How To: Grease Your Bearings

How To: Grease Your Bearings main image

Bearings play a pivotal role on your motocross or enduro bike, and that's why it's important to ensure they're adequately greased to keep key components moving as they should.

It's common knowledge that new bikes assembled in the factory with little to no grease pack into bearings, which is why many riders will strip them down and grease them up before hitting the track on their fresh steed.

Which bearings should I check?

  1. Steering head
  2. Wheels
  3. Rear Shock
  4. Linkage and swing arm

What are the signs of wear and tear on bearings?

  • Steering head: There are two tapered bearings in your steering head, and if these wear out it will affect your steering by either making it notchy, heavy or even locking completely.
  • Wheel bearings: Front and rear wheel bearings can run the risk of seizing and locking inside the hub without proper lubrication, which could end up destroying it - and a new hub is well into the hundreds of dollars to replace, so it's worth keeping an eye on. When a dirt bike wheel bearing starts to fail, it will either stop the wheel from spinning freely or they will be excessively loose and your wheel will have lateral movement.
  • Linkage and swing arm: There are a number of needle roller bearings in the back end of a motocross bike, and depending on the brand and model, they are top and bottom of the rear shock, and also in your suspension linkage, which can have up to four pivot points, and subsequently, four linkage bearings. If these fail, they can severely affect your motorcycle rear suspension performance or even seize it completely. When they start to fail, you will notice excessive free play and movement in your swing arm and reduced rear suspension performance. This is when you'll need a new swing arm bearing kit.

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How do bearings wear out?

As bearings are a moving part, excessive friction will end up destroying them. The nature of a dirt bike is to ride them through sand, mud, water and any other nasty outdoor element you choose to encounter, and once these elements work their way inside your bearings they cause extra friction and begin to cause wear.

If your bearings are packed with good quality, waterproof grease, you reduce the amount of friction inside the bearing and also limit the amount of dirt and grit which can get inside.

The necessity of waterproof grease is to keep the water out of your bearings. Water can enter a bearing when going through puddles, creeks and even when you wash your bike - when water gets in, it isn’t easy for it to dry or get out, and if water is sitting inside a metal housing for too long it will begin to cause rust - and you can imagine what rust will do to those moving parts!

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How often should I pack my bearings with grease?

It depends on how often you ride and also the conditions you are riding in. If you ride occasionally and don’t frequently take your bike through an epic sandy mud run, then inspecting your bearings every time you change your oil would be a good starting point.

Checking your bearings for free play should take place every time you clean and prep your bike. To check free play simply spin, twist or agitate each part side to side to feel for notches, restricted movement or excessive free play.

Wheel bearings are a common point of wear, so even remove your wheels from time to time, check the amount of grease visible in the bearings and also use your finger to spin the bearings a little to feel for any grit or excessive wear.

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Some of the best quality oils and lubricants at MXstore:

Just remember you can’t really hurt your bike by over greasing it, you may make a mess but your bearings will be far better off being packed with grease than being run dry or full of rust and grit. If you have any further questions about bearings or motorcycle maintenance don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team at MXstore

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