Rear Tire Removal Classic & Nomad
Gadget with thanks to David Hardy for the photos

The problem, your dealer wants an hour and a half to do this job. Maybe they've shown you the manual which calls for removing the rear fender, most of the exhaust system and probably the handlebars for heavens sake. Well, all that isn't necessary and (with a bike lift) you can have that back tire off in 15 minutes or less (considerably less after you've done it once and know which tools to have laid out before you begin).

Note the procedure is the same for Vulcan Classics, you just have a lot less 'stuff' to remove so skip mentions of bags and bag brackets and left mufflers.  Below you'll notice a Classic is used for the pictoral which happens to have aftermarket pipes.   The combination of the two makes the procedure much simpler (especially for pictures) since everything is easy to reach.  If you have stock exhaust and a Nomad you'll be removing a few more parts and bolts will be just a little harder (but certainly not difficult) to reach.  Adjust accordingly.

Here's how.


1-bike lift capable of getting the rear of the bike at least 12" off the ground
1-torque wrench (calibrated in lb. ft) strongly suggested.  If you don't have one check with a neighbor
1-17 mm socket or wrench
1-14 mm socket
1-3/8" drive breaker bar
1-adjustable (Crescent type) wrench (to reach the right side nut if you have stock mufflers)
1-basic metric allen wrench set for removing brake caliper & left bag support
1-piece of wire or string about a foot long


1. Find a safe place to work with comfortable access to both sides of your bike.

2. Lift the bike so it is just slightly off the ground. This is a safety thing. There's no point in having the bike three feet in the air just yet. Lock the jack.

3. If you're working on a Nomad follow this step.  If working on a Classic skip to step 4.
We're assuming a stock exhaust system here.  If you have something from the aftermarket you may have to modify some steps.  

Starting on the left side of the bike remove the saddle bag. Loosen the clamp bolt for the left muffler (between muffler and catalytic converter). Place a towel, diaper or something soft below the rear of the left muffler and remove the two bolts holding it to the bag support rail. Carefully swivel the muffler to the ground. (A simple option is to completely remove the muffler. Just wiggle it up and down pulling toward you until the pipe releases from the converter). Remove the lower bag support bar by removing the rear allen head bolt and two hex head bolts in front.

4. Move to the right side of the bike. (Nomad remove the saddle bag.)  Remove the two Allen bolts holding  /files/includes/images/dh_rw_1caliper.jpg (81994 bytes) the brake caliper to the bike. Carefully tie the caliper up out of the way using string or wire. (This is in lieu of completely removing the brake hose, spilling fluid all over the place and having to evacuate the system when you're finished. Just don't hang the caliper by the hose ok?) 

Using a short socket and small (3/8 drive) breaker /files/includes/images/dh_rw_2caliperbracket.jpg (72301 bytes) bar or box wrench remove the single bolt holding the brake caliper bracket in place (the bracket won't come off yet, it's still connected to the axle). Remove the cotter pin from the axle nut.  Depending whether you have a muffler in the way or not use a 17 millimeter socket or wrench on the left side of the axle (bolt) and an open end or good adjustable wrench on the right side nut, loosen and remove the nut.

5. /files/includes/images/dh_rw_3bracket-spacer.jpg (67800 bytes) Slide the axle out to the left keeping track of the washer (inside of the nut outside of frame) /files/includes/images/dh_rw_4spacer.jpg (58928 bytes) and the spacer between the wheel and frame. That spacer is likely to fall out if you slide the axle out too quickly so take your time and lift it out.  No sense dinging things up. Don't slide the axle all the way out yet, just enough to remove that spacer.


6. Now it's time to jack the bike as high as your lift will take it. Lock the lift in place which will generally stabilize the bike quite a bit. If you're still antsy you can place some support under the front tire. As you're lifting be careful of the left muffler (tip resting on that soft pad) because it'll be dragged forward.

7. /files/includes/images/dh_rw_5axle.jpg (60762 bytes) Pull the axle most of the way out and leave it there. If you remove the entire axle /files/includes/images/dh_rw_6spline-spacer.jpg (84831 bytes) you'll have to line up a spacer in the final drive housing on re-assembly and that's just another step we don't need. 




8. Move to the right side of the motorcycle and pull the wheel toward you. If it doesn't slide right off the splines you may have to do a little wiggling. If you have a helper you might want him/her on the left side of the bike to push a little while you wiggle. Once you feel the assembly moving off the splines get ready to support some weight. That tire and wheel are surprisingly heavy. Once completely off (the wheel will move right nearly an inch) let the assembly down carefully and roll it out from under the bike. If your lift doesn't go very high you may have to tilt the wheel and slide it out the right side.

9. You're done! Protect the wheel bearings from dirt (tape a baggy on each side) and take your tire/wheel assembly to have the new rubber mounted (at considerable savings to you) When you come back we'll tackle re-assembly.

Oh, you're back? Cool! Lets get this beast ready to ride again.

1. The bike is still waaaay up in the air right? If not, put it back up there.

2. Re-grease the spline assembly on the bike and on the wheel. Don't get crazy here or you'll be slinging goop out all over the wheel and thinking you've burst a seal or something. You'll want to remove as much of the old grease as possible. Not because it's bad grease but it may have picked up dirt during your journeys.

3. Slide the wheel up under the bike the same way you took it out and make sure it's vertical.

4. It will be helpful to have someone with you here. Unless you have a strong back and can lift the assembly back up to the spline you'll find it easier to lower the bike down to the wheel. Do this verrrry slowly and with your helper making sure nothing is binding up (where is that left muffler?). If there is any sign of binding at all stop, jack the bike back up a scosh, free things up and continue its downward journey until the bikes splines are just a couple of inches higher than the wheel. Now you can lift the wheel and hold it with your toes while matching up the splines.

5. The rest of the assembly is just the reverse of disassembly. Slide in the axle (just a touch of lube to keep rust at bay) make sure you have the spacer in, the brake caliper bracket in and cinch down the nut.

6. It's torque wrench time. (see torque values below) Up front (for the critics), this is 'not' the most accurate way to torque the axle nut but it avoided disassembling the right side exhaust system. A small price to pay. Use your torque wrench on the axle bolt head (left side) and your 17 mm wrench on the nut and cinch it down to 75 foot pounds.

7. Put a 'new' cotter pin in the nut. If you're off just a hair lining up the hole it won't hurt to loosen the nut just a scosh.

8. Put the brake caliper bracket bolt back then the caliper making sure you have a brake pad on each side of the disc (hey, you wouldn't believe).... Now, with your hand work the rear brake lever until its firm and the brake appears to be preventing the rear wheel from turning. Better to find out now there's a problem then on the road.

9. Move to the left side and lift the muffler from its resting place. Put the bolts back in and re-tighten the clamp.

10. Put your bags back on each side, don't forget the bolts (hey, you wouldn't .....)

11. Lower the bike and go ride. Take it easy the first few miles until the slippery mold release is scuffed off.

Torque values:
Rear Axle Nut (light coating of grease). 80 ft LB Castle nut
Caliper Holder Bolt 47 ft LB Hex Head
Rear Caliper Mounting Bolts 24 ft LB Socket Head
Muffler Clamps 18 ft LB Muffler Clamp