Gone Outdoors

How to Repair a Motorcycle's Speedometer

by William Machin

Typical motorcycle speedometers are not complex pieces of equipment. They consist of a speedometer gauge and a speedometer cable that connects between the gauge and a fitting on the front wheel hub. Some motorcycles have electronic speedometers that require calibration and repair by a trained technician. Problems with mechanical speedometers are most often a faulty gauge or worn cable. If the gauge is not damaged, a simple troubleshooting procedure will isolate the problem.

1. Stabilize the motorcycle on the kickstand or a repair stand. Locate the lower end of the speedometer cable where it attaches at the front wheel hub. Use a small metric wrench to loosen the fitting that connects the cable to the hub.

2. Pull the end of the cable out of the hub, and inspect the square end of the cable. If it is broken or the edges are rounded, the cable needs to be replaced. If the end is broken, there is most likely a piece of the broken end inside the hub. Use a sewing needle or other small, pointed object to work the broken piece out of the speedometer hub. If the end is not worn or broken, reattach the fitting and proceed to Step 5. Otherwise, obtain a new cable and proceed to the next step.

3. Loosen the speedometer cable connection fitting on the underside of the speedometer by turning it counterclockwise with pliers. Pull the end of the cable out of the speedometer. Remove any cable guides on the front forks or the handlebars of the motorcycle. The particular type of motorcycle determines the type of guides and tool needed to remove them.

4. Put a small amount of speedometer cable grease on the square end of the cable, and reattach it to the front wheel speedometer hub. Route the cable to the underside of the speedometer and attach the upper end to the fitting on the speedometer. Tighten the fitting with pliers. Reattach the speedometer cable guides.

5. Detach the cable from the underside of the speedometer. Use a metric wrench to loosen the nuts on the handlebars that secure the speedometer camp. Remove the speedometer, and place it on a worktable. Use a metric wrench or small screwdriver to remove the back cover from the speedometer. The type of speedometer dictates the correct tool to use.

6. Remove the odometer with a screwdriver or small metric wrench. Inspect the small odometer gears located just behind or below the odometer number wheels. Replace the odometer if the gears are worn badly or teeth are broken.

7. Inspect the back of the speedometer dial and the speedometer gears. If rust or corrosion has accumulated, the speedometer needs to be replaced. Otherwise, spray the components with lubricant and manipulate them by hand to make sure things move freely. Install the existing or new odometer, and reattach the back cover to the speedometer. Position the speedometer in place and tighten the clamp. Reattach the cable at the underside of the speedometer.

Items you will need
  • Metric wrenches
  • Pliers
  • Sewing needle
  • Screwdriver
  • Speedometer cable grease
  • Spray lubricant

About the Author

William Machin began work in construction at the age of 15, while still in high school. In 35 years, he's gained expertise in all phases of residential construction, retrofit and remodeling. His hobbies include horses, motorcycles, road racing and sport fishing. He studied architecture at Taft Junior College.

Photo Credits

  • POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media