The head racers are about to be replaced. I felt a knock when braking. I checked and when lifting the front wheel off the ground while stationary. Could see that there was play in the head racers.
I searched online and found that most people had bought or talked about taper bearings. The original are ball bearings held in plastic or metal racers cage. For me there seems to be little difference in the two although most talk about the importance of lining up the taper bearings when fitted. I am going to fit the standard ball bearings as they have lasted and I see not much benefit if going to taper bearings. I have read of race motor cycles using ball bearings in the head stock. To me this shows if it is good enough for the track. Then it is good enough for the road.
With the tool to unlock the triple stem nut. I undid the top aluminium cap. It looks delicate and has a cut all the way through. This shows that it should be torqued up correctly. Any over tightening would make the bearings wear quickly. In the picture you can see mine were lacking in grease. When I bought the bike this should have been one of the service items to do. To take off the head racers and grease them. It might have helped them last longer. My bike has done 49000 miles and been on the road since 1998. It has never had bearings in my time since 2006 or have I taken the headstock off to grease them.
To remove the headstock or steering stem. I took off the fairings, loosened the handlebars off the forks. Took off the steering damper. It all seemed easier than I thought it was going to be. After the front wheel was removed and mudguard. I decided to leave the forks on the bottom yolk. I removed the cir-clips and Allen screws that support the adjustment of the steering rake. A couple of taps and it dropped out of the frame below. I took the headstock to my car mechanic friend Harry who helped to take off the old bearings and cups. He removed them with a few taps. He then put the new ones on by using appropriate size sockets to hit the bearing caps back on before the bearings.
Thanks also goes to Mick at metropolis in London who supplied the new bearings part numbers below.
The OEM bearings part numbers 702.4.004.1A and also 702.4.123.1A. Oem show as caged bearings rather than taper bearings.
When I searched on the internet there are some links that show the bearings as fitting other models. Please check that they are correct for yours before you fit. Mine were NTN and the new ones were also NTN bearings from Ducati oem parts.