How To Adjust Motorcycle Spoke Wheels

Knowing how to adjust motorcycle spoke wheels is essential if you are going to own them. Many people prefer the more old school look of spoke wheels to the more modern mag wheels. While many find spoke wheels an attractive option, they don’t like the constant maintenance required to keep them functional and safe. If you choose to put spoke wheels on your motorcycle or maintain the ones already on your motorcycle, follow these steps to ensure they remain functional.

 Items needed to adjust motorcycle spoke wheels:

  • Rim
  • Hub
  • Spoke package
  • Spoke nipple package
  • Two spoke wrenches
  • Truing stand
  • Dial gauge indicator
  • Straight edge
  • Machinist's rule
  1. Lay the rim on a clean, flat work space. Place the hub in the center. Select eight inner or shorter spokes and eight outer or longer spokes. Sort the spokes into groups of four with each group having two of the different types.
  2. Thread the spoke through the hub. The easiest explanation of the order of the spokes is to imagine the hub like a clock face. Thread one of each kind of spoke through the 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock position. This will be the very top, bottom, left and right.
  3. Next, thread on the spoke nipples. Do this where the spokes penetrate the rim. When tightening down the nipples try to do it approximately the same amount, to save time later.
  4. Stand the motorcycle wheel up so you can install the truing stand axle. Spin the wheel. Note the movement of the top of the rim, paying the most attention to the hop of the wheel.
  5. Adjust the hop first. When the most noticeable hop is at the top, you may stop the wheel. Loosen the two inner spokes at the opposite section of the wheel where the hop is. Follow this by tightening the two inner spokes at the hop. Spin the wheel again to see if there have been any changes in the amount of hop in the wheel. Repeat this step as needed. Before moving, on tighten any spokes that might be still loose.
  6. Next, adjust the wobble. Spin the wheel and note the movement on the side of the rim. Stop the wheel when the wobble is closest to you. Loosen the outer spoke on the inside of the wobble and tighten the outer spoke on the outside of the wobble. This reduces the wobble by pulling the rim to the side. Repeat this step as needed.
  7. On the bottom edge of the rim, install a dial indicator gauge. When you spin the wheel, the gauge will measure the hop runout. Adjust the inner spokes until the gauge reads specifications that are constant for the year, make and model of the motorcycle.
  8. Install the dial indicator gauge on the side of the rim. Using the same procedure, measure the wobble runout. Make adjustments to the outer spokes until the gauge reads specifications that are constant for the year, make and model of the motorcycle.
  9. Measure for hub offset. To do this, place a straight edge across the motorcycle wheel and bearing on the rim for both sides. Measure from the edge of the hub to the straight edge. Do this again on the opposite side. Use factory specifications to set the hub offset. If no offset is specified, center the hub and rim.
  10. Remove the wheel from the stand. Take the remaining spokes and lace them into the rim. Next install the spoke nipples.
  11. Install the spoke wheel back on the truing stand. Tighten all the spokes down. The tension should match that of the starter spokes you first installed. Replace your new spoke wheels on to your motorcycle. 
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