Balancing a Motorcycle Tire at Home
Balancing your own tires may at first appear to be a bit daunting, but it is actually simple enough to do on your own at home. The only real limitation may be facilitating the removal of your motorcycle’s wheels – not everyone has race stands or a lift. However, there are now many manufacturers of these tools from which to choose and they are increasingly affordable to the average rider. And, failing that, many a motorcycle actually still comes equipped with a center-stand, believe it or not, so use that. There are other methods but, whatever you use, make certain that you are careful and put safety first. It’s always best to overdue things in this regard as this is your motorcycle.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to change and mount your own tires, good for you! That will not be covered here as the methods vary significantly depending on the changing tool being employed, the type of tires, the wheel, etc. Of course, safety is important here as well.
The balancing part will be explained below. You may need to balance your own tires due to being a do-it-yourself tire changer, or if you simply like to change wheels often, and even if you just like having close-to-perfect balance. Balancing your tires already demonstrates that you are interested in doing the best job with your new shoes, so take your time to get it right; the following steps are simple, but precision counts here.
Some good tools for this would first include a way to hold up your wheel for this process. A couple of sawhorses would work well – provided they are of almost perfectly identical and level height. Sometimes milk crates will suffice or you could even purchase a manufactured piece from one of the many retail and online suppliers, if you have the finances. Those purpose-built stands make this much easier. You will also need a solvent to remove any weights previously on the wheels, a way to mark on the wheel (which should also be easily erasable), some masking tape, and some proper wheel weights – you can purchase these at your dealer or online, usually.
With all of the above in mind, here are the basic steps to balancing a motorcycle wheel and tire.
All that you must do after finishing with the balance work is to mount the wheels back in place on the motorcycle. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and go out and ride!
Locate a flat and level surface on which to place your wheel holding device (from above – sawhorses, milk crates, etc.) where you have a safe place to do your work. Set the two holders as far apart as the wheel is wide – you want it just wide enough to support your motorcycle’s axle.
- Before you place your wheel on your holder, use a solvent to remove any wheel weights or debris from the wheel. Clean them at this point if you want the new weights to remain in place for the long-term.
- Place the bike’s axle in its position through the wheel and put that assembly in your holder. Let the wheel settle in place after giving it a light push around its run. You want it to level itself so that the heaviest part of the wheel and tire combination is at the bottom while the tire is in your holder. Use your marking pen or pencil here to mark this location on the wheel.
- Go to the section of the wheel 180° away from your mark and tape one of the small balancing weights in that location using the masking tape.
- Recheck the balance again to see if a heavy area remains – if not, repeat the weight process again. If you find that the weights become the heavy spot, simply remove the weight you last placed there and replace it with either a smaller weight or cut one down and try again. If the weight amount gets to less than 1/4 ounce (~7 grams), it is usually fine as the tire will continually alter its own balance over time and use.
- Now that you know how much weight and where to place it, use the material provided with the weights to secure them in place on the wheels properly. Whatever material is used to hold the balancing weights on the wheels must be sturdy and designed to handle the extreme forces which will act upon that part of the motorcycle.