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Servicing and Preload adjustments on PRE-1985 Wheel Bearings.  

Please refer to the author's website for the latest information...there is a lengthy article on the wheel bearings, covering every aspect of pre-1985 bearings, and also covering 1985+ bearings in a small way.


Very detailed servicing information, but not including all the verbal comments, will be found in the companion booklet "Tapered wheel bearing seminar" as delivered at the BMWMOA rally, Spokane, WA, Saturday, July 17, 2004, by Gary L. Smith and me, Robert Fleischer (aka Snowbum). There are a few typos of some modest importance in that booklet, you may contact me at should you have that booklet and wish the updates.

Some of the verbal presented information was VERY important, and some of THAT is available on the author's website:
See the various sections of multiple items #54 on the Technical articles Index Page, especially sub-section 4.

In addition, highly recommended, are the four articles on Servicing Tapered Wheel Bearings, as done by Gary L. Smith, beginning with the May 2004 issue of BMW Owners News.

Additional reference material may be obtained from the following URL:

Inexpensive scales are available from
Suggested models are either WLS3774-F or WLS3678-DD; and there are others, similarly INexpensive, from Ohaus.

Much more detailed information on wheels, bearings, etc., is found in the Author's website, see referenced item #54.  The information is quite complete and even has a list, with sizes and BMW part numbers, for all the 17 mm and 14 mm wheel bearing spacer shims, and, of course, detailed procedures.

I STRONGLY suggest you gather ALL the information available, before working on your wheels....this is ESPECIALLY important if you have the /6 and earlier hubs. The /7 and later hubs, in particular the front wheel from 1978 (except the REAR DRUM BRAKE model of 1978) and all wheels from 1979 through 1984 (through the end of the use of tapered wheel bearings in 1984), are much simpler and easier to service.
Pay special note to the fact that early wheels had to have the hubs heated in order to do any servicing, although some quite simple modifications are in the Author's website article that eliminates some heating except for bearing replacement.  The 1978 rear wheel for disc brakes and drum brakes are very different, with the drum wheel needing heating.

These procedures may seem complicated at first, but in reality it takes only minutes, once you have done it previously.  MUCH of the information will not, perhaps, apply to YOUR motorcycle, but it all does need to be read, and understood.

BMW Airhead motorcycles are relatively tolerant to abuse and poor maintenance. Our human bodies are not tolerant to being dumped on the road at speed from a motorcycle. Of all the items that are safety related, the mechanically most important are

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