Top 10 Symptoms Of Poor Wheel Alignment In Motorcycle

Top 10 Symptoms Of Poor Wheel Alignment In Motorcycle

Misaligned wheels in the motorcycle can create a host of problems that you would want to avoid at all costs. These rear & front wheel misalignments can cause damage to the parts of the motorcycle which are working in conjunction with each other.

So the question is how to identify the symptoms/signs of poor wheel alignment in your motorcycle as quickly and easily as possible.

Here Are The Top 10 Symptoms Of Poor Wheel Alignment In Motorcycle You Should Look For.

  1. Motorcycle Steering In Other Direction.
  2. Uneven Thread Wear On Front Or Rear Wheel.
  3. Motorcycle Wobble At Moderate To High Speed.
  4. Motorcycle Chain Link Breaking Or Significantly Getting Damaged.
  5. Motorcycle Handlebar Tilt Due To Misaligned Front Wheel.
  6. Damage To Rear & Front Wheels Sprocket Teeth.
  7. Rattling Noise From The Misaligned Wheel.
  8. Losing Traction & Balance While Sudden Acceleration.
  9. Uneasy Motorcycle Handling. 
  10. Harder To Maintain Grip On Road While Turning/Cornering.

In this article, we will talk about each symptom in detail, which will help you identify it without any hassle and how to fix each one.

1. Motorcycle Steering In Other Direction

Whether you are riding in a straight line or not, the motorcycle should only respond when you instruct it to turn in any given direction.

You will feel the motorcycle is pulling in the right or left direction and you have to constantly make an effort to keep it on a straight path.

And the turning force will significantly increase while you corner the motorcycle because it already tends to go out of the straight line anyways, resulting in the rider gripping the handlebar to not let the motorcycle overturn.

This happens, when the wheels ( Front Or Back ) are misaligned. The bike tends to steer in a particular direction on its own accord. 

I have mentioned in the list that poor wheel alignment can cause wheel squeaks/ratting noise too, this can be annoying and cheapens the riding experience.

I have written an in-depth article on why motorcycle wheel squeaks and what are the causes behind it and how to fix it easily, I recommended you guys to give it a quick read it will help you fix this wheel problem once and for all.
Click Here To Read: Motorcycle Front Or Back Wheel Squeak: Causes & How To Fix It

2. Uneven Thread Wear On Front Or Rear Wheel

There are threads on the tire that can be of any type i.e ( Groove, Block, Rib, etc ). Their job is to maintain traction and displace water on off-road, wet, snowy tracks.

So if the alignment of the front or rear wheel is poor, it will cause the tire to wear unevenly. This means a certain part of the tire ( which is affixed( attached) on the wheel ) will chip away more rather than evenly as it’s supposed to be.

If you find out one side of the tire is smoothened out, which basically means the threads ( lines ) on the tire are flat and not prominent as on the other side.

So look out for this visual sign which will instantly tell that your motorcycle wheels have poor alignment.

3. Motorcycle Wobble At Moderate To High Speed

Motorcycle wheels should be intact and in a straight line with each other to ride in a perfect trajectory. 

So what you will experience is whenever you try to ride your motorcycle at moderate to high speed ( 25 – 40 MPH / 40 – 60 KPH ) you will start to feel slight to significant wobbles in your motorcycle.

This happens due to the rear or front wheel not being in line with each other resulting in the wheels trying to get grip on the road’s surface unsuccessfully eventually leading to constant wobbles through your ride.

The job of a wheel and tire is to have proper adequate traction ( grip ) on the road’s surface, if the wheel loses its traction for any reason it will try to re-correct itself and try gain traction. 

Due to bad wheel alignment, the process of losing and gaining traction gets into a loop cycle which results in wobbles also known as tank slappers.

The mechanism of the chain works in conjunction with the wheel to deliver the power of the motorcycle to gain any kind of acceleration/ momentum.

Breaking of the chain or damage to it can be caused due to excessive tension on the chain links.

The front sprocket should be in a proper straight line with the rear ( Vice Versa ). Rear or front misalignment of the wheel causes the chain to not travel in a straight line which creates friction between chain links and sprocket teeth resulting in a damaged chain or eventually end up breaking.

5. Motorcycle Handlebar Tilt Due To Misaligned Front Fork & Wheel

To figure out if the handlebar is tilted or crooked and not in a straight line is pretty simple.

You can simply look at the handlebar from a top-down view to figure out whether the handlebar is straight or not.

This is caused due to misaligned front forks, don’t confuse it with bend forks. 

If you have dropped the motorcycle recently or had any kind of impact on the wheel or handlebar, this impact causes the fork clamps/yoke ( which holds the forks ) to knock the front forks out of their alignment.

Misaligned front forks and handlebar will also end up in the feeling of a misaligned front wheel cause they all are interconnected to each other.

6. Damage To Rear & Front Wheels Sprocket Teeth

The sprocket of the wheels and chain work hand in hand to create and carry the momentum of the motorcycle.

So when the wheels are not in a proper alignment ( in a straight line ) with each other, it creates a significant amount of friction between the sprocket teeth of both the front & rear wheels with the chain.

This harsh friction between the teeth of sprocket and chain rollers causes damage to the sprocket teeth resulting in breaking or bending of it.

So if the wheels are not in proper alignment it can cause some serious issues for your motorcycle sprockets and chain as well.

7. Rattling Noise From The Misaligned Wheel

This one is plain and simple cause you will hear it, and it will create an unnatural sound.

Due to the misalignment of wheels, the chain is under constant tension creating friction between the sprockets and chain.

This friction will cause noise from the misaligned wheel. Just inspect where is the noise coming from, it can be the rear or front wheel.

8. Losing Traction & Balance While Sudden Acceleration

It is all about the traction to ride safely without crashing. The sudden acceleration causes the rear wheel to spin which makes the tire lose grip on the surface of the road.

But when the wheels are misaligned & you roll the throttle too hard, the misaligned wheel will try to gain traction and center itself in a straight line but will be unsuccessful at it.

This sudden acceleration will cause you to lose balance causing the rear wheel will back out and skid while losing traction.

Most modern motorcycles have traction control, but you will feel the motorcycle is handling a pretty unnaturally wheel giving it a sudden rpm rush.

The telltale sign is to look out for the rear wheel backing out ( going sideways ) right at the start when you put the motorcycle in 1st gear and roll the throttle hard from a stationary position ( when you are not moving ) on a straight line. 

9. Uneasy Motorcycle Handling

Whenever you ride a motorcycle you would instantly feel the motorcycle maneuverability and how much effort you have to put to change lanes, brake, and handle the bike.

So when the wheels are not aligned properly, the motorcycle ride in an unusual manner. The handlebar will feel strict and restricted, it will tend to go to one side dominantly rather than sticking to a straight path.

Even riding on a straight path will feel like the motorcycle’s position is slightly sideways. And you will have to put a lot more effort while changing directions.

10. Harder To Maintain Grip On Road While Turning/Cornering

During cornering/turning at moderate to high speed ( 25 – 40 MPH / 40 – 60 KPH ) motorcycle’s lean angle increases. This means the tire’s contact patch with connects to the road is less, which equals less grip/traction.

During these kinds of turns motorcycle’s wheels should put be planted firmly and should have without a doubt a proper alignment.

So when the wheels are misaligned it becomes harder to maintain a lean angle and grip on the road. The motorcycle will lose balance easily because of poor wheel alignment.

These are the Top 10 symptoms/signs you should definitely look for because I have suffered this same kind of issue on my old motorcycle.

How Do You Fix Motorcycle Wheel Alignment 

We just looked into how to check and find symptoms/signs of poor alignment in your motorcycle’s wheels.

Now we will learn how to fix the alignment of the rear and front wheel of the motorcycle.

How To Fix Rear Wheel Alignment Of The Motorcycle

First, remove the cotter pin of the rear wheel if you have one on your motorcycle.

Then loosen the rear axle nut with the help of appropriate sizes of wrenches and ratchets.

Just loosen the rear axle nut enough ( not completely ). Now adjust the chain slack enough according to your needs or standard chain slack measures.

Once you have loosened the axle nut, you can check the alignment with the help of chain alignment tools which can make this process easier.

Clamp the chain alignment tool on the rear sprocket and see if the guiding rod of the tool aligns with the chain path.

If the alignment is off and the wheel is misaligned then adjust the rear axle nuts on the swingarm’s end till you see the wheel is properly aligned with the help of the guiding rod of the tool.

Once you see the wheel is aligned, then adjust the chain tension again and torque the rear axle nuts according ( you can use the owner’s manual to find the appropriate torque for your rear & front axle nuts for your motorcycle ).

How To Fix Front Wheel Alignment Of The Motorcycle

To align the front wheel is directly related to adjusting front forks, lowering steering yokes/triple tree clamp blots, and the front axle.

First place your motorcycle firmly and straight using a motorcycle wheel chock/stand, then remove the front fender and loosen the front axle bolts/nuts, and don’t remove the front axle completely ( just loosen it a little bit ). Also, loosen the caliper bolts.

Now loosen the top steering hex nut which is placed in the middle of the handlebar position.

Once all the nuts and bolts are loosened up and removed, stand on the motorcycle placing your foot on the pegs and applying a downward pumping motion.

This motion will pump the forks up and down which will help the forks get back into alignment which essentially aligns the front wheel.

Perform the pumping motion a couple of times ( 3 – 4 times ).

Now get off from the motorcycle and lightly tighten ( not torque ) the bolts from the top of the steering nut to the bottom axle nuts.

Once all the nuts and bolts and properly snugged ( tightened enough ), torque each of the nuts according ( you can refer to the owner’s manual for the appropriate torque numbers or get a professional to do it ).

Finally, reinstall the front fender of your motorcycle.

Doing all these steps carefully will put the front wheel back into proper alignment.


Now you know to find and look for these signs/symptoms of a motorcycle’s wheel alignment and how to fix it correctly.

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