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Old 07-13-2012, 10:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Motorcycle wheel alignment made easy

You never know if your wheels are properly aligned unless you check them.
This method can be done by one person with a few simple tools.

Take a string and wrap it around the front and rear tires, low enough to not contact anything but the tires. I found my string on the road and used a flat washer, bent with pliers to make a slip connection so it fits all of my bikes.

Get the string fairly tight and center the front wheel so the string has the same gap on both sides of the front tire. Don't worry about the handlebars at this point.

Sight down the string from the rear wheel foreward. The rear tire is usually wider than the front but what you are looking for is equal distances on both sides of the rear of the front tire. The string will be slightly protruding at the front of the rear tire. Sight down both sides of the rear tire using the section of string that goes from the front of the rear tire to the front of the front tire.
Pay close attention to the amount of bend in the string from the front of the rear tire to the back of the rear tire. This is your rear wheel alignment. Adjust the rear wheel so it is equal offset on both sides (bend is identical). Make sure the front tire to string gap at the rear of the front tire is equal while you are doing this since breaking the rear axle nut loose could move the front wheel. Take your time and check, check, check to get it perfect. Once you get the bend perfectly equal while maintaining the gap equally at the rear of the front tire you have the rear wheel properly aligned. You can check the index marks on the rear axle adjusters to see if they match (they don't always match perfectly).

Now for the front tire. If you have the rear wheel set as best as you can, look at the gap on both sides of the rear of the front tire. It needs to be identical. Move the handlebars to make the gap perfectly equal.

Now pick a point as close to the ends of the handlebars as possible. Tha bar end weights are your best choice. Pick another point that should be exactly the same distance from both handlebar ends and measure the distance from that point to both handlebars.

If the measurement is identical you are finished with your alignment. If that same measurement is different your front end has been tweaked and you need to get it straight. Loosen the lower front triple tree clamps, and the front fender support bracket. Leave the front axle alone as well as the upper triple tree clamps. Put the front tire between your legs and grab the handle bars and twist them until you have the same measurement to each handlebar end. This will take a few tries until you get a feel for how much force you need to apply. Again check, check, check your work until you get it perfect.
Lock down the lower triple tree clamp and check again. lock down the front fender bracket and check again.

I know this is a long post but the last two bikes I bought both had the front end tweaked and the rear wheel was not aligned properly. If you check your bike with the string and it looks good leave it alone. I can tell you from first hand experience that a misaligend motorcycle is a dangerous thing to ride, and on both of mine the drifference was significant to dramatic in the handling. You might even get a slight improvement in mileage .


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Last edited by user removed; 07-13-2012 at 04:59 PM.. Reason: upper should be lower triple tree clamps
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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