by Pat Goss
If you ride motorcycles, there’s an adjustment on them that you may constantly overlook that is really very important. And to give us some tips about it, we have Lyndon Abel, the general manager of Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, Virginia to give us a rundown. And what we’re talking about here is rear-wheel alignment.
LYNDON ABEL: Right. On a motorcycle, you certainly- you want your wheels to be going in the same direction. People think about alignment on a car, but I think mostly for tire wear. For a motorcycle, it’s really critical for a number of reasons, but certainly one of the most important is good handling. Essentially, what you have in almost any motorcycle, you have a swing arm with an axle that goes through it, and a way to adjust this axle that both adjust the tension on the chain or the belt, but also adjusts the pivot of the rear wheel within the swing arm so that it’s going straight. Essentially what you want to do is to measure between the pivot shaft of the swing arm and the rear axle coming through the swing arm, and make sure that they are parallel. So you want to measure on one side and the other, make sure they’re the same. Easy way to do that is with a simple tool like this: it’s made from eighth-inch welding rod with a little grommet on the back or an O-ring that you can slide to mark the adjustment so you can go from one side to the other. And basically, you get this piece right in the center of the pivot shaft and then come back from the center of the rear axle, mark that, take it to the other side of the bike, check that, and make sure that they’re the same. And of course you also want to make sure that the chain tension or the belt tension is correct as per the service manual.
PAT GOSS: Alright now, as a result of this, you’re going to get better tire wear.
LYNDON ABEL: Better tire wear, better handling, and safer handling, and your chain will be running straighter, your belt will be running straight which will allow it to last longer, as well as the pulleys or sprockets to last longer, and how much time does it take to do it properly? Like a lot of things in life, it’s an extra step, but doing it right doesn’t take that much effort, doing it wrong can cost you.
PAT GOSS: Ok, Lyndon, thank you. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.