MC Garage Video: How To Check Motorcycle Wheel Bearings

Help keep your motorcycle rolling smoothly with regular wheel-bearing inspections.

It’s rare that a wheel bearing fails, but when they do, it can be ugly! For that reason it’s important to inspect your wheel bearings—with every oil change or tire replacement is a good rule of thumb, though more frequent inspections are recommended if you frequently ride in the rain or in dusty conditions. Thankfully, checking your wheel bearings only takes a few minutes.

If your bike has a center stand, you’ve got everything you need to do a preliminary wheel-bearing inspection. If your bike doesn’t have a center stand, you’ll need paddock stands to elevate your bike’s wheels off the ground. The idea here is to have as little weight on the wheels as possible so that you can feel any play that may be present at the hub.

With the wheel off the ground (or gently resting on the ground, as would be the case with the front wheel on a center stand equipped bike), grab the tire on opposite sides and push with one hand while pulling with the other, alternating the movements in an effort to twist the wheel around the axle. You’re looking to see if there’s any play or movement of the wheel relative to the axle, but bear in mind that the tire may flex, so don’t mistake this movement for bearing play. Turn the wheel 45 degrees and repeat the procedure.

If you notice any play or clicking, it’s possible that one or more of your wheel bearings may be munched.

If you suspect a bearing may be on its last legs, it’s time to remove the wheel and take a closer look. Stick your finger in the bearing and rotate it. If it feels gritty, rough, or binds up when you turn it, that’s a sure sign that bearing needs to be replaced.