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Humming noise....How long should wheel bearings last?

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I've started noticing a humming sound while riding down the road that sounds louder than my knobbies typically sound. Maybe the tires are just worn to a point where they are making more noise but I'm trying to think of everything it could be. The sound continues and sounds the same while cruising at 30mph with the clutch lever pulled in. Just sounds like a constant hum/howl. Could this be a wheel bearing? Have any of you needed to change your bearings? How long should they last if using the bike as a 50/50 highway/trail bike? It's been a rainy, muddy winter and I've ridden straight through without stopping. 6,700 miles on the bike. This is what the bike looks like after almost every ride. 

crfmud.JPG

Edited by PatriotUSMC

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Could be your bearings, but knobs will definitely make a lot of noise as they wear. Due to tread flex they don't wear evenly, making the spacing goofy. This is usually especially evident in the front.

 

Check for side to side wheel play. Any wobble, and it's your bearings.

 

Just for reference I have 15k on mine which includes dust and quite a bit of water crossings/Creek riding, and mm one are still good. But I change tires around a decent amount and make sure the seals/spacers and axles stay all greased up.

 

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Definitely time for bearings at 6700 miles, especially in those conditions. Does your wheel have any side play when you wiggle it ? I go through 2 sets a year riding year round in Washington state.

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2 hours ago, sawcutter said:

Definitely time for bearings at 6700 miles, especially in those conditions. Does your wheel have any side play when you wiggle it ? I go through 2 sets a year riding year round in Washington state.

Damn really? I'm going to check tonight for wiggle. Really hope it's not the bearings. First 70 degree day of the year is going to be this Friday. 

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It's a pretty simple to change wheel bearings ,I also try to stick to OEM bearings on my ktm, more expensive, but better quality, less changing, less wheel wear ect.

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I was tearing through rear wheel bearings almost 2wice a year (approx every 5,000km) and then with the insightful observation from another member concluded that the pressure washer was the culprit. If you use one, be careful. As others have stated, give the wheel a good grab with both hands and check it out.   

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I was tearing through rear wheel bearings almost 2wice a year (approx every 5,000km) and then with the insightful observation from another member concluded that the pressure washer was the culprit. If you use one, be careful. As others have stated, give the wheel a good grab with both hands and check it out.   

Yeah I avoid pressure washers. Just good dirt bike specific soap and garden hose.

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Ok so I checked for play in the wheels just now and everything feels solid. Also checked my tire pressures and I'm a little low on both. I've been running about 15psi on the trails and didn't air back up the last two times for the ride home. I haven't checked my pressures in about two weeks. They were about 13psi. Tires haven't shown any damage from running low but maybe they are howling being too low for the street. Just aired up to 20psi so I'll do a test ride tomorrow and see if the sound is gone.

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Bearings don't have a definitive lifespan. They generally last a long time if protected from the elements, sealed and manufactured correctly.

What kills them is contamination, water or crud getting past the seals and rusting the bearings which accellarate wear. A good bearing in a properly installed race on a motorcycle can last the life of the bike, or it can last 1,000 miles, a lot of variable in that. In general, dirt bikes are harder on them for obvious reasons, but even then I've had them last a long time.

So, like most things on your bike it's important to properly inspect & maintain your bike so you know what's going on with it. Wiggling the rear tire won't tell you the bearing's health, only if it's in a nearly catastrophic condition of failure. A bearing will get notchy and feel gritty when turned by hand but may feel pretty solid when turning the whole wheel or putting load on it. Remove the wheel, spin the inner race and see how each side feels. Should be glassy and free.

If it's not, replace it.

Edited by swingset
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Bearings don't have a definitive lifespan. They generally last a long time if protected from the elements, sealed and manufactured correctly.
What kills them is contamination, water or crud getting past the seals and rusting the bearings which accellarate wear. A good bearing in a properly installed race on a motorcycle can last the life of the bike, or it can last 1,000 miles, a lot of variable in that. In general, dirt bikes are harder on them for obvious reasons, but even then I've had them last a long time.
So, like most things on your bike it's important to properly inspect & maintain your bike so you know what's going on with it. Wiggling the rear tire won't tell you the bearing's health, only if it's in a nearly catastrophic condition of failure. A bearing will get notchy and feel gritty when turned by hand but may feel pretty solid when turning the whole wheel or putting load on it. Remove the wheel, spin the inner race and see how each side feels. Should be glassy and free.
If it's not, replace it.


Good advice, thank you!

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I sure most of your hum is the tires though...

...my k270s hum sound loud at anything above 50 MPH. It reminds me of the sound you here when lifted trucks/jeeps roll by on the highway with offroad bias tires...

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