Here are a few easy steps showing how to change the wheel bearings on a dirt bike. Over time the bearings wear out and need to be replaced. An easy way to check if they need replacing or not is to grip the wheel with your hands on either side as if you are holding the steering wheel of a car. Try to wiggle the wheel by pushing one side forward and the other back towards you. If the wheel bearings are stuffed, the wheel will rattle around as if it’s loose. If this is the case, it’s time to get your hands dirty!
I’m going to demonstrate by changing the rear wheel bearings on Moose’s RMZ 450. (The process for the front wheel is much the same.)
Firstly – you need to know how to remove the rear wheel on your dirt bike. Here’s how..
- Prop your bike on a bike stand to raise the wheels off the ground.
- Loosen off the axle nut and screw in the chain adjuster bolts so you can push the rear wheel forward. This will allow the chain to be removed from the sprocket without disconnecting the joiner link.
- Tap the axle out using a mallet. Sometimes if the axle hasn’t been removed in a long time – this is easier said than done! I belted the crap out of my mates KX 250 axle and it still wouldn’t budge. A good reason to change your bearings before they get too bad and grease your axles every 20 – 30 hours or so.
Make sure you clean and grease the axle before reassembling, and don’t forget to fit the axle spacers the correct way around.
Here’s How To Change The Wheel Bearings On A Dirt Bike
There are a couple of techniques you can use to get the job done easily without damaging the inside of the axle shaft.
- Remove the outsideseals using a screwdriver.
- Now you need to tap the bearings out by coming from the other side as illustrated here. It’s best not to lay the wheel on the ground as it will rest on the very bearings you are trying to tap out. Using a larger screwdriver, or metal bar of some sort with an edge to it, place the end of it on the lip of the inside bearings – you will feel it catch. Gently tap them out by tapping on opposite sides of the bearings so they come out flush. If you hammer only one side of the bearings they will wedge on an angle and damage the inside of the axle shaft (speaking from experience!).Note: There are two bearings on the chain side and one on the brake side.
Tip: It makes life a lot easier if you use a gas torch to heat up the outside of the bearing hub. This will expand the surroundings enabling the bearings to pop out effortlessly. You can also use a wheel bearing puller which is the fancy way of doing it! As you can see here..
- Once you’ve removed the bearings from both sides, clean any muck away from where the bearings sit.
- Take the bearings from your new bearing kit and smear a bit of grease on them. Fit them evenly into place with the seal side facing outward. Use a socket that matches the outside diameter of the bearing race and tap them in gently with a mallet. It will make a different ‘tapping’ sound once it’s sitting properly inside.
- There is a distance collar (or spacer) that sits between both lots of bearings. Put this back in before banging home the second side – you’ll kick yourself if you forget!
- Once the bearings are in you need to fit the new dust seals with the flat side out and the manufacturers marks or numbers facing outward. Don’t put ’em in the wrong way around!
Tip: You can freeze the new bearings prior to tapping them in. This will shrink them making the job easier.
And that’s it! Simply reattach the rear wheel, adjust your chain, and you’re ready to ride.