An upcoming DS ride seemed like a good excuse to perform some bearing maintenance on my swing-arm & rear shock linkage. Thought I'd share some insight & technique here, since there appear to be many people who seem thin in this department.

First thing to do is remove her pants....Warning...the following content is R-rated and may not be suitable for children under 18 years of age.

Strip her bare naked below the waist. Like this:

Swing Arm

It looks complicated, but its not. Just a few wrenches and get after it. Do try to have a system so you can sort of remember what goes where upon reassembly. When in doubt, just use lots of'll probably work ok...for a while.

The hardest part was figuring out how to get the dogbone apparatus (aka Connecting Rod) off. That's the big forked arms that connect the Relay Arm (triangular shaped thingy) to the frame near the engine. Confused...? Its the big silver thingy in this photo:

Needle Bearings

I discovered the trick to removing it by accident. After inspecting, tugging, prying, etc. I gave up and decided to go ahead and remove the swing-arm. As soon as I loosened the swing-arm shaft, the connecting rod fell out and hit the ground. It was an "Ah Ha" moment. While the swing-arm mounts quite a bit higher in the frame than where the Connecting Rod is mounted, there is still enough tension up there to apparently squeeze the frame down below around the connecting rod. Problem solved! Now that will cost everyone who reads this $1...I gladly accept Pay Pal.

Here's the next $1 worth of advice. Clean you're bearings using this:

Mineral Spirits

Its an oil based solvent, available at any real hardware store, and won't dry out your metal joints like gasoline does. In fact, this is the ULTIMATE solution to clean & soak and O-ring chain. It works magic on it. You'll be amazed! But no Ginsu-knives or Shamwow are included. You must buy those separately.

So, back to this photo for a minute:

What are all those little metal needles? Those are what make up the rolling portion of the bearing in the connecting rod. No, its not broken. Here's the deal. When you start cleaning the bearing, use a good size container, like a plastic bucket which you'll see in the next photo. The needles will stay put as long as there is grease in there. But when you start washing, the grease should dissolve and the needles begin falling out.

So HAVE A PLAN to make sure you can't & don't lose any of those priceless needles. Knock em all out and clean em up real good. Then, just spread a thin layer of Waterproof Grease into the bearing housing, and begin the tedious job of slowly re-installing the needles, one at a time. Add a little grease on top of them when you have several in there and they will stay put. Once they are all back in. Pack some more grease into them and fill the gaps inside the connecting rod. Then, its ready for re-assembly onto the bike frame. Just remember to put it back on BEFORE you put the swing-arm back on.

Next up, how do you clean those swing-arm bearings? This is often a real pickle for a lot of garage floor DIY mechanics. Here's my solution. And yes, it'll cost you another $1.

Soak Me

Just soak it a while and swish it back & forth real good. Work em around with your finger turning the bearing. These bearings are caged and don't have little needles falling out. They'll stay put. Clean 'em real good and then let them dry out before re-greasing. NOTE: Let all your parts dry out good, before re-greasing.....forgot to mention that earlier.

CAUTION: Be very gentle and careful with the bearings in your "Relay Arm". That's the triangular thingy. Don't be like this instance. Learn from my mistake. I know...its shocking...its rare...but I did make a mistake. Brace yourself, and get over it. Check out the bearings in this next photo and I'll explain:


Notice the orange colored stuff? When I first pulled it off and removed the sleeve inserts, I was sitting in my "not so bright" garage floor and it looked like rust. I stuck my finger in there and began turning bearings with my finger nail. Something just didn't feel right....or normal. Too spongy, almost rubbery-like. Soaked & cleaned in my bucket of Mineral Spirits for a bit, then took it out into the sunlight (as you see).

Shazaam! These bearings are sealed with some kind of rubberized material. I've not encountered one like this before. If someone can tell me what official name this type of bearing is, I'd love to know. Mucho Gracias!

My mistake was sticking my finger nail through that rubber to spin the bearing. I broke the rubber seal in multiple places. Such a shame...but life goes on. I carefully worked the rubber pieces back into place...sort of. Then kind of packed (more like layered) some grease onto the bearing. Here's where the Mineral Spirits seemed to really help. These sealed bearings would not spin very well when I first removed from bike. They were bound up a bit. After a good soaking in the Mineral Spirits, which evidently penetrated behind the seal, the began to spin very nicely....almost effortlessly. I think its fine since the Spirits are oil based. Otherwise, I'm not sure how else to clean this type of bearing and re-grease it. Chime in if you know something I don't.

Last up, was the swing-arm connecting bolt. The big long brother that goes through the engine & frame. Mine had experienced some definite stiction, or hard wear points. Plus it even had a little corrosion pitting started.

Pin Before
Pin After

These two shots were after I had soaked and cleaned them up real good. The bolt shaft may have been a little out of round in tolerance. I'm not sure. But it definitely had a serious "rub" mark in two places. So, I got after it with emory cloth and then smoothed it up with Scotch-brite pad. It appears to be Aluminum or Aluminum Alloy.

For all my bearings and shafts...anything rotating that needs grease, I mix up a concoction of waterproof grease and anti-seize lubricant. That seems to help my bearings from sticking/rusting up down the road. Krabill likes to plot routes through many deep water crossings during are daring adventures.

Why do I ride with Krabill so much, you ask? Well, where I go its usually nasty. REAL NASTY. And two things about that: 1) Don't go there alone 2) Krabill can handle it. I had to train him in Trials for 2 years. He was a good rider to start with...or so he thought. He's a much better rider now. And a darn tooting great mechanic for an added bonus.

But I digress....back to R². Put everything back together and WOW she feels much better now. Should have done it sooner. Guess I'm ready for the DS ride now. Hope its a decent ride. Sure to be pretty. We'll follow-up with a Ride Report, of course.