The linkage and swingarm bolt on your dirt bike needs to be cleaned and greased on an ongoing basis. This being the case, too many people neglect this simple but vital aspect of maintenance.
Most brand new bikes are only given a very light licking of grease when they roll onto the showroom floor, so you should ideally grease the linkage as well as the axles, swingarm bolt and steering head before you begin riding it. If you don’t do this, the bearings and components will wear out prematurely or even rust, and your suspension will become rigid and harsh.
I’m going show you how it’s done using my YZ 250.
- The first thing you need to do is remove the linkage. With the bike on a stand, place something under the rear wheel to support it, otherwise it will drop down when you remove the linkage. Remove the chain roller and loosen off the nuts on the linkage bolts which connect it to the shock, chassis and swingarm. Remove the bolts and the linkage will drop out.* Pay special attention to the order of the nuts, bolts and washers!
- Now that you have it out, place it on a clean work bench and disassemble it. Remove the end caps and bushings. You may need a small screwdriver to gently pry them out.* Be very careful that the small roller bearings don’t drop out once you remove the bushings, as they sit inside unsecured (some newer bearings are held in place) and are easily lost if they fall onto the garage floor (especially if you like to indulge in a few beers while carrying out maintenance – oops, I spent 45 mins searching on my hands and knees).
- Using contact cleaner, spray all the parts and remove any old grease, dirt etc. Check the oil seals (on the outside of the bearings) and bearings. Make sure the bearings are in good condition and don’t need replacing. If they’re rusted or bone dry – they’re probably damaged and you should replace them all at the same time.Once all the parts are clean, apply a quality, waterproof grease to the bolts, bushings and inside the bearings and oil seals.
As you can see here, I had some surface rust on the bushings. Use some fine sandpaper to remove it before re-greasing.
- Reassemble the linkage and reattach it to the bike. You’re best to check your bike manual for correct torque settings and remember to wipe away any excess grease (that pushes out) to prevent dirt and sand from sticking to it.
How To Grease The Swingarm Bolt
This is really easy. You can do this with the rear wheel still on or you might as well do it while you have the linkage and rear wheel off.
- Place your bike on a stand and remove the rear brake lever bolt as you’ll probably need to shift it slightly to allow the swingarm bolt to slide out.
- Using a socket – remove the nut from the swingarm bolt and tap out the bolt using a metal bar of some sort. Be careful that you don’t damage the end of the bolt thread.
- Clean the bolt and any muck you can see inside the swingarm assembly. Check for rust or corrosion and sand it off if required before applying a good layer of waterproof grease.
- Line up the swingarm and slide the bolt back through. Make sure you tighten up the nut properly. And that’s it! You may experience some difficulty when removing the bolt if it hasn’t been lubed in a long time. If this is the case you just have to get a bit rough with it and give it a good bash.
Tip: Always check the parts over after your first ride to make sure everything is still secured properly.
Question: How often should I lube and grease the linkage and swingarm bolt on my dirt bike?
Answer: About every 20 – 30 hours or 6 monthly.
It won’t cost you much except some time and a few dollars for grease but if you look after these components, your bike will cost less to maintain in the long run and it will handle better. Add it to your list of things to do.