How to Balance a Spoke Motorcycle Wheel

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Motorcycle wheels are fairly well-balanced by design, but the addition of a tire often creates a heavy point that can cause vibration on the road. In most cases, a small lead weight is placed along the centerline of the wheel's rim, opposite of the tire's heavy spot, to re-balance the wheel. The nature of a spoked wheel makes it difficult to use a rim-mounted weight and requires the use of a special wheel weight that wraps around the spokes. While most motorcycle shops use special machines to balance wheels, you can balance wheels directly on the motorcycle with basic tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Motorcycle jack or center stand
  • Socket wrench and sockets
  • Combination wrench
  • Chalk
  • Spoke-type wheel weights
  • Wheel weight pliers
  • Lift the motorcycle's wheel off of the ground, using a motorcycle jack or the center stand, if equipped.

  • Unbolt the wheel's brake caliper, using a socket wrench, to allow the wheel to spin freely. Loosen the brake adjuster nut with a combination wrench, if you are working on a motorcycle equipped with drum-type brakes.

  • Spin the wheel slowly in its rotational direction by hand. Allow the wheel to come to a complete stop on its own. Mark the sidewall of the tire at the top of the wheel directly above the axle with chalk. This mark will be used to identify the lightest spot on the tire.

  • Spin the wheel again and allow it to stop on its own. The chalk-marked point should be at the top of the wheel. Make a second mark and re-spin the wheel, if the chalk mark does not line up with the top of the wheel.

  • Slip a 30 g spoke-type wheel weight over the closest spoke near the chalk mark. Do not tighten the weight against the spoke at this time.

  • Turn the wheel until the wheel weight is at a 3 o'clock position, then release the wheel. Ideally, the wheel will not rotate if it is balanced. Remove the weight and replace it with a 20 g wheel weight, if the weight rotates toward the bottom of the wheel. Alternatively, add a 10 g wheel weight to the spoke, if the weight rotates back to the top of the wheel.

  • Turn the wheel until the wheel weight is in a 9 o'clock position. Replace the wheel weight with a 10 g wheel weight, if the weight rotates toward the bottom of the wheel.

  • Crimp the wheel weight around the wheel's spoke, using wheel weight pliers, once the wheel will not rotate on its own.

  • Reinstall the wheel's brake caliper, using a socket wrench, or tighten the brake adjuster nut with a combination wrench.

  • Remove the motorcycle from the jack or center stand, then lower it onto its kickstand.

Tips & Warnings

  • A short length of lead solder may be wrapped around the wheel's spoke in place of a spoke-type wheel weight. Cut small sections off of the solder with a wire clipper to reduce the weight as needed to balance the wheel.
  • Double check your work before crimping the wheel weights into place. An unbalanced or improperly balanced wheel can create vibrations or wobbling that could result in an loss of control.

References

  • "Haynes Motorcycle Workshop PracticeTechbook"; John Fidell; 1999
  • "The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance"; Mark Zimmerman; 2004
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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