Replacing Front Wheel Bearings
I've got a 1993 Vulcan 500, and could hear my wheel bearings after they got heated up, so I figured it was time to swap them out. After calling around, the lowest I could find in labor was $210 for the front and rear bearings. That's just labor... and they wanted $80 for the bearings themselves.
So to save a few bucks, I decided to do it myself. I bought a lift for $100, and the bearings for just under $40.
To help anyone doing this kind of job in the future, here's some issues I ran into on the front wheel and how I solved them:
Removing the Wheel
The wheel nut on my bike was a 19mm. I cracked a cheap socket trying to get it off, then remembered I had a 4-way in my Jeep. Use a tire iron!
Lift the bike.
Remove the brake caliper (2x 12mm bolts) and unscrew the speedometer cable. It should pull straight out, even though it may not seem to want to at first because the grease is a little sticky.
Stick a screw driver into the hole in the axle and gently twist and pull. If it's really stuck, lightly tap with a hammer on the opposite end while twisting and pulling.
Voila! The wheel should drop. Along with the wheel, you'll have a spacer and the speedometer housing.
Getting to the Bearings
I'd recommend removing the brake rotor so it doesn't get damaged. They're hex screws, so use a hex socket. I finagled using a hex key and a crescent wrench. I couldn't tell you what size it was.
The grease seal pries off fairly easily with a flathead. Also, I didn't have circlip pullers, so I used a pair of narrow needle nose pliers and a flathead screwdriver. As I pulled the two ends of the circlip together, I put the flathead at the opposite end of the circlip and applied pressure toward the open end. This can be frustrating, but you'll get it. The speedometer rotor should come right out once its circlip is pulled.
Removing the Bearings
This was the fun part for me! My service manual said to use a long rod. But no matter what I tried, I couldn't get enough of the inner ring to hit it effectively from the other end.
Running out of ideas, I resorted to try driving a flathead between the bearing and the separator tube, and in doing so, discovered that the tube can move around quite a bit. Push the tube to the side with a metal rod or screw driver. Then you should be able to get enough of the inner ring to tap it out.
Installing New Bearings
Just tap them in with a socket around the same size as the outer ring. I used an extension on it too. You can also use PVC pipe and a block of wood. This may take a little work (by tap, I mean hammer the crap out of). Don't get carried away - make sure the bearing goes in straight.
Putting Everything Back Together
Everything goes back pretty much the same way it came off.
The only thing I'd really pay close attention to is the speedometer rotor. It fits exactly into the housing, and the housing has a ring that rotates. You'll have to look into the housing and match the grooves to the rotor's flanges. If it doesn't seat all the way, you'll have to lift the housing up and reseat it. Again, the housing's internal ring rotates.
Also the flanged end of the spacer goes to the outside, and is opposite the rotor.
Last edited by bloop; 08-05-2013 at 02:59 PM.