Have you ever wondered why Honda and all the other bike manufacturers use aluminum to make the axle collars on our bikes? The seals ride on these things and they wear out quicker than a pair of 5 dollar sneakers on Steve Austin. Sure aluminum is cheap and light, but couldn’t they have found something a bit longer lasting?
The picture at left is one of the collars with less than a full season of riding on it, maybe a 1000 miles. Up here in the Maine woods, these puppies see a lot of abuse. If you can go for a complete ride without getting some sort of black muck on your bike, you’re forgetting to get off the pavement. Once they wear, they allow mud and water to pass around the seal lips, increasing the rate of wear on them and allowing the bearings to become contaminated. This all leads to spending money and having to go through the process of replacing parts.
In steps the puppy at left. It’s a simple sleeve made of a hard alloy made to rebuild shafts with the damage shown above. They have many possible uses, when you consider the price of some shafts. In this application the collars cost 10 bucks a piece, seals 6 bucks, and the bearings run 12 bucks each. That totals 56 bucks a season for me just on the rear axle! The Speedi-Sleeves, the brand I used, run 20 bucks a piece, but should last far more than a single season. That’s a lot of money for what they are, but the longevity and lower maintainence costs should make them pay for themselves.
Installation is simple. Prep the collar first by removing any burrs and cleaning it with solvent. Then use a small amount of RTV silicone to fill in any grooves that have worn and assure that no water can seep into the bearings under the sleeve.
The sleeves come in a kit with a special installation tool which is nothing more than a correct sized piece of thin walled aluminum tubing. The sleeves have a lip that this tubing rests on, and then you just press the assembly together. The sleeve is not much wider than the contact area of the seal, so be sure not to push the sleeve on too far. Stop when the inner facing edges are flush.The sleeves go on easily enough to do by hand or hammer, but I used a vise for more control of depth and squareness.
After you’ve installed the sleeve to the proper spot, you then use a pair of cutting pliers to snip the formed in ring that the installation tool rests on. You then roll the ring off like opening a can of wonderful Spam. You can see the parting line in the pictures. Be sure not to nick or scratch the sealing surfaces.
That’s all there is to installing the sleeves. It takes more time to tear down the bike to get at the collars than it does to install them. When you install the collars back into the bike it’s a pretty snug fit. Grease the seal lips well and try not to cut them. The big thing is to be sure that the seal lips are in the proper position all the way around. Rotating and slightly rocking the collar popped everything back out.
I purchased my collars from a local Kaman Industrial outlet. They had the cheapest prices compared to the automotive stores in the area. They were made by CR (Chicago Rawhide), but other companies make them. The rear collars are 28mm (#99111), and the front left is 24mm (#99092). On the odo drive, the seal calls for 40mm, but you’d have to remove the original steel sleeve and measure the plastic underneath.
I have only sleeved the rear collars on my bike, as the front left is already made of steel and has lasted 3 seasons of riding. It would be cheaper to replace it (7.15 vs. 23.00) than to sleeve it. The sleeve on the odo drive is made of steel also, but I’m not sure one of these sleeves would work. The original is molded on and I’m not sure if the plastic underneath is the right shape to hold a Speedi-Sleeve in place. Mine lasted 3 seasons, and after that, the gears were in rougher shape than the sealing surface. Probably the 37.00 cost of replacement is a better way to go.