Play in the swingarm of the Yamaha R6

Well, play is caused by too much “air” between individual components. When playing sideways, the swingarm has enough room to move on the swingarm axis. In the height game, the deflection is usually to blame. The bolts then have a minimal play in the bearings, but this is noticeable by the deflection and length of the swingarm on the rear wheel.

How do I check the play?

In most cases, you don’t notice the problem at all. Because with the classic jacking up with front and rear wheel stand there is always load on the swingarm. To check the play, you have to jack up the motorcycle without having any load on the swingarm. Two types of stands are suitable for this: the popular central stand (e.g. from Bursig) and stands that attach to the footrests.

If you have jacked up the motorcycle accordingly, you can easily check the play. This is done by simply pulling up the rear wheel. If the swingarm can simply be moved a few millimetres before the pressure is applied to the shock absorber, you have already diagnosed a height clearance. In extreme cases, the play on the rear wheel can be up to 5mm.

Lateral play can be easily determined by lateral movements on the rear wheel. If you hear clicking and feel slight strokes, you also have a lateral play. If you move the motorcycle directly during both movements, there is no play.

What does the play do and do I have to compensate for it?

Here you have to differentiate directly between street and racing use. Treatment of the height play on the road is completely exaggerated. However, I would always compensate for lateral play. This has to do firstly with the effects of the game and secondly with the measures that have to be taken to remove the game.

But what happens if the swingarm has a lateral play? Well, a motorcycle has only two wheels. These should always be in line with each other. If you now have a lateral play in the swingarm, the rear wheel moves a little bit out of this line when cornering.

The height play has far less effective and can only be felt in really extreme situations. It is only noticeable when there is hardly any load on the rear wheel – i.e. when braking hard. If the swingarm is exactly at the point where the shock doesn’t work but the swingarm is moving, it can cause the rear wheel to stamp. This can be emphasized here because it doesn’t always have to happen.

How can I compensate for the play?

Lateral play

Let’s start with the lateral play: with the R6 this can be eliminated with on-board equipment. First of all, you need a workshop manual, a torque wrench (e.g. this one, whereas a high-quality one never damages) and then a nut for the nut on the right side. Depending on how far you screw the swing arm axle into the frame and then counter it with both nuts, you reduce the play. But be careful: you can also make it too tight. Then the swingarm moves only sluggishly or is even tight. This requires a bit of sensitivity. Therefore, be sure to proceed according to the instructions in the workshop manual and observe the specified torques!

First, you have to remove the whole linkage and the shock absorber. Only the swingarm must be screwed to the swingarm axle in the frame. Then you can adjust it.

First, loosen both nuts on the swingarm axle. Then you can screw the swingarm axle further into the frame. Be sensitive and don’t turn the axle too tight. Check again and again if and how easy it is to move the swingarm. Before tightening the nuts you should be able to move the swingarm easily and afterwards also. If you tighten the nuts, the play will be reduced a little. You may also need a few attempts to get it right. Did I also

Correct height play

Unfortunately, the height play cannot be corrected so “simply” or favourably. Here you need more parts. As already mentioned above, the play here comes from the deflection and its bolts/bearings. Here there are three possibilities: new original bearings and bolts, oversize bolts and finally a revision.

With new bearings and bolts from Yamaha, the play is much smaller again. Over time, however, it will increase again. Also, the bearings must first be mounted or have them mounted, which may entail additional costs.

The swingarm must be removed and shipped. There the bearings will be exchanged for special backlash-free bearings. I can’t say any more about this as I haven’t had any experience with it yet. But you hear a lot of good things. The cost point is a little higher here.

Is the whole effort worth it?

Good question. In the end, it’s all about subtleties. From my own experience, I can say that it paid off for me. The rear wheel hasn’t even stamped since the conversion and you can enjoy the slightly drifting rear wheel.

If you don’t have any problems with a stamped rear wheel when braking, you don’t have to correct the height play. The faster you go and the harder you brake, the more likely you are to notice it. Ultimately, it’s an individual decision whether it’s worth the money.

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