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Balancing Your Motorcycle Wheels & Tires: Part II

Updated on November 21, 2009

Lacing Wheels

If the rim only is being replaced (assuming the spokes are in good order), follow this practical shortcut: Tape spoke crossing points midway between hub and rim prior to unscrewing spoke nipples. After removing nipples, the hub with attached spokes can be lifted free of the rim. To reassemble, place the hub and spokes within the new rim and insert spokes in order through the  rim. (Be careful to insert the spokes through properly angled holes in the rim relative to the spoke itself). Starting from the valve hole in the rim, install spoke nipples and tighten each one until only four threads show at the bottom of the nipple. Again starting from the valve hole, proceed to tighten each nipple one turn, going all the way around the wheel. Continue in this manner until wheel tightens up. Make sure the wheel is true.

Where hub or spokes require replacement, follow this method of lacing: Assuming the wheel has been dismantled and that the rim, hub and spokes are in good condition, layout components on a workbench large enough to accommodate the wheel. Place 18 "A" spokes in one pile and 18 "B" spokes in another. Note that the hooked ends of the A and B spokes are bent with different radii. Holding the hub with one hand, insert an A spoke down through a nonchamfered flange hole. Repeat the process until nine A spokes are installed in the hub.

Place hub face down on the workbench with the spoke heads seated against the hub and the spokes radiating outward. Set the rim over the hub with the valve hole facing you. Note that the holes in the rim are drilled offset up and down as well as sideways. Be sure that the spoke hole immediately to the left of the valve hole is angled upward and to the left. Insert the nearest spoke from the hub through the hole to the left of the valve hole and tighten on a nipple two or three turns.

Working to the right, take the next spoke from the hub and insert it in the fourth hole in the rim to the right of the first spoke fastened in the rim. Tighten on a nipple a few turns. Repeat for each spoke, inserting them in every fourth hole in the rim until all nine spokes are mounted in the rim.

After the first nine spokes have been installed, turn the assembly over. Insert an A spoke through a non-chamfered hole in the topside flange and rotate the spoke to the right, crossing over two spokes on the opposite flange and inserting into the rim in the first hole left of a spoke from the opposite flange. Again, tighten on a nipple a few turns. Working to the left, install the remaining eight A spokes in every other hole in the flange and rotate them to the right until located in holes just left of the lower flange spokes. Install nipples and tighten a few turns.

Install a B spoke up through any remaining hole in the top flange and rotate to the left, crossing two A spokes from the same flange and inserting into the rim. Tighten on a nipple a few turns and repeat process until all nine spokes are installed. Turn the wheel over and repeat the above process on the other side. At this point, all spokes will be installed in the wheel assembly but the assembly will be quite loose. Starting with the valve hole in the rim facing you, tighten each spoke until there are about four threads showing below the bottom of the nipple. Finish tightening wheel up by turning each spoke nipple one turn at a time, working around the wheel from the valve hole. Correctly tensioned, the spokes will emit a sharp "ping" when struck lightly with a screwdriver blade.

Balancing Wheels

Remove wheel assembly and temporarily lay backing plate assembly aside. Remove wheel bearing seals and clean grease entirely from bearings. Lubricate bearings with a few drops of cleaning solvent and mount wheel onto machine (without backing plate assembly). Allow wheel to stop with heaviest point down, mark center of heavy area with chalk. Assuming the mark made to be 0000, mark the wheel at 1200 and 2400 from the first mark around the circumference of the tire.

Add weight at the 1200 and 2400 positions by coiling wire solder around the spokes adjacent to the marks. Solder should not be of the acid core variety and coils should begin around the spoke nipple. Do not extend coils longer than 2 inches (5 cm) and keep coils at both positions equal in amount. Check progress often. When wheel will remain in any static position without rolling, balancing is completed and wheel may be remounted.

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