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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Maybe everyone here already knows this, but since I learned this today, I may not be alone. I had heard that you should not rely on the wheel alignment marks printed on the swing arms, but figured, how off could they be?

Today I checked my chain slack after about 1,000 miles and found it on the loose side to about 1.5". Specs are 1.0-1.4. So I got the bike up on the stand and did the whole routine. To begin with, the alignment marks had always been in the same place on both sides. I adjusted both screws an equal number of turns, about 1/2 turn out on both sides. Tightened things up, checked chain tension, and found it about 1.2 or so. Fine, I thought.

Then I got thinking about whether I could really trust the alignment. So I read about how to test this and watched some youtube videos. I used a tape measure and a straight edge and checked pivot bolt center to axle center. To my surprise, I found that the chain side was a full 1/4" or more closer to the swing arm pivot point than the opposite side. And this was with the alignment marks perfectly equal.

I don't have to do any fancy calculations to know that a 1/4" difference is signficant when what you want is perfect alignment. I checked all my measurements many, many times. So I took everything back apart, loosed things up, and had to screw in the non-chain side a fair amount, about 3 whole turns, while yanking the wheel to that side, before I got the two sides to be equal.

When I tightened everything back up I still had my desired chain tension and noticed that the alignment marks were different in this regard: on the chain side the mark on the washer was in a position one full mark ahead of the swing arm mark. On the non-chain side, it was one full mark behind the same mark.

So you really can't trust the alignment marks!
 

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Every Kawasaki I have checked has been off by as much as half a mark. The Versys was no exception. It is off by about 1/16" from swingarm marks.

I use the "string method with 8' flourscent tubes as my string with rubber bands to hold them to the rear wheel.
 

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MotionPro makes a handy little tool to verify alignment.
It's small enough to take on an EXTENDED ride, easy to use and nearly matches the blue of my bike.....and it's cheap
 

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Maybe everyone here already knows this, but since I learned this today, I may not be alone. I had heard that you should not rely on the wheel alignment marks printed on the swing arms, but figured, how off could they be?

Today I checked my chain slack after about 1,000 miles and found it on the loose side to about 1.5". Specs are 1.0-1.4. So I got the bike up on the stand and did the whole routine. To begin with, the alignment marks had always been in the same place on both sides. I adjusted both screws an equal number of turns, about 1/2 turn out on both sides. Tightened things up, checked chain tension, and found it about 1.2 or so. Fine, I thought.

Then I got thinking about whether I could really trust the alignment. So I read about how to test this and watched some youtube videos. I used a tape measure and a straight edge and checked pivot bolt center to axle center. To my surprise, I found that the chain side was a full 1/4" or more closer to the swing arm pivot point than the opposite side. And this was with the alignment marks perfectly equal.

I don't have to do any fancy calculations to know that a 1/4" difference is signficant when what you want is perfect alignment. I checked all my measurements many, many times. So I took everything back apart, loosed things up, and had to screw in the non-chain side a fair amount, about 3 whole turns, while yanking the wheel to that side, before I got the two sides to be equal.

When I tightened everything back up I still had my desired chain tension and noticed that the alignment marks were different in this regard: on the chain side the mark on the washer was in a position one full mark ahead of the swing arm mark. On the non-chain side, it was one full mark behind the same mark.

So you really can't trust the alignment marks!
All you have proved is your swing arm is inaccurate. I prefer the string method over both wheels. This ensures the bike tracks straight and does not "crabb" along the road. The chain alignment tool ensures the chain runs "square" to the rear sprocket. How does it run on the front sprocket? I bet no one has checked. I prefer to have my bike tracking straight, with no tyre wear.
 

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Once you've aligned your chain, from then on when adjusting the chain, turn the adjusters the same number of "flats" (the hex bolt has SIX 'flats') on each side and your chain stays aligned!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I read my post again and think I may have given the wrong impression of the gap between the two sides on the swing arm. When I said one full mark off, I meant the width of the mark itself, not the full gap. So in inches they are about 1/8" off from one side to the other, as a rough guess. More than a 1/16" for sure on my bike.

I get the appeal of doing the string or other method. That will probably be my next step down the road. For now at least I know the rear wheel is true to the frame center. This eliminates the swing arm itself, and it's welds, from the equation. Then the question becomes whether your frame from the pivot axle forward, is straight.

Funny thing is that I hadn't really noticed any tracking problems per se, but I am still new to riding so may not have noticed.
 

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Hey Kup, I'm glad to see you like to drink decent beer & not that sh*te that Budspew produce!!
Also, you'll probably find that the markings on the bike for alignment will not be more than the thickness of one of the actual mark lines out, & if it is, then your bike could have been previously accident damaged.
 

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I FARKLE'd up +1 and just bought a laser chain alignment tool... hold it to the sprocket and a laser dot will tell you further up the chain how your alignment is.

plus... because is Laser !
 

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I have never owned a motorcycle that had correct alignment marks and I routinely ignore them. I used to adjust chain using the string/ fluorescent tube method but have recently switched to Motion Pro tool. As Fast Eddie said, once it's aligned it's an easy matter to adjust by turning the adjusters the same number of "flats".

Britmick, we must have similar taste in beer. Reminds me of a sign that I saw in a pub: "What's the matter Lager Boy, afraid that you'll taste something?";)
 

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I'll be picking up a tool before I get back on the bike. For the price, it'll easily out do itself in tire/chain and sprocket wear.
 

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Just went through this myself. Found my chain too slack, tightened up a bit and realized that when the marks were perfectly the same the actual wheel was not in alignment. Mine had been so out of alignment that the chain had started to die- had about 4 frozen links. Used the measuring tape method, but ultimately picked up a MotionPro tool as seen above. for $14 it's a super simple and reliable way to quickly align the wheel; and I trust it a lot more than measuring tape or string methods. :thumb:
 

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That Motion Pro tool is slick. Works great.
 
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