How to Change the Wheel Bearings on a Motorcycle

Written by jason marker
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How to Change the Wheel Bearings on a Motorcycle
(motorcycle row 2 image by Clarence Alford from

As with any wear item, wheel bearings have a finite lifespan and will need replaced at least once during the lifespan of any motorcycle. While it seems like a daunting task, with the right tools, a shop manual and a little time, any amateur mechanic can remove and replace their own wheel bearings.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shop manual specific to your motorcycle (Haynes, Clymer, manufacturer, etc.)
  • Motorcycle lift
  • Tie-down straps
  • Wheel bearing puller
  • Wheel bearing driver
  • New wheel bearings
  • New oil/dust seals
  • Torque Wrench
  • Cotter pins

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    Replacing Wheel Bearings

  1. 1

    Set motorcycle lift on a clean, dry, level area with plenty of room all around to work.

  2. 2

    Secure motorcycle to lift with tie-down straps and slowly lift motorcycle until wheels are at least six inches from the ground.

  3. 3

    One at a time, remove the axles per the instructions in your shop manual, then remove the wheels.

  4. 4

    Place wheel on a clear, flat surface. Remove and discard old oil/dust seal and wipe the hub and bearing area clean with a shop rag. Remove clip or snap ring if one is present.

  5. 5

    Using the bearing puller as per the instructions included with the tool, carefully remove old wheel bearing and bearing spacer. Repeat for each bearing. Once bearings are removed, clean inside the hub with contact cleaner or brake cleaner to remove any grease or rust.

  6. 6

    Double-check that the new bearing is the correct size and set it in place. With the appropriate sized end attached, use bearing driver to seat new bearing into the wheel hub per the instructions included with the tool. Replace bearing spacer then install new bearing on opposite side of wheel.

  7. 7

    Replace retaining snap rings if required. Install new oil/dust seals.

  8. 8

    Replace axles and wheels. Tighten axle nuts to torque specs outlined in your shop manual. Replace cottar pins at axle ends.

Tips and warnings

  • Heat the wheel hub with a blow dryer or heat gun. This will cause the aluminium to expand and make removing and replacing the bearings easier.
  • Use of sealed bearings is recommended, as sealed bearings require no grease and tend to be lower maintenance than unsealed bearings.
  • If you do not have access to a bearing driver, a strong wooden dowel or large socket can be used to seat the bearing home by tapping evenly around the outer race of the bearing.
  • Installing new bearings can be made easier by applying a light coating of grease to the bearing's outer race and the insides of the wheel hub.
  • Detailed shop manuals are available for all major makes and models of motorcycle, and should always be consulted when attempting any do it yourself repair.
  • Never strike or apply pressure to the bearing's inner race. This may damage or weaken the bearing, reducing its lifespan and causing it to fail prematurely.
  • Always follow the instructions and torque specifications as laid out in your shop manual.
  • Never reuse cottar pins or oil/dust seals.
  • Bearings should always be replaced in pairs.

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