Removing and installing the rear wheel of your Harley can save you hundreds of dollars in labor fees. The process can be intimidating at first glance. Once you walk through the steps you will find it more doable than you might have expected.
Many Riders Have Performed Half The Process
Most riders have put slip-ons on their bike and have performed brake pad replacements. If you are one of those riders then you have completed almost half of the process of removing and installing your rear wheel. Once you remove the slip-ons and the brake caliper it's just a matter of pulling the axle to remove the wheel. Then you can take the wheel to a local shop to have your new tire mounted and balanced.
Many shops will do this for under $50. Once that is done just perform the operation in reverse to re-install the rear wheel. The only difficult part is going to be adjusting the drive belt tension. Just remember though, if you don’t get the deflection right on the first try, you can do it again before locking the wheel in place.
Opening The Door For Other Tasks
Learning this process will also help with other tasks on your bike should the need arise. Changing your isolator, rear fork removal for belt replacement, sprocket replacement, replacing rear wheel bearings, all of these items require the removal of the rear wheel. Knowing how to do this will open the door to many other more difficult and shop expensive repairs providing you with a way to save money and learn your motorcycle better.
Tools You May Need
You may have to purchase a couple of tools depending on your stock. As I always say, use the service manual for your specific motorcycle. You need the specifications the manual provides to do maintenance work. The processes are often closely related across a wide variety of bikes but the torque specifications can be completely different. A bike stand is necessary; you cannot do this job without a way to raise and support the rear of the bike. You will also need a torque wrench that will go up to 100-foot pounds to complete the axle installation.
Other tools include a large socket, breaker bar for the axle cone nut, a crescent wrench, or more preferably a large box-end wrench, and silver anti-seize lubricant. Even if you have to purchase some of these items, the savings of dealership labor rates for this task will cover the cost of the tools at which point you will now have the tools and be able to perform the task and other tasks related to rear-wheel removal yourself.
When it comes time to choose a tire refer to your owners or service manual sizing chart. Dunlop is the stock tire Harley is using on their newest bikes, but there are other tires you may want to use instead.