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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm paranoid enough about wheel bearings, that every time I take either wheel off the bike (which is not often, just when I need tires or am doing something else that requires one of them to be off) I pack more in more bearing grease. I do this, because I have no way to remove them and properly clean and re-pack them.

This amounts to a once a year sort of service interval. Nothing more exact than that. I haven't looked at the service manual to see if Kawasaki has a recommended service interval; I'd expect it would have a lot of wiggle room due to the wide range of possible conditions a rider somewhere in the world could operate their design.

The annual inspection I went through a couple of weeks ago, saw the bike sitting at 66K miles. I don't think there is anything with the wheel bearings that concerns me at this point. The bike rarely gets ridden in the rain, or through muddy conditions, never gets pressure washed..... VA has a LOT of pollen, but very little dust. I don't think mileage or environment are significant stressors to wheel bearing life.

From my perspective, the greatest threat to the bearings, is the mechanic who installs the wheel.

Thoughts?
 

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I'm paranoid enough about wheel bearings, that every time I take either wheel off the bike (which is not often, just when I need tires or am doing something else that requires one of them to be off) I pack more in more bearing grease. I do this, because I have no way to remove them and properly clean and re-pack them.

This amounts to a once a year sort of service interval. Nothing more exact than that. I haven't looked at the service manual to see if Kawasaki has a recommended service interval; I'd expect it would have a lot of wiggle room due to the wide range of possible conditions a rider somewhere in the world could operate their design.

The annual inspection I went through a couple of weeks ago, saw the bike sitting at 66K miles. I don't think there is anything with the wheel bearings that concerns me at this point. The bike rarely gets ridden in the rain, or through muddy conditions, never gets pressure washed..... VA has a LOT of pollen, but very little dust. I don't think mileage or environment are significant stressors to wheel bearing life.

From my perspective, the greatest threat to the bearings, is the mechanic who installs the wheel.

Thoughts?
You on the original bearings at 66k miles?

I wind up swapping mine pretty
Quickly on every bike bc I powder coat the wheels.

I’m about to swing for the fences with a set of ceramic joints for the new 675r project I got going over here currently.


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Way back at about 15,000 miles I packed mine once as you describe. Now at 99,000 miles I haven't done anything more than feel them and see how easily they spin on the balancer at every tire change and think........... yep still good

fyi, just yesterday I replaced wheel bearings on a Victory Vision with 151,000 miles on it, first time they have been replaced.......... I could fel a little "grit" to them when I spun it on the wheel balancer- so out they came....

I do pull the rubber shields off both sides and pack them fully before installing (likley to last now longer than the rest of the bike

You remember that 256,000 mile bike I owned.......... those wheel bearings were replaced when I powder coated the wheels about 190,000 miles on the replacements without issue.......

Short of riding through loads of water above the axle, power washing often or using harsch chemicals that will creep by the seals.............or the obvious--- side loading the bearings from improper installation
I don't think anything but the age and quality of the grease inside dictates the longevity of the bearing itself, grease does get old and lose lubcricity....... (plus they install scant little inside them to start with)
 
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I'm paranoid enough about wheel bearings, that every time I take either wheel off the bike (which is not often, just when I need tires or am doing something else that requires one of them to be off) I pack more in more bearing grease. I do this, because I have no way to remove them and properly clean and re-pack them.

This amounts to a once a year sort of service interval. Nothing more exact than that. I haven't looked at the service manual to see if Kawasaki has a recommended service interval; I'd expect it would have a lot of wiggle room due to the wide range of possible conditions a rider somewhere in the world could operate their design.

The annual inspection I went through a couple of weeks ago, saw the bike sitting at 66K miles. I don't think there is anything with the wheel bearings that concerns me at this point. The bike rarely gets ridden in the rain, or through muddy conditions, never gets pressure washed..... VA has a LOT of pollen, but very little dust. I don't think mileage or environment are significant stressors to wheel bearing life.

From my perspective, the greatest threat to the bearings, is the mechanic who installs the wheel.

Thoughts?
RJ2112 - do you recall what kind of grease you “topped up” the bearings with (lithium, polyurea)? I added a bit of maxima hi temp to my hub bearing (unsealed) after I accidentally wiped a small amount away while changing tires. Asking in case of grease incompatibility / should I be concerned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I use whatever tub of wheel bearing grease I have on hand, tbh. I prefer marine grade as that is expected to be used with boat trailer wheel bearings.... Muddy water carries a lot of grit, so repacking wheel bearings to force out as much contamination as possible while adding any preservation packages contained in the grease should help reduce any rusting or pitting that could cause damage to the races or the bearings themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The most accurate answer will of course come from the shop manual for your bike, which lists what formulation of what is acceptable for everything you should apply to the bike
 

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Ah. Fair enough.
Shop manual just said high temp grease, nothing about lithium, aluminum, polyurea, etc. figured some maxima waterproof (and high temp) would suffice to replace what I removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ah. Fair enough.
Shop manual just said high temp grease, nothing about lithium, aluminum, polyurea, etc. figured some maxima waterproof (and high temp) would suffice to replace what I removed.
The depression era mentors I gained my fundamental understanding of mechanics from said things that stick with me to this day…. “Some oil, is better than no oil” is sort of a cornerstone.

In the case of modern motorcycle engines that share lubricant with their transmission as well as clutches a bit more selectivity must be applied than whatever you have on the shelf from whatever source; but it’s still not worth a college thesis to decide which 10w-40 is best. The fundamental answer is ‘yes’ at that point.

Bearing grease obviously falls in the most basic ‘yes’ category. High temperature, is all we’re concerned with. Some grease, is much better than no grease. :)
 

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Have always thought of wheel bearings as something that generally last for a long time and need just occasional looking after. HOWEVER, BUT, ONLY IF everything else is setup properly. I've had two rear wheel bearing fail on bikes. Both IMPO due to too tight chain/belt. First was on my Yamaha FZ6 and was my fault for being stupid adjusting the chain - too tight. Second was on my BMW F800GT and IMO was due to a too tightly adjusted belt. Dealer did all the service and replaced belt at 24,000 mile service. Thought it was too tight but figured they know what they are doing LOL my bad. Neglected to ask about it at the 30,000 mile service. Ball bearing catastrophically failed 1,100 miles later. Either it failed quickly or they missed it during service. Whenever I change tires always clean and lube the bearings and seals and check the spin on the wheel to see if there is a problem.
 

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Well said, and definitely good things to keep in mind. Thanks everyone!

That’s rough about the dealership over tightening. Definitely have had similar experiences, which is what initially made me want to do all my own service.

I’ll do as you do, and just periodically check when I have the wheels off or every 5-10k miles; whichever comes first. (Trying out some new sport touring tires to help combat the middle wear-out from long drives out to the mountains/canyons).
 

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On my sport touring bike (Yamaha Tracer 900 GT) I like the mountains out west but lots of straight roads to get there. Been running Michelin Road 5 on the rear and a Pilot Power 5 on the front. Seems to be a pretty good combination for me as the Tracer is light in the front.
 

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i was looking at the power 5 but everyone said they are more sporty and wear faster. Even with the light end are you changing the front faster?

I ended up going with roadattack 3s.
 

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i was looking at the power 5 but everyone said they are more sporty and wear faster. Even with the light end are you changing the front faster?

I ended up going with roadattack 3s.
This thread is about wheel bearings.



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I have wheel bearings in the middle of the front wheel :) Probably get about 10,000 out of the front, will change it with the rear - talking about tire not bearing. Will check them when I replace the tires.

To get back to wheel bearings have put 46,000 miles on an FZ6, 18,000 miles on a CBR600RR, 7,000 miles on a ZX6R 636, 32,000 miles on a BMW F800GT and 18,000 Miles on a Yamaha Tracer 900 GT. Only issues I have had with bearings over all those bikes has been the two mentioned earlier. Even on those two where the chain/drive belt was too tight, only the bearing on the chain/drive belt side failed. The other bearing was still good. All of my bikes have been garage kept but were ridden in all kinds of weather including rain. Last two bikes have see 350 to 400 mile days in the rain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I have had bearings fail on farm equipment due to my extremely aggressive use, I have had a bearing fail on my mower deck after 15 years….. again due to my aggressive use. Never on a street vehicle.

As Al has pointed out asymmetric loading or severe shock are the principal ‘ fast killers’ of bearings. After that, neglect in extreme environments…. Dirt and grit, or water which will cause corrosion will destroy the surface finish will cause them to eventually overheat and seize.

Lowered car suspensions, oversized tires…. Big increases in torsional loading.
 
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