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Old 06-15-2007, 09:20 AM
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Wheel Bearing End Play 101

You just got your brand new bad ass set of wheels from the UPS man and you rip the box open and the throw away all the instructions run down to the local shop and have them put tires on your new wheels. Haul ass home to try and set a new personal wheel changing record. You blow through it with no problems. Everything fits killer (it’s a story, work with me). Now you sit back and admire the great new look you pulled off. Three hours later your buddy comes over and you are still staring at what you've created and he mutters looks awesome, did you check the wheel bearing end play? Right about now you are wondering what trash can did you throw those instructions in and what the hell does he mean by end play. These wheels were brand new and all that should be fine right. Wrong most wheels never come with the end play set from the manufacturer. Most of the times they send a note attached to the wheel saying that you need to set up the end play, but a lot of time there is no literature and most people just assume its right. It is very critical that the end play be precise. Too much end play can make the bike handle weird and be unsafe to ride. To little or none at all will load the bearings to hard and cause them to fail prematurely. You have to have the perfect space so when the axle gets tight the bearings sit in the races with just the right amount of load on them to function correctly.

First thing you need to do is make sure the bearings are clean and have no grease in them. Then you need to mount the wheel securely somewhere. I use the vice on a bike lift some guys put the wheel on the bike. Take the axle and slide on any size wheel spacer, then your bearing, followed by your center spacer. Now slide this through the wheel. From the other side slide on your other bearing then another wheel spacer. You are going to need a dial indicator to measure the amount of end play you have. A magnetic base, or the locking pliers type work great (Central tool PN 6410 magnetic,PN6450 Locking pliers) . A lot of old timers do it by feel but, remember they have been doing it for years that way and until you get use to it you will almost always have to much endplay without using a dial indicator. Set up your dial indicator so its preloaded on the closed end of the axle.

From the other side of the wheel firmly grasp the axle making sure you push the spacers together while pulling the axle tight against the outside bearing. Now gently move the axle back and forth while observing the dial indicator. The amount of movement is your end play measurement. We are looking for .002”-.006” If you have more than .006” endplay then you need to cut the spacer down to size.

I turn all my center spacers down on a lathe. It is very important that the ends be perfectly flat so that the bearing ends up getting an even amount of pressure all away around the race. If you don’t have a lathe you can always take your measurements to a machine shop and have them turn it down for you. Center spacers need to be 1” outside diameter as so they don’t touch the outside part of the bearing as it spins. You can always start with a spacer that is too small and use shims to get the fit you need. If your not getting any movement back and forth when your checking the end play then your going to have to either use a larger center spacer or use shims. Shims come in sizes from.095-.002”. You have to use a stepped shim next to the bearing with the smaller outside diameter of the shim touching the bearing.

Additional shims can be used in conjunction with the stepped shim just put them on the center spacer side of the stepped spacer. Once you have shortened or lengthen the center spacer recheck your endplay to make sure you got it right. When you have it right pack your wheel bearings with good grease and install the seals and you are done.

OEM Part Numbers

43290-82 .032 Shim

43291-82 .016 Shim

43292-82 .008 Shim

43293-82 .004 Shim

43294-82 .002 Shim

43650-82 .095 Stepped Shim

9052 Bearing

43625-78 2.536” Center Spacer

43606-78 4.448” Center Spacer

43605-78 4.434” Center Spacer

43608-82 4.306” Center Spacer

43612-92 4.122” Center Spacer

43613-92 2.424” Center Spacer

43634-92 2.162” Center Spacer

43633-74 2.162” Center Spacer

43625-78 2.536” Center Spacer

Brian Koster
Scooters Performance


Brent Mills
Club Chopper

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Wheel Bearing End Play 101
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Old 06-21-2007, 09:37 AM
CC Member/Contributor
wow super nice write up, answers alot of questions about a much needed safety procedure that should be done to every bike wheel right out of the box.
Old 06-30-2007, 05:23 AM
CC Member/Contributor
Another excellent write-up. It's these little details that us neophytes
have no clue about that are really helpfull. Even if we cannot performe the
the task at hand, at least we know what must be done and can find
someone that is capable of doing what must be done to make things safe and right. Again, nice write-up. Thanks.
Old 04-11-2008, 07:03 AM
Club Chopper Member
That was excellent!! I am familiar with using the dial indicator as I used one many times in the Navy. It is articles like this that will make the difference in a "newbie" building a bike that is "safe" to ride vs. one that is not.

Thank you very much.



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