Wheel balancing and rotation is a common practice on cars and it’s easy to see why – the vast majority of cars have equal sized wheels and rubber on all four points – that means that when one or more tyres are out of balance it can cause major handling issues. On motorcycles it’s not such a big problem but nevertheless, it’s still a good habit to ensure your wheels are correctly balanced. And if you change your own tyres, balancing is an easy task to do.
Many people scoff at buying a wheel balancer – they see the price and think it’s not worth it. But if you’ve developed the skills to change your own tyres it makes sense to be able to balance them as well. And given the prices charged by most mechanics to do so, you’ll recoup the money spent on a balancer within a few sets of tyres. We personally use a motorcycle wheel balancing and truing stand from Bikeservice. It’s top of the line and probably overkill for most as it even includes the ability to measure runout. If you just have non-spoked wheels, a basic balancing only stand is sufficient.
Before balancing, ensure your wheels are nice and clean – doing this while they’re off the bike is always the best time. If you have old weights on the wheels, make sure you remove them too as well as any spacers that normally sit inside the bearings.
Tools you’ll need for this job are:
- Wheel balancing stand
- Wheel weights
- Tape/Marker/Chalk to mark your wheel
Grab one of the cones and place it on the balancing shaft. Tighten it so that it stays in place and then throw a collar behind it and fix it too.
Push the shaft through the wheel bearing and ensure the cone sits inside the bearing.
Now flip the wheel over. The weight of the wheel should ensure that the cone is inserted correctly into the bearing.
Now get the other cone and collar and fix them onto the shaft, with the cone sitting inside the bearing on the opposite side.
If the cones have been inserted into the bearings correctly, the wheel should spin smoothly on the shaft.
Now place the wheel onto your balancing stand.
The first step in balancing a wheel is to find the heavy and light spots on it. With the wheel on the balancing stand, give it a small spin.
Don’t spin too hard as the wheel will keep going for a long time. Don’t be afraid to help slow the wheel down gently with your hand.
Eventually, the wheel will stop and the point at the bottom of the wheel is its heaviest point.
If you need to check, spin the wheel softly again. It will end up at the exact same point.
Diametrically opposite the heavy point is the lightest point on the wheel.
To mark it, place a piece of tape or mark the tire with chalk or a marker so you know where it is.
Now grab your wheel weights. They usually come in sticks of 5 and 10 grams – brake one stick in half and peel off a small amount of the backing tape.
Stick that too the wheel where you’ve previously marked it.
If the wheel rotates, it means you’ve got too many weights. If that’s the case, reduce your weighs by half and try again.
Once you’ve got the correct amount of weights on the wheel, no matter where you rotate it, the wheel will remain static. This means it is now balanced.
If your wheel requires an even amount of weights (say two by 5 grams), it’s best to put equal amounts on each side of the rim as shown.