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How To: Clean and Repack Linkage, Swingarm, Shock Bearings (Pics)

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Here is a quick write up for how to take apart, clean, and repack linkage, swingarm, and shock bearings. They are mainly needle bearings which can be tricky to work with. This is a 2005 YZ250.

1. Disassemble all parts from bike

2. Get a clean work area

3. You will need; grease (I prefer marine waterproof grease), flathead screwdriver, pointed pick, rubber gloves, and paper towels.

(A good tip for needle bearings, is not to lose one. If you think you lost one, check your gloves. They sometimes stick to the back of your hand or fingers with grease.)

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4. Work on one piece at a time, it will help to keep things organized and clean. (It helps to thoroughly clean the part you are working with before you start in on the bearings.)

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5. Remove the bearing seals from each side, washers, bushing, bushing caps, etc. and clean them all off (The bearing seals are usually pretty tight, but if removed carefully with a flat head screwdriver, you can simply clean them off and reuse them rather than buying new ones.)

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6. Use a pick to remove all needle bearings onto a clean paper towel.

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7. I usually rub them with another paper towel to clean them off (notice the old grease skid marks)

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8. Clean out the inner sections where the needle bearings sit.

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9. Repack some new grease inside to stick the needle bearings back in to.

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10. Put some extra grease around the lip, and put your washers, bushing, seals, etc. back in.

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11. Grease your thru bolt, and slide it back in until re-assembly.

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12. Repeat same process for: dogbones

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....Swingarm

Keep in mind there are typically 4 bearings to re-grease inside the swingarm. 1 inner and 1 outter in each leg.

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The needle bearings do not come out as they did for the linkage, so you just have to clean them out and repack them.

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However, between a sandwich of washers, there is a small piece that looks like a washer, but actually has a set of needle bearings on it. Clean it good.

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....Shock

There is a pivot bearing in the top of the shock as opposed to needle bearings. Clean it and regrease it.

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In the bottom of the shock, there are small needle bearings which do come out. They are the most difficult to work with because they are so short in length.

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Put all bushings, seals, and washers etc. back into place, and re-install on your dirt cycle.

Now you can ride happily knowing your rear suspension is greased and less prone to rust and dry seizing.

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Good post. The only thing I would do differently is to use a moly grease. Moly is an amazing additive that all but eliminates any metal to metal contact. It's like powdered ball bearings.

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Looks to me like the seals are in backwards. I see this alot with bikes that come in the shop where someone in the past has had the linkage apart as the flat side should go to the inside.

I'd also agree on the moly grease. Works way better than the "waterproof" grease IMO.

Other than that good write up.

doc

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Sweet guide, but I have a couple of questions;

-When you pull the needle bearings out of the race, how do you get them back in? Once the bearings start to get to the top of the race do they start falling out? Or do the bearings sort of snap in to the race and you can put them all back in with ease?

-When you re-grease it's really too bad that the bike has to be disassembled this much for something that should be done ever few months... When I took the linkage out of the bike I had to remove the sub-frame to get to it all. I suppose there are no shortcuts to doing a good job?

If anyone thinks that greasing your bearings can wait, I got news for you, it can't. In this thread you'll see what happens after a couple seasons with no maintainence from one of my other bikes.

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The needle bearings dont snap in. The layer of grease you apply before putting them back sticks them to the race pretty well until you slide the sleeves back in.

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The needle bearings dont snap in. The layer of grease you apply before putting them back sticks them to the race pretty well until you slide the sleeves back in.

I see, that makes sense!

Thanks!

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As far as the grease, I have always had good luck with marine grease, but it is really personal preferance for type of grease. There are no real good short cuts for getting into the linkage. It will just make life a lot easier to simply pull off the subframe and remove the airbox so that you can have easy access to all parts. And yes, the layer of grease slapped in there will make the cleaned off needle bearing stick right back into place. I usually put about 3-4 in at a time making sure they are good and snug in there. And as for the rubber bearing seals, I am nearly positive that the flat side is the side that faces outward. I believe the inner lip is for extra grease and dirt retention. The flat side is what forms the barrier between the bearing and the part it mounts to. Besides, I know no one has touched these bearings since the bike came from the factory, and they came out with the flat side facing outward. But I guess I really cant say for certain. Where did you hear the flat sides are supposed to be facing inward? Thanks for the comments!

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Little tip for cleaning the needles. Get an empty water bottle and put some solvent of choice in (mineral spirits works well, you wont need much. about 1oz will do) drop all your greasy needles in and cap the bottle. then shake it up. dump them out onto a rag and they should be pretty darn clean:thumbsup:

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Looks to me like the seals are in backwards. I see this alot with bikes that come in the shop where someone in the past has had the linkage apart as the flat side should go to the inside.

Out of all the bikes I've worked on, the flat part of the seal has always been outside, with the cupped portion towards the inside.. From my brand new crf150f and crf50f, my honda sport bike, friends 2002 raptor 660, and a few other bikes I've worked on..

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I did this procedure today on my barely ridden 07 YZ250f, and all I can say is, this is an absolute minimum once a year maintenance must. The bike has maybe 10 hours on it since it was new, so I was expecting to pull these parts off to find the grease in very good shape. I was wrong, the grease was black and watery, in real need of replacing. I proceded to pull apart the linkage on a new CRF150f to see what it looks like from the factory. The factory grease was not much to say the least. It was thin and not much of it to start with! I replaced all of this bikes pivots with new Mobil 1 synthetic. I cannot believe more people arent pushing this as more of a must to maintenance item. It should probably be done at least twice a year in my opinion.

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Dillier,

I think that people just have never done it themselves or don't get them done at all and don't realize how dirty it gets in there.

I was one of those people until last week :moon:

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It should probably be done at least twice a year in my opinion.

I thought I was going overkill when I did this mid-season on my new bike (which I re-greased when new) only to find the lower shock bearing completely destroyed; completely seized and rusted. I may try monthly or every other month next season.

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I try and do this job at least once a year depending on riding conditions. The whole project is definitely an overlooked necessity that many people just don't do. In my opinion, the lack of maintenance on these specific bearings opens you up to possible severe consequences. I guess what I am saying, is that if I were to compile a list of maintenance items that I could "get to it when I get to it", this job wouldn't be on that list. Hopefully with this write up, I have opened up a few people up to the job, and maybe broken down the steps so that they can be followed as somewhat of a guide.

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The lower shock bearing wears twice as fast as the linkage bearings, which wears twice as fast as the swingarm bearings. Based on order of seal effectiveness and protectiveness from the elements. Those lower shock bearings aren't sealed well and they take the brunt of the abuse from the elements.

I'd do my swingarm once a year, the linkage 3 times a year and the lower shock 6 times a year if ridden every weekend.

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Anyone here pressurize their linkage while greasing? I came across this a few years back and haven't had to replace needle bearings in any linkages due to seizure.

I pressure wash, always :cheers: and only grease once a year. Although, I am only a weekend rider...

I was pondering selling a greasing "kit" but haven't put forth any effort into the idea...

Once you grease a linkage this way, you'll never do it any othe way :smirk: Unless you like replacing bearings :moon:

Edited by velocity_gear

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What do you mean by pressurize the linkage while greasing?

Also, can you install zirk fittings while it is apart for easy maintenance? The RMX I just sold to get my new TE450 had the fittings on every major greasing point. It was a 1996 and I never had to take anything apart. Just grease with a grease gun after every cleaning.

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I have had bikes with and without zerks. My tired old XR650L has zerks that feed the suspension bearings. They all get a shot of fresh grease after each bath. I still tear it down at least once a year to get the shock pivots as they don't have zerks.

I have worked on numerous bikes with seized suspension bearings. Driving a seized bolt out of your dogbone with a BFH will make you sweat! :cheers::smirk:

How ever you giterdone... make it often!:moon:

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