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Featured If your bike has a shaft drive - check your splines

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Servicing' started by Stukky, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. Hi all

    One thing I used to love doing was lubing my shaft... best thing about it is you know whats going on down there so hopefully no ugly surprises miles away from home.

    I have done this on my BMW's and now decided to do the FJR... glad I did as the factory and previous services had obviously not taken a great deal of care in ensuring a nice thin even coat of lube was applied.

    This is not on the servicing interval for the FJR but has always been a critical item on the Beemers...

    So if you have a shaft drive bike it might pay to have a wee look and make sure you don't have the ugliness that you see in the photos. Before and afters of the splines and the Universal Joint.



    Attached Files:

    • Informative Informative x 4
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  2. Nothing better than a well lubed shaft! On another note, always wondered what the inside of those things looked like...
    • Funny Funny x 2
  3. Yes indeed. The pictures r the male splines at the engine end and the female is the universal joint which the male goes ummm into right...if you need to lube these (Check the interweb) then you gotta have the correct grease. Honda Moly 60 is the primo. Normal hp you have for the wheelbarrow bearings wont do the job.
  4. Had to be said!!
  5. What is it, where is it and how do you know if you have it?
  6. If you ain't got a chain to lube then I guess you will have a drive shaft...which will have splines to connect to the final drive / rear wheel and the Universal Joint (at the Motor end).

    The FINAL Drive splines on the FJR are actually lubricated by the Final Drive gear oil but the front splines are not, hence you need to maintain them.

    Suggest you get onto the interweb and do some searches cos sure as eggs are oval there will be information out there on it. Hope that helps.
  7. I do it regularly... the good news is it take only 1 bolt and three nuts. Ten minutes tops...
  8. Do you do this as part of the regular service or more often?
  9. I check my spines, bearings etc. when I change tyres. It's a good time to take a close look at things and check developing problems.
  10. One of those things that your maintenance manual should advise on but, as suggested, the Wheel splines should be cleaned and lubed when you replace tyres. Don't think you need the special Moly 60 grease for this.

    The shaft splines are not even in the FJR service schedule so I would think that every 20-30,000 km would be fine once they have been done properly. It takes about an hour total to strip it all down so every second tyre change will do for me.

    Can be big differences between models too, for example the Swingarm bearing should be re-greased every 26,000km in Europe/UK models and 50,000km in US. Can only assume that's due to salt/rain contamination.
  11. Thanks chaps! I've only had this bike (BMW R80, '95) for 6 months and still getting used to it. It's very different to my 250 virago...
  12. Ah fantastic, I had a K75S and R1150RS, the Beemers certainly have a bit of character especially the older ones. The K75 was a real arse to lube the splines. You can only get to it by parting the final drive then lube the splines with a paint brush. I believe that the R bikes are easier to do but get ready for a day long exercise.

    Here is a good starting point with further links to other articles. Remember you do need to get the Molly 60 grease. Look on eBay - its about $30 a small tube but it will last forever.

  13. The Jap bikes do not have it as a service item. However, after a few failures requiring diff replacement, Suzuki emailed out a page to all dealers saying that from now on all shaft drive vehicles need inspecting every 12,00km or so. Yamaha also did the same, but only for the XVS650. Neither have updated their service schedules to include shaft drive greasing. Pretty slack really. I guess they still want to maintain the perception that shaft drives require no maintenance.

    There are some models though that use the diff oil to lubricate the shaft splines at the diff end of the shaft, such as the XVS1100 & 1400GTR. But the other end of the shaft that slips into the universal joint at the back of the engine could still potentially need greasing.

    If there was no splined joint at the universal joint, and diff oil lubricating the diff end splines, then technically this would be a maintenance free setup. But I don't know of any bike that has this setup.
  14. I've put maybe a million perhaps more km's on Shaft driven bikes never lubed splines never had a failure.

    Every failure I have ever seen has been a manufacturing defect, and at worst any issues with your splines is only going to result in slippage and then no drive. Either way these failures are rare.


    Just my opinion though... if you want to lube it knock yourself out.
  15. If you google image search "Motorcycle shaft drive failure" it is just wall to wall BMW pictures.
  16. #16 Stukky, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
    Yep I guess its one of those things that owner number 3 will find out the hard way that it was never done... :)

    While they may not "fail" often I wonder how many just deteriorate over time which leads to vibration and other nasty symptoms.
    Personal choice I spose. I prefer to manage the risk of things that can possibly go wrong.

    whoa did a google on "failed splines motorcycle" and got a gazzillion images...

  17. I have seen a number of drive shaft spline failures. On the XVS650 it wore down the pinion gear splines, which could not be bought as a separate part, requiring complete diff & shaft replacement at roughly $1500. It only had 30,000km on it. Would not have happened had the shaft been greased when the rear tyre was replaced. The diff has to be removed anyway when changing the rear tyre on an XVS650, so it only takes an extra 10 minutes to grease the shaft.
    Also saw one fail on a VL800. Also had only about 30,000km. Though on that one the splined coupling at the diff could be bought as a separate part. But it was still a few hundred dollars in parts.
    Seen plenty fail on Yamaha quads.
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  18. The BMW failures are not really a splined shaft failure. It is usually the bearings in the diff that fail. Some were incorrectly shimmed from the factory, preloading the bearings. But I suspect it may also be due to the design, being single sided with no support arm on the other side to take some of the load. Because of this, the diff bearings are not only taking the load of the engine driving the back wheel, but are also acting as wheel bearings, supporting the weight of the bike & taking side loading when cornering. On the lighter models, this may not be a factor, but could increasingly become so with every added kilo.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Yep I had a BMW R1150RS that had the final drive bearing fail on.. $900 to repair - a mate had a 1200RT and the same thing. Its definitely a weakness and I believe that there is/was a formal investigation into it by some watchdog group in the US but I could be wrong on that point.

    If you don't lube the BMW splines they will fail as well tho' . I guess that most don't fail however is that everyone is aware that splines need grease and do it as a maintenance item.
  20. Also recently replaced a drive shaft on a VL800. Lost drive completely.