Now…How Did I Break This Rebel 250 Swingarm?

I’m reasonably certain that the swingarm has been cracked since I bought the bike. Well, with the 20/20 hindsight that kicks in after something not-so-great happens. Thankfully I wasn’t on the road at this point, and just trying to put new brake pads on the bike.

Rebel 250 swingarm that broke right before the axle

I had been thinking about my swingarm here and there since I got my Honda Rebel. I figured that it had just suffered a crack in the paint. At one point, when I first got the bike, Leona and I had to grind down the inside of the end of the fork tube (the same one you see bent right there) so the new chain adjuster would fit. Perhaps that kind of work may have damaged the structural integrity of the swingarm, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d driven almost 20,000 miles with this crack in my frame.

How it Happened to my Rebel

Honda Rebel 250 before my swingarm broke

This picture is from about a year ago, when I had painted my fenders flat black. I hadn’t really seen anything as a problem, but it just kind of had been simmering in the back of my mind. That strange crack that was right after the chain guard, and right before the axle hadn’t really worried me too much, or else I wouldn’t have driven on it. I would have fixed it when I found out about it, rather than riding on it the way it was. I certainly don’t have a death wish!


Here I pointed out exactly where the crack is in the swingarm. I’m pretty sure it’s connected to whatever accident that one of the previous owners had been in, at this point. The red line is where the crack was, but the crack was a lot smaller than the red line. Like I said, I thought it was a crack in the paint!

So, anyway, I was going through what should have been a routine front brake pad replacement, and I can’t remember exactly what I was doing, but all of a sudden, the right side of my bike fell off the toolbox that was supporting that end, and it sank down. Then the left side came down off of the jack stand. All of a sudden, my bike was sitting on the exhaust pipes. I looked around the edge and my swingarm was bent in a strange manner.

Broken Swingarm on the Honda Rebel 250

I can’t even tell you how I felt. I was literally sick to my stomach. I’m sure the color of my face was some unnatural color, like green, or blue, or purple.

Thankfully, my friends Shelley and Leona were free for a trip to the Yale boneyard, Eastern Michigan Cycle. It’s a little bit of a drive but there’s a 1985 Honda Rebel and a 1987 Honda Rebel there that have been mostly stripped down, but I knew that at least one of them had a swingarm on the bike that I could snag. It’s helpful to pay attention to the bikes in the local junkyard! Well, if your bike is like mine at all.

My Fancy New Swingarm

Pretty wineberry red 1987 Honda Rebel Swingarm

Now, if the information I had gathered at some point was correct, the 1987 Honda Rebel in Wineberry red is the only Honda Rebel out there with a frame that’s not painted black.

I got the new swingarm out and removed the old one from the bike. Getting it on was a lot easier than getting it off at the junkyard. I wasn’t sure that I’d like having the wineberry swingarm on the bike, since my bike is all black. As it turns out, the look is pretty sharp.

5 thoughts on “Now…How Did I Break This Rebel 250 Swingarm?

  1. Leona

    It’s things like this that make motorcycles so freakin’ risky. If that bike decided to, the tire could have folded under you. Nice catch!

    • But the tire wouldn’t – have – talking with the guy who broke his swingarm while riding, the bike ends up running REALLY rough, but the tire stays because of the bar going from the inside of the swingarm to the hub of the tire.

      I didn’t catch it though – it just broke while I was working on the brake line. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling I had when it fell to the ground!

  2. Jonathan

    My swingarm cracked while I was driving. I got all the way home before realizing my tire was getting burnt up since it was grinding on the chain guard. How did you jack up the bike to remove the swingarm? I’m guessing you can’t use a swingarm stand.

    • Oh man I can’t imagine having that happen while riding. At least you got home, right?
      I believe I jacked up from where it was and supported it under the engine frame tubing.

      • Jonathan

        Ya it was my 3rd day of owning/riding a motorcycle and I got home just in time too cuz it was starting to crack on the other side as well. I ended up taking the exhaust and rear brakes off (not just the pedal since you have to take the wheel off anyway), putting a 2×4 under the crossbar of the frame, and using 2 car jacks on the sides to lift it. When it was high enough I slid some large cinder blocks under the 2×4 to hold the weight and jack stands on each side of the swingarm to mitigate tipping. Honestly, figuring out a good way to lift the bike was the hardest part of the whole repair, and I’ve never even changed the oil in my car before. That service manual is pretty clutch (see what I did there?).

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