Guest Contribution By John, GearHonest.com
Motorcycle wheels should always be balanced to ensure the rider’s safety. An unbalanced set of tires affects your motorcycle’s performance and can eventually lead to major accidents when ignored.
Balancing the tires is not a difficult process but may require a substantial length of time. If you do not wish to engage the help of professionals, you could also learn how to balance a motorcycle tire at home.
In the following discussion, we’ll share a complete step-by-step guide on balancing tires by yourself. We’re confident that if you follow the procedures accordingly, you would have a set of well-balanced motorcycle tires.
Do Motorcycle Tires Need to Be Balanced?
Tire balancing refers to ensuring that the weight on a bike is equally distributed throughout the whole unit’s circumference.
But what if you don’t do it?
An unbalanced motorcycle tire can be dangerous. Imbalanced tires cause vibrations that can affect the bearings and spindle of wheels, resulting in premature wear and tear in tires.
Vibration and misalignment can also cause loose fasteners and overheated tires, resulting in uneven wear. Your motorcycle tires need to be balanced to prolong their lifespan.
How To Balance a Motorcycle Tire?
Balancing motorcycle tires at home is easy; however, the process will require a lot of concentration, focus, and a few tools.
Editor’s note: This video by DriveMag Riders shows you how to balance your motorbike tires at home:
Before you start work, here is the list of tools that you need to gather:
- A magnetic level measurer
- A static tire balancer
- Adhesive wheel weights
- Duct tape
- A clean piece of cloth
Once you gather all the above-mentioned tools, you can start balancing your tire. The process is divided into two parts. The first is to set up the balancer, and the second is to level the weight of the wheels.
Set The Balancer
● Step 1: Dismantle the Tires
First of all, you need to separate the tires from your motorcycle. Now make the bike stand over the center stand located under the bike’s central parts. It’ll help you to loosen the lug plug quickly. Use a wrench to turn the lug plug anticlockwise, and then remove the wheels from your bike.
● Step 2: Find A Flat Surface
The next step is finding a level surface to set up the static motorcycle wheel balancer stand. You could easily purchase these balancer stands in bike repair shops or online.
You may also go for dynamic balancers that test the wheels using electricity. These tools are pricey, and hence only professionals tend to use these devices in their bike stores.
● Step 3: Check the Evenness of the Surface
You can use any level measuring tool or a magnetic level measurer to check the evenness of the surface where you want to place the wheel balancer.
Tie the levelers to the balancing bar. You may use duct tape to tie the lever tightly, unless you are using a magnetic leveler. It would be best to keep moving the balancer until you find an even surface where it can be leveled evenly.
● Step 4: Push Wheel into The Balancer Rod
You’ll see a mounted metal rod at the balancer’s top. These metal rods have two inward cones. To remove the rod from the balancer’s bar, push one end of the cones. Next, adjust the axle sleeve by pushing it into the cone, and then slide the tires through the rods to set the axle.
Once the axle is set, put back the cone again, and keep pressing the cone forward to make it set with the sleeve smoothly. After locking the wheel on the balancers, place the tires in the middle of the balancer’s metal rod.
● Step 5: Clean Your Motorcycle Tires
Now it’s time to clean the tires with some degreaser. We generally recommend using the WD-40 liquid degreaser. Take the liquid in a mug and dip a clean cloth into the solution. Wipe the rim edges of your motorcycle tires using the cloth.
Is this step necessary? Yes, because a dirty tire can show you inaccurate balancing results. If there is any stubborn debris, use a nail polish remover.
Level The Weight of Your Bike’s Wheel
● Step 1: Spin the Tires
After the cleaning task, you would need to level the weight. Spin your motorcycle tires as fast as possible, and wait until it stops by itself. Keep rotating the wheels like this twice or thrice.
What is the purpose of this step? It is to find the heavy side of the wheels. When the tires stop, the heaviest side of the tires will be located at the bottom. Mark the area by sticking a small piece of duct tape.
● Step 2: Find the Lightest Side Of the Wheel
After marking the heaviest side, lock it in place. Now the exact opposite side of the area you just marked is the lightest side of the wheels. Mark the lightest spot again.
● Step 3: Tape Wheel Weight
Now add an adhesive wheel weight on the heaviest side wheel on the rim. Though the weight by itself is sticky, duct tape could also help make it more secure.
● Step 4: Test the Wheel Balance
After adding the first wheel weight, spin the wheel again two to three times, and you should see the heaviest part on the bottom and the lightest part on the top. Now add wheel weights on the lightest portion, then remove the weight from the heavy side.
Rotate the wheel again to test the balance. If the lightest portion is still placed at the top after spinning, the wheel is still imbalanced. Keep adding and removing weights from the lightest and heaviest parts until the wheel stops rotating on its own.
When the wheel is balanced, the light and heavy portions will end up at the left and right positions instead of the top and bottom. Once you find the balanced position, consider giving a few more spinning tests to be extra sure.
● Step 5: Secure the Weights
This is the last step of how to balance a tire yourself at home. Bring the weighted portion of the wheels to the bottom side again. Now you can remove the backing from the weights.
After that, place the weight on the rim, then push the wheel to fit with the edge. Now the added wheel weights will fit inside the rim.
Now unlock the metal rod of the balancer, remove your balanced wheel and place it back on your motorcycle.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I know if I have unbalanced motorcycle tires?
The first symptom of unbalanced tires is vibration. You will feel a vibration in the steering wheel while riding with unbalanced wheels. The vibrating feel can vary based on which tire is imbalanced, road conditions, and speed.
- What is the difference between aligned and balanced motorcycle tires?
Both aligned and balanced wheels ensure a smooth riding experience. But these two states of tires aren’t the same. A balanced tire ensures even weight around the unit, while an aligned tire refers to the angle of the wheel.
- Does balancing tires affect alignment?
An imbalanced tire affects the alignment of the wheel negatively. However, imbalanced tires aren’t solely responsible for misalignment; frequent driving on rough terrain can also cause misalignment of tires.
So you now know the step-by-step process on how to balance a motorcycle tire at home. This may be time-consuming and also requires tools. If you’re new to balancing tires, it would feel tedious at first. It may thus be a good idea to get someone experienced to help you out for the first time.
Make sure you complete as many tests as necessary to make sure that your tires are well-balanced. You should never compromise on safety when it comes to your bike’s wheels.
Images: Unsplash/ Darren Bockman and Anne Nygard
John has been riding a dirt bike for 15 years. His current ride is the Kawasaki KX450F. On his website, he shares the human aspects of motorbike riding, such as events, gatherings, and product reviews.