Wheel bearings - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Wheel bearings

Question: I told a person that I was having a rear tire installed by the dealer this Friday in preparation for a NEVA convention in Ontario. I was asked if the tech was going to check/lube/replace the wheel bearings. I did not know the answer. Called the repair desk at my dealer,and they said they would check it, but said wheel bearings typically do not go bad. How often should wheel bearings be checked/lubed/replaced? Should I insist it be done?
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 04:53 PM
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Wheel bearings are sealed units, they do not get lubed. Just replaced when necessary. Most techs will check the bearings when changing a tire.
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by chirosyd View Post
Question: I told a person that I was having a rear tire installed by the dealer this Friday in preparation for a NEVA convention in Ontario. I was asked if the tech was going to check/lube/replace the wheel bearings. I did not know the answer. Called the repair desk at my dealer,and they said they would check it, but said wheel bearings typically do not go bad. How often should wheel bearings be checked/lubed/replaced? Should I insist it be done?
Should be checked every time the wheel is off the bike, or whenever you suspect they may be bad (weird handling, a noise, etc).

They're very easy to check, just move the inner race with your finger and make sure it moves smoothly with no play.

To not check them because they "typically" don't go bad is kind of silly. You might go many tens of thousands of miles without a failure, but if one is failing you'll definitely want to know about it.

I've had to replace one rear wheel bearing and one sprocket carrier bearing in 110k miles.
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 05:01 PM
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Stock bearings are single seal and should be fine for many thousands of miles unless you regularly cross rivers. I check bearings with every tire change or once a year, because I ride year round and my tires (PR4) conveniently wear out about once a year. Checking isn't hard. With the wheel off the bike, put two fingers on the bearing and roll it. Firm and smooth is normal. Fast and smooth means the grease is kinda gone. Crunch or grit of any sort = replace.

Should they need replacing, avoid All Balls. Visit a local bearing shop and pay for quality bearings with "2RS" in the part number. You get bearings with two rubber seals that way, and they last a lot longer. SKF and Koyo make good stuff.
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 05:01 PM
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If you ride in a lot of wet condition or do lots deep water/mud crossing then the chance of accelerated bearing wear is present. To check the wheel bearing is simple. With the wheel off the bike stick you finger in the axle hole and move your finger back and forth moving the bearing inners race. If the bearing feels gritty or notchy it needs replace. If it feels smooth as silk its good.

The wheel bearing on my DL had 19,174 miles on them when I sold it an were good as they day they were installed.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 09:51 PM
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High pressure water blasters can also be hard on bearings if they are not used properly. that includes the swingarm & pivot points.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 09:55 PM
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I replaced mine - a '13 650, at about 40,000kms. Thought there might be an issue, so I order them before even checking. They were still spinning smooth when I get everything apart, but I replaced anyhow. The stock ones were only sealed on the one side - when inserted it was the outside obviously. But the inside side of the bearing was not sealed at all... and they were rusty (I had quite a number of long rides in the rain in the year prior). They likely would have last years longer, but now I know they are fresh and new and sealed.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 10:18 PM
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I check my rear wheel bearings regularly while the wheel is on the bike using my scrutineering technique.

Kneel beside the bike as if you are checking the chain and put one hand on the top of the tyre and the other on the bars or the seat. Attempt to move the tyre towards and away from you. If there is any slack in the bearings you will feel it through your hand.
Any play at all and the bearings need to be changed. You will also see the wheel move but the hub and swingarm remain steady. You can also detect bad swingarm bearings and even flex in the swingarm using this technique.

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post #9 of 10 Old 07-25-2018, 11:22 PM
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I think you got good answers. Your dealer should check them as mentioned above by several. They will know how to spot a bearing that does not run smooth and will have replacements and the gear to swap them out, not a big deal if the rim is out for the tire change.
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-31-2018, 07:34 PM
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I keep wheel bearings "in stock" and check them every tire change.

I've never had any issues with All Balls bearings, FWIW.

Motorcycle wheel bearings are standardized metric industrial bearings made for massive loads and speeds of tens of thousands of RPM. They are understressed by a factor of ten when used in motorcycle wheels. The Chinese ones are fine if you know what you're doing.

I don't think anyone has ever seen a motorcycle wheel bearing that just plain wore out. They fail from two causes:

- Seal failure; water and dirt intrusion. On vintage bikes, the right front wheel bearing is often a rusty mess because that's the one most exposed to weather and rain for 30 years behind Grandma's shed. Pressure washing or just plain washing with a jet of water can also force water into a bearing; only takes a few drops to cause problems.

- Improper installation; usually this is numpties who bash them in with a claw hammer and shock the inner races. On many bikes, you have to read the installation procedure carefully to ensure you're not side-loading the bearing; some are supposed to be installed just until they touch the spacer, not just bashed until they bottom out in the bore.

Improper installation also includes worried types who remove one seal and stuff in additional grease on the mistaken theory that the glob of grease from the manufacturer "seems" inadequate (never mind that the grease fill and type is carefully calculated by professional engineers...).

Added grease by itself doesn't cause a huge issue in wheel bearing use, since they don't really spin fast enough to get hot, but removing the seal always damages it. Plus, you can have issues with incompatible grease chemistries. And it's messy; some of the added grease will make its way out of the bearing, and if the damaged seal is on the outside it will admit contaminants sooner or later.

The one exception may be adventuresome types who regularly enter deep water crossings; in this case, stuffing the bearing with grease can help keep water out a bit longer.

The stock bearings have a seal on one side because Suzuki somehow saved a tenth of a penny using these. There's no reason to remove the inner seal when installing fresh bearings with two seals.
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Last edited by bwringer; 07-31-2018 at 07:39 PM.
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