Wheel axles hold the wheels in the frame, swingarm and front fork. Sounds trivial, but this makes the wheel axle one of the most important components on the Harley-Davidson. Wheel axles also ensure the function of the wheel bearings. Wheel axles are available in three different designs. As a long-time motorcycle manufacturer with roots in 1903, Harley-Davidson has of course used them all.
Rear wheel axles for wheels with cone bearings
To remove and install wheels with this type of axle, you need a frame with axle mounts that are open to the rear, so-called dropouts. This is because the axles are an integral part of the hub and cannot be removed without disassembling the hub. The various threads on the hub are used to adjust the bearing clearance and hold the hub together.
Front wheel axles with threads and nuts at both ends
The forerunner of the later (plug-in) axles and technically an overlong stud. The ball bearing cones in the wheel hub are adjusted by a hollow spindle on which the cones and their lock nuts are seated. There is no need for axle bushings; the hollow spindle is exactly as wide as the space in the fork (minus the short brake bushing in the case of half-hub brakes, of course). The front wheel axle is only inserted through the hollow spindle, the hub is fixed in the fork via the two nuts. Harley-Davidson used this system until 1952, in the last W models.
With the first "interchangeable wheels" on the V model series came the thru axle: one side carries a thread for the axle nut, the other side has a head for counterholding. Hexagonal, square, round turned with hole to put through ... the shape depends on fork, swingarm or frame. The thru axle is ultimately just a long and, according to the load, also thick screw, which has the task of pulling together axle bushings, spacers, wheel bearings, etc. to a force-fit ensemble. The quick-release axle facilitates wheel removal or replacement, but the strain on the wrench when "threading" the axle increases with the number of axle bushings and spacers that have to be brought "in line".
In addition to reproductions of the original axles for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the range of W&W Cycles also includes special thru axles, for example, to install wheels from 1973 in rigid frames, or those with which one mounts disc brakes in Springer forks. In addition, axles for Cannonball leaf spring forks or for extra-long Springer forks.
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