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Wheel bearings

egary1974

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2017
97
36
48
Arkansas
#1
Has anyone had failed wheel bearings? I’ve started to see a few mentions of failed wheel bearings. I’m considering changing to tapered roller bearings soon to be preventative. What is a good source for these?


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Shadowjack

New Member
Mar 15, 2018
24
4
3
Great Plains
#2
You won't be able to put tapered bearings in any motorcycle wheels; they're just not designed for it. Wheel bearings usually last for 10s of thousands of miles. If anybody is seeing premature failures, I'd ask if they've been fording rivers.
 

Squily

Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2016
159
105
103
Esperance Western Australia
#3
there's been a few reports of failed rear bearings. most people associate it with 'cheap' parts used.

my bearings were pretty much cactus at 25kkm. i did do a few river crossings but not enough to justify the damage. front bearings are fine. replaced the rear bearings with better quality units at a cost of about $10. and i carry a spare bearing when i go touring

rear bearings was a weak spot on the old AT as well.
 

egary1974

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2017
97
36
48
Arkansas
#4
there's been a few reports of failed rear bearings. most people associate it with 'cheap' parts used.

my bearings were pretty much cactus at 25kkm. i did do a few river crossings but not enough to justify the damage. front bearings are fine. replaced the rear bearings with better quality units at a cost of about $10. and i carry a spare bearing when i go touring

rear bearings was a weak spot on the old AT as well.
What was your source for bearings squily?


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egary1974

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2017
97
36
48
Arkansas
#6
I'm in the mud and the water a lot, see profile pic. then I clean with pressure washer at the car wash. I think i'll round some up and carry with me. if I make it to deep winter without a breakdown I'll do it in the garage.
 

Squily

Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2016
159
105
103
Esperance Western Australia
#8
Link doesn't work for me, but I wouldn't use tapered wheel bearings on a bike. Front wheel maybe if I'm in a pinch. Tapered bearings rely on the correct torque to stop the bearing being too loose or too tight. Can't really do that on a swingarm.
 
Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#9
Link doesn't work for me, but I wouldn't use tapered wheel bearings on a bike. Front wheel maybe if I'm in a pinch. Tapered bearings rely on the correct torque to stop the bearing being too loose or too tight. Can't really do that on a swingarm.
As a machinist by trade i can say from experience usually premature failure of bearings is not fjording rivers but incorrectly torqing the axle nut, if you just crank down on the nut and dont put it at the manufacturer spec torque you end up "squeezing" the bearings when you do so you deform the metal minutely, effectively tightening the tolerances engineered into it thus causing the rolling elements to "slide" past eachother rather than rolling past which "usually" causes the aforementioned premature wear

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Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#10
So what you’re saying is that the axle threads will survive the pressure required to deform the steel axle spacer?

As a machinist by trade i can say from experience usually premature failure of bearings is not fjording rivers but incorrectly torqing the axle nut, if you just crank down on the nut and dont put it at the manufacturer spec torque you end up "squeezing" the bearings when you do so you deform the metal minutely, effectively tightening the tolerances engineered into it thus causing the rolling elements to "slide" past eachother rather than rolling past which "usually" causes the aforementioned premature wear

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Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#11
So what you’re saying is that the axle threads will survive the pressure required to deform the steel axle spacer?
Oh they will deform aswell, along with the hub and the axle itself will stretch a 3/4" bolt which is basically what the axle is can produce a 30,000 lb. Clamping force for a grade 8 bolt when fully torqued as a safe working load, that is a metric crap ton of axial load on a bearing designed to be primarily radially loaded and that is at max torque which is why manufacturers provide and engineered torque spec for you to hit so you dont over torque by accident


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Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#12
Oh they will deform aswell, along with the hub and the axle itself will stretch a 3/4" bolt which is basically what the axle is can produce a 30,000 lb. Clamping force for a grade 8 bolt when fully torqued as a safe working load, that is a metric crap ton of axial load on a bearing designed to be primarily radially loaded and that is at max torque which is why manufacturers provide and engineered torque spec for you to hit so you dont over torque by accident


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For converting 1 in-lbs = 0.0833 foot-lbs

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Squily

Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2016
159
105
103
Esperance Western Australia
#13
Not sure what that has to do with tapered bearings.

But to clarify my original comments.

The torque spec for the rear wheel is to keep the rear wheel in place and prevent it from moving when under directional torque from chain or under braking. That exceeds torque load specified for tapered bearings, meaning they will be too tight. Or if you torque them correctly, the rear wheel will move around in the swing arm.

As for over torquing: yes you are correct. But why river crossings kill bearings? The bearing is hot from running. When submerging it, it cools down quickly, air pockets inside contract and it sucks in water, not air, because the bearing is now submerged. Only takes a little moisture, which then reacts with the lubricant inside, the lubricant goes hard and you end up running a dry bearing which kills it.
 
Likes: Graves
Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#14
Not sure what that has to do with tapered bearings.

But to clarify my original comments.

The torque spec for the rear wheel is to keep the rear wheel in place and prevent it from moving when under directional torque from chain or under braking. That exceeds torque load specified for tapered bearings, meaning they will be too tight. Or if you torque them correctly, the rear wheel will move around in the swing arm.

As for over torquing: yes you are correct. But why river crossings kill bearings? The bearing is hot from running. When submerging it, it cools down quickly, air pockets inside contract and it sucks in water, not air, because the bearing is now submerged. Only takes a little moisture, which then reacts with the lubricant inside, the lubricant goes hard and you end up running a dry bearing which kills it.
That does make sense with the water and cooling but unless you just stop riding directly after the water wouldn't to bearing return to running temp and drive off the water? Possibly... possibly not who knows, I was just saying "in my experience" as a machinist bearing usually fail prematurely due to undue loads (axial vs. Radial vs. Thrust) and or manufacturer's defects but that being said this is an internet forum, I have not personally inspected said bearing so what I've said is mearly an opinion...
 

Squily

Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2016
159
105
103
Esperance Western Australia
#15
i techniques used by 4x4 drivers - stop with the balls of the differentials touching the water, but not deep enough to submerge the seals and wait 5 minutes. This allows the diffs to cool down sufficiently and not suck in water (or not as much) when you submerge the entire diff. Or fit long breather hoses so you can suck in clean air from the top and not water.

There is various schools of thought on how to best preserve bearings. Some believe manufacturers are stingy and don't put enough lubricant into the bearing in the 1st place. By opening the bearing and adding more lubricant/grease, you reduce the air pockets and inside, as well as supply more lube. Others say too much lube will have the opposite affect and will either create more resistance and heat, causing the lube to brake down faster and thus negate what you are trying to achieve. And by opening a sealed bearing, you more than likely damage the seal and that then allows for water/moisture to enter the bearing more easily.

I'm on the fence about this all. I have to believe reputable bearing manufacturers put their reputations on the line and knows what works best 'ínside'. Personally, I just buy the best quality bearings I can find, install them as is and try and inspect them after every trip for wear. And carry a spare one on the trip. When I have a failed bearing, I try and strip out the dust covers/seals and inspect them to see why they failed. E.g. dust or dirt inside, dry lubricant with 'water stains' just dry etc. This gives me an idea of what I put the bearing through under my application and thus I can plan for it.

As for 'your personal opinion' - you made great observations. Good food for thought. Keep it coming.
 
Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#16
Tapered roller bearings by design will take an axial load or thrust load much better than a ball or plain roller bearing but as for water and dirt ingress a sealed bearing is a sealed bearing. the design of the rollers or balls only changes how well it does with the different directions of the loads placed upon it, its sealing type and lube type will determine its ability to withstand dirt and water as squily said.

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Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#17
Interesting conversation for sure... I wonder what the compression strength of the axle spacer is and how far it actually compresses under a given load and what the tolerance is for the bearings?

Where’s Kevin Cameron when you need him?
 

Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#18
Kind of like a dirt bike being dunked into a stream, if the crankcase breather exits at the rear of the skid plate the sudden cooling will draw water into the crank case. Personal experience here. Not to mention that the bearing seals are usually only good for keeping rodents and small children out of the bearing, everything else is welcomed in.

Not sure what that has to do with tapered bearings.

But to clarify my original comments.

The torque spec for the rear wheel is to keep the rear wheel in place and prevent it from moving when under directional torque from chain or under braking. That exceeds torque load specified for tapered bearings, meaning they will be too tight. Or if you torque them correctly, the rear wheel will move around in the swing arm.

As for over torquing: yes you are correct. But why river crossings kill bearings? The bearing is hot from running. When submerging it, it cools down quickly, air pockets inside contract and it sucks in water, not air, because the bearing is now submerged. Only takes a little moisture, which then reacts with the lubricant inside, the lubricant goes hard and you end up running a dry bearing which kills it.
 
Likes: Squily
Jul 31, 2018
30
11
8
R.I. USA
#19
Interesting conversation for sure... I wonder what the compression strength of the axle spacer is and how far it actually compresses under a given load and what the tolerance is for the bearings?

Where’s Kevin Cameron when you need him?
Hahaha right?! If I had the spec of the materials they used for their spacers I could look it up in my shop books but until then it must made out of unobtainium.....

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Graves

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2016
929
295
123
So. Cal.
#20
Let’s say for discussion sake that the spacers are made of mild steel.

Hahaha right?! If I had the spec of the materials they used for their spacers I could look it up in my shop books but until then it must made out of unobtainium.....

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