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Rear Wheel Alignment

Softail Models

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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 08:53 PM     #1
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Rear Wheel Alignment

What do you find to be the easyway to realign the rear wheel (without going to the dealer?) Thanks
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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 09:09 PM     #2
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

I find a straight edge to work well and align the rear wheel to the front.

I made a jig to do it so it's much easier.






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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 11:27 PM     #3
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

Glider I am mentaly challanged with your pictures .
I looked thru the self help section without much luck.
I understand the concept of aligning the front wheel with the back wheel but I am at total loss as to how that gizmo works.

Is there something on this site that would explain your alignment tool.
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Old Dec 17th, 2007, 11:41 PM     #4
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

It appears that the brown boards are strapped to the front wheel and the red ones are strapped to the rear wheels.
The 2 steel bars are used to check the alignment.

How does one verify that the front wheel is in perfect alignment with the frame..I assume this must be done first to make this all work
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 07:35 AM     #5
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

Quote: Originally Posted by dangerdan View Post
It appears that the brown boards are strapped to the front wheel and the red ones are strapped to the rear wheels.
The 2 steel bars are used to check the alignment.

How does one verify that the front wheel is in perfect alignment with the frame..I assume this must be done first to make this all work
In regards to the front wheel, there is little or no adjustment to align it to the frame assuming that the fork tubes and triple trees are not tweaked/bent or loose and that things are torqued to specks.

The unit in the bottom pic gets installed on the rear wheel, in other words the rear wheel is between the two plates in that pic. The dowel with the black sleeve goes through the spokes while the lower one goes beneath the tire to hold it in place.The yellow velcro strap holds the two halves tight to the wheel once installed. The brake pedal is applied to hold the wheel from rotating when it is in proper position.The two rods slide into the ends of those plates and extend forward to the front wheel to center the rear wheel using the adjusters on the rear wheel/axle.

You can also use a wire like a wire coat hanger to make a jig to measure to the center of the rear axle forward to the swing arm bolt center. Take a straightened out piece of hanger and put a small "L" on the end of the wire about 1 1/2 " that would go into the center/indentation in the swing arm bolt. Use a small "O" ring or the like as a slider on the wire and slide it to the center of the axle once the forward end is in place in the center of the swing arm. Measure both sides and adjust accordingly to get them even. This is done also keeping the belt tension in mind too. This system works for most but using the setup that I have, the measurement is much more fine/accurate in that you are extending the rods to the front wheel and turning the rear axle adjusters 1/2 turn will see a big difference when extended 8' or so to the front wheel. I think you can see where I'm going here.

Your best bet is to look in the factory manual, it describes the procedure pretty well.

Last edited by glider; Dec 18th, 2007 at 07:49 AM.
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 03:53 PM     #6
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

Just curious, when you align with the front wheel how do you know the front end is perfectly straight? My luck my sleeve would catch the bars and slightly turn it as I walked by.
Couldnt you measure from the passenger foot pegs since their stationary?
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 04:10 PM     #7
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

There's a lot more to this than meets the eye.

If you measure the distance between the rods on the front and rear of the front tire it will tell you is the wheel is straight.Then you proceed with the rear wheel alignment. Don't forget here that the distance being about 8' from the rear wheel to the front measurement will give you such a small degree of error in the adjustment at the rear wheel that I doubt it could be done as accurately by other means.
The movement of one thread (rotation) on either rear wheel adjuster in either direction will move the front of the rod at the front wheel in this jig about 3/8" so you can see just how sensitive it is due to the extended length of the rods.

There should be equal distance when measuring at the front and the rear of the front wheel when setting up at the front wheel.

It's also a fact that if you rotate the alignment rods on the setup, you will see that they are not exactly true either. I rotate them until I find any discrepency is facing downward on both meaning that any slight discrepency is now neutral. There will always be some deviation in a rod this long for starters.

It sounds like a bit to comprehend but it works well and the setup is much easier than it sounds here.

As far as the foot pegs, I really don't think that all things are equal there when they are built. The baggers being adjustable enter a new problem here also.

Last edited by glider; Dec 18th, 2007 at 08:04 PM.
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Old Dec 18th, 2007, 11:03 PM     #8
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

I have made up and used the same wire jig as described in the shop manual while adjusting the chain. Piece of cake.

But that jig only aligns the rear tire to the swing arm bolt centre.

10 hrs have gone by and I feel like an idiot.

I have been thinking about this all day when I opened up an Easy Rider magazine and there it was, a naked custom frame. Where I was getting confused was when one is building a custom frame one has to align the centre of the rear tire with the frame and the centre of the front tire by way of custom spacers for the rear wheel. Thats what I thought your gizmo did.

As long as your front end in good alignment your gizmo will work much better as it will be more sensitive.

As usual your the man.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 07:10 AM     #9
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

It sounds confusing to explain but in reality is very easy to use and rather accurate too.
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Old Sep 21st, 2008, 05:19 PM     #10
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Re: Rear Wheel Alignment

Well I got the rear wheel off. I did this. Before I removed anything from the bike, I made a mark on the swing are and the adjuster plate on both sides. So when I put the wheel back on, I just made sure that everything lined back up before I buttoned everything down.

Would that be ok to do?
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