While some upgrades require the expertise of a professional repair technician, a wheel installation is fairly straightforward. Keep reading to find out how to install a new wheel on your motorcycle.
Preparation Is Key
When you are shopping for a wheel, it is critical to make sure the new wheel fits with the associated parts and that it is the same make, model and year as the bike. If not, you will not be able to install it correctly. You may have to buy new brake rotors with some wheel series, while others utilize the OEM rotors.
Once you have the wheel in hand, make note of how tight the axle is in the wheel bearings. This is critical when considering how to install a new wheel. Make sure the axle slips through the bearings easily and doesn’t have excessive free-play or slop between the axle diameter and the inner diameter of the wheel bearings. Put safety first by lifting up the bike with a flat jack or table lift. Start by getting the caliper out of the way so that the rim will not hit it. It is also important to ensure that the caliper does not hang and pull on the brake lines. You can prevent this from happening by using a bungee cord to support it.
If you are installing the wheel on the back of a touring model, remove the saddlebags and loosen the drive belt or chain. When the axle nut is loose, start raising the rear of the motorcycle with a flat jack. Once you have the rear wheel in the air, do not raise it any higher yet. You have all of the weight of the wheel on that axle, so it may be hard to press out. If you lower the rear wheel until the tire contacts the table and the weight of the wheel is more supported by the table, the axle is a lot easier to remove.
Once the axle is removed, you will have to lift the rear end of the bike up higher so you can clear the rear fender and remove the wheel. Some models require exhaust removal to get the axle out completely. Softails with Shotgun exhausts and some touring models are two examples. When you lift up the back wheel, you will notice the axle lifts up a bit. At this point, pop the axle up a little and push it straight through. This is an important part of how to install a new wheel.
Execute The Installation Carefully
Installing a new wheel typically takes about one hour. The majority of people find it easier to replace the front wheel easier than they do the back wheel. It takes more finesse to make sure all parts line up when you replace the back wheel.
Now it is time to turn your attention to the tire. Most motorcycle tires have a directional arrow printed on them. First, verify that the tire is installed on to the rim correctly. Ensure that it is fully beaded around the rim on both sides of the tire. Next, make sure the arrow is pointing the correct way when the wheel is installed. Follow the guidance of the arrow to ensure you insert the wheel in the correct direction. There is an indication printed on every tire of the air pressure it should run at when it is cold. Pay careful attention to this detail. Running the tire at the wrong air pressure can destroy the tire altogether. As you ride the motorcycle following the installation, you may notice the tire begins to cuff and deform. It is critical to take heed if this happens, as it is a sign that the tire may be running at a lower than recommended pressure.
When you are finished putting the wheel back in you will need to adjust the belt or chain to proper free play specs. Next, make sure you torque the axle to factory specs. Finally, you will put the caliper back on and torque it down to factory specs. Be sure to pump your brakes to build pressure before taking the bike off the lift.
When you remove the calipers, it will cause the pads to spread apart a bit. Following reinstallation, the first few times you hit the brakes the pedal or lever will push all the way down without exerting brake pressure! You definitely want to do that before you get back on the road.
While on your initial test ride, keep in mind that tires will be a little slicker when they are brand new. Exercise caution the first 50 miles or so until you heat them up and put some miles on them.
You should always feel comfortable when doing any work on your motorcycle. If you lack confidence or feel uncertain at all about how to install a new wheel, you should take it to a repair shop.
Find The Best Wheels On The Market
SMT Machining sells top-quality, long-lasting wheels, rims and accessories for your customization needs. You can even find matching rotors and pulleys on our website. Our custom wheels are milled from American-made, aircraft-grade, 6061-T6 billet aluminum and available in polished, triple chrome-plated or double-cut gloss black.
If you assume our outstanding wheels are expensive, you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that they are very affordable. Plus, we offer interest-free financing that is within reach even if your credit is less than stellar.
We make a large variety of sizes, including fat Bulldog Series wheels, available in all of the series we carry:
- 16-inch motorcycle wheels
- 17-inch motorcycle wheels
- 18-inch motorcycle wheels
- 19-inch motorcycle wheels
- 20-inch motorcycle wheels
- 21-inch motorcycle wheels
- 23-inch motorcycle wheels
- 26-inch motorcycle wheels
- 30-inch motorcycle wheels
- 32-inch motorcycle wheels
- 34-inch motorcycle wheels
Create your perfect motorcycle by installing a new wheel on the front, back or both! Finding the right wheel for the job is easy when you get it from SMT Machining and pay through the FlexPay program.