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How Do You Know If Your Wheel Bearings Have Had It?

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' started by Toefa, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. What are the general signs that wheel bearings are on the way out? I have noticed my front wheel making weird noises like little rocks hitting the rim and a bit of squeeling, could this be the wheel bearings? Is it dangerous to ride when they are starting to crap out?

    Also, the front end feels like when the handlebar stem on your BMX would be loose and under braking it feels as if there is a small amount of give, could that be another symptom?


  2. yep, sounds like wheel bearings.
    also, check the head stem bearing.
  3. Thanks Joel.. When they start to go, is it bad to keep riding on them? I wouldnt imagine its an expensive job to get done, but i'm gunna have to keep riding it like it is for a week or so before getting them replaced..
  4. All depends. How good is your health insurance?
  5. Bad cars break down.
    Bad bikes break you.
  6. If they're as bad as they sound, I wouldn't continue riding on them.
    Teh bearings could collapse, meaning you WILL crash, or they could merely seize up, meaing you WILL crash, and also have ruined hubs as well as crash damage.
    Should have paid more attention earlier on when teh bike started making sounds..........

    Regards, Andrew.
  7. When a bearing wears, it develops play.

    That means you could wobble the wheel (probably only a little bit) from side to side.

    To test, try the back wheel first, it is locked in place. Grip at front and back edge of the wheel (the swingarm holds it firmly in place), and try to wobble it. If the bearings are worn, you will feel and see some "loose" movement at the edge of the rim. Watch it near the front edge, so that you have the swingarm as a reference.

    The front wheel is a little harder, because it is free to turn from side to side. Instead, grip it at top and bottom so that you can "wobble" it against/parallel to the fork leg. Any wheel bearing wear is readily noticeable as "play" or looseness in the front wheel - just watch the edge of the rim in relation to the fork leg.

    Of course, it is almost essential to have the wheel in the air at the time you check it (and that does NOT mean while doing a stoppie or mono!)


    Trevor G

    PS If you cannot see or feel any movement you have something else wrong.

    You test the steering head bearings by gripping the front end at the axle area on the forks, while trying to push foraRD and back on the forks. Don't confuse fork flex for bearing looseness. When the head bearings are loose, you can usually see the movement at the top stem/steering head junction, as well as feel it. You do need the front wheel in the air to test this properly.

    Another method is to lock the front brake on while pulling back and pushing forward, with you left fingers against the bearing area of the top stem, and also touching the steering head. When there is enough play (you shouldn't have any) you will feel the movement/slack/play between the two components.

    This is a bit tricky - you must avoid turning the wheel as you do this, otherwise you can confuse sideways fork "turning" motion for bearing play.
  8. Cost of replacement is bugger all.

    13odd bucks each (you need two) and allow for about 50-60 bucks to have them fitted, labour is about the same as having a front tyre changed.
  9. If it's making that crunchy sound, they're well and truly f*ckerated. Don't ride it another metre, if they disintegrate any further they may destroy your wheel hub and that's bloody expensive. Replace the bearings immediately.
  10. Thanks for the reply guys... I got it done today at Clubman Motorcycle Rentals in Tempe. They did the front wheel bearings and the steering head bearings too (also completely frucked).. They did a great job and i can't believe the difference!!! :shock:

    The steering feels so much lighter and leaning feels much safer. I guess riding it everyday you dont notice the changes that happen over time, 'cause the front would have had to feel like a flat tyre to someone coming from a bike that was A1.