2017 Wheel Bearing Replacement

WTF is that grinding noise as I rotate the rear tire while doing a routine chain tightening?!!! Oh frig, I've notched a bearing and I can hear and feel it drag as I rotate the rear wheel of my 2009 Kawasaki Versys KLE650. Bugger me. Or rather bugger my plans for riding this weekend and the next until I get these sorted. I was watching a movie called "Mondo Enduro" by Austin Vince, and they had two bearing failures while riding around the world, and only managed to continue through good fortune as they were able to buy one locally while on route, and the other occurred in Russia, and they really lucked out when the Russian whose home they had broken down in had a spare in his pile of junk that was a perfect fit.

My plight wasn't that bad, but I'd already had the bike immobilized up on the stands due to a leaking fork seal, and this was just icing on the cake.

The nasty thing!

Alright, I'm not going to walk you through the details on how to remove a rear tire, nor go into nauseating detail on how to do it, but I was requested by the mod on the Versys forum for a How -To, and they like more detail, but they are not going to like the dirt encrusted rims etc etc. Lol. I ride it and put it away wet, but let me tell you, if I had a do over on this, I'd have scrubbed those rims clean with a rag and some WD-40 as well as cleaned that sprocket til it sparkled. Why? I got filthy!

The day I got the bearings from FortNine.ca:
 I put them straight into the freezer. 
Yep, below zero. Cold stuff contracts, warm stuff expands.

Now close your eyes and skip past the video below. I suck at HTML and did NOT mean to leave this disturbing video in place! He used a blowtorch and you'll never guess what happened next! Watch it before YouTube pulls his video and his shocking secret is lost forever!

Did you watch the video? Probably not. Nobody does what they are told, so here you go:

So first thing you might want to know, is that on the 2009 Versys rear rim there are three bearings, the large bearing for the sprocket hub, and the two smaller bearing for the actual rim itself, an inner, and the outer. Only the two outer bearings will have dust seals, so you will need one large and two small.

I tried using a blow torch, honestly I did, but all I managed to do was to burn the rubber and set a wee grease fire, so I set the torch aside and steeled myself to simply drive the bearings out by brute force.

There should be a fire extinguisher beside the torch.
I had a 1/2 drive T-handle that had a nice sharp end on it, as the socket extension I had also grabbed looked too rounded on the end and I thought it would likely slip off and make me mad.

Don't forget to put your axle/rim spacers into a safe place where they can be a part of a diverse environment, free from harassment and gender discrimination. (I had to scrub the gunk off of mine with a toothbrush)

1. Remove the old dust seals, there are two of them and you can lever them out of the hub with a screwdriver. The screwdriver is steel, the hub is aluminum, so don't mess up your rim. You have been warned.

Archimedes would be proud

It's stiff and brittle, and you will probably damage it.
It's going to get damaged, the kit you bought must have the new seals in there, otherwise you are going to get dirt into your brand new bearing.

2. Shift the spacer off of the bearing inner race - You can just see the bearing spacer in the shot above, deep in the well. With your improvised drift, lever that spacer out of the inner race and push it to any side. It's going to move maybe 1/4" more or less.

Shifting the bearing spacer to the side

Now it's Whack-a-Mole time!
3. Drift out the old bearing - Use your drift to sharply rap the inner race that you have exposed. Now move the drift and lever the spacer over to the opposite side and repeat the taps. Do this for all four cardinal points North, South, East and West. If you haven't shifted it with 20 hits of the hammer, you may want to soak the bearing with penetrating oil and let it sit while you go back and watch the video (RTFM).  I felt it shift after 20 and it hit the shop floor well before I got in the fortieth blow of the hammer.

The old bearing and spacer hit the floor
Now your rim is going to look something like this, although in your case probably much cleaner. Flip the rim over, and now beat out the other bearing, but don't you dare smack that rim! Just the bearing itself. There's no dust seal you say! Yeah, it's an inner bearing and you won't need a dust seal for it.

More work, it never ends.

4. Cush hub magic... - in the cush hub itself is a spacer/adapter that you are going to want to keep around. It converts the inner race to the same size as the axle, so put it somewhere safe.

I almost missed this...

adapter/space for the cush hub
5. Cush hub snap ring - Yep, that snap ring has to come out. I have a pair of snap ring pliers in my tool box that I bought at Home Depot years ago. They convert to internal or external rings and come with multiple tips for many different sizes and locations of snap rings. (If you don't have snap ring pliers, you can grind the point off a small nail and place it in the snap ring hole then use a screwdriver to lever against the nail. Go buy the pliers, I used to do it this way. It hurts when you slip)

Channellock for the overpriced win!
6. Drive out the cush hub bearing - from the backside, drive out the cush hub bearing but be triple careful not to smack the shiny aluminum rim.

7. Clean up, Clean up, Everybody do their share... - now is your chance to clean all the old grease and grit (maybe even rust from the old bearing) with a rag and make it all sparkly.

8. Smoke 'em if you got 'em, you deserve a break for getting this far.

9. Stack your bearings and align - Now take one bearing and wrap the others in a shop towel to keep them freezer cold while you work with this one. You have less than 7 minutes before the bearing will reach room temperature, so grease the outside of the bearing and center it over the hub. place the old bearing on top of it, then place the axle shaft through both bearings to act as a guide. I have a 32mm socket but it was too small to use as a driver. The guy that offers that tip is a heavy equipment mechanic and sneers at anything smaller than 3/4" or 1/2" drive ratchets. He probably has air tools too. You'll be using the OUTER RACE of the old bearing as your driver, with the axle as an "alignment tool".

The old bearing is going to drive in the new one. 
10. Drive your bearing into the hub - Rap the bearing on the four compass points, making sure that you are going in nice and level. If it gets cockeyed (you'll know), then drive them back out and start over. Rule of thumb, 1/16" tip to one side is okay, smack the opposite side now. 1/8" tip, and you will want to back away, take a breather, rap it out and start again. 1/4" tip , and you may have damaged the hub. Put down the sledge hammer and collect your stuffed toy from the Carni. The whole time the axle is held in one hand, the hammer in the other. (I tried without the axle and just holding the bearing, it slips, bounces and may strike and mar the hub) The axle also keeps you smacking on the outer race as opposed to the inner, which would damage your new bearing below.

Seriously, I'd tap it five gentle times per compass point, and it slipped in. The first one was a stubborn SOB, the rest were easier because I knew what to expect and how simple it was.

11. Don't drive the old bearing into the hub - Stop when the old bearing is less than 1/8" deep into the rim, (I got enthusiastic and almost drove both bearings into the rim, and had to use a screwdriver to get the old one out!)

Time to stop when the new bearing is below the surface of the hub, as it's a PITA to get the old bearing out
12. Use a brass drift or similar to fully seat - Brass is softer than steel, but harder than aluminum, so try to tap the outer race, but refrain from scoring the hub itself. It's easier than it sounds. I didn't have a honest to god drift, so I used a commercial water faucet key. (It's made out of brass)

It's tilted to strike the outer race yet avoid scratching the hub
Now beat on that drift again on the four compass points, and it'll sink in. You will know when you strike bottom:

The rim will ring like a bell, and you will have struck bottom!
Congrats! You just drove your fist bearing! If you kept it freezer cold and lubed it like I told you, then you are smiling now.

13. Lube and press in dust seal - Now grease that dust seal and push it into place with thumb pressure. This is one bit where you could have left it sitting in the sun, but it will go. Put the old bearing on top once it has seated, and give it a light tap just to be sure it's home.

Pat yourself on the back!
14. Repeat for other bearings.  - Don't forget that you need to set and place the bearing spaced back into the rim before driving the last bearing. Try to ensure that it mates up with inner race to inner race. It's not too hard.

15. Cush hub snap ring, dust seal, and adapter/spacer - I hope you remembered to reassemble the cush hub and leave it in the manner in which you found it, turning out the lights as you leave.

It took me longer to draft this post then it did to do the job itself on the rear rim.

Time for rear rim: 1 hour 45 minutes including a smoke break.
Time for front rim: 1 hour cause I misplaced my 12mm socket. :P

I spent most of my afternoon on my little Princess Auto / Harbour Freight shop stool and wheeled around and around the bike and it's tires. I can see why some guys like the pit bull stands with removable handles. Hahaha.

Anyhow, if you have questions, or a better way of getting it done, then feel free to let me know. It passed the "Rotten Ronnie" cafe racing test, and I spoiled myself and had a Tim bit with sparkles. I like sparkles, I like bikes. I don't like sparkles on bikes. :P


A couple of different options for driving/pressing the bearings:
Brenton: When I drive my bearings in I use a bit of wood. It's softer than your bearings and your hub. With it being long and flat aswell it makes it easy to see if the bearing is going in straight. I also like to spray the inside and outside with a bit of lithium grease it adds an extra layer of protection but since it dries it won't collect dirt. The grease drives like wax so it repels water and doesn't hold on to any dirt. It's pretty much the same as battery terminal protector without the colouring in it.  
I use a piece of 1x2 pine. On its side put the bearing in place and tap the wood over the centre of the bearing with a 4pound club hammer.

On set ups with only 2 bearings you can also use 2 bits of wood with quick clamps and drive both in at the same time. 
On set ups with only 2 bearings you can also use 2 bits of wood with quick clamps and drive both in at the same time.
Charles: Bearings should pulled in or pressed into place, easiest way to do it is with stud bar/all thread and flat washers.

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