DIALED IN: BEARINGS, SPACERS, AND CLUNKY SHOCKS

BEARINGS, SPACERS, AND CLUNKY SHOCKS – By Winston “Boss” McKannick

Bearings Wheel Spacers Shocks

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN STEERING HEAD BEARINGS?

Dear Boss,
I have a 1985 Honda ATC350X that is in the middle of a ground-up restoration. The steering-head bearings are dry and notchy. I wanted to replace the factory loose-ball-type bearings with the new-style tapered roller bearings, but I am confused. It seems like everybody is marketing tapered roller bearings for three-wheelers. And, they all say theirs are the best. Boss, in your opinion, which brand should I end up purchasing for my 350X restoration?
Devin Thomas
Milton, FL

I can see where you might be confused by all the purveyors of tapered roller steering-head bearing kits. There are only two things you need to know: 1. Any of the bearing kits will be light years better than the loose balls and races installed as OEM back in the day. 2. As far as I know, none of the purveyors of the kits make them themselves. They all either come from Japan or China. And, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if someone told me most of the kits came from a single plant and just re-badged for the individual purveyor. Back in the day, when these kits first appeared, they were from the K&L supply sourced from Japan. I remember installing a number of these kits with no problems. Personally, I would use Japan-sourced bearings over China.

CAN’T REMOVE WHEEL SPACERS!

Dear Boss,
I recently purchased a used 2022 Polaris RZR 570 Trail White Lightning. On our first trail ride, we could not get through the trailhead gate! The trail is signed and gated for 50-inch machines, and the trailhead gates are 52 inches. This led us to discover that sometime in the machine’s past, 2-inch wheel spacers had been added—and we never noticed. So, it was go back home and remove the wheel spacers. The thing is, how do I get them off? Seems like they won’t budge. Please help!
Donna Garcia
Prescott, AZ

Those particular gates are tight! I have seen some as wide as 58 inches. But, to address your problem, is it the bolts that hold the spacers on that won’t budge, or is it the spacers that are stuck on the wheel hubs? Each requires a different removal technique. Step 1: If the retaining bolts will not budge, you will need an impact gun, whether electric, air or battery with a six-point, impact-rated socket. Some spacers have the retaining bolt wells machined so small, a standard impact socket will not fit inside. A decent machinist with a lathe can turn down the socket to fit. Note that if you try to use a thinner standard deep-well socket, you may end up cracking the socket because it was never designed for impact use. Once the retaining bolts are removed and the wheel spacer still won’t come off, we go to step 2: Reinstall the UTV’s wheel and use the tire’s added leverage to rock the wheel spacer loose. Do not use a pry bar on the wheel spacer! You could end up damaging the wheel hub. If you do reinstall the spacers in the future, use Marine Grade Anti-Seize to coat the center and back of the spacer, as well as the retaining bolts to stop corrosion that would make future removal hard again.

Bearings Wheel Spacers Shocks

SHOCK TOPPING

Dear Boss,
I have a 2020 Polaris XP Pro, and on a recent trip to Baja, it seemed the front shocks were topping out too frequently with a decided clunk at speed. I added in a little more low-speed compression damping and it helped—a little. I would think that the Fox shocks could be tuned to prevent the topping clunk. Is there a shock setting that I am missing?
Larry Strough
San Diego, CA

I am afraid your riding conditions exceeded the capabilities of the machine’s OEM Fox shocks, son. The shocks can be tuned to work in almost any conditions, but you will have to change the internal valving. Adding in more low-speed compression damping shouldn’t have helped because you need more rebound damping, but your model of Fox shocks doesn’t have that adjuster. Plus, adding increased rebound damping can “pack” your suspension down in certain conditions. You could have Fox re-valve your shocks, but you will never see the performance of a set of Fox RC2s. Short of new shocks or re-valving yours, my suggested fix is to install limit straps to prevent metal fatigue to the upper shock mounts from repeated toppings. The stretch of the limit straps will provide most of the needed rebound damping you are searching for.

Bearings, Spacers, Clunky Shocks

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