Motorcycle wheel bearings are often neglected by bikers. They rarely think about them until they go bad. Poor bearings can lead to major crashes or damage to bike parts. Check your owner's manual for complete details on how to care for your wheel bearings and how often they should be inspected.
The wheel bearings on most motorcycles have seals that prevent you from adding grease. If handled properly, these wheel bearings may extend the life of your bike. However, if you ride your bike in water or mud a lot, or do a lot of jumping, wheeling, or just riding over rough terrain, you may damage the wheel bearings. If your bike is old and you fail to lubricate the wheel bearings regularly, you may also damage them. Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and check the wheel bearings regularly for excessive wear or looseness.
Check your motorcycle bearings every time you change your tires. With the bike supported on a motorcycle jack, rotate the tire and try to move the wheel, feel the slack and let the bearing yield. If it is loose, the wheel bearings need to be checked further. With the wheel off, insert your finger into the axle hole and try to turn the bearing. If it feels rough or starts to stick, it needs to be replaced. Check for metal dust or debris around the bearing.
Signs of a bad wheel bearing
Bad wheel bearings may show up as a buzzing or rumbling sound, or a gravelly vibration through the handlebars. As the problem progresses, this may even become a sound you can hear while riding. But remember, your bike may have a bad wheel bearing and never show any symptoms until the failure causes a crash. Even if you avoid a crash, it can damage your hub, axle, etc. If you feel any new whirring, rumbling or vibration, be sure to check your wheel bearings immediately. Don't take any chances when making this repair, as the damage to your bike could be severe if your wheel bearings fall out.
Replacing Wheel Bearings
If you need to replace your wheel bearings, keep in mind that this is a relatively easy job. The entire process can be completed in an hour or two. If needed, you can choose to take it to your local motorcycle repair store for service, or you can follow one of the available online tutorials.
Keeping your motorcycle in good condition is part of being a responsible biker. When your motorcycle is not in good condition, it can lead to crashes. Sometimes these crashes are the result of neglected or improperly fixed maintenance issues. Other times it's the manufacturer's fault. More and more manufacturer recalls occur each year, and sometimes these problems lead to crashes.
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