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Wheel Alignment 101 - An Easy How-To...

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  • Wheel Alignment 101 - An Easy How-To...

    Here's the trick for aligning the front and rear wheels.

    -A piece of string (longer than your bike),
    -OR a PERFECTLY straight piece of wood or metal bar.
    -And a ruler.
    -A plumb bob or other suitable weight & string will also be required.

    This procedure would be hard to do alone. and if attempted solo, could end in undesirable results. A third hand will be required. So go get a genetics degree and grow one, or ask a buddy to help out.
    I found the later to be easier.

    1.) Place the bike on its center-stand on a flat, even surface. Measure the width of both tires at their widest points. Do not just go off the numbers on the tire. Subtract the smaller measurement from the larger, then devide the difference by two. The result is the amount of offset that should exist between the front and rear tires on both sides.
    (front tire size) - (rear tire size) / 2 = offset

    2.) If a string is used, have someone hold one end of it about halfway between the floor and the rear axle, touching the rear sidewall of the rear tire. (at the outer most point.) You could also try taping one end of the string to the rim of the rear tire, run the string across the back of tire to the other side, and pull forward until taught.

    Run the other end of the string forward and pull it tight so that it is roughly parallel to the floor. slowly bring the string into contact with the front side wall of the rear tire, then turn the front wheel until it is parallel to the string. Measure the distance form the front tire sidewall to the string.

    4.) Repeat this procedure on the other side of the motorcycle. The distance from the front tire sidewall to the string should be equal on both sides.

    5.) As previously mentioned, a perfectly straight length of wood or metal bar may be substituted for the string. Just hold it parallel to the floor roughly halfway between the rear axle and the floor, against the sidewalls of the rear tire. Measure the distance between the bar/wood and the front tire sidewall. The distance should be equal on both sides of the bike.

    6.) If the distance between the string/wood/metal and the tire is greater on one side than it is on the other, or if the rear wheel appears to be cocked, double check the chain adjuster markings, they should be in the same position on each side of the swingarm.

    7.) If the front-to-back alignment is correct, the wheels may still be out of alignment vertically.

    8.) Using a plum bob, (or other suitable weight and length of string) check the rear wheel to make sure it is vertical. To do this, hold the string against the tires upper most part of the side wall (imagine a 12 o'clock position) and allow the weight to settle juuust off the floor. (the closer the better without touching.) When the string touches both the upper (12 o'clock) and lower (6 o'clock) tire sidewalls, and is perfectly straight, the wheel is vertical. If it is not, then place thin spacers (folded cardboard, washers, etc.) under one leg of the stand until it is.

    9.) Once the rear wheel is vertical, check the front wheel in the same manner. If both wheels are not perfectly vertical, the frame and/or major suspension components are bent.

    Good luck, hope this helps.
    Get out and ride!