Wheel bearing failure - KawiForums - Kawasaki Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-18-2011, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Wheel bearing failure

I just did my first track day of the season. Even though the weather was cool, think it barely got over 50 degrees, things were going well...going well until my rear wheel bearing completely failed! Coming out of a turn, I felt the bike give a wiggle, then get real squirrely in the next corner. After I pitted out, a buddy that was right behind me told me that he saw a puff of smoke by the rear caliper. Sure enough, the dust jacket on the bearing was off and grease was sprayed on the rotor. After I had to hammer the axle out, here's how things looked.

Anyone have this happen to them or have any idea of the cause? The bike is not high mileage, only 7K, and I've always torqued the axle nut to 94 ft/lbs. Also, I'm now looking for a new right side spacer, axle, and a square locating block for an 05 ZX6RR(636)...let me know if you have one for sale. Thanks.
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2005 ZX6RR Track Only
1966 CB160 Cafe Project
1980 KZ440 Cafe Racer
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 02:00 AM
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Damn... sorry to hear that. Someone's rear wheel came off their bike in WSB on the way out of a turn last month too. Must be something in the air. Id say look on ebay for the replacement parts. Never heard of this happening.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-19-2011, 08:54 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, saw that hub failure in WSB...unbelievable. I guess I should count myself lucky. The wheel could have locked up and really ruined the rest of the season. Already got the parts ordered from eBay.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 10:18 PM
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Glad you kept control...I've had a motor lock up on three occasions...the first time ended badly.

Ball bearings generally fail from loss of lubricant...the seal goes bad, lube gets out/water gets in...the balls overheat then microscopic spot welds start to occur...they get bad enough then the balls quit rolling...sliding = bad....cage failures are generally secondary. that baby looks dry...but hard to go by just the picture. Its rare, but bearings cages can fail, races crack etc.

if somehow the spacers were wrong, excessive side load can trash radial ball bearings as well...they are just not designed for it.

Were the bearings ever removed/reinstalled? Never re-use a radial ball bearing after removal.

Along with new bearings/seals I'd get a new center spacer while you are at it too.

I spin my bearings every time I have the wheel off...if you feel ticks, put bearings on the replace list. Bearings can run a long time before failure even once you can feel a tick...but they need to stay lubricated, so if you feel something it may be OK for a day...but don't put it off.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-20-2011, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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I was pi**ed when I first pitted but in retrospect, as you say, things could have gone really bad. Plus it was the very first track day of the season so I can address the issue and be good for the rest.

I could hear a very hight pitched squeak pulling in...definitely caused by loss of lubricant.

I'm sure the spaces were right. I don't think you can get them wrong on this bike as the wheel will fit right only one way. I bought the bike new and the wheels themselves have never been disassembled. I will check the bearings manually in the future and chalk this one up to a fluke.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2011, 02:31 AM
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I'm glad that you didn't have an incident.

What were the temps there at MAM?? I'm guessing you saw some of my friends there....

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2011, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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It was chilly...much more so stading around in the paddock. Once I got my leathers on and went out on the track, things were good. I run warmers which helped with the grip and I definitely wasn't trying for lap times. Basically, a great, no-pressure day to shake off the cobwebs

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-21-2011, 02:07 PM
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I've seen a number of guys trash the bearing in the drive hub after loosing/forgetting that spacer that fits in that bearing. But that side bearing...I've never seen a catastrophic failure there.

I've changed tires for guys and felt some pretty "notchy" bearings...despite my advice they rode them a while....like, till the next time I changed their tires.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-22-2011, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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jbreit, you were right. I took the sprocket off to take the wheel in and didn't see the spacer the fits inside the carrier...should have been the first thing I checked . Definitely will keep a closer eye on the state of the bearings, not to mention the spacers, in the future. Small price to pay to learn a lesson.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-22-2011, 04:08 PM
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I'm just glad a few new bearings and spacers is all that came of it.

You will never forget this one...if it ever happens again, you'll feel it and know how to handle it on the track. Like the feel of a 2 stroke about to sieze...after it happens once, you can feel it coming on and pull the clutch in.
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