How to keep your wheels run­ning free

Worn wheel bear­ings can cause all man­ner of is­sues, here’s how to re­place them

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

1 Feel for notch­i­ness

The wear on a bear­ing can be de­tected by hav­ing the wheel raised off the ground, and then at­tempt­ing to move it from side to side. A worn bear­ing will feel notchy and you should look for move­ment be­tween the hub and wheel spacer. If your bike doesn’t have a cen­tre­stand you can support the weight on a jack and get the wheel lifted.

2 Clean the hub

With the bike sup­ported on its main stand or a front pad­dock stand, re­move the wheel – check in a work­shop man­ual if you are un­sure of the pro­ce­dure – and in­spect the area around the hub. Wipe away any road dirt or de­bris with a cloth so the bear­ing or seal area is vis­ually clean. You can lay the wheel down on an old tyre.

3 In­spect the seals

With a pry-bar or suit­able screw­driver, gen­tly prise off any dust seals. Th­ese seals are im­por­tant, and of­fer the first line of de­fence for the bear­ing against the on­slaught of road grime. In­spect the seals for dam­age or any signs of per­ish­ing. Make sure the in­ter­nal lip isn’t torn or bro­ken.

4 We all like a lit­tle squirt

Cleanliness is im­por­tant when you are work­ing with bear­ings (or other me­chan­i­cal parts). Us­ing spray-on con­tact cleaner and a clean lint-free cloth, wipe away any dirt around the bear­ing and es­pe­cially the in­ner hub. The bear­ing will need to come out, so a clean in­ner hub will fa­cil­i­tate its re­moval.

5 Tap the spacer

The bear­ings are lo­cated each side of the wheel with a spacer that is pinched be­tween them. Check in your work­shop man­ual for the spe­cific pro­ce­dure. Typ­i­cally you will need to use a punch at 45 de­grees to tap the cen­tre spacer to one side, enough to ex­pose around 3 or 4mm of in­ner bear­ing.

6 Free the bear­ings

Some­times there are cir­clips that help re­tain the bear­ings, if this is the case check and re­move them. With the wheel on the old tyre, tap the bear­ing on the area ex­posed by the pre­vi­ous step us­ing a suit­able drift. Once the bear­ing has moved, tap evenly around the edge un­til it drops out. The spacer will fol­low. Then tap out the other bear­ing.

7 Check the size

Make sure that you have the cor­rect re­place­ments. Check the size of the old bear­ings against the new, use a vernier gauge to make an ac­cu­rate mea­sure­ment. Of­ten there are num­bers em­bossed on the outer case of bear­ings which will help you dou­ble check you have the right parts. Give the bear­ing hous­ing a fi­nal clean with your con­tact cleaner.

8 Square route

It is ex­tremely im­por­tant that the bear­ings are drifted into po­si­tion squarely and are not dam­aged as you put them in. Only tap the outer case of the bear­ing, not the cen­tre. Be sure to use a suit­able drift; a large im­pact socket a frac­tion smaller than the outer di­am­e­ter is ideal. As you tap in the bear­ing, you will hear the sound change as it lo­cates cor­rectly in the wheel.

9 Re­fit, re­peat and check

Flip the wheel over on your old tyre and put the spacer in the hub. Us­ing your drift tap the bear­ing in the same way as the other side, when the bear­ing is lo­cated check the po­si­tion of the spacer is still cen­tral. Fit any re­tain­ing clips and ex­ter­nal seals, and re­fit the wheel us­ing the torque set­tings in your own­ers’ man­ual. Check the wheel spins freely with no bind­ing. Go for a test ride and then recheck every­thing.

Notchy bear­ings can wreck you han­dling, but you can change them at home

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