Rear Wheel Alignment 101





#1
When you adjust the chain tension, you should also do a quick rear wheel alignment. The problem is that the chain should be adjusted while the bike is on the sidestand, and the alignment should take place with the bike on the rear stand... In otherwords, you may need to make both adjustments a couple of times until you become familiar with how the alignment will affect your chain tension.

1. Lift the bike on the rear stand;
2. Cut a piece of twine (mason twine is perfect) approximately 18 feet long and mark the center of it with a felt tip permanent marker;
3. Use duct tape to attach the twine to the rear tire (see the attached photo, section #1). Attach it approx. 5 inches above the bottom of the tire (since the under plastic and front brakes will barely clear this height). Also, attach it using the center marking that you made in step 2, since you will be running both ends towards the front of the bike on either side;
4. Bring both ends of twine to the front and duct tape them on the front of the tire at a similar height to the rear making sure the twine does not touch anything except the tires (see the attached photo, section #2);
5. Adjust the front tire by turning it, until the distance is exactly the same from the twine to the tire sides;
6. Measure the distance between the two string sides through the wheel of the rear tire. I found this distance to be 7.75 inches on the stock rubber;
7. Cut a wooden dowel approximately 1/4 inch longer than the above distance (i.e. 8 inches for stock rubber). You could also use a pencil if you have one that is long enough. Cut notches in the dowel/pencil ends 1/8 inch deep each;
8. Place the dowel (using the notches) between the two twine lengths immediately behind the front tire (see the attached photo, section #3). This will make the twine lines the proper distance apart (parallel) for the length of the wheelbase;
9. If the rear tire is out of alignment, the twine will be off of the front of the rear tire a bit. Or, tighter on one side than the other. If the twine lines up nicely, then you are done... Otherwise, continue to step number 9. BTW - 0.5mm error is okay, since tires aren't any more accurate than this;
10. Remove the cotter pin and loosen the axle nut (see the attached photo, section #4). The axle nut is 36mm;
11. Loosen the lock nuts on both sides of the tire. They are 12mm;
12. Turn the adjuster bolts (there is one on each side of the bike) in opposite directions in very small increments until the tire is proplery aligned. The adjuster bolts are 10mm;
13. Tighten both lock nuts;
14. Tighten the axle nut with a torque wrench set at 100 Nm (10 kgf-m or 72.5 ft-lb);
15. Double-check the alignment and then remove the dowel and twine. BTW - save the dowel and you can skip steps 5 and 6 the next time around;
16. Replace the cotter pin;
17. Take the bike off the rear stand. Don't forget to double-check the chain tension.

As usual please post any comments, ideas, or suggestions...

Party on, The Rippah.

align.jpg
 

rubbersidedown

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#4
wholly crap Rip.....wow....
Now thats dedication .
You could also just measure the distance from the center of the rear axle to the swing arm pivot(this is what some race teams do) because its the only true constant . If the front wheel dosent line up with the frame an' swing arm from the factory,then yer pretty much fugged either way .
 
#5
Vripley, having alligned your rear tire using your string method, did you test the accuracy of the reference marks at the very rear of swingarm against the axle chain adjuster on both sides?  Were the reference marks accurate?  Or, more accurately, was the distance from the chain adjuster block to the back tip of the swing arm the same in millemeters on both sides?  Using the reference marks, alligning the tire and adjusting the chain is one operation, if the reference marks are accurate.  I've been using the reference marks on my 03, but have not tested their accuracy with a method like yours.
 
#6
Vripley, having alligned your rear tire using your string method, did you test the accuracy of the reference marks at the very rear of swingarm against the axle chain adjuster on both sides?  Were the reference marks accurate?  Or, more accurately, was the distance from the chain adjuster block to the back tip of the swing arm the same in millemeters on both sides?  Using the reference marks, alligning the tire and adjusting the chain is one operation, if the reference marks are accurate.  I've been using the reference marks on my 03, but have not tested their accuracy with a method like yours.
I did test them...  And, they were VERY accurate.  I wanted to be sure though.

BTW - welcome to the board bro!

-Vaughn (aka vripley)
 
#7
Vripley, having alligned your rear tire using your string method, did you test the accuracy of the reference marks at the very rear of swingarm against the axle chain adjuster on both sides?  Were the reference marks accurate?  Or, more accurately, was the distance from the chain adjuster block to the back tip of the swing arm the same in millemeters on both sides?  Using the reference marks, alligning the tire and adjusting the chain is one operation, if the reference marks are accurate.  I've been using the reference marks on my 03, but have not tested their accuracy with a method like yours.
I did test them...  And, they were VERY accurate.  I wanted to be sure though.

BTW - welcome to the board bro!

-Vaughn (aka vripley)
Thanks for the reply.  Good to know the reference marks are accurate.  I used your string method on another bike I have that has no reference marks or good measuring points.  The rear tire checked out close enough to leave as is.  Good tool.  Great forum.
 
#8
Thanks for the informative thread.....I have been wondering how to go about checking the alignment because I had heard that the marks on the swingarm may be off.......and, it never hurts to be able to back-up measurements to make sure everything is straight......Thanks Again......Rocket On!
 
#9
Vripley, having aligned your rear tire using your string method, did you test the accuracy of the reference marks at the very rear of swingarm against the axle chain adjuster on both sides?  Were the reference marks accurate?  Or, more accurately, was the distance from the chain adjuster block to the back tip of the swing arm the same in millimeters on both sides?  Using the reference marks, aligning the tire and adjusting the chain is one operation, if the reference marks are accurate.  I've been using the reference marks on my 03, but have not tested their accuracy with a method like yours.
As a follow up to my original comments above, it appears that the reference marks on my swing arm are not accurate.  Having adjusted the chain tension and set the real wheel alignment using the reference marks, I noticed that the rear sprocket was tracking on the right side of the chain links, so I calibrated the reference marks using Vripley's string method to align the tire.  My reference marks are 3.5 MM too short on the right side, thereby moving the rear part of the sprocket (and the tire) too far to the right.  I've re-aligned the tire accordingly, and on the stand, rotating the wheel, the rear sprocket tracks more to the center of the chain links, if not slightly to the left.  I will road test it today and keep an eye on how the sprocket tracks.  It may be that the correction is 3 MM as a compromise for chain/sprocket/ wheel alignment against the reference marks.
 
#12
A quick way to use the swingarm pivot is to use a rod(check welding supply stores) and bend the tip to 90% (you may want to grind the end to a rounded tip/point) the length of the rod needs to be long enough to reach just past the axle. Place a small o-ring or zip tie on the rod. By placing the tip in the pivot and aligning the o-ring with the center of the axle. Compare the posistion ob both sides. You now have a alignment tool that will work on most any bike.
 

justintime2

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#14
Brand new to the board but have a couple of Q's based on this topic as I have just done the initial chain adjustment on mine after 1300 miles and wondered about this. From the factory my adjuster block was set half a mark forward on the right side alignment tabs as compared to the left. I set them even and saw no visual change along the length of the chain as far as being straight. Is it more important to have the rear and front wheel in alignment or the rear wheel and front sprocket? It seems to me the geometries of these could be quite different depending on the engine alignment in the frame. Also, why does the bike have to be on the side stand for chain adjustment and center stand for alignment?
Thanks, JT! :newbie:
 
#15
Brand new to the board but have a couple of Q's based on this topic as I have just done the initial chain adjustment on mine after 1300 miles and wondered about this. From the factory my adjuster block was set half a mark forward on the right side alignment tabs as compared to the left. I set them even and saw no visual change along the length of the chain as far as being straight. Is it more important to have the rear and front wheel in alignment or the rear wheel and front sprocket? It seems to me the geometries of these could be quite different depending on the engine alignment in the frame. Also, why does the bike have to be on the side stand for chain adjustment and center stand for alignment?
Thanks, JT! :newbie:
A chain adjustment has to be made with the weight of the bike on the suspension. Also, it is even better if you can get a buddy to sit on it. You will find that the slack will change TONS when the bike is on the rear wheel stand, kickstand, and with a rider on it.

As far as the alignment question... I dunno. I know that I can't "eyeball" if the alignment is correct. But, your question seems reasonable. I would hate to think the bike comes from the factory that much out of alignment, but, perhaps over time...

-Rip
 

justintime2

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#16
Someone on the board must have an idea of how to ensure the alignment between front and rear sprocket is correct. see post above!
JT!
 

justintime2

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#17
Reading the service manual for the 99', which should be the same for all other years for this topic. The manual states that the alignment marks on the left and right must be set even for the rear wheel to be in alignment. I take that to mean that it should put rear sprocket, front sprocket, rear, and front tire in alignment.
JT!
 

stkr00

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#18
Just a
bump.gif
for someone that needs it.

Took long enough to find. This should be pinned...hint, hint
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PaceMaster

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#19
Glad to read this topic...As we all know....A bike that can almost go "warp" speed "NEEDS" to be
tracking true..Thank you--Now need to check mine out for that..going to replace yet another meat on the rear soon....
 

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