How to replace your front wheel bearings


Step-by-step tutorials on how to maintain and fix your GL1500
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How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:47 pm



Replacing the bearings in the front wheel is a relatively simple job that should take less than an hour to accomplish. Wheel bearings do wear out over time, and symptoms such as noise from the wheel when it turns, grinding when the wheel is suspended in air and turned, wandering in the front end when going over bumps, speed wobble, or free play in the front wheel can all indicate a failed bearing. In this case, the noise coming from the front wheel had gradually increased over time, the front end had started to get a bit sloppy and wandering, a speed wobble had developed when decelerating through 30 mph, and the front wheel had lateral play. Pretty obvious that the bearings needed to be changed:





To replace them, I used a front wheel bearing kit from All Balls, that I purchased from Cyclemax for the paltry sum of $13. This kit includes two new quality bearings and replacement dust seals - everything you'll need for this job. I also used a custom bearing removal tool made of a 8 inch long, 3/4" bolt - you'll need to pick one up from the local hardware store.

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Before starting, I put the bearings in the freezer for an hour or so. The bearings are press-fitted into the wheel hub, and putting them in the freezer makes them shrink slightly, so that they are much easier to fit into the hub.

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1. To begin, the motorcycle needs to be lifted so that the front wheel is off the ground. This can be done by putting the motorcycle on its center stand, then putting a standard automotive trolley jack under the engine block, and lifting an inch or two. Do NOT lift the bike by the oil filter! This will tip the bike back onto its rear wheel, lifting the front wheel in the process. Be careful when working this way - while the bike does have three points of contact, it is not as stable as the preferred method: using a motorcycle lift and straps:

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2. When lifting the bike on the lift, it can become slightly unstable in the longitudinal axis. Once the bike is lifted, I slide some pieces of wood under the rear wheel, then gently lower the bike until the rear wheel touches the wood. This stabilizes the bike and keeps it from rocking from end to end while you work.

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3. Pull the rear of the front fender cover to release the post from its grommet. Carefully release the two tabs from the front of the cover (next to the fork) - these tabs are easily broken, so be careful! Remove the cover. Repeat on the other side of the wheel.

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4. Remove the allen bolt holding the top of the wheel cover. You may have aftermarket accessories such as the wiring and light bracket shown in this picture. If that is the case, keep in mind how they fasten, so that you can refasten them when reassembling.

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5. Remove the two allen bolts from the bottom of the wheel cover.

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6. Note that the two allen bolts on the bottom of the wheel cover have a collar - don't lose the collar!

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7. Remove the wheel cover. Repeat the process on the other side of the wheel.

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8. Note the brake line stabilization bracket that goes on top of the wheel cover. The top allen bolt goes through both of these brackets, then through the wheel cover, then screws into the fork. There are two brackets on each side, and both of them are stamped "L" or "R" to identify which side of the wheel they are from. The two brackets on each side link together at the back, go around the brake line, and then go together at the front, where they are fastened, along with the wheel cover, into the fork. The inside bracket has a small flange that fits into the hole in the plastic rotor cover.

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9. Using a Philips screwdriver, remove the screw holding the speedometer cable into the speedometer drive.

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10. Pull the speedometer cable rearward out of the speedometer drive.

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11. Remove the lower allen bolt holding the brake caliper bracket to the anti-dive piston.

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12. Remove the upper caliper bracket bolt.

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13. Pull the caliper up off the brake rotor. Using a bungee, rope or wire, hang the caliper so that it is not suspended using the brake line.

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14. Repeat the process on the caliper on the other side of the wheel. Once the calipers have been removed from the wheel, do NOT depress either the brake lever or brake pedal, as this will move the pistons out, and you will not be able to fit the calipers back over the brake rotors.

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15. Using a 22mm socket, loosen and remove the axle bolt on the right side of the wheel.

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16. Loosen the axle pinch bolts on both sides of the wheel.

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17. Looking at the right side of the wheel, you can see the end of the axle now that the axle bolt has been removed. This axle needs to be pushed out the left side of the wheel.

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18. Using a socket extension or small piece of pipe is a simple way of pushing the axle out. You should use something that is smaller than the opening, but larger than the axle itself, so that it will push on the end of the axle, and not damage the threads inside.

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19. A couple strikes with a hammer will push the axle through the right fork leg.

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20. Once the axle has been pushed a couple of inches, it will easily pull out, releasing the wheel. If there is resistance, it is the weight of the wheel itself binding the axle. Lift the wheel slightly while pulling the axle out. Set the axle down where it will not get dirty, and roll the wheel out from between the forks.

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21. You can also use a screwdriver through the hole on the left side of the axle to pull it through.

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21. The speedometer drive is press-fitted into the right hub of the wheel - pull it free, so that it can be cleaned.

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22. Pull the spacer free from the left hub of the wheel. Pull it free, so that it can be cleaned.

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23. Roll the wheel free of the forks. NEVER lay the wheel down on the brake rotor - this can damage the rotors, and they are very expensive to replace. To set the wheel aside, lean it up against a wall so that only the rubber tire touches both the wall and the ground. Or, set a couple 4x4 blocks of wood on the floor at approximately the diameter of the wheel, and set the tire down on the blocks, so that the brake rotor goes between them.

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24. A minute or two with some brake cleaner and a shop cloth will remove the dirt and grime from the speedometer drive.

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25. Lay the wheel down on the blocks of wood that you have set up, with the right side of the wheel facing upward. The brake rotor should NEVER touch the ground, and the wheel should not be resting on the rotor - only the rubber tire should be touching the wood, no other part of the wheel should be touching anything.

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26. Using a flat blade screwdriver, carefully pry up the old dust seal. Don't worry about damaging it, we'll be throwing it away.

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27. The dust seal is rubber, but it has a steel frame inside of it to make it rigid. Remove it and throw it away.

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28. Flip the wheel over and pry away the larger (and thinner) dust seal from the left side of the wheel. This one comes out much easier than the right side seal. Throw this one away as well, the kit comes with a new one.

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At this point, it is pretty obvious what was causing the problem on my bike - the right side bearing had failed, and was in the process of grinding itself into metal shavings. There should not be ANY free play on the inner race of the bearing - this bearing had substantial free play:





29. Carefully lift away the speedometer drive tab ring. We WILL be reusing this part, so be careful with it!

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30. Clean the drive tab ring - you'll see it's made of metal with two rubber tabs that rotate the speedometer drive.

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31. Time for our special tool. It's made from an eight-inch long, 3/4" threaded bolt.

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32. Cut a slot down the end of the bolt, about two inches long. I started the slot with a grinder (just to get it started fast), and when I got as far as the grinder would allow, I finished it off with a reciprocating saw. You can do the same thing with a hacksaw if you need the exercise.

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33. Push the threaded end of the bolt up through the wheel so that it is flush with the end of the bearing as shown.

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35. Insert a large, flat screwdriver into the slot in the bolt.

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36. Using a small sledgehammer, drive the screwdriver into the slot. This spreads the ends of the bolt, causing the threads to grab very tightly to the inner race of the bearing.

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Standing the wheel on edge, whack the end of the bolt with the sledgehammer, to drive the bearing out of its seat in the hub.

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34. In some cases, the bearing is in too tightly, and the threads will slip on the bearing race. In that case, reset the bolt so that the end of the bolt is just below the bearing before driving the screwdriver into the slot. This causes the bolt ends to spread wider than the inner race of the bearing.

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35. As you hit the end of the bolt with the hammer, the bearing is slowly driven out of its seat.

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36. Remove the spacer from the middle of the wheel, then repeat the process from the other side, to drive the other bearing out.

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37. Once the bearings are out, clean the seats of any grease and dirt.

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38. We will be using a large socket to help seat the new bearings. You want a socket that is large enough to contact the outer race of the bearing, but not so large that it won't fit into the hub seat. In this case, I found that a 32mm socket was a perfect size. What you don't want to do is to push the new bearings in by the race cover or inner race - you should be pushing on the outer race only!

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39. Check to make sure the socket you are using will fit snugly into the hub seat as shown. Note that the open end of the socket is facing upward, so that the flat surface of the socket will be pushing the bearing into place.

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40. Remove one of the bearings from the freezer (they're both the same, so either one will do). Push it gently into the hub, and place the socket on top of it as shown. Use a rubber sledge or dead blow hammer to gently hammer the bearing into place. Of utmost importance is that the bearing go in completely flat - if it starts tipping one way or the other, make sure you correct it and make it flat again before driving it further. Note that we started with the left side bearing, which goes in flush with the surface.

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41. OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE! Don't forget to insert the spacer into the wheel hub before seating the other bearing! If you forget the spacer, you'll have to remove one of the bearings - and removing the bearing destroys it, so you'll have to get a new bearing. Don't forget the spacer!! Apply a light coat of grease before inserting it.

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42. Seat the right side bearing - note that it goes in quite a bit further than the left side, so make sure it has stopped moving before you decide it's done. Don't pound it in as hard as you can get it! You want the spacer in the wheel hub to be able to rotate freely. If the spacer is binding up when you turn it, you have pounded in the bearing too far. This is a problem: by doing so, you are side loading the bearings, which will cause early failure. On the other hand, you don't want the spacer to rattle around - if this is the case, the bearing isn't in far enough. Seat it gently, checking the movement of the spacer frequently.

Once the right side bearing is in place, pack some grease in and around it, then insert the new dust seal - remember, the thicker seal goes on the right side. This seal fits fairly tightly, so you may need to use your socket and hammer to help seat it properly.

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43. Flip the wheel over to the left side. Grease the drive tab ring and the bearing top beneath it, then insert it into the hub above the bearing. Make sure the tabs fit into the slots in the wheel hub.

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44. Pack some more grease over the drive tab ring, and push the new dust seal into place. This dust seal should go on easily enough that you can push it in place with your fingers. Lift the tire up on edge and put your fingers into both bearings and rotate them to make sure there is no binding or free play, and that they turn freely.

At this point it is an excellent time to clean the brake rotors. Use brake cleaner and a towel, to remove any grease that may have inadvertently smeared onto the rotors - on both sides of each rotor. ANY grease left on the rotors will pretty much ELIMINATE any braking on that rotor - so this is important!

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45. Note that on the inside of the right fork, there is a tab. This tab engages a tab on the speedometer drive, to prevent it from rotating with the wheel.

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46. Here is the tab on the speedometer drive.

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47. When the wheel is reinstalled, the speedometer drive must be rotated so that the two tabs are butted up against one another as shown.

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48. Clean the axle, and coat it with a thin coating of grease.

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49. After cleaning the spacer, reinsert it into the right wheel hub.

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50. Coat the speedometer gear drive in the hub with grease, then insert the speedometer gear drive.

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51. Roll the wheel between the forks and push the axle in from the left side. Tap the axle into the fork until it is fully seated.

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52. Rotate the speedometer drive so that its tab is against the fork tab as shown.

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53. Snug, but do not tighten the pinch bolts on both forks. This is to help prevent the axle from rotating when the axle bolt is tightened.

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54. Insert the axle bolt and thread it in by hand to ensure the threads are not crossed.

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55. Using a torque wrench, tighten the axle bolt to 65 ft-lb.

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56. If the axle rotates, preventing the tightening of the axle bolt, insert a screwdriver into the hole that passes through the axle on the left side of the wheel, and use it to prevent the rotating of the axle.

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57. Once the axle bolt is properly torqued, tighten each pinch bolt. Torque the pinch bolts to 16 ft-lb.

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58. Remove the roller bearing collar from the upper caliper bracket mount on each side.

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59. Pack the roller bearings with grease, then reinsert the roller bearing collar.

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60. Using brake cleaner, fully clean the brake calipers, pads and rotors to remove any grease or oil residue.

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61. The caliper mounting bolts need to have high-temperature brake lubricant applied.

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62. Apply the lubricant to the non-threaded portion of the bolts.

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63. Making sure the brake pads straddle the brake rotor, slide the caliper into place. Start the bolts in by hand, then finish using a torque wrench. The top caliper bolt is torqued to 17 ft-lb, the bottom caliper bolt is torqued to 9 ft-lb. Repeat the process with the other caliper.

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64. The speedometer cable has a slotted end that rotates within the cable.

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65. The speedometer drive has a flat drive that rotates with the front wheel.

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66. Rotate the front wheel so that the drive rotates and properly engages the slot in the cable. Push the cable fully into the drive until the bottom screw retainer butts up against the drive.

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67. Replace and snug the screw in the speedometer drive. This screw is tough to get exactly right - too tight, and the plastic screw retainer will split, causing the cable to back out of the drive when under way. Not tight enough, and the screw will back out and fall out, causing the cable to back out of the drive when under way. I used blue Loctite on this screw to encourage it to remain within the drive, without having to tighten it too much. Don't use the screw to pull the cable into place - make sure it is fully inserted before you tighten the screw.

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68. Place the two brake line stabilization brackets around the brake line and link them together. Make sure you get the correct brackets on the correct sides.

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69. Fit the wheel cover into place, making sure it fits under the brackets, and that the flange of the back bracket fits into the hole of the wheel cover. The back of the wheel cover also needs to fit into the back of the wheel fender. Screw the top bolt into place, but do not tighten.

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70. Replace the two bottom bolts - don't forget to use their collars. Tighten these bolts, then tighten the top bolt.

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71. Fit the two tabs at the front of the front fender cover into the back of the front fender, then push the rear of the front fender cover into place, inserting its post into its grommet.

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Any time you work on brakes, wheels, suspension or any other safety-critical system, it is beholden upon you to TEST RIDE thoroughly at slow speed in a controlled area, to ensure that everything is working correctly.



dale miller
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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby dale miller » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:12 am

Great info,I like the wheel puller you made. I am replacing both tires and bearings,ready for warm weather. Thanks

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spiralout
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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby spiralout » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:29 am

I just replaced my bearings with the All Balls kit while I had my wheel off for a tire change and here's some of my observations. As for a removal tool, I couldn't get a 3/4" bolt locally without having to drive 45 miles to a Lowes and 3/4 concrete anchors were almost 8 bucks each here. I ended up picking up a blind hole puller from Autozone's loan a tool. $175 deposit but I think it was worth every penny.

It has attachments for 3/8 to 1 1/8"
I used this one

There's just enough of a lip behind the inner race to get the tool to grab. I tried the slide hammer with it and there's no way it hits hard enough to budge the bearings so ended up driving the tool out from the back side using a socket extension. Even with a 4lb hammer it still took pretty hard whacks to get them to move. The tool only slipped on me twice and I figured out that was because when I tightened it down, it was canted off center just a little. When centered it didn't slip once.
When installing the new bearings, I drove in the right side first, as per the FSM. I seated it until it just did contact the shoulder. Flipped the wheel over, inserted the spacer and noticed that it seemed to be sitting higher than it should have, like there wouldn't be room to seat the left side bearing without it hitting the spacer. Checked everything out and it was cool, the spacer was sitting on inner race of the right bearing, so I installed the left checking the clearance between it's inner race and the spacer after every tap. Before that bearing got anywhere near seated the race was really close to the spacer but I felt there was still too much end play so I gave it one more light tap before checking it again. Mistake. That last little tap jammed the bearing against the spacer so hard that neither bearing would turn. WTH? Visually, both inner races were bulged out and the left bearing was no where near flush. Dammit, back to Autozone to rent the tool again :lol:
I used the tool to pull the right side bearing out a tiny bit and that cleared the jam up but at this point, neither bearing is actually seated. I find it hard to believe that Honda designed this so that you had to guess on how deep to seat the bearings. All the FSM says on this is "Drive in the right bearing first with the sealed sealed end facing out. Drive in the left bearing."
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
My brother has my mics and calipers right now but when I get them back, I'm going to measure the thickness of the inner race of the OEM bearings. If someone has a set of the All Balls replacements, could you measure those for me being mine are already installed? :D

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:50 pm

spiralout wrote:I just replaced my bearings with the All Balls kit while I had my wheel off for a tire change and here's some of my observations. As for a removal tool, I couldn't get a 3/4" bolt locally without having to drive 45 miles to a Lowes and 3/4 concrete anchors were almost 8 bucks each here. I ended up picking up a blind hole puller from Autozone's loan a tool. $175 deposit but I think it was worth every penny.
IMAG2489.jpg

It has attachments for 3/8 to 1 1/8"
I used this one
IMAG2490.jpg

There's just enough of a lip behind the inner race to get the tool to grab. I tried the slide hammer with it and there's no way it hits hard enough to budge the bearings so ended up driving the tool out from the back side using a socket extension. Even with a 4lb hammer it still took pretty hard whacks to get them to move. The tool only slipped on me twice and I figured out that was because when I tightened it down, it was canted off center just a little. When centered it didn't slip once.
When installing the new bearings, I drove in the right side first, as per the FSM. I seated it until it just did contact the shoulder. Flipped the wheel over, inserted the spacer and noticed that it seemed to be sitting higher than it should have, like there wouldn't be room to seat the left side bearing without it hitting the spacer. Checked everything out and it was cool, the spacer was sitting on inner race of the right bearing, so I installed the left checking the clearance between it's inner race and the spacer after every tap. Before that bearing got anywhere near seated the race was really close to the spacer but I felt there was still too much end play so I gave it one more light tap before checking it again. Mistake. That last little tap jammed the bearing against the spacer so hard that neither bearing would turn. WTH? Visually, both inner races were bulged out and the left bearing was no where near flush. Dammit, back to Autozone to rent the tool again :lol:
I used the tool to pull the right side bearing out a tiny bit and that cleared the jam up but at this point, neither bearing is actually seated. I find it hard to believe that Honda designed this so that you had to guess on how deep to seat the bearings. All the FSM says on this is "Drive in the right bearing first with the sealed sealed end facing out. Drive in the left bearing."
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
My brother has my mics and calipers right now but when I get them back, I'm going to measure the thickness of the inner race of the OEM bearings. If someone has a set of the All Balls replacements, could you measure those for me being mine are already installed? :D


Something's definitely not right. When the bearings are driven in until they are completely seated in the rim, the inner races should be just *barely* touching the spacer, and the spacer should be exerting no pressure on the inner races (which will bind them up, as you discovered).

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby spiralout » Mon Aug 17, 2015 9:51 pm

WingAdmin wrote:
Something's definitely not right. When the bearings are driven in until they are completely seated in the rim, the inner races should be just *barely* touching the spacer, and the spacer should be exerting no pressure on the inner races (which will bind them up, as you discovered).

I agree, something's not right, but I only had that one set of bearings on hand and needed to get the bike on the road so I could stop having to bum rides around town. I know the spacer didn't grow when I had it out nor the wheel shrink, so that just leaves the bearings themselves. :?: :?:

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:13 am

So either the inner races are too wide, or the spacer is cocked slightly, and not allowing enough clearance. Those are the only two things I can think of that would cause this.

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby guitarzan » Sun Aug 07, 2016 8:15 pm

I have a 1994 Goldwing SE 1500, I have a question regarding this step in the tutorial of replacing your front wheel bearings:

43. Flip the wheel over to the left side. Grease the drive tab ring and the bearing top beneath it, then insert it into the hub above the bearing. Make sure the tabs fit into the slots in the wheel hub.

The tabs actually have to be placed into the rubber slots in the wheel hub? I tried to line them up and push the tabs into the rubber slots and I couldn't push them into the slots. I took a hammer and taped it in to get the tabs into the slots in the wheel hub. I ripped one of the rubber slots somehow.

Is there a curtain way of getting the tabs into the slots in the wheel hub?

Thank you
Frank

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby guitarzan » Sun Aug 07, 2016 8:26 pm

Sorry, as you were on that last post I did. The one I'm having trouble with is :


50. Coat the speedometer gear drive in the hub with grease, then insert the speedometer gear drive.

Image

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby guitarzan » Sun Aug 07, 2016 8:46 pm

I'm sorry, I goofed up again. I think I'm just tired. I wanted to copy and paste the picture. and It didn't work. Do the two nylon tabs on the speedometer gear drive that you see in Picture 48 have to be inserted into the rubber tabs themselves in the drive tab ring that is inserted into the hub as seen on picture 43, or do the nylon tabs just need to be put into the hub so that the nylon tabs are turned when the rubber tabs on the drive tab ring engage the nylon tabs. I tried to insert the nylon tabs into the rubber tabs on the drive tab ring and ripped on of the rubber tabs. I think they're rubber, they seemed soft to me.

Thank you and this one is right.

Frank

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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Aug 08, 2016 8:35 pm

This is the rubber ring with the L-shaped tabs, one on each side:

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Those two tabs fit into these slots in the rim:

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The rim then turns this rubber ring. The two tabs that stick straight up go into the speedometer drive:

Image

Each of those tabs goes anywhere in the speedometer drive in between the white nylon tabs inside of it.

Does that make better sense?

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guitarzan
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Re: How to replace your front wheel bearings

Postby guitarzan » Mon Aug 08, 2016 10:33 pm

Yes, that makes sense. I sure can make a simple job so darn difficult without even trying.

I think it's that TBI I got in combat. Thank you for being patient with me. September's coming and that'll be two years I've been working on this poor bike.

Thanks again

Frank




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