Your motorcycle swingarm goes through heavy loads, constant movement and is exposed to dirt, water and grime that gets flung off the rear tire. All of this makes it a difficult life for the swingarm and all the bearings that keep this part moving. When you look at a service schedule it comes as no surprise that there is rarely a mention of servicing the swingarm or alternately the appropriate intervals of doing so. It is one of those maintenance items that many people overlook and come to think of, I haven’t heard a lot of chatter about removing a swingarm on social media or motorcycle forums. There are a few things that can go wrong especially with the pivot bearings that can go dry or dirty. Being a moving part this bearing can wear out quickly and this can lead to the bearings getting stiffer or developing play as time goes by. This also affects the performance of how freely the suspension is allowed to move. So if your bike is more than a few years old with kilometers on it or regularly ridden in the rain or in dusty conditions, you should check these bearings out.
Weight Off The Rear Suspension
The first step was to get that rear wheel off the ground, but before doing that there are two high torque nuts that need to be loosened, the rear axle nut and the swingarm pivot nut.
Typically these nuts have a high amount of torque so it’s going to be easier to loosen them while the bike is stable and on the ground. Now that you’ve got all of those nuts cracked free, you need to get the back of the bike off the ground so that there is no weight on the rear suspension. I used the stock center-stand and added another scissor jack behind the center-stand to support the engine so that there is no way the rear tyre falls back.
I’ve also heard of people suspending the bike with a ratchet strap across a beam that goes through the rear subframe. Sounds scary but if it works for you, go ahead.
Remove The Swingarm
The next step was removing the rear wheel, chain guard, brake caliper mount and all other cables that ran through to the back so it’s easier to get that swingarm out. Once the swingarm pivot bolt has been removed make sure to document which side the washers and spacers fit and pull the swingarm off the bike. Next up, wash the swingarm with a degreaser that is rubber friendly. Remove the dirt seal from both sides of the bearings and clean all the bearings and bushes removing all traces of dirt, corrosion and grease with an aerosol.
Swingarm inspection, bearing check, renewal & reassemble
Since everything is apart and clean, use this opportunity to inspect the needle bearings, seals, and inner bushings for wear and damage. Inspect the swingarm closely, looking for obvious signs of wear such as heavy scoring and cracks; suggest replacing damaged or worn components with a new one. Ensure that the swingarm pivot bolt is straight by rolling it on a flat surface such as glass. When checking the condition of the bearings, make sure that there is not an excessive amount of free play between the components. If the bearings do not run smoothly and freely or if there is excessive freeplay, they must be replaced with new ones.
Using a good quality waterproof grease will keep those bearings in good shape and stop it from corrosion over time. I used the Maxima waterproof multi purpose grease for this project and it’s been used to lubricate the bearings, seals and all other pivot components.
With that done, assemble the components and torque everything to the specs listed in your workshop manual. This is a messy part to clean up but once it’s all done you can pat your back and brag about that fact that not many people have attended to this part of the motorcycle as well as you have.