Tuesday Tip: Grease It Up!

Intro By Ryan Cooley
Photos By Garth Milan

REQUIRED TOOLS: 32mm wrench or socket (headset nut), torque wrench, 10mm socket (fork pinch bolts), 22mm socket (front axle nut), 8mm t-handle or socket (front number plate), 19mm socket (linkage nuts), 17mm wrench or socket (linkage bolts), ratchet extension (swingarm linkage bolt), 14mm wrench or socket (rear shock bolt), flat head screwdriver (rubber swingarm plugs), 5mm Allen wrench (chain roller), high quality grease (J-Bone recommends Castrol Multi-Purpose Wheel Bearing Grease).

With every new year comes new opportunities to excel, and with the purchase of your squeaky-clean new steed, you’ve given yourself the best opportunity to spank your buddies at your favorite track. But wait! Don’t get carried away and make any mistakes with your new baby. Just like the honeymoon phase of a fresh new relationship, every move you make with your new bike can have a significant effect on the long term. Yes, we, too, know what it’s like to have a sparkling new MXer staring you down in your garage… The last thing on your mind is working on it, right? But trust us when we tell you, it’s essential.

There are a number of moving mechanical parts on your bike that require a liberal amount of a good, high-quality grease in order to function properly and lead a healthy life. Unfortunately, a liberal amount of good, high-quality grease is something that you won’t find on a bike fresh off the dealership floor. That’s right! Despite the amazing leaps taken in motocross technology over the years, grease is one thing that the factories still haven’t figured out. Among the most important things to keep well greased on a regular basis are your bike’s headset and linkage bearings. To help show you the ropes and proper technique for each, we enlisted the main man behind James “Bubba Stewart’s flawlessly running KX125. Take it away, J-Bone…

HEADSET

STEP 1: There are a couple of different ways to get to your headset bearings. If you’re skilled enough and strong enough you can leave the front wheel attached to the forks during this process. But because your bike is new and I want you to grease your front axle anyway, I am going to walk you through a procedure that will ultimately be easier for you, especially if you’re working by yourself.

Start by removing your number plate and your front wheel. Next, loosen the eight pinch bolts that hold your forks in the triple clamps, and slide each fork out of the clamps. Now that the forks are completely off the bike, you’ve got easy access to your clamps and headset.

STEP 2: Loosen and remove the headset nut and pull the top clamp up and off of the steering stem. If you’ve got a wrench that will fit underneath your bars, you can do this step without having to remove them. If you don’t, simply remove the handlebar clamp and pull your bars off of the top clamp first.

STEP 3: With the top clamp now off the bike you’ll see the castle nut that is holding the steering stem and bottom clamp in the frame’s steering tube. Remove the castle nut and dust seal, and then drop the bottom clamp out of the frame. The bottom bearing will drop out with the bottom clamp and steering stem, and the top bearing should be sitting in the bearing cup on the topside of the steering tube.

STEP 4: Now that you’ve got the headset apart and the bearings exposed, it’s time to grease ’em up! If your bike is brand spankin’ new, you’ll notice the small amount of thin factory grease on the bearings. If you’ve got a few rides on your bike already, you’ll probably find some dirt. Either way, wipe off the bearings with a clean shop towel. When you put the new grease on the bearings, be sure to turn the bearings as you’re applying it so that it will roll in and cover the bearing thoroughly. You’ll see grease start to come out of the top of the bearing housing when you’ve got enough insid

STEP 5: Now it’s time to put it all back together. With the bearings greased and back in place, slide the steering stem and bottom clamp back up through the frame. Making sure that the bearings are sitting properly and not bound up, put the top dust seal back in place and then thread the castle nut onto the steering stem. Tighten the castle nut as tight as you can get it with your hand and a rag. If you tighten it with something that has more leverage, like pliers, back it off slightly after it’s tight. Next, put the top clamp and headset nut back on, but do not tighten the nut. You’ll first want to reinstall the front forks before completely tightening the headset nut to ensure proper alignment of the triple clamps. The front fork pinch bolts can be lightly turned in, but do not torque them to spec until after the headset nut has been tightened. This is necessary to ensure that the top clamp can move and settle into place. Once the forks are through the clamps, you can tighten the headset nut to spec. Now that the steering nut is tightened, torque the front fork pinch bolts to their appropriate specs (refer to your owner’s manual).

With the handlebars on the bike, check to see that the steering movement of your headset is adjusted to your preference. This can be fine-tuned by either tightening or loosening the castle nut.

STEP 6: The final step is to reinstall the front wheel. Before doing so, clean the axle with a rag and reapply a thin layer of fresh grease. Lift the front wheel and slide the brake rotor between the brake pads. With the front wheel collars in place, slide the axle through the fork and then through the wheel hub. The axle should slide through easily if it is greased up and aligned properly. You should be able to do this with your hand and without the assistance of a hammer. Thread on the 22mm nut. If you have the proper size Allen wrench to fit in the other side of your axle, you can now tighten the 22mm to spec. If not, first tighten up one side of the front fork pinch bolts to keep the axle from spinning while tightening the axle bolt. Once the 22mm axle bolt is tight, loosen the pinch bolts back up. To align the front wheel in the front forks, spin the wheel and abruptly stop it using the front brake. Repeat this a couple times. Finally, tighten the pinch bolts to their appropriate torque spec.

LINKAGE

STEP 1: With your headset greased and ready to go, it’s time to attack your linkage. The first step here is to remove the swingarm plugs and then loosen up all of the linkage bolt nuts as well as the bottom rear shock nut. In addition, most bikes will require that the chain roller be removed in order to get to all of the linkage bolts.

STEP 2: Now that the nuts are loosened you can begin the disassembly by removing all of the linkage bolts. Start by removing the bolt that attaches the pull rod to the frame. This will be the longest bolt. Next, remove the second pull rod bolt that attaches it to the linkage, and the pull rod will drop out. Remove the lower shock bolt, leaving only the swingarm/linkage bolt. To remove this, lift up the back tire by putting your foot underneath it. This will take the pressure off of the swingarm/linkage junction, enabling the swingarm bolt to slide out easily. With the bolt out, the main linkage body will drop out.

STEP 3: With the linkage now apart, pull out all of the collars and clean everything thoroughly before applying new grease, including the bolts. Again, if the bike is brand-new you’ll only be wiping off the thin layer of factory grease. If the bike’s been ridden, make sure all dirt has been cleaned away.

STEP 4: Just as you did with your headset bearings, roll fresh grease into the bearings located in the pull rod (two sets) and the linkage rocker (four sets). Note: DO NOT grease the bearing located in the linkage rocker, which attaches to the shock. If you look close, you’ll notice a nylon cover on this bearing that does not require grease.

STEP 5: Now that your bearings are all greased up, put a thin layer of grease on each of your linkage bolts, excluding the shock bolt, and begin reassembly. Start with the bolt that goes through the swingarm and the linkage rocker first. Next, put the shock bolt back through the linkage rocker and shock, and then the long bolt that goes through the frame and the pull rod. Finally, put the second pull rod bolt through the linkage rocker, and thread all of your nuts back into place.

STEP 6: Last, but certainly not least, torque all of your nuts to their appropriate factory torque specs. This can be done in any order, but a second wrench is required to keep the bolts from spinning. Now, GO RIDE!

lose, you’ll notice a nylon cover on this bearing that does not require grease.

STEP 5: Now that your bearings are all greased up, put a thin layer of grease on each of your linkage bolts, excluding the shock bolt, and begin reassembly. Start with the bolt that goes through the swingarm and the linkage rocker first. Next, put the shock bolt back through the linkage rocker and shock, and then the long bolt that goes through the frame and the pull rod. Finally, put the second pull rod bolt through the linkage rocker, and thread all of your nuts back into place.

STEP 6: Last, but certainly not least, torque all of your nuts to their appropriate factory torque specs. This can be done in any order, but a second wrench is required to keep the bolts from spinning. Now, GO RIDE!