How to Fix a Bent Motorcycle Wheel

Written by michelle schaefer
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How to Fix a Bent Motorcycle Wheel
Learn how to straighten a motorcycle wheel at home. (Wheel and Cog image by pg003 from Fotolia.com)

Motorcycle wheels can sometimes become damaged in the course of normal use. Pot holes, curbs and speed bumps have the potential to bend a wheel out of round. A bent wheel may cause uneven tire wear and degrade the ride performance of the motorcycle. Spoked wheels that are bent out of round can usually be repaired with only a few common tools and often without the need to remove the wheel from the bike. A bent alloy or magnesium wheel requires specialised equipment not available to the average mechanic and should be worked on only by a qualified professional.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Motorcycle stand
  • Metric wrench set
  • Wheel truing stand
  • Spoke wrench
  • Dead-blow hammer
  • Dial indicator with magnetic base

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Raise the motorcycle, using the motorcycle lift. Secure the motorcycle, using the tie-down straps or chains supplied with the stand. Some motorcycles are equipped with an integrated centre stand. If the bike is so equipped, then there is no need for a motorcycle lift; the installed centre stand is adequate for the task.

  2. 2

    Attach the dial indicator to a fixed point of the motorcycle, using the magnetic base. For a front wheel, the fork tubes make an ideal mounting point. For a rear wheel, the swing arm or mainframe makes a solid attachment point. Center the dial indicator arm on the wheel rim midway between the tire bead and the spokes. Set the dial indicator pointer to the zero mark on the face.

  3. 3

    Turn the wheel slowly while observing the reading on the dial indicator. The actual numbers on the indicator are not important. Observe the deflection of the indicator needle as the wheel turns. Mark on the rim where the indicator needle shows a deflection of more than 0.01 inch to either side of the zero mark.

  4. 4

    Tighten the spokes with a spoke wrench that are located near any part of the rim that shows a negative relative-to-zero reading on the dial indicator.

    Loosen any spokes that are located near any part of the rim that shows a positive relative-to-zero reading on the dial indicator.

    Tap the rim gently with a dead-blow hammer as required. Some rims require more effort to straighten than can be gained by spoke tightening. Striking the rim with a dead-blow hammer reduces the risk of breaking a spoke.

  5. 5

    Repeat steps three and four until the dial indicator shows the entire wheel to be within +/- 0.01 inch relative to zero.

  1. 1

    Conduct step one from the previous section.

  2. 2

    Disconnect any brakes, chains or control cables from the wheel hub. Loosen and remove the axle nuts or clamps. Remove the wheel from the motorcycle.

  3. 3

    Determine whether the wheel requires replacement of the spokes, rim or hub. A badly bent wheel will display broken or visibly bent spokes. Repair or replace any broken spokes or other components as required.

  4. 4

    Fasten the wheel into a wheel truing stand. Install a dial indicator on a secure area of the wheel stand. Some truing stands have a dial indicator already built in and ready for use.

  5. 5

    Turn the wheel slowly while observing the reading on the dial indicator. The actual numbers on the indicator are not important. Observe the deflection of the indicator needle as the wheel turns. Mark on the rim where the indicator needle shows a deflection of more than 0.01 inches to either side of the zero mark.

  6. 6

    Perform steps four and five from the previous section.

  7. 7

    Replace the wheel on the motorcycle in the reverse order of disassembly. Double-check all brakes, chains and control cables for secure mounting and operation.

Tips and warnings

  • A homemade truing stand can be fashioned from common lumber or PVC.
  • A 6-inch C-clamp can be used to secure the dial indicator to difficult locations where the magnetic base may not hold.
  • A wheel rim that is torn or creased cannot be straightened or repaired and must be replaced. A damaged rim may cause a tire blowout and potential bodily injury.

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