the wheel.
Although the whole procedure sounds tedious, and it is, it only takes me about an hour from start to finish. I hope this is of some help to those wanting to give it a try. I heartily encourage any corrections or additional information that anyone might want to offer.

Cheers,

Bob

steering head 1.JPG
Removing brake reservoir screws

steering head 2.JPG
Removing rear view mirrors

steering head 3.JPG
Removing one of three screws in front cover

steering head 4.JPG
Removing screws at each end of front cover

steering head 5.JPG
Cover removed, showing headlight connectors

steering head 6.JPG
One of four screws to be removed

steering head 7.JPG
The other rear cover screw

steering head 8.JPG
Remaining fasteners to be removed

Steering head 10.JPG
Handlebars removed, showing black plastic cover

steering head 11.JPG
Finally, a look at the steering head upper bearings!

Addicted
Super Fast!
Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 692
Location: West of the Middle East
Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:19 pm quote
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Is the specialty tool a must after your experience? If so, I assume its a Piaggio order part only and will take a month after I give them half an arm for it?
Molto Verboso
SYM HD200, Vespa GT200
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 1674
Location: San Jose, CA
Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:29 pm quote
Let's put it this way, if I had the tool, I'd use it. I prefer to use torque settings when I can. But I don't have it and I have udjusted steering stems in the past on other motorcycles, so I think I have a "feel" for it. I doubt whether the tool required is available at your local Sears, but, then I haven't checked. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in here. I turn the lower adjusting ring in tiny increments and check that there is no binding before tightening the locking ring. As I said in my original post, I don't recommend this method!

Cheers,

Bob
Addicted
Super Fast!
Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 692
Location: West of the Middle East
Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:33 pm quote
I appreciate what you're saying, but on the other hand, I agree that if you know the feel, you can get it pretty good.

I've been searching for this tool and only found it in one place across the pond for 44 pounds but then theres shipping and all the tarrif crap or whatever.

Im gonna throw caution to the wind, I want to see if this will affect the wobble for me.
Molto Verboso
GTS(me)/GTV(wife)
Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 1228
Location: Mill Valley, CA
Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:52 pm quote
Heh. Until I read the follow up posts I was thinking, "how the heck did get get a torque wrench on those lock nuts?

FWIW, when I took mine apart the upper lock nut was just finger tight. I think that was a contribution to my wobble.

BTW, do you ever use loctite on the upper locknut?
Molto Verboso
SYM HD200, Vespa GT200
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 1674
Location: San Jose, CA
Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:24 pm quote
Michael Moore wrote:
BTW, do you ever use loctite on the upper locknut?
No, I haven't up to now. It may be an idea, though.

Cheers,

Bob
Hooked
Vespa GTS >past> Vespa P200E / Suzuki Savage
Joined: 08 Nov 2006
Posts: 379
Location: Florida
Fri Aug 03, 2007 5:32 am quote
Wow, that really resembles P200 steering bearing tightening. (Screwdriver & hammer included!) Thanks for the writeup!
Addicted
Super Fast!
Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 692
Location: West of the Middle East
Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:29 pm quote
I think I found the tool

http://www.scooterpartsdirect.com/cat.php?prod_id=2311&cat_id=23&men_id=1
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:56 pm quote
Burgerbob wrote:
Let's put it this way, if I had the tool, I'd use it. I prefer to use torque settings when I can. But I don't have it and I have udjusted steering stems in the past on other motorcycles, so I think I have a "feel" for it. I doubt whether the tool required is available at your local Sears, but, then I haven't checked. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in here. I turn the lower adjusting ring in tiny increments and check that there is no binding before tightening the locking ring. As I said in my original post, I don't recommend this method!

Cheers,

Bob
something to take note: most motorcycles use a tapered roller bearing rather than caged ball bearings. the tapered rollers will take ALOT more torque before damaging the bearing races, thus making your steering feel chunky and eventually damaging both components.

bob set about it right, tighten in tiny increments... then set the upper ring. if you've done it a whole bunch you get a feel for it. but i'm not shy to say that i still tighten up the lock rings to spec with the torque wrench whenever i do the job.

best,
-greasy
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:57 pm quote
that's it.
i have the same one, works great.

best,
-greasy
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:00 am quote
Michael Moore wrote:
FWIW, when I took mine apart the upper lock nut was just finger tight. I think that was a contribution to my wobble.
oh yes... that would have an effect.
Quote:
BTW, do you ever use loctite on the upper locknut?
i like to use the blue loctite on the upper. if the threads look a little suspect and you think that the nut may back off, you can wrap a little piece of tape around the fork stem as well. kind of a belt and suspenders approach, if you will.

best,
-greasy
Ossessionato
2010 PIAGGIO BV 500ie Tourer
Joined: 03 Jul 2007
Posts: 4644
Location: Lakeshore, ON, CANADA-Capestang,FR
Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:58 am quote
Sorta off topic, but Greasy, whoever owns that foot in your avatar, should stop eating red meat and drinking beer - looks like gout to me.
Enthusiast
Aprilia SportCity 250
Joined: 11 Mar 2006
Posts: 99
Location: Cleveland
Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:17 am quote
Thanks, great write-up of info that I've been wanting to know, bob!
Molto Verboso
SYM HD200, Vespa GT200
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 1674
Location: San Jose, CA
Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:45 am quote
greasy125 wrote:
Burgerbob wrote:
Let's put it this way, if I had the tool, I'd use it. I prefer to use torque settings when I can. But I don't have it and I have udjusted steering stems in the past on other motorcycles, so I think I have a "feel" for it. I doubt whether the tool required is available at your local Sears, but, then I haven't checked. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in here. I turn the lower adjusting ring in tiny increments and check that there is no binding before tightening the locking ring. As I said in my original post, I don't recommend this method!

Cheers,

Bob
something to take note: most motorcycles use a tapered roller bearing rather than caged ball bearings. the tapered rollers will take ALOT more torque before damaging the bearing races, thus making your steering feel chunky and eventually damaging both components.

bob set about it right, tighten in tiny increments... then set the upper ring. if you've done it a whole bunch you get a feel for it. but i'm not shy to say that i still tighten up the lock rings to spec with the torque wrench whenever i do the job.

best,
-greasy
Thanks for your input , greasy. I wish the Vespa had tapered roller bearings instead of those piddly ball bearings! BTW, the link to the ring tool shows 2 different tools. The lower picture has the same tool number as the one called for in the workshop manual (020055Y). It's also the cheapest!

Cheers,

Bob
Addicted
Super Fast!
Joined: 01 Jun 2007
Posts: 692
Location: West of the Middle East
Sat Aug 04, 2007 4:49 pm quote
Bob, Im confused.

The link I posted is for these two tools together for $29.95 if Im not mistaken.

Then there is is this Ring nut tool for $22.50. It says tool but the pic shows two pieces?

You're saying buy the Ring Nut tool for $22.50 to do this job?

t19120055p.jpg
Steering nut tool set for $29.95 for both shown

t20055.jpg
Ring nut tool(s) (?) for $22.50

Banned
29,000 miles on my atlantic pastel green 2007 GTS 250
Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 4332
Location: Utah Valley
Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:51 pm quote
Re: Adjusting steering head bearings on a 250 GTS
Burgerbob wrote:
Periodically, all Vespa's steering heads need to be adjusted.
Great contribution, Bob. Thank you, also for the qualified responses given in the thread.

Bob,
How do you define "periodically"?

Greasy,
It sounds as if using a torque wrench is a shame.

Is it?
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:11 pm quote
EN82pg wrote:
Sorta off topic, but Greasy, whoever owns that foot in your avatar, should stop eating red meat and drinking beer - looks like gout to me.
ha!
that's my foot. suffered a bit of "blunt force trauma" while at work last week. it's calmed down a bit, but i know that a visit to the dr. is in order.

now, where's my rascal... i've got to go shopping...

best,
-greasy
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:18 pm quote
Burgerbob wrote:
Thanks for your input , greasy. I wish the Vespa had tapered roller bearings instead of those piddly ball bearings! BTW, the link to the ring tool shows 2 different tools. The lower picture has the same tool number as the one called for in the workshop manual (020055Y). It's also the cheapest!

Cheers,

Bob
eh, ball bearings are okay for our application. really, there's not the heft of the components and we're really not seeing the forces exerted that would be in something like a serious motorbike.

anyhoo, the tool i have is the one pictured in the upper photo (Part #:T19120055P) and it works like gangbusters. i've yet to use the other tool, so i can't comment on its performance.

best,
-greasy
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:21 pm quote
Re: Adjusting steering head bearings on a 250 GTS
Moped wrote:
Greasy,
It sounds as if using a torque wrench is a shame.

Is it?
while my post may have been interpreted that way, my stance is quite the opposite. sorry for the confusion.

so to reiterate:

ALWAYS USE A TORQUE WRENCH!!!

ALWAYS!!

best,
-greasy
Molto Verboso
SYM HD200, Vespa GT200
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 1674
Location: San Jose, CA
Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:50 am quote
Petrol wrote:
Bob, Im confused.

The link I posted is for these two tools together for $29.95 if Im not mistaken.

Then there is is this Ring nut tool for $22.50. It says tool but the pic shows two pieces?

You're saying buy the Ring Nut tool for $22.50 to do this job?
I think the picture shows 2 views of the same tool, the top and the bottom. It has the same part number as the workshop manual calls for, but, as greasy says, the other tool works also, so I guess you can take your pick!

Cheers,

Bob
Banned
29,000 miles on my atlantic pastel green 2007 GTS 250
Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 4332
Location: Utah Valley
Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:43 pm quote
Today, I finally did it. The damned special tool didn't fit well, whoever built it must be cross-eyed. Oh how I hate that!

Anyway, it is all actually very easy, just like you say, Bob. I didn't notice the bearing being loose but tightened it to specs, and the twitchyness is gone. How nice!

Without torqueing, I would have had a hard time, though, telling whether it was too tight or too loose. It all felt the same on the front wheel. So, I strongly recommend using the tool that allows applying a torque wrench.

Now that it is back together, I remember having forgotten to tighten the speedo cable ring nut. I guess I'll know when it came off...
Testing the speedo cable connection is quite easy without a helper too. Just kick the wheel in motion and look on the speedo at the same time.

This is also a good opportunity to make sure the multi-plug into the gauge cluster fits correctly, and the rubber cover seals it well.

I noticed on my 2007 GTS, there was no fastener underneath the gauge cluster:



BTW, this is a sight you want to avoid:



Those who know can tell that I had it almost back together...when I found this plastic cover on the floor that was supposed to go over the bearing instead. Oh well, more practice time...

I found the hardest part was to decide at which point the handlebars are on perfectly perpendicular. I think I hit it.
Hooked
Currently Vespaless
Joined: 12 Oct 2007
Posts: 271
Location: Honolulu, HI
Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:55 pm quote
Question
Question: When making the adjustment & then reassembling, How do you measure/ascertain that your steering is perfectly straight and your handlebars
perfectly level/horizontal?
Hooked
Vespa LX 150
Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 198
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Wed Dec 26, 2007 2:54 am quote
I never knew how to figure out either if the handlebars are straight. I had an accident last year and the handlebars were a bit off on the left. But the guy at the repair shop, put the wheels in a long metal rail which held them both aligned and then moved the handlebars until he said they are in the right position.
He got it all tightened and I had to believe him they are ok . I had no problems with the steering since. So I guess he got them right.
Banned
29,000 miles on my atlantic pastel green 2007 GTS 250
Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 4332
Location: Utah Valley
Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:55 pm quote
Re: Question
alohachris wrote:
Question: When making the adjustment & then reassembling, How do you measure/ascertain that your steering is perfectly straight and your handlebars
perfectly level/horizontal?
I don't know how the pros do it, but I visually aligned the front wheel in line with the scooter, then sat on it and checked whether the handlebars felt even. I had to get off and back on about five or six times until I was satisfied, and I have no issues now that I'm back riding.
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:14 am quote
Re: Question
alohachris wrote:
Question: When making the adjustment & then reassembling, How do you measure/ascertain that your steering is perfectly straight and your handlebars
perfectly level/horizontal?
tape measure, laser line or plomb-bob.

best,
-greasy
Banned
Joined: 24 Oct 2007
Posts: 6035

Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:03 am quote
Thanks guys!
This thread is so helpful!!

For future reference, is the procedure is close to identical for a GT?
Sergeant at Arms
Weird 80's Vespas & Cool Vintage Lambrettas
Joined: 21 Oct 2005
Posts: 8099
Location: The state of insanity, SoCal
Thu Jan 03, 2008 10:23 pm quote
Re: Thanks guys!
L & J from Jersey wrote:
This thread is so helpful!!

For future reference, is the procedure is close to identical for a GT?
yes, pretty much identical. there may be a few more or different fasteners for the bodywork, but other than that you should be golden.

best,
-greasy
Enthusiast
Pearl ET2, Black GTS 250ie
Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 52
Location: Houston, Texas
Tue Feb 19, 2008 7:47 am quote
Great info.

My 7000 mile ET4 steering has a notchy feel in the center position. I assume it's the headset bearings.

Is the procedure similar for an LX or ET?

Are there any bottom bearings as well?

Now to only find the tool, it's out of stock at scooter parts direct
Member
'74 Primavera (RIP 1990), '05 GT200
Joined: 23 Apr 2008
Posts: 23
Location: SF, CA
Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:48 am quote
Instructions work just great for GT200
Completed the task in adverse conditions (beginning to rain, darkness falling) in a little over an hour.

My handlebars really didn't want to come off of the steerer tube though. I had to twist and yank. No damage done though.

I can't believe the previous owner had ridden around with 1/2 cm of play in the top bearing for so long. Sheesh. Much better now.

Thanks for the step-by-step!
Beer Fairy
GTS-"Cannonball Bettie" Member Iron Butt Association
Joined: 12 May 2008
Posts: 851
Location: Seacoast New Hampshire USA
Mon May 19, 2008 9:57 am quote
wobble
Isn't this something that the dealer should be doing?? I mean If you buy a scoot and it wobbles it's way out of the showroom, then why aren't the dealers doing this work?

I ask this because My 250 wobbles at exactly 30 mph. My dealer replaced my frot tire ( it was flat day 3) and said the wobble was from the tire.

isn't this a warranty fix? help

I like to wrench as much as the next guy but WTF???
Petty Tyrant
GTS250 GTS300 MP3 500
Joined: 11 Oct 2005
Posts: 29657
Location: Bay Area, California
Mon May 19, 2008 10:14 am quote
Re: wobble
mogeewogee wrote:
Isn't this something that the dealer should be doing?? I mean If you buy a scoot and it wobbles it's way out of the showroom, then why aren't the dealers doing this work?

I ask this because My 250 wobbles at exactly 30 mph. My dealer replaced my frot tire ( it was flat day 3) and said the wobble was from the tire.

isn't this a warranty fix? help

I like to wrench as much as the next guy but WTF???
ALL GT and GTS derived models will wobble to some degree, especially at 30mph while decelerating with one hand off the handlebars. All of them. Period. The SAVA tires on the GTS will mask the wobble, but it's still there.

There are a number of things that can be done to minimize the wobble, but there are a large number of contributing factors and dealers are, by and large, reluctant to chase down 17 different things in order to, at best, minimize the problem. There's just no winning it and a tremendous amount of labor would have to be performed to merely placate the owner.

A lot of our bikes are also out of warranty, and a number of us do our own maintenance. Some of us just trust our own judgement more than the service department at the dealer.

See this thread for more information on wobble:
[Not authorized to view this topic]
Beer Fairy
GTS-"Cannonball Bettie" Member Iron Butt Association
Joined: 12 May 2008
Posts: 851
Location: Seacoast New Hampshire USA
Mon May 19, 2008 11:57 am quote
wobble-ishous
Jess,
Thak you very much for your info. That saves me from going down and ruining my relationship with the dealer before I have a chance to build it.

I have been looking at the 15 oz bar ends from Jettin. I will work on the tire inflation and eat more veggies!

Thanks a million.
Hooked
Scarabeo 500ie
Joined: 11 Sep 2007
Posts: 198
Location: Minnesota
Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:48 pm quote
Whenever going over bumps at low speeds on my GTS I get a different type of wobbling feeling other than the standard 30 mph wobble. Is this a sign that I need to perform the above procedure? Almost feels like the bike is flexing side to side in the middle.
WHOoligan
1985 PX200E Arcobaleno : 2010/14 GTS300 S: RIP GTS250 @ 40K
Joined: 25 Oct 2007
Posts: 6695
Location: Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Champions X2
Tue Jun 03, 2008 1:04 pm quote
I used the heavest bar ends from HVMP and that helped reduce the wobble.
Sponsor
'07 GTS 250ie
Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 306
Location: Manitou Springs, CO., USA
Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:54 am quote
Hammer
T19120055P
I don't like working on machines with a hammer and punch if I can help it.
Does anyone know of a US source for this tool?
Can someone PM me please with the approximate outside diameter of the ring, I may have an alternative.
Hooked
Scarabeo 500ie
Joined: 11 Sep 2007
Posts: 198
Location: Minnesota
Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:04 pm quote
Let me know if you find it. Alternatively I was thinking of just taking a large socket, and grinding out some 'teeth' to fit the grooves of the nut. But like you said, just need to figure out the proper size to use. If I figure it out, i'll let you know.
Molto Verboso
GTS250ie, ET4
Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 1244
Location: cincinnati, ohio, usa
Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:19 am quote
Maybe I missed something but what torque do you tighten the nut too?
Moderaptor
The Hornet (GT200, aka Love Bug) and 'Dimples' - a GTS 300
Joined: 26 Aug 2007
Posts: 39105
Location: Pleasant Hill, CA
Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:51 am quote
From the manual:
Name                                                Torque in Nm
Upper steering ring nut                             35 40
Lower steering ring nut                             12 - 14
Handlebar fixing screw                              45 50
Fixing screws for handlebar control assembly Ubolts 7 10
Molto Verboso
GTS250ie, ET4
Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 1244
Location: cincinnati, ohio, usa
Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:12 am quote
Thanks Jim
Molto Verboso
GTS250ie, ET4
Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 1244
Location: cincinnati, ohio, usa
Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:28 am quote
I know this sounds like I'm cheap but, That tool looks a hole like what we use where I work to tighten up precision spindle locknuts with. Can someone take a scale to their socket tool and tell me the ID, OD and width of the little nubs are?
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