A lot has been written about the procedure to correctly set the wheel bearing preload. There is more than on technique for determining the correct preload. And wheel bearings can fail if the preload is set too low or too high. For that reason, I’ve put off setting the preload for many years and had a shop or Woody’s Wheel Works do it. But on this project, working on the wheel bearings was one of the items I had on my “Learn New Skills” list, so, now’s the time.
You can read about how I did this work here:
This bike does not have the original spoke wheels. Instead it has the cast aluminum alloy “snowflake” wheels that came latter. The rear snowflake has a drum brake while later versions of the snowflake rear wheel have a rear disk brake on the left side.
It seems that airhead wheels are a component that BMW changed a lot over the life of the airhead bikes. Further, parts fiche diagrams are notoriously confusing and frequently show incorrect parts. As I tried to get solid information about my wheels, one sage, long time wrench advised me to just inspect the parts that are there and replace what’s worn.
That said, these wheels had parts that took me some time to figure out. First, the snowflake drum rear wheels were only available with an aluminum hub in 1978. Later versions had a steel sleeve in the hub that the rear wheel bearing outer races fit into. This is an improvement as the aluminum hub to steel race interference fit was prone to allowing the race to spin in the aluminum hub which leads to a mess not to mention it can lock up the rear of the bike if the bearing seizes to the axle.
My drum snowflake rear hub has a steel sleeve as shown below. The inner edge of the hub is magnetic and you can see the line between the inner sleeve and the outer aluminum of the hub.
I used the spring scale method to determine the preload. This is a simple technique that is precise enough.
I had the wheels powder coated as well. Here they are with the new wheel bearings installed and adjusted.