How To Align Motorcycle Wheels

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Have you been feeling that your motorcycle handling feels slightly off? Are your front and rear tires not wearing equally? Hearing odd sounds from your chain and sprockets? These may be signs that your wheel alignment is off!

Many riders rely solely on the alignment marks on their motorcycle’s swingarm when adjusting chain slack as a means to ascertain wheel alignment. However, these alignment marks are notoriously inaccurate! With a few simple tools and easy steps you can be sure that your wheels are properly aligned.

There are a few common methods to go about aligning your wheels, using a piece of string, using tools to track your chain, etc. The method that we will be covering is similar to that of the string method, but using a straight edge instead.

Setting Up Your Motorcycle

To align your motorcycle, firstly you will need a means to get your motorcycle upright. If you do not have a center stand, you will need a paddock stand.

For alignment you will require two straight objects, using a spirit level, or even 2 fluorescent tubes will do the trick.

Align Straight Edge

Once you have your motorcycle vertical, and have the handlebars straight, you are ready to begin checking the alignment of your ride.

Place the straight edge against the walls of the rear tire and ensure that it is parallel.

Check Misalignment

Next, move to the front of your motorcycle, and observe the distance between both the straight edges and the walls of the front tire. Since the front tire is fixed, any misalignment of the rear tire will result in the straight edges not being parallel to the front tire.

If the distance between the right straight edge and front wheel is larger than the left, it would mean that the rear wheel is facing slightly to the right. If the wheels are aligned, the distance should be equal on both sides.

Adjusting Rear Tire

If the distance on both sides of the straight edge are not even, the rear tire can be corrected by adjusting the chain tensioning nuts on the swingarm. If the rear wheel axle is shifted back by adjusting the right chain tensioning nut, the rear wheel will face slightly towards the right.

Once you have the proper alignment, it will be good to mark the correct position for future reference. If there is any need for chain adjustment in the future, you can just turn the nuts equally on both sides with respect to the reference marks!

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