Technical Q and A for classic motorcycle maintenance and repair.
Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble with that old Suzuki, BSA or BMW, Keith Fellenstein is your guy. From motorcycle tuning tips to detailed motorcycle engine repair, he can draw from a wealth of experience to help guide you to success. Send questions to: Keith’s Garage, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609, or send an e-mail with “Keith’s Garage” as your subject.
Q: With regard to your advice to reader Ken Froelich about servicing his 1972 Honda CB500’s wheel bearings (1972 Honda CB500 Wheel Bearing Grease Age): Ken, stop right now!
Those bearings are cassette-style, and to remove them will destroy them. You must strike the inner race to take them out, with the force transferring through the ball bearings to the outer race. This is guaranteed to hurt the bearings and the races.
With this type of bearing, remove the wheel and the axle and rotate the inner race with two fingers. Apply some force to the bearing as you do this and feel for any resistance to spinning the assembly. If it is rough or drags in any way, replace both bearings.
As you install the new wheel bearings, only strike the outer race! Bearing driver kits are available at Harbor Freight, or use a socket of just the right outer diameter. Pick an old socket you don’t really like anymore.
Be sure the bearing is going in straight and true, and drive it in until the sound rises in pitch, letting you know the outer race has seated against the stop built into the hub. And don’t forget the spacer that goes between the bearings. Install one side, put in the spacer, then install the other bearing. - Jim Sweazy/Glendale, Ariz.
A: Jim is absolutely right. I should have been more accurate in my answer. Wheel bearings are cheap enough you should just replace them if you have any doubt about them at all. You can remove them without destroying them, but you need to heat the hubs using a heat gun to expand the aluminum enough to let the bearings come out with minimum force. By the time you’ve done that, plus the time to clean and test the bearings, you will have spent more time on the repair than if you had just replaced the bearings. Thanks, Jim, for your help improving the column. MC