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I realize this is an old post and I didn't read thru it but will add some of what I have come to know.

Steering head bearing check: ..I was told you can diagnose the condition of the steering head bearing by how many degrees it takes before the bars fall away. With the front off the ground turn the bar until it falls away on it's own then measure how far it took before it fell -bearing in mind (no pun intended!) the weight of the brake calipers, etc. Not certain what amount of movement is considered in the normal range (google maybe). I would imagine you can grab the forks from the btm then pull/push to detect any play. -ask the pros to be certain. And as always after any maintenance triple ck your work and torque settings.
 
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