June 25, 2021

Replacing a Buell / Harley Sportster Steering Lock

Replacing a damaged Buell/Sportster steering lock

Replacing a Buell / Harley Sportster Steering Lock

Last weekend took an unfortunate turn for the pain in the ass, when my Buell was reversed into and knocked over. I'm not exactly sure how it happens and it annoys me to no end thinking about it.

Initially I thought I had only snapped the brake lever, but upon further inspection I realised that it had also cracked the front engine mount like a piece of chalk. It also turned out that there was an issue with the steering lock which didn't allow me to unlock the bike.

Now there's plenty of debate online as to whether steering locks are actually any good, I personally think if someone really wants your bike they’ll take it. It’s more likely going to stop the plain old opportunistic thief. In any case I needed to work out how to remove it.

I think this should be for the same for most of the early tube framed Buell models including the X1, S1, M2.

Step 1 - Drop the front end:

First step is dropping the front end. The steering lock locates itself inside a groove in the head stem so by dropping the front end it allows you to peer down the next to see the lock and identify what the issue is.

Buell sportster damaged steering lock
Here you can see the lock halfway through my filing marathon.

Step 2 - Remove the set screw.

I believe this is an imperial hex head, I think it was the equivalent to around the 2.3mm size. It’s positioned on the side of the neck next to the lock. Apparently sometimes this can be plugged but in my case I could just unscrew it without too much trouble.

Buell steering lock set screw
The small hex head screw on the side of the neck needs to be removed.

Step 3 - Slide out the steering lock.

From here you should be able to slide out the lock. You may have to turn it into the lock position to slide it out, but it should come out fairly easy. Which was the opposite of my case, the impact of the bars hitting the ground took a gouge out of the lock. I had to hand file the groove down until it was smooth enough to slide out.

Step 4 - Inspect or replace or fix.

After I cleaned up the barrel I filled it in with some weld and filed it down to the original size. As installing a new one I would need to have to rely on two keys or get a matching lock / ignition.

Buell and Sportster stock steering lock
Gouge taken out of the lock by the steering stem

The steering lock after filling and filing

Step 5 - Reinstall lock and front end.

Exactly the same way as the uninstall but in reverse.

I’m still waiting on an engine mount and a new isolator which needs to be replaced, but everything should be back to normal before summertime sadness kicks in.

Hope this helps someone out.


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