How to Lace a Motorcycle Wheel

Curious how to lace a motorcycle wheel? Anything from an errant motorcycle wheel lock to impacts or even wear over time can damage your wheel. Learning how to lace a motorcycle wheel makes long-term maintenance a breeze.

Document very carefully.

Once you've gotten the tire off the rim and are ready to begin working on the wheel itself, document your wheel very carefully. Take close-up pictures from both sides documenting the configuration of the spokes. Whether you're dealing with a 36-spoke or 40-spoke wheel, spokes are always laced in groups of four in a pattern that repeats, so you only have to get the pattern right once and subsequently follow it around the wheel.

Make sure you measure the wheel hub relative to the rest of the wheel. Some wheel hubs are offset for brakes, so measure the radius of the hub to the edge of the wheel so you can get it right when you lace the wheel. If your spokes vary in size from the front side and the offset side, keep them separate and mark them when you take the wheel apart.

Remove and replace the spokes.

Once you've thoroughly documented the wheel, remove the spokes. You'll need at least one undamaged spoke from each position so that you can get the spokes started again correctly, and if the hub is offset, you'll need one spoke from each position on both sides. If you need to send spoke samples to a spoke maker, make sure you send representative samples from each position, so that your spokes are the right size, length and bend.

Line everything up and get started.

With the right spokes and a freshly cleaned and buffed hub, line up the hub and the wheel and get started lacing the wheel. When you mount the spokes, be sure to lube them and only start each spoke by two or three threads to ease the process of tightening and alignment.

You'll want to start with the inner spoke. Hook it into the hub, and then pair it with its mate on the wheel. Move ahead four holes and place the next inner spoke. Insert the inner spoke in each position around the wheel.

Next, move on to the outer spoke on the side you're facing. Start with the first position, and then move ahead four holes to place each outer spoke on the wheel. Once you've completed one side, flip the wheel and mount first the inner spokes, and then the outer spokes.

Tightening the spokes.

Tightening the spokes is where everything can get tricky. You'll want to choose a starting position and then go around the wheel and tighten every spoke the same amount; a couple of turns works fine. You'll need to keep going around the wheel tightening the spokes, but tightening them gradually ensures that you're tightening them evenly. Stop and measure the wheel periodically to make sure that the hub is in the correct position and that you get the offset you need.

Truing the wheel.

Now your wheel is laced but still needs to be trued. Mount it on an axle and spin it. Check for vertical and horizontal alignment. You'll need to adjust spokes to refine alignment. Loosen the spokes on the opposite side and tighten the spokes on the side that needs adjustment. Continue the process, one spoke at a time, until the wheel spins true, both vertically and horizontally.

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