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Thread: Mileage via steering head bearings?

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    Mileage via steering head bearings?

    I bought the 1991 BumbleBee basket case without speedometer. The pieces of the bike don't look overly abused, just cruddy. I'm trying to determine the ballpark mileage. The steering head bearings felt very smooth and upon disassembly reveal no visible wear marks. I see no marring or other indication that they've changed out. Can a mileage ballpark be determined from this? What would be the envelope?

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    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    I don't see how you can use the status of the steering bearings as a mileage estimator. Under ideal situations, bearings will show now wear-n-tear in 10K miles or over 50K miles...maybe as high as 100K miles. Nothing there is going to give you anything to go on. Usually you look at things like footpegs and rear brake levers to see what kind of wear is there. That works pretty well on stock road bikes, but might not be so easy on a G/S...the pegs aren't rubber are they on the G/S??
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    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

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    That's brilliant. The pegs are rubber with little square blocks and BMW stamp. I don't have as new to compare but they look pretty decent.
    Maybe I got off on a wrong tangent with the head bearings but I've replaced many sets (Japanese bikes) over the years and I'm pretty sure non of the bikes had over 60,000 miles.
    For some reason I thought this might be a high mileage bike fearing the worst. If somebody came by and said they regularly go X miles I could make a worst case estimate.

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    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BERNII View Post
    If somebody came by and said they regularly go X miles I could make a worst case estimate.
    Well, my datapoint is that I have 105K miles on my steering head bearings. I think you're going to find numbers all over the map.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 20774 View Post
    Well, my datapoint is that I have 105K miles on my steering head bearings. I think you're going to find numbers all over the map.
    Wow, that's a lot of miles on the bearings, they're obviously high quality and I can appreciate your reaction. That's over 160K kilometres (I'm in Canada) and my latest point of reference is a motarded Suzuki DR650. It'll be shrapnel way before 160k but at 40K kilometres (25K miles?)I'm on the second set.

    First thing I did when getting the bike is send the driveshaft to Brunos for u joints as a precaution. They didn't seem bad but.......maybe I got ahead of myself there. Reading to much internets.

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    The best "meat ball", "wild-ass guess", non-specific mileage indicator is the wear pattern on the rear brake foot pedal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James.A View Post
    The best "meat ball", "wild-ass guess", non-specific mileage indicator is the wear pattern on the rear brake foot pedal.
    I will dig thru the boxes on the morrow.

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    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BERNII View Post
    I bought the 1991 BumbleBee basket case without speedometer. The pieces of the bike don't look overly abused, just cruddy. I'm trying to determine the ballpark mileage. The steering head bearings felt very smooth and upon disassembly reveal no visible wear marks. I see no marring or other indication that they've changed out. Can a mileage ballpark be determined from this? What would be the envelope?
    The bearings described here are just like the ones in my first (1986) K75 when I looked at them shortly before the bike was destroyed in an accident. That look-see was at 350,000 miles or so.

    I don't think you can tell mileage this way.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    Ultimately, what difference does it's mileage make? If everything feels good, it has allowable compression, and the electrics function ... ride it.

    Now, if you want to ponder some stats check out this article found on Duane Ausherman's site -> http://w6rec.com/duane/bmw/wheel_bearing/
    "It is what you discover, after you know it all, that counts." _ John Wooden

    Lew Morris
    1973 R75/5 - original owner

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    I'd think brake rotor thickness would be a fairly decent indicator, if you can reasonably conclude from other factors that the ones you see are either original, or a first replacement.
    2000 R1100RT / 1987 K75C (RIP) / Santa Clarita, CA

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesInCA View Post
    I'd think brake rotor thickness would be a fairly decent indicator, if you can reasonably conclude from other factors that the ones you see are either original, or a first replacement.
    I don't think that brake rotors are a reliable indicator of mileage either. If a bike was ridden a lot on interstate highways, one of them could rack up a lot of miles with very little braking. The flip would also be true. If a bike is used a lot for "around town" type of riding, then it would do a lot of braking with lower miles.

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    I know it is not feasible at this time, but in my opinion, maybe the only true indicator of wear would be to disassemble the cylinders and measure for wear from original.

    However as one old timer told me when I was concerned about mine (I knew the mileage, but was just concerned) he said, "Just ride it and enjoy it."

    Since I am somewhat of a "worrier" and like to know as much as I can, I only took part of his advice. I rode it, but fiddled to try to make it as much like original as much as I could.

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