DIY Motorcycle Front Wheel Alignment

  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 2-5
What You'll Need
8' piece of string
Masking tape, or duct tape
What You'll Need
8' piece of string
Masking tape, or duct tape

For motorcycle owners, there is a simple procedure to check and correct your motorcycle front wheel alignment. Without having to take your bike to a repair shop, without having to use expensive tools and equipment, you can quickly and easily complete this procedure. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1 – Place String on the Rear Wheel

Find a piece of string, 8' or more in length. If you'll be working in a garage or other place where light is dim, use a lighter colored string that you'll be able to see more clearly. Stretch the string out and bring both loose ends together to form a single, double string. Locate the center of the string between the two ends. Place this middle part of the string against the rear tire surface at the trailing edge of the wheel and secure it onto the tire with a piece of tape. The string should be attached in a location on the tire tread where, when the string is stretched forward toward the front wheel, it will not hit the bike's belly pan or stands.

Step 2 – Bring the Strings Ends to the Front Wheel

Pull each end of the string to the front wheel, one end on either side of the bike. Be careful to avoid pulling the string loose from the place where it is held on the rear tire by the tape. Have a helper turn the front wheel so that it points straight ahead. At this point in the alignment process it doesn't matter if the wheel is not perfectly lined up just yet.

Step 3 – Align the Strings

Kneel, or stoop, at the front wheel, facing the bike and at a level where you can look along one of the strings toward the rear wheel. Pull the string taut, so that it is running parallel alongside the bike. Hold the end of the string in position a few inches away from the front wheel, then slowly move it toward the wheel, looking along the taut string to where it is barely touching the side of the rear tire. When you have this string in position, hold it steady and then move the other string into position the same way.

Step 4 – Compare String and Wheel Angles

Have your helper move the front wheel so that it is as perfectly parallel with the strings on either side of it as possible. Now, compare the distance of each string from the front wheel edge. If you wheel is correctly aligned, each string will be the same distance away from the outside edge of the wheel.

Step 5 – Estimate Alignment Problems

Your right side string, if closer to the front tire, will indicate that the rear wheel leading edge is cocked right. If the left string is closer, the rear wheel is cocked left. Use the same procedure to check the front wheel alignment. Once you've determined the alignment adjustment needs, you can adjust your wheel to a more perfect alignment.