You may have heard of wheel balancing in cars, but what does wheel balancing have to do in motorcycles? To understand this, lets first understand the necessity of wheel balancing. The wheel is basically like a ring, with weight distributed across its circumference. Now, if the mass is unevenly distributed across its circumference, the wheel tends to vibrate or wobble at medium and high speeds. There could be several reasons for the irregular mass distribution – manufacturing fault, uneven wear, uneven braking, etc.
An unbalanced wheel can give reduced performance and handling as the unbalanced mass can generate random forces. Having wheels precisely balanced is vital for safe riding and also improves the tyre life, while the rider feels more secure at high speeds.
To balance a wheel, you may need the following equipments:
- A slim piece of hard plastic or scoop that is used to remove weights.
- Motorcycle Wheel Balancing Stand that hold the axle.
- Colored tape or chalk.
- Some adhesive wheel weights.
Using the hard plastic or scoop, remove the existing weights in the wheel. This is done so as to reduce the overall weight that will be ultimately added on the wheels. Avoid using sharp objects, as it may spoil the chrome paint on the rims or damage the tyre.
It is easier to balance the front wheels, as it can be balanced without having to remove it. Just make sure the brakes are no applied and the handlebars remain straight. Alternatively, any suitable makeshift stand that is capable of safely holding the wheel upright by the axle alone, can be used. While using axel stands, just make sure that the wheel is raised high enough so that it is completely free to rotate on its own and it does not touch any part of the stand.
A balancer is very accurate and can give you accuracy up to 2 grams, which may seem very insignificant, but can be very unforgiving at high speeds.
It is obvious, that when the wheels rotate, the heavier part will tend to fall on the lower side. To confirm this, rotate the wheel slightly, and it will stop at the same position again, as the heavier part falls on the lower end again. For finest results, reiterate this procedure 3 times and notice where the chalk markings are. If the position of the chalk marks does not repeat itslef and the distance between marks is equal, the wheel is perfectly balanced. If not, then we have a problem. The heavier part will always tend to stop on the lower end after free rotation. Now we know which is the heavier spot on the wheel, and the weight can thus be added to the opposite end, which is the lighter spot.
Mark this point, where the weight is to be added with a tape or chalk.
Now use the tape to temporarily hold the weight on the rim. Please note that the weight has to align in straight line with the center of the light-spot mark. Rotate the wheel again slightly and observe the position of the light spot. If the heavy spot falls on the lower-end again, add more weight to the light spot. If the light spot falls on the lower end, remove the weight and add a smaller weight instead.
Repeat the process to confirm that the wheel does not stop with the same spot on the lower end more than twice. Remember to add the weight inline with the center of the mark. When the process is repeated with the same spot not repeating itself more than twice, the wheel has been balanced. You may now remove the temporary tape and permanently adhere the weights to the rim.