STEERING FIX: MR. KNOW-IT-ALL

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Dear Mr. Know-It-All,

My 2019 KTM 300XC-W turns like it has a steering stabilizer. Only problem is, I don’t have one on there. Why does my steering feel like cement all of a sudden? I’m having trouble controlling my bike. Should I take it back to the dealer?
Miles
via [email protected]

I’m trying to decide whether you deserve to be in the same zip code as your steed! My sage is such: always attempt to be smarter than the inanimate object residing in your garage. Search for the solution, not the problem. Your front end is binding for one of many reasons. My call, since the machine is quite new, is that it requires some care and feeding at the bearings in the steering head. In most cases the manufacturers ship the machine with little to no grease in this zone. And, I’ve found that most dealer setup machines do not pay attention, so it’s up to the owner to belly up to the food trough and address the dilemma. You’ll need to pull the triple clamps to inspect the bearings on the top and bottom of the steering stem. I have found on a KTM, removing the front wheel and both fork units are a major help. Then, remove the top clamp while holding the lower unit. KTM does not use a steering stem nut under the top clamp, so the entire unit will fall out once the top clamp is removed. If you discern rust and pitting on the bearings and races, replace both items and repack with a healthy smattering of waterproof grease. If they are simply dry and lacking the lube to keep them happy, repack with grease and reinstall. Make certain that you work the grease inside the bearing race, not just a lazy glaze on the exterior. On reinstalling the triple clamps, tighten the top steering stem nut until tight but not binding when you turn the bars. I constantly must shake my head when I get these missives on a $10,000 machine that you are probably still making payments on. You really should have known.

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