Tightening Axles and Fasteners when Installing a Dirt Bike Wheel

Warning - this guide is only applicable for off-road motorcycles. If you will be riding your motorcycle on public roads, please have all service work performed by a trained and certified mechanic.

Every motorcycle manufacturer does things a little different when it comes to attaching the rear wheel, but they are all essentially the same. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual for the proper torque specs and recommended chain tension.

Installation Steps:

Step 1: Axle prep

Clean axle and tools. Grease axle.
Once the wheel is ready to be re-attached to the bike, before inserting the axle, make sure that it is properly prepared. The axle should be cleaned of any grime or dirt and then coated with a fresh layer of grease. Most bearing or axle grease will do. Force the wheel up tight against the adjustment bolts and tighten the axle nut enough to hold the wheel in place, but do not cinch it down.

Step 2: Adjust the chain

Adjust axle and lock nut. Thread adjustment bolt in or out.
Loosen the lock nut on the chain tensioner on each side of the swingarm. Once loose, thread the adjustment bolts in or out to reach the desired chain slack (out to tighten the chain, in to loosen it). Use the marks on the axle blocks to make sure both sides are equally adjusted and the wheel is square.

Everyone has a favorite tip for the proper chain adjustment. We try to leave enough slack so that the chain is tight when the suspension is fully compressed. You can check this by leaning over the seat, grabbing the swingarm and compressing the shock to view the difference in tension. A friend can help get more compression and a more accurate gauge. If the chain becomes taught before the suspension is fully compressed, it is affecting the way your bike handles during a ride and creating unnecessary stress and wear on the chain, sprocket, axle and countershaft.

Step 3: Tighten the axle

Use a rag to help with alignment. Use a torque wrench to tighten axle. Lube chain if necessary.
Once you are satisfied with the chain tension, put a rag between the chain and sprocket on the top side of the swingarm. Rotate the wheel backwards to cram the rag between the chain and sprocket which forces the wheel tight against the tensioning bolts. Use a torque wrench to tighten the axle nut to the specified tension, lube the chain and go ride.

Motorcycle Superstore always recommends that motorcycle service work be performed by a trained and certified mechanic. Therefore, Motorcycle Superstore can not and does not guarantee the accuracy of the advice in this article. Perform any work on your own motorcycle at your own risk and if you have any doubts take your motorcycle to a trained mechanic before riding. Safety first!