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Discussion Starter #1
For as long as I've owned bikes I've aligned my rear wheel using the marks on the swingarm. The other day on this site, I read someone write that the marks are often off. So I checked and boy are they! Once I aligned my wheel correctly, I saw that the marks on my bike are at least a millimeter off - that's a lot for such a crucial measurement. :thumbdown:

My advice - paint over, scratch off, or somehow get rid of those marks. They'll make you think you're doing it right while they set your wheel up all wrong.

So let's share techniques for aligning the wheel and chain. I found a great site that shows what looks like a very accurate method using a string. http://www.motorcyclistonline.com/howto/string_align_motorcycle_wheels/index.html That's what I used.

On a different thread biz2dwl wrote:

"I take a straight edge, about a foot long, and put it against the face of the sprocket extending towards the front of the bike. I want the right edge of the straightedge to be aligned with the inside edge of the left side of the chain. In otherwords, right where the sprocket would be if it extended that far. The straight edge is simply an extension of the sprocket, so line it up accordingly. Will the chain and wheel always be in alignment? Probably not, but if I had to choose one, I'd like it to be the chain."

A nice simple method. :thumb: I also tried this technique and it lined right up with the alignment I did with the string. :yeahsmile:

So what do you folks use?
 

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They are a whole millimeter off???? There is more room for error in the free play the axle has in the adjusters than that. A lot more.

I adjust the chain to the correct tension, verify the chain is straight (usually it is, even when using the swingarm marks) and call it good. You can use the method outlined by biz2dwl, use a piece of string, or if you want to be a bit geeky/high-tech, get a laser chain alignment tool. They all work just as well.

I think you are worried about it too much. I just ride it. :D

Gustavo
 

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I'll look into it, but my last chain that was adjusted according to the marks got 25,000 miles out it, so things can't be that bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm not so worried about the chain life as I am the tire life and true tracking. And yeah, maybe I'm a bit obsessive about some stuff, but it really annoys me that bike companies are so sloppy with their measurements (like speedometers). If most of us were that wrong that much in our jobs we'd get fired.
 

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Doc, you’re right about tracking. Once I hydroplaned (my fault) doing about 70 and my handlebar slapped back and forth VERY quickly and thank God it stopped after a few seconds or else I would have gone down. So something caused the handlebar effect because the bike still should have gone straight. I did find out later that my front wheel was off about a quarter inch from the back wheel even though my rear wheel was right on the marks. Since then, I adjusted it to align.

Was it the reason for that effect, I don’t know for sure, but it is something you remind me about and I WILL go check my alignment.

Thanks!
 

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I did mine with a laser. it was about 3/8 off, but just a few days ago I had my bike serviced for the 30,000 mile service since I bought the service plan. I forgot to tell them not to adjust my chain because I like it loose. Anyway, they messed with it and they didn't have the marks matched up. When I matched them I was within 1/8, which is good enough for me, so I guess my marks just happen to be good.
 

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doing about 70 and my handlebar slapped back and forth VERY quickly and thank God it stopped after a few seconds or else I would have gone down.
That little gem is commonly known as a tank slapper...loads of fun and can happen on a perfectly aligned bike.
 

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The laser is one of those that are used to hang pictures, lay tile in a straight line, etc, because it shines its beam wide and not just straight. It is very easy to see along the floor a long ways.

So I put the bike on its rear stand. On my stand, once it has the bike up, the back frame of it sits about an inch and a half off the ground. So I put a 2 x 4 piece of wood behind my stand on the floor to lay my level on so the beam wouldn't be blocked. Then I line up the upper tire edge to the lower by eyeball and then line up the laser beam right along that eyeball edge so it is straight along the edge, as if a string extended out right along the edge. Then I measure the beam edge at front to the edge of its tire. Then I did it to the other side to compare. Works very well.

That "tank slapper" about made me a crapper because it is SCARY. Never want that to happen to me again. I can't understand why it happened during a hydroplane.

It happened on my previous bike, the Bonneville 2005. No, after I aligned it, I noticed no difference in handling.
 

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:topsecret:
Is it powered by a Flux Capacitor? :D
 

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This is what ive always done and it insures your chain and sprockets will wear well, and maintain minimal rolling resistance. OK [taking for granted the motor is mounted correctly]
Put the bike on a stand.
Carefully watch the rear sprocket where the teeth ride inside the chain as you rotate tire
As you are adjusting the chain tension [left then right side] notice that the teeth of sprocket will rub on one side or other of the inside chain links. [Say when adjusting right side tensioner [out] tight, the sprocket will rub the right side links]. Rolling the wheel and checking after any adjustment.
The trick is to center the teeth into the chain at the correct tension. You can see that when this is done your rolling resistance is minimized and parts last longer as the sprocket is only touching the rollers and not one side the chain links or other.
 

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That "tank slapper" about made me a crapper because it is SCARY. Never want that to happen to me again.
I'm with you! I had one on my Speed Triple a while back. My rear tire got into some antifreeze in an uphill left hander. I nailed the throttle as it broke loose and when the rear regained traction I road a wheele or about 75 yards up the rest of the hill at about 90 MPH or so. When the front tire hit I got a 10 second tank slapper I will never forget! I would have bought the farm if I had gotten off of the gas...Slappers will give you a sphincter tightening ride for sure!
 

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That is very close to how GMD Computrack setup my Gixxer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hooligan:

Once you got things straightend out did you notice a difference in the ride/handling?
I must admit that I didn't notice any difference in handling once I got the wheel more aligned. My gripe is probably a tempest in a tea pot, but I know I'll never use those marks again.
 

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I always use a piece of string to align my rear as I've found the marks are out a substantial amount.

1) take a 12ft piece of string and tape the middle to the rear tire
2) lead both ends of the string back to the front and attach to concrete blocks of other similar heavy weight
3) try to stretch the string tight under the bike so it touches both the front and back of the rim edges of the rear tire and the front tire on either side - you will need to move/align the rear wheel to get this to work

IMO you can feel the difference this makes in handling. Basically the increased length of the string will amplify any alignment issues with the rear and make them easy to identify and correct.

 

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Here's a trick from my Norton days> go to a store where they have the very long fluorescent light fixtures and ask them for a couple of burnt out tubes. The tubes are very straight and easier to use than string, although it does take 2 people to do it. Hold them against the rear tire in place of the string. Then it's easy to see the alignment with front tire. I still have a couple of tubes in the rafters of my garage, will check the V in warmer days.
I expect that ALL bikes with chain drive have inaccurate markings for wheel alignment. Every one I've owned was off.
 
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