Removing the Front Wheel on a Sportster 1200C

I had an opportunity I couldn't pass up to add another bike to the stable. My friend Steve once said the number of bikes you really need is N+1. N=Now. I don't think I understood then, but I do now. I know, I have a problem. I promise, this is the last bike I will buy for myself.

The previous owner had hit a pothole denting the rim and had lost the cover to his air cleaner—so there were a couple of little things that needed to be repaired. He was moving out of state and wanted the money more than he wanted to take the bike with him so when he offered it to me I took it. 

I knew the bike and have always thought it was a nice looking little Sporty, so I decided to buy it.


Although they all seem to fit pretty well in the garage when Sue's trike was on the lift, if I wanted to do anything with the Buell, for example (since it's an on-going project), when the lift was otherwise occupied, it was kind of cramped.


I haven't decided whether or not I like this setup yet, but by pushing the lift toward the door I can put the Buell in front  of it, put it up on the Pit Bull stands while one of the other bikes is on the lift and still have enough room to move around in front of the lift and the Buell. We'll see.


I think the Road King would be too heavy to do this, but I thought the easiest way to jack up the bike and pull the front wheel would be to back into the lift and secure the back wheel. The Sporty was light enough I could straddle the front wheel and push the bike into the wheel chock. I had to try it twice because my aim wasn't very good the first time, but  the second time was the charm.


Removing the front wheel is a pretty easy job. On the Sportster there's a pinch bolt on the right side and the axle nut on the left side you'll need to remove. The pinch bolt is an allen head fastener with a nut on the end. 


I didn't know how difficult it would be to remove them, so I decided to break them loose before I jacked up the front wheel. The axle nut was pretty snug, but the pinch bolt was easy-peasy.


With that done I could jack up the front of the bike. My trusty scissor jack continues to come in handy. Doing this you'll need to make sure you don't catch on anything that drops below the frame on the others side.


I then removed the two fasteners that hold the brake caliper in place. I started with the bottom bolt and balanced the caliper with one hand (so it wouldn't drop) while I removed the top bolt. The caliper then could swing away freely so you can pull it off the rotor. 

I then wrapped the caliper in a shop towel and used a bungee cord to secure it to the bike so it wouldn't get damaged.

NOTE: Make sure while you have the caliper off you don't depress the brake lever or the pistons will activate and you'll need to take it all apart to fix it. Some guys will wedge a tennis ball or something in between the lever and the grip to remind them the caliper is off. That's probably a good idea if you have a helper who might be tempted to grab a handful of brake lever.


I used a screwdriver inserted into the opening on the end of the axle shaft to smoothly pull the shaft through the wheel. There are spacers on either side you'll want to catch, so pull the axle out enough to catch the one on the left side of the bike and then the rest of the way out catching the spacer on the right side.

I set them down on the same side I took them off of so I wouldn't forget where they went back in as I was going to have to wait a few days for the new wheel to come in.


This is a really good view of the damage caused to a wire wheel by a pothole. Moral of the story, avoid the potholes.


All that's left to do now is wait for the new wheel to come in so I can put it all back together.