Softail Swingarm Bearings - A Better Ride On New Bearings

Clean And Easy Softail Bearing Install

1. Here we have the fresh powdercoated swingarm (A), two new bearings and snap rings (B) and the Motion Pro bearing installation tool (C).

2. We began with assembling the new snap rings on the new bearings using what are known as automatic transmission snap ring pliers. The pliers have a serrated outer surface and a small divot that hold the sharp end of the snap ring while it is being opened to fit over the bearing.

3. We made sure the snap ring sat completely in the machined groove on the outer bearing case. These bearings will be pulled into place from the outside of the swingarm, so we oriented the snap ring to have the sharp edge facing out.

4. Here we have the inside half of the Motion Pro Swingarm Bearing installer (A), swingarm bearing (B) and the threaded portion of the installer tool (C).

5. Before we started installing the bearings, all the powdercoating had to be removed from the bore (arrow) of the swingarm. Depending on your powdercoater, this cleaning could take a few minutes to an hour, (remember to tell the powdercoaters what surfaces not to powdercoat).

6. Once the bearing bores were clean, we turned our attention to the snap ring recess (arrows). The bearing snap ring sits in this groove and it also must be free of powdercoat.

7. To install the bearings, we placed the bearing in the hole in the swingarm. We used a light smear of oil on the outer case of the bearing to help ease it home, and then placed the threaded portion of the installer over the bearing. The underside of the threaded part is relieved (arrow) so that only the outer edge of the tool presses on the outer race of the bearing.

8. The "cup" part of the tool is held underneath the bearing hole and the threaded rod screws into the upper part of the tool and snugs up to hold everything in place. Once we were sure the bearing was aligned straight with the swingarm, we slowly tightened the threaded rod, which in turn pulled the bearing (straight) into the swingarm.

9. Here is the finished bearing installed on the left side of the swingarm-nice and clean. Notice the snap ring (arrow) sits flat against the swingarm in its recess.

10. On the right side of the swingarm we ran into a slight problem with the cup portion of the installation tool (which we easily fixed). The right side of the swingarm is the brake caliper side and the factory has welded a small strap of steel (A) to the inside of the swingarm to hold the rear brake hose in place. It just so happened that the weld area of this strap was close to the bearing hole, so close that it interfered with the cup portion of the tool. The simple fix was to grind a small relief (B) on the edge of the cup, which allowed the cup to sit square against the swingarm and pulled the bearing straight.

11. Here is the finished swingarm, ready for reassembly on the '07 Night Train. Patience and attention to the small details (correct tools) lead to a pleasant task and feeling of accomplishment knowing your swingarm is pivoting on new bearings.

There are many components that affect how your motorcycle handles. Most of these components use bearings to make movement smooth and precise. A sad fact of life is that bearings wear out from use and there comes a time when replacement is needed. For maximum bearing life, the new bearing must be installed/assembled correctly.

We recently had the opportunity to demonstrate the easy way to assemble new Softail swingarm bearings in a '07 swingarm. The subject swingarm belongs to an '07 Harley-Davidson Night Train. The swingarm was removed to smooth out the belt guard mounts and then sent to be powdercoated.

Complete installation took a couple of hours, which was mostly spent removing errant powdercoating from the holes where the bearings fit. To make the new bearing installation easy and correct, we picked up a Swingarm Pivot Bearing Puller tool from Motion Pro. We had to make one small modification to use the tool on our '07 swingarm.

(2) 9270A H-D Swingarm Pivot Bearings MSRP $37.99 each =$75.98
(2) 11282 H-D Retaining Ring, rear fork bearing MSRP $.99 each=$1.98

Motion Pro (part no. 5008140) Swingarm Pivot Bearing Puller tool MSRP $49.90