Bounce back: Sort your rear linkage
A bit of care and attention will keep your bike’s linkage in its sweet spot
Seize the moment… not the linkage
The rear linkage is responsible for transmitting the movement of the swingarm to the shock. The moving parts are usually roller bearings lubricated with grease and have seals to keep out water and grit. If these seals are compromised the bearings will quickly degrade. First things first, raise the rear off the ground using a workshop stand or carefully positioned trolley jack.
What needs to come off?
Work out what you’ll have to remove to gain access to the linkage and the area around the bottom of the shock. These may include plastic panels, lower fairings, bellypans and hard parts like exhausts. Our little Yamaha needed to have the exhaust removed, along with the right-hand footrest hanger and brake assembly. Note the order in which you remove parts.
Get snap happy
Using a spanner or socket, remove the nuts that secure the linkage, the usual sizes are 14-17mm. Don’t remove the bolts at this stage. Take a snapshot of the linkage with your mobile phone to aid the refitting process. It may sound daft but once you’ve got the linkage in your hand it’s not always obvious which way it goes back in.
Tap out the bolts
With the nuts removed the bolts should tap out easily – if possible, take the shock bolt out first. The back wheel will drop slightly so it helps to take the weight of the back wheel when you wriggle this bolt out. If any of the bolts offer resistance you’ll have to drift them out with a punch – this usually indicates corrosion.
Cheat with heat
Bearings can be stubborn to remove but a heat gun can help. Remove any rubber seals then deploy the gun. Now drift the bearing out, often a long-reach metric socket of a similar outside diameter to the bearing is ideal. To replace a bearing heat the linkage body, and fit the bearing straight from the freezer.
If it’s not obvious, make sure the linkage is fitted the right way up – the photograph you took earlier will help here. Re-assemble the linkage with the correct bolts and washers. Once they all are hand tight, torque them up to the value specified in your workshop manual. Some grease might have been squeezed out in the process, so wipe up any excess.
Take apart and take note
Disassemble the linkage and all of the components, make a note of the different internal bushes as they are often different lengths. Gently prise out any seals, clean and inspect all of the parts – you should be checking for corrosion, as well as worn, torn or fatigued seals.
Get greased up…
With the bearing installed, apply grease and make sure that all the rollers have a good coating. Work the grease in using the linkage pin in a twisting motion. Clean the bolts up using emery or wet and dry paper to remove any corrosion. When you’re certain that they’re clean, apply a light film of grease to finish.
Bounce and check
Before you refit panels etc, check the operation of the linkage; it needs to be smooth in both directions. Check by taking the bike of its stand or jack, and push down firmly on the back end of the seat or tailpiece. Do it quick enough and hard enough so you can feel the full range of the suspension’s movement. If it’s OK put the rear back in the air and give the linkage a final check.
It’s exposed to all manner of road grime… so give your linkage some loving