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Grease & anti-seize primer

Roadracer Al

Ask anyone who has struggled with a stuck fastener: the time to apply grease or anti-seize is BEFORE the fastener gets stuck. :foul:

Grease and anti-seize both address the same problem - stuck fasteners - but each one has a different approach.

Grease is a water-excluder as well as a lubricant. It's appropriate for rotating & sliding parts. However, it's NOT appropriate for threaded fasteners for 2 reasons: it dramatically decreases the torque required to reach a given tension, which will absolutely lead to stripped cases or broken bolts. Secondly, a fastener depends on internal friction to stay tightened, so greased bolts can back out more easily. On certain fasteners such as an axle which has a castle nut and cotter pin, this problem is resolved by the way it's designed, and it's OK to use grease.

Anti-seize is a chemical barrier that prevents oxidation, and in some cases, such as stainless bolts in aluminum cases, prevents galvanic corrosion. The second primary function of anti-seize is that it prevents galling in threads. Both titanium and stainless are very sensitive to galling, and fasteners made of these materials should invariably get anti-seize. Here are wikis on these topics:



On to the pix!

I just scored a new-to-me bike, and have been going through some of the various parts that commonly have stuck-fastener problems. I decided to work with the brakes first, since they operate in terribly harsh environments, with the brake dust, dirt & grime, water, high temperatures, and strong chemicals in brake fluid, so they need the most protection. "As long as I'm there..." I decided to do the axles as well.

Start by yanking off the brake caliper & wheel.


I feel pretty good about doing this now because Suzuki is really stingy with the grease on the axle. This has been discussed on TT pretty well, and is proven with this shot. The hand-print is all the grease that came off the axle.... not much at all.


Perhaps I'm dating myself here... but Nissin has been using this straight-head pin cover design for at least 20 years. It's not a perfect design because it can get stuck, or worse, capture water behind it and make the pad-keeper pin get stuck even on a very low-mileage caliper. Remove both the pin cover and pad-keeper pin.


Here are all the front-end parts that I typically apply grease and anti-seize to: left-to right on the bottom row are the pad-keeper pin, the pin cap, the two caliper mounting bolts, and the four axle pinch bolts. Obviously, the big thing on top is the axle. :bonk:


While it may seem as fundamental as walking, applying grease does have a technique to it. Have you ever seen a recently-lubed bike with black streaks all over the hub & rim, attracting dirt? Is spraying grease on the brake rotor a good idea? Too much grease is pretty wrong.

For both grease and anti-seize, I like to clean the fasteners with some contact-cleaner or carb cleaner just to get any of old lube off. Old lube may have dirt (i.e. abrasive) embedded in it.

For the axle, I put a dime-sized dab of grease on and smear it around until every inch of the axle is coated, and there are no big globs. It'll take a minute or two. If it goes fast, you're probably using too much. Use a towel to remove excess grease.

Anti-seize is interesting stuff. It will track EVERYWHERE if you don't carefully contain it. I always wear rubber gloves when I'm working, and put on new gloves when I get anti-seize on them. You can use contact cleaner or other solvent to clean up the inevitable mess. The upside is that it cleans easily, and doesn't seem to stain.

Apply a thin streak of anti-seize on the threaded part of the fastener, and thoroughly smear it around the thread. Use a paper towel and wipe off any excess. Only the thinnest coating is necessary, hence the need to be thorough while spreading it. The coating in this image is on the heavy side.


On the front wheel, apply a modest amount of grease to the seal where it contacts the wheel spacer. Also, the speedo drive has exposed rotating parts which will benefit from lubrication. Don't forget the inside of the spacer and speedo drive.

IMG_6253.jpg IMG_6254.jpg

Moving to the rear of the bike, remove the rear wheel & caliper. The red circled areas show the three parts that need love: the pad-keeper pin, and the sliding caliper pins.


I forgot to snap a pic of one of the caliper slide pins, but basically, you slip back the dust boot, and slide the caliper apart to grease the pin. Don't forget to get the dust boot properly snapped into the groove. In this image, we see the pad-keeper pin on the top and the caliper slide pin on the bottom. The slide pin needs some explanation. Since it's both a sliding fit which needs grease, and a threaded fastener that needs anti-seize, apply each appropriately. I got them mixed a little, which probably won't hurt anything.


Again, do the seals on both sides of the rear wheel. Don't use too much, just apply it to the seal lip, and don't forget the inside of the spacers.


Last but not least, do the axle as before. Don't forget a light coat on the inside of the axle carriers. I missed snapping the picture of putting anti-seize on the chain-tensioner bolts, which are a complete PITA to get out if they get stuck! Don't ask how I know that. Hopefully, my painful experience will help someone avoid it.


One other spot to hit with the anti-seize are the little tiny screws that attach the brake master cylinder reservoir cap.

Put your bike back together and go for a ride! :ride:

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