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Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

Tools needed :

  • 12mm combination wrench (fender bolts)
  • 12mm socket (brakes mounting bolts)
  • 12mm hex wrench for front axle - see below
  • 6mm hex wrench for brake disc bolts
  • 6mm hex wrench for axle pinch bolts.
  • Ft. Lbs torque wrench
  • Internal snap ring pliers
  • Punch to drive out old bearings


 

Supplies needed:  
  • Bearings - #6203 for my 1994 & newer
  • Bearings - #6302 for 1986- 1993
  • Lock-Tite
  • Lots of paper towels & rags
  • Cleaner & degreaser.
  • Be sure to buy double sealed bearings 
 
  • Before you start, put your bearings in the freezer. This will shrink them ever so slightly. 
  • Preparation
  • If it's not already obvious, eat your spinach and put your bike on its center stand.
  • Since the front wheel needs to be off the ground, the manual suggests that you remove the belly pan and put a jack under the engine. Being unconventional and just a bit lazy, I did it the easy way. I put some weight on the rear of the bike tied the back end of the bike down. If you're in your own garage, try putting a couple of eye screws (the really big ones) into the wall studs about 16"-24" apart and tie the passenger grab handles to those. Don't back your bike too close to the wall 'cause when she goes up on the center stand, she'll be moving back a few inches with a fair bit of momentum.
Wheel Removal
  • First, the obvious - the right and left as referred to here and in the manual is from the riders position.
  • The speedometer cable guide that attaches to the fender just pops out.
  • Look at the speedometer drive cable and make a mental note of exactly where it sits in relation to the fork slider.
  • Unscrew the speedometer cable from the gear housing on the left side of the wheel. I slipped the end into one of the fairing holes to keep it clean and out of the way. Don't bend it too much.
  • The front fender comes off easily. Four 12mm bolts. One bolt was a little loose and will get some sealant on it when it goes back in.
  • Remove the bolts that mount one of the brake calipers with a 12mm wrench. I chose the left side. These wretched little bastards are tight so you'll need a longer wrench to get some leverage. I hung the caliper with an bungee cord from the left hand grip.
  • Put a 2x4 or something under the tire to give it a little support for when the axle comes out.
  • Put your 12mm hex wrench on the right side of the axle. Now loosen the axle and remove it from the right side. If the nut on the left side turns, it may mean that the left pinch bolt is not properly torqued down, like mine. The nut on the left side will stay in the left fork.

 

Sidebar: The front axle requires a 12mm hex wrench or socket. Actually it needs two. I didn't have a second one and didn't want to buy one so I made what I needed. I took a bolt that was slightly over 12mm and very carefully files each of the sides of the head until it was 12mm. You could probably buy a 12mm bolt & nuts from the hardware store. Then I put two nuts on it as far up the bolt as possible and then locked them in place. Voila... a 12mm wrench. Yes, it did work quite nicely thank you very much.
 

Wheel Disassembly:
  • I'm particularly paranoid about something not going back together the way it should. So the stuff that comes off the right gets laid out on the bench on the right side in the order that it came off. This is particularly important if any of this stuff is a bit foreign which it certainly is to me the first time.
  • On the left side, the speedometer gearbox just comes off in your hand so set that aside.
  • On the right side, there's a spacer that will also come off in your hand.
  • With your 6mm hex wrench, remove the disks. These suckers were put on with plenty of Lock-tite by the feel of it and probably with good reason. Remember that when you put it back together.
  • Getting To The Bearings:
  • Lay the wheel down on a couple of short 2x4's
  • On the left side, remove the snap ring. You have to compress the ring all the way, lift it out gently, and slowly release the pliers. One of mine got loose and I found there's a fair bit of tension in that ring.
  • Lift out the speedometer drive.
  • Flip the wheel over.
  • Remove the rubber seal. I just used a wide bladed slot screw driver to pry mine out. ( I buggered it up first but that's another story and I'm not telling anyone how I did it).
  • Remove the snap ring from the right side.

 

 

 

This is the key to driving out the old bearings. It's a 10" x 1/4" punch. Costs about $8 and worth every sheckel.

Removing The Bearings:

  • This is just not as tough as it seems. The manual says to use a narrow steel rod. After destroying a slot screwdriver and 3/8" socket extension, I bought a 10" x 1/4" punch. It's hardened, long enough and is just plain perfect for the job.
  • Between the two bearings is a steel tube. Its inside diameter is exactly the same as the I.D. of the bearings. Slide your rod down inside and try to cock the bottom of the tube off to one side. It will expose a tiny bit of the side race of the bearing on the other side of the wheel.
  • Lay the end of the steel rod onto the bearing race at about the 12 o'clock position relative to where you're standing. Give the screwdriver a good whack with a hammer. I have a 2 pound beauty that was just hanging there waiting for this job.
  • Move the rod to the 6 o'clock position, cock that tube to this side, and give the rod another whack. Once you feel a good connection and the bearing starting to move, it's all over but the laughing.

 Tip: Before you reinstall the new bearings, file a V shaped groove at either end of the tube. This will create a bit of a window through which your drift can get to the bearing next time.
 

The Right Tools For The Job:
  • No point in taking things apart unless you can get it all back together again... right Humpty ?
  • I know that you can buy bearing drivers. Why bother when your neighbour has a lathe in his basement. He made this little gem for me for next time. The outside diameter is about 2mm smaller than the bearing. That way, the driver won't bind on the wheel. The nub in the center fits ever so perfectly in the bearing hole. And that recess you see in the center is so the driver doesn't put any pressure on the inner part of the bearing when you're whacking away with the hammer.
  • If you can't come up with a bearing driver but you have an electric drill ( a drill press would be better ), put a grinding wheel or sanding drum in the drill and grind down the outside of the old bearing a tiny bit. It won't take much. You will know you've removed enough metal when the old bearing slides in and out of its old location in the wheel. Use this old bearing to drive in the new one.

  

Getting The Bearings Back In:
  • Double check your part numbers before you start. I bought 6302's and when they looked a little big, I looked at the ones I took out... #6203's. Shit. In a pinch, check your local hardware store. Mine carried them, although that's not where I bought mine.
  • I watched Gene do this once and he made it look so easy. He put the bearing in the freezer for a little while, laid the bearing on top of its final resting place, placed a large socket on top, and with the utmost finesse, tapped her home. Just like that. I think Guy says that he heats the wheel up ever so gently with a propane torch. I didn't but will try it next time.
  • Go get the bearings out of the freezer.
  • Turn the wheel over so the side without the snap ring faces up. Drive this bearing in first. It should bottom out in the wheel.
  • REMEMBER - put the tube in after the first bearing is seated home. I just about forgot this.
  • Drive the second bearing down so it just clears the snap ring groove. Torquing the axle down may push them in further, but then again, it may not. I'll let you know in a couple of years.
Getting It All Back Together:
  • I hate that expression... "assembly is reverse of the above." But it is.
  • Before you start, look at the two snap rings. The left side snap ring is ever so slightly larger than the right side. After exercising my vocabulary for 5 minutes, I checked by eye, then by touch, and then in it went. Just like that.
  • Install snap ring on right side
  • Install seal on the right side.
  • Install spacer on right side.
  • Install speedometer drive (the tube thing with the 2 notches) on the left side.
  • Install the snap ring on the left side..
  • Remember when you  took the disks off and how you had to work for every turn of the bolts holding them on? Well, me too. I assumed that it was thread sealant from the factory. Mine sure felt and looked like there was a lot but the manual says nothing about it. I put Lock-Tite on all the bolts holding the disks on. Torque the bolts to 16.5 ft. lbs.
  • Before the speedometer gear housing goes back on, take a look at the back side of it. See the location where the drive unit fits. Make sure the slots & tangs line up when you put it on. I put mine on and took it off a dozen times, just so I knew exactly how it should look and feel. After putting mine on, I moved it back and forth and could hear a noticeable click at it hit the slot in each direction.
  • Pack a bit of grease into the housing.
  • Put a little grease on the axle and slide it in.
  • I was fighting the whole assembly, the weight of the wheel and all the time, trying to guide the disk into the remaining caliper. I finally gave up and removed the caliper and everything went together.
  • Before torquing the axle, check the speedometer gear housing. It should fit up against the stop on the fork and sort of snap into a notch. Even after being really careful, I still got it wrong on the first try. Put the cable in place and see if it looks right. Mine was obviously too low at first. I took the fender, brakes and axle off in record time. A quick spin and click and it was where it belonged.
  • Torque the axle to 65 ft.lbs.
  • Torque the axle pinch bolt to 26 ft.lbs.
  • Install the brake calipers and torque to 24.5 ft.lbs.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • You might as well lube the speedometer drive cable while it's disconnected. Only takes 5 minutes. Clean the old lube off with WD-40 and regrease it. The manual says only the lower half. My whole cable was greased so I just put a light coat of bearing grease back on.
  • Install the speedometer cable. Afraid that the notches in the drive and cable wouldn't line up, I spun the wheel while gently screwing in the cable.
  • Note the angle of the speedo cable as it comes out the drive unit. If the notch doesn't line up, it will be much further above or below what you see. A sure cause of premature cable failure.

Guy B. Young Adds:
Hint: If you drive from the RH (non-speedo side) you will be able to tip the spacer slightly more. The manual is incorrect. [I was ultimately successful from this side]

Also, you may leave the spacer loose on reassembly, but as soon as you torque up the axle the two bearings will squeeze together against the spacer. That's why it is there. [Makes sense ]

Article By: David J. Morrow

Updated January 2005

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