Harley Davidson Wheel Bearings Problems, Their Causes, and Solutions

As any motorcycle rider knows, one of the most important aspects of maintaining a motorcycle is keeping the wheels in good working order.

Wheel bearings are an important part of the motorcycle and are responsible for the smooth rotation of the wheels. Over time, these bearings can wear out and become damaged, which can lead to a number of problems.

If your Harley Davidson has wheel-bearing problems, you may notice that the wheels are not spinning as smoothly as they should be. You may also notice that the motorcycle is making strange noises, or that the steering feels loose.

How do you know that your Harley’s wheel bearing is damaged? (Top Signs)

When a wheel bearing fails, it may not always be obvious. However, there are a few signs of wheel bearing failure that you should look out for.

1. Through the handlebars vibrating

Vibration transmitted through the handlebars is the first sign of wheel bearing failure. The rider could feel vibrations while on the bike. With time, the vibration can become stronger. The wheel bearings need to be checked whenever vibration is noticed through the handlebars.

2. Ride-related clicking noises

When you hear a clicking sound in addition to vibrations. At first glance, you might believe that there is a rock or other foreign object adhered to the wheel, but in reality, the wheel bearings are worn out. The clicking sound could begin faintly at first, growing louder and becoming audible with an increasing number of clicks.

3. Spindle resistance

If your wheel starts to feel “sticky” or difficult to spin, that could be a sign that the bearing is damaged and not rolling as smoothly as it should. Usually, this happens gradually as the bearing wears down. Harley-Davidson riders who have ever done a “stoppie” can attest to a damaged wheel spindle.

4. Wheel spinning on the shaft

Most wheel bearings are sealed to protect them from dirt and water. When they fail, the seals can leak, letting in contaminants that cause the bearing to spin on the shaft. This will cause the wheel to feel loose and wobbly. The wheel may eventually come off entirely as the bearing continues to wear.

Most common Harley Davidson wheel bearing problems

There are several typical Harley Davidson wheel bearing issues, however, we’ve included a few here for your convenience.

First Problem: Improper greasing of wheel bearings

Wheel bearings on Harley-Davidson can experience a number of problems if they are not greased properly. The first and most obvious problem is that the bearings will not be properly lubricated, which can lead to increased friction, heat build-up, and eventually bearing failure.

In addition, improper greasing can allow water and other contaminants to enter the bearings, which can accelerate the wear process and lead to premature failure. A loose bearing can cause the wheel hubs to rattle and become very annoying, which can ultimately lead to wheel bearing failure if the bearings are not seated properly.


Wheel bearings are critical components, and must be properly cared for to ensure safe and reliable operation. First, remove the old grease and any dirt or debris to properly grease wheel bearings. Next, apply a small amount of fresh grease to the bearings, being careful not to over-grease. Once the new grease is in place, re-install the bearings and components, and check for proper operation.

Second Problem: Damaged or worn-out bearings

Over time, the bearings can become damaged or worn out. This can cause a number of problems, including a loss of control while riding. In some cases, the bearings can even break down completely, which can be dangerous.


Inspect the bearings regularly for damage or wear. You can check by removing the wheel and inspecting the bearing itself. If you see any damage, it’s advisable to replace the bearings. You can also try cleaning the bearings if they are just dirty.

Third Problem: Incorrect installation of bearings

An improperly installed wheel bearing on a Harley Davidson motorbike is one of the most common problems. As a result, the bearings can become loose, which can lead to a variety of problems such as the bearings starting to make noise.

Noises such as humming or grinding can occur. Furthermore, bearings can start to wear out prematurely. It can even lead to an unfortunate event if the bearings fail too early.


In case of incorrect installation, the bearings must be removed and re-install correctly. This is not a difficult task, but it is wise to do it carefully. You have to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual to do this correctly. Just make sure that the bearings are tightened properly.

Fourth Problem: Incorrect size

If the bearings are the incorrect size, they will not be able to properly support the weight of the bike. It can cause a number of problems, such as the bike being difficult to steer, or the bearings wearing out prematurely.


Your bike’s bearings should be the correct size. Some possible solutions to this problem include contacting the manufacturer directly. Additionally, you can take the motorcycle to a reputable mechanic, or look at this resource to know how to correctly measure wheel bearings.

You can also do this by checking the owner’s manual or contacting a Harley-Davidson dealer.

How to Replace Wheel Bearings of Harley Davidson

When you discover that the wheel bearings need to be changed, you must do it immediately. You have two choices for replacing the wheel bearings: You can get them repaired by bringing the Harley Davidson to a qualified mechanic.

The bearings can be changed independently if you adhere to the replacement instructions. The procedures to be followed for replacing Harley Davidson’s wheel bearings step-by-step are as follows: Make sure you have all the necessary tools and materials for the replacement before you start.

Materials / Tools Required:

  • Grease
  • Ratchet
  • Towel / Cloth
  • Filer
  • Wrench

Step 1: Take the wheel off:

Once you have your supplies, you will need to loosen the bolts that hold the wheel in place. You will use the socket wrench and ratchet to do this. Once the bolts are loosened, you can remove them by hand.

Once the bolts are removed, you can carefully remove the wheel. Be careful not to damage the brake line or other parts of the bike.

Step 2: Take the wheel bearings out:

The first step is to remove the axle nut using a socket wrench. Next, use a hammer and punch to remove the retaining ring from the hub. With the retaining ring removed, the bearings can be removed from the hub. 

To remove the inner bearing, use a bearing puller or a slide hammer. To remove the outer bearing, use a press or a bearing splitter. Once the bearings are removed, clean the hub and bearings with a solvent. Inspect the bearings for any damage and replace them as needed.

Step 3: Install new wheel bearings:

To install the new bearings, first place the bearing in the hub, making sure that the lip of the bearing is facing out. Then, using the bearing driver, tap the bearing into place. Repeat this process for the other bearing. Once both bearings are in place, you can re-install the races. Again, make sure that the lip of the bearing is facing out. Then, gently tap the races into place using the bearing driver.

Step 4: Reinstall the wheel:

Now that the bearings are installed, you can re-install the wheel onto the motorcycle. Make sure that the axle is properly lubricated, then thread the nuts on by hand. Once the nuts are tight, you can use a torque wrench to finish tightening them to the specifications. With the wheel installed, you’re ready to hit the road.


Final Verdict:

The ability of the wheels to spin freely on the axle is due to wheel bearings. Accidental deaths result from faulty wheel bearings. Therefore, riders should inspect their wheel bearings every three months. Riders should also check their bikes for damaged wheel bearings whenever they hear a clicking sound or feel an unusual vibration. 

Riders should be aware of several wheel bearing issues, such as improper greasing, incorrect size, and poor installation of wheel bearings. You can solve this problem by taking your bike to a mechanic to check the wheel bearings. You can keep yourself and your bike safe by being aware of these issues and taking proper precautions.

About David Riedel

I am David Riedel founder of Bikerwhizz, I'm a technician at Keystone Harley Davidson with more than 10 years of industry experience. I’m here to help you solve motorbike problems, customizations, tweaks, and easy fixes to enjoy your rides more.

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