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How to Replace Harley Wheel Bearings

by Jim Murkot Sr.

Front and rear wheels on Harley-Davidson motorcycles are now equipped with sealed bearings that do not require lubrication as a part of routine maintenance. A regular inspection of tires and wheels, however, is necessary to check for excessive wear, obvious damage and the like. While it is not possible to inspect bearings without removing them, a motorcycle with irregular handling can alert the rider that a problem exists. Should bearings become worn, as evidenced by noise or poor handling, they will need to be replaced.

Front Wheel Removal

Block the motorcycle so the front wheel is elevated above the ground. Ensure that the motorcycle is stable before proceeding.

Loosen and remove the mounting bolts from the front brake caliper. Lift the caliper off of the front rotor and allow it to hang free by the attached brake line.

Remove the axle nut with a ratchet wrench and tap out the axle with a soft mallet. Place the axle in a clean location to avoid contamination. Allow the wheel to fall out from the front forks. It may be necessary to let the air out of the tire to accomplish this.

Move the wheel to a bench work area to proceed.

Rear Wheel Removal

Block the motorcycle so the rear wheel is elevated above the ground. Remove the saddlebags by rotating the two quick-release studs 1/4 turn counterclockwise. Place the bags in a safe, out-of-the-way place to avoid damage.

Remove the right-sided muffler by loosening and removing the worm drive clamps and heat shields with a ratchet wrench.

Take off the axle nut from the rear wheel with a ratchet wrench and tap the axle free from the wheel with a mallet. Place the axle in a clean location to avoid contamination.

Pull on the wheel to free the brake disk from the brake caliper. Allow the wheel to then fall forward. Slip the belt drive from its sprocket. Take the rear wheel to a bench work area to proceed.

Pull the Bearings

Assemble the front-wheel bearing-remover tools with the hex nut and Nice bearing on the forcing screw. Put the supplied steel ball inside of the larger collet and install the collet on the forcing screw as well.

Insert the collet into the inner diameter of the bearing.

Screw the hex nut on the collet with an SAE wrench until the lip makes contact with the edge of the bearing.

Hold the forcing and turn the hex nut until the bearing comes free. Repeat this procedure on the opposite side of the wheel.

Install New Bearings

Select the wheel-bearing install tools for the appropriate wheel. Insert the rod with attached support plate through the wheel on the valve stem side.

Install the new bearing, larger pilot, Nice bearing, washer and hex nut onto the rod.

Turn the hex nut to force new bearings onto their race. The bearing is considered fully seated as it touches the counterbore inside the wheel.

Repeat on the opposite side of the wheel.

Reinstall wheels, mufflers and saddlebags in reverse procedure order.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jim Murkot Sr. is a respiratory therapist with more than 20 years of hospital management. Murkot began writing professionally in 1993 and has written numerous hospital protocols designed to guide personnel in everything from hospital ethics to emergency response. His work has appeared in eHow as well as in multiple hospitals within the Houston area. He attended Kingwood College and Boston University.

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Photo Credits

  • roller bearing and race. image by Tom Oliveira from