Article and Photos By: Daniel Donley
Originally Published In The April 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Sealed wheel bearings are found on 2000 and newer Harley-Davidson’s. They are also on old to new metric motorcycles. It is a good idea to check these or have your local service shop check them for you during a tire change. You may also be removing them or replacing them before or after powder-coating/ chrome plating of your rims. The tools required for doing this task are relatively affordable and can pay for themselves during the first use. They are definitely a great addition to your tool box.
During a tire change or anytime the wheel may be removed from the motorcycle. I strongly advise that you check your wheel bearings to feel their condition. You do this by inserting your finger into the bearing and rolling the bearing back and forth. If you feel any roughness or a lot of resistance your bearings will need to be replaced. I use a Jim’s wheel bearing removal and installation tool kit. You can purchase the kit for around $150 and this is a top of the line kit. Other kits are available for less money.
This is what the wheel bearing removal and installation tool kit consists of: this particular kit has pullers and installers for ¾” -1” – 25mm bearings. I have had this kit for many years and it has served me well. Definitely worth the money!
I personally like to use OEM manufacturer bearings, or bearings from All Balls racing. Both are quality bearings. Beware of cheap knockoffs as they will NOT last. Even quality bearings are not very expensive, you can typically put bearings in one wheel for under $40
The kit uses an internal bearing puller. The puller slips down through the inside of the bearing and grabs onto the back side with a lip. You will notice that there is a cone shaped spreader to spread the puller tightly against the bearing. I do advise that once you remove the bearings whether they are good or not, DO NOT reuse them. The removal process is very hard on the bearings and typically makes them unusable.
To get things started you install the internal bearing puller into the bearing along with the spreader. This will require a good stiff push to get into the bearing.
Now you will want to install the puller hat along with the brass washer, you will want to apply oil to all the threads this will help prevent galling. If not done, you can ruin your tool.
Installing the puller nut and cone expander nut are next. You will want to run these both up finger tight first to get everything into place. Then
you can tighten the cone expander nut, this will swell the internal puller onto the bearing. I like to use a large crescent wrench to turn the puller nut. You WILL have to get after this as sometimes they come out very hard. They will also sometimes pop and creek as they are slowly pulled out: that is completely normal. On a side note DO NOT USE an IMPACT here. Hand tools only!!
The puller is doing its job and removing the bearing from the wheel hub.
With the bearing removed you can now remove the inner wheel bearing spacer, and then remove the wheel bearing from the other side.