How to Properly Align Your Motorcycle’s Rear Wheel
A motorcycle’s handling is a key component for a safe and smooth ride, and when something’s not quite right on the bike, that handling can be compromised. A bike’s handling can be affected by a number of different components including the grips, handlebars and front fork, but one of the concerns might be a misaligned rear wheel. To help you address this issue, motorcycle enthusiast Bryan Glynn shares his tips for how to properly align your chain-driven motorcycle’s rear wheel.
Today I’m going to show you how to very easily and accurately make sure your rear wheel is perfectly aligned for best chain and sprocket life on your motorcycle.
I’m Bryan Glynn with TwoWheelObsession.com; welcome back. This is a very simple and safe procedure needing only the tools your particular bike needs to set chain slack., such as an open end wrench and torque wrench. If you feel it all uneasy about it, take it to a professional mechanic.
For those of us with chain-driven motorcycles, we’re very aware of the little bit of added maintenance that goes along with having such a machine. We have to clean them; we have to maintain them; and, we have to make sure they’re properly adjusted. Now that is not just adjusting the slack – there are plenty of other videos out there that show you how to properly adjust the slack (and that changes depending on the exact motorcycle you have).
Another point that is very important that goes along with that is making sure that the alignment of your rear wheel is in proper adjustment. Because that chain can wear out – so can the sprockets – if it’s off. Most bikes are adjusted simply by loosening the axle nut and sliding the rear wheel forward or back on both sides. And you’ll have alignment marks on each side – it’s important that those be absolutely, perfectly in sync. The problem is those marks aren’t always telling the whole story.
That’s where a specialty tool like this – there are many on the market – comes into play. This allows you to instantly and very easily, accurately set your alignment. This is a very easy thing to do and should be part of everyone’s repertoire in maintaining their motorcycle. If I had to give it a rating, this would be a 1 out of 5. On some bikes, you may need to remove parts, such as your chain guide or other body parts, to get access to the top of your chain. Some bikes, like this, will be open enough where you can slip the tool in without any problem and get a visual. You either need to be able to see the top of the chain, which I can’t on this bike, or directly through the back, which I can on this bike. So, I don’t need to remove anything but again that may change depending on your particular bike. See your instruction manuals for doing so.
So the way we use this tool…it’s very simple. This clamps over top of your sprocket and this guide rod acts as a site directly over and down your chain. And we’re making sure that the chain is perfectly parallel with the guide rod, therefore, perfectly parallel with the plane of the sprocket. So, it installs over top of the chain and you make sure that it’s lined up correctly, and then you tighten up the screw so it just sits there on its own. And I’ll show you here on the bottom because it’s easier to see.
If your alignment is off, it’s going to look something like this, one way or the other. The guide rod is not going to be straight down the chain. That means that our rear wheel is cocked one way or the other; it’s tilted from alignment with the engine. So, what we have to do is slide the axle one way or the other to correct in order to get that guide rod perfectly centered and parallel with the chain. At that point it’s perfect and we just tighten everything down.
When you don’t have perfect alignment between your chain and your sprocket, your chain is being pushed one way or the other against the sprocket teeth instead of riding without any force in the teeth themselves. And what happens is, the teeth get rounded out and eaten up. These become sharp points instead of nice rounded teeth. Your chain will start to stretch because, at the point it leaves the sprocket, these are getting stressed side to side, so your chains wear out and your sprockets wear out. You end up replacing parts a lot sooner than you need to under normal circumstances.
So, there you go, guys. I hope this has really helped somebody. As you can see, it’s very easy to make sure that your rear wheel is perfectly aligned for best chain and sprocket life out of your motorcycle. See you next time.