Thanks for all the replies chaps. The spanner I use isn’t an issue for me size-wise. My onboard toolkit is just a bunch of stuff wrapped in an old t-shirt which lives in the under seat box, no lid. Besides, I can’t imagine ever needing to adjust steering bearings at the roadside so the spanner can stay at home. If memory serves, I used a bloody great socket that cost me more than any socket should when I had the yolk off previously. I seem to remember it fitted both the fork top nuts and the big yolk one. I’ve had the bars off frequently, with no fairing it’s fiddly but not a big job.
Thanks for the nod about my ‘81 bike not needing the c spanner - that explains a lot about why I couldn’t see how or where I’d use one CH was using. Side note: have you seen him recently? He doesn’t look well at all, physically or mentally. Making some odd videos. A few of us owe him a lot. I wish him well.
Therefore (I flatly refuse to start a sentence with ‘so’), plan of action is:
Handlebars out of the way
Remove clamp bolts and tap screwdriver wedges in to hold them open
Remove centre bolt
Try to find where I can use to tap the ... whatever it’s called ... round a bit until the wheel moves side to side smoothly but not back and forth
Everything back together
Then bleed the brakes and clean out the fuel tap filters, just because they’re more jobs that need doing.
Ah well, there’s worse things we could spend our time doing eh.
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Once you've got the bearings set seemingly satisfactorily, make sure you gently move the steering from side to side several times looking out for tight spots. If there's one, there will normally be two or three.
This is the phenomenon known as brinelling although technically that description only applies if it's caused by overtightening of the head bearings. There are two other causes.
The first is corrosion... on early models, this was made worse by the lack of a ground wire to the forks, which meant that all circuits attached to the steering head grounded through the bearing but it can happen on any machine if the bearings aren't kept greased.
The other is (yes, you guessed), riding the bike with loose head bearings.
In any case, it will happen eventually to all bearings that spend most of their lives in one position like head bearings (the swing arm bearings also suffer from this).
No matter what the cause, I'm afraid the only remedy is to replace the bearings.