How to Replace Wheel Bearings of Dirt Bikes?


You can change it by yourself with a few easy steps. First, remove the bearing keeper along with its seal and then pull those wheel bearings outward from the hub. And later install the new one back in a proper way. 

To do this process, you need some tools that will make it easier, such as a screwdriver, wrenches, bearing retainers, hammer and socket. To know what are the steps to change bearings, read this article. 

Hi dirtbike riders, today we are going to deal with a new topic, to change wheel bearings. If you know the parts name, you can do it by just reading the instructions.

Here, you will get a guide for the step to step process to remove, replace and fit the new bearings. 

What is wheel bearing & how it works?

Wheel bearing acts as a bridge to connect the wheel and the axle. It contains small sized balls or tapers held together into a metal ring called a hub.

These wheel bearings reduce the friction to move smoothly on the road. If you know physics, you will understand the terms in a better way.

These balls or tapers are critical components to sustain radial and axial loads that occur due to gravitation, acceleration or centrifugal forces. 

How do you know it’s time to change wheel bearings? 

Every disease shows some symptoms, once you notice it, it starts curing. Bad wheel bearings will also affect your bike’s performance.

Let me tell you what are the signs that indicate replacing bearings before the condition goes worst. 

  1. Produce noise: When ball or taper bearings fail, it produces humming or growling noise, that’s annoying. As you accelerate your bike, it increases and after every brake or turns, you hear the same noise again. You will notice a clunking noise if the motorcycle is running on a rough surface. 
  1. Vibrations: If wheel bearings are broken from inside, it comes in contact with other hard material and with acceleration vibration can be felt. 
  1. Lock Wheel: As bearings come in sealed form, when it breaks. There will be plenty of chances to stick dirt or debris into the hub. Day by day it reduces lubrication and you need more acceleration to move your bike, even at the end it completely stops the wheels. 

These are the few symptoms that predict a bad wheel bearing. Once you feel any of the above signs, don’t dare to ignore them.

It could be dangerous, especially when you are far away from your home.  

Steps to change wheel bearings:-

Although wheel bearings work for approximately 160,000 km. Keep your eyes on kilometre scales, where you can see does limit crosses or still, a few more distances remain.

Even if you don’t notice it, your bike will knock your brain with anonymous behaviour as bad symptoms.

Have a look at the steps to replace it, before proceeding, keep those tools which I have mentioned earlier. 

  1. Clean your dirt bike: The basic fact to start with 100% cleanliness. It helps you to remove parts easily and also make your hands less dirty. You can also see the damages or faults in a clean motorcycle, once you have done cleaning. Stand your bike on double stands and separate the wheel on which you need to work, I mean replace bearings. Now, put that wheel on a wheel stand box or on any box, from where you can remove its inner parts quickly. 
  1. Remove Seals: Next step is to remove seals using a screwdriver, but be aware, the other side will have a retainer clip or nut. Fit the screwdriver and pull off the seals with a little force. If it sticks, you can punch it to come out fast. Using such tools will make your work faster. 
  1. Remove Wheel Bearings:  Once you will cut out the retainer, turn the wheel over to remove bearings. If you have some special kinds of tools, use them or wait for a few minutes to remove them in a flip-flop manner. 
  1. Try Another Way: Removing wheel bearings is not like cutting potatoes. Don’t be in a rush to punch it from the other side, better push the spacer in between the bearings and give a punch to bearings. Then, hammering the punch to push out the bearing from the wheel. Rotate the wheel in a circular motion and keep pushing out from the other side so that the bearing jumps out straight. Until you need to reinstall the new bearings, keep aside the spacer otherwise it will jump out too. 
  1. Reinstall the New Bearings: It is suggested to put new bearings into the freezer to make it easy to install. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes and till that clean the wheels where you will put those small sizer bearings. 

Grab out the bearings, and heat the hub that will allow bearings to be easily installed. It’s not mandatory to use heat, only a little more force will be needed to set wheel bearings. 

  1. Use Socket to Put Bearings: When you start fitting bearings into the hub, it can be distorted if hit the bottom. Use a socket of the same size as the bearings. You need to put these small balls or tapers in outer circumference, to avoid inner touch, use a metal socket, once you will do your task, now tighten back the retainer nut and then seal. 
  1. Don’t Forget Spacer: Whenever you change wheel bearings, don’t forget to use a spacer, every time you move a wheel in a circular motion, keep a spacer between it to remove or install bearings. Every small bearing needs some space to move smoothly, if it doesn’t get enough space, then it will break soon. 

If you are still confused about how to fix the wheel bearings, don’t give it a try. Although all necessary steps have been given above, once you start replacing them step by step, you will understand it in a better way. 

Why do bike’s wheel bearings fail? 

I’m putting only the main causes behind the failure of wheel bearings. 

  1. Bad quality bearings: Bearings should be of high quality to handle regular pressure while riding the bike. If it’s of bad or low quality, it can’t bear heat produced during friction and as a result, break down soon. 
  1. Improper Installment: You need proper tools, hard hammering or old nuts, bolts can’t support it for a longer time. Or on the other hand, there will be a chance of rough fitting, such as tight or loose, also letting wheel bearings die earlier. 
  1. Rough roads: Jerking on roads due to potholes or driving over speed even on rough roads will also damage bearings or reduce its lifetime. 
  1. Non-fitting parts: Sometimes, you modify your bike, but inner parts remain the same. When you do the same with the ball or taper bearings, it struggles to manage the reduction of friction during riding and affect the longevity.  
  1. Riding surface: If you are residing at a place where mud and water on the surface is common, wheel bearing soon left the hand of wheels. Salts on the road or muddy water enter the bearings and tear its seal.  
  1. Major Accidents: It may also be one of the reasons behind the failure of wheel bearings. You can’t avoid it always, sometimes inspect wheels, and any other parts to ensure everything is fine. If any noise comes out from the movement of the wheels, it might be a sign of damaged bearings. 

How long will bad wheel bearings last? 

A bad wheel bearing starts producing noise, and riding in this situation could be dangerous.

But, you can ride up to 1,00,000 miles with bad bearings under the condition that speed should be near 40 mph.

So, be aware of distances and speed to avoid major accidents. 

How expensive is it to change wheel bearings?

There are two wheels, one in front and another is the rear wheel. So, the cost also varies for both wheel bearings.

For front bearings, $260 to $480 will be charged only for bearings, the rest labour cost.

And in case of rear bearings, they cost high near to $400-$800, as rear wheel bearings need all-new assembly. 

Is it necessary to change both wheel bearings?

It’s not necessary at all, if you feel one of the wheel bearings can last longer, then don’t invest more money.

Logically, people say both wheels have travelled the same distances, so they need to be changed at the same time. In my opinion, as long as the other wheel is not creating noise, keep it in service.

For safety, keep an extra package along with you while going for a distant ride. Keep checking your bike once it completes a limited distance, sometimes both wheel bearings fail simultaneously.  

Note:- Don’t try this process as a learner, you can destroy your bike by doing so. If you have treated your motorcycle earlier in case of other issues, then you must have enough information regarding its parts. Else, it’s better to visit a mechanical centre. 

Conclusion:- 

Congratulations, you change your bike’s bearings. If you still can’t do it, call a mechanic, otherwise you may damage other parts. I hope this article, how to replace wheel bearings, is helpful to you. For more posts to solve issues related to dirt bikes, subscribe to our newsletter and keep in touch. 

Sources:

how to remove replace motorcycle wheel bearings, how to change wheel bearings by rocco lovetere, how to remove and replace wheel bearings on a dirt bike, how to replace wheel bearings on your dirt bike, how to change the wheel bearings on a dirt bike

Thomas A. Talley

I’m Thomas. Since childhood, I am fond of bikes and hence dirt bikes are my passion now. Ever since then, I’ve been giving advice to the beginners and this has become my hobby.

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