Balancing tires -- tools needed?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by space, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. space

    space a.k.a. Jake

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    So I'm setting out to put new tires on my 1150GS and DRZ400S. My guiding principle is minimal tools. First off, I'm short on cash right now. But more importantly, I want to know how to change my tires while on the road. (OK, not literally on the road. That would be stupid. But you know what I mean.)

    After looking into balancing, I found plenty of pages like this one:

    http://www.largiader.com/balancer/

    Looks great and probably makes the job really easy. But why not just PUT THE TIRES BACK ON THE BIKE AND SPIN 'EM?? Seems like the common-sense approach, and no money or extra tools are required. I'm just wary that I must be missing something. Please enlighten a tire changing noob.
    #1
  2. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    The main reason you can't do it on the bike is drag.

    The wheel bearings and dust caps/bearing covers create enough drag on the axle that you would not get anything near accurate for balance.

    On the other hand, balancing a wheel on a dirt bike isn't critacal, and some feel the same way about street bikes as well.

    If you are on the road changing a tire, you can skip the balance and just fix the tire. Doubtful you will notice untill you are at speed on the road. And even then it wont be dangerous or dramatically affect handling.

    Jim :brow
    #2
  3. swjohnsey

    swjohnsey Banned

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    I disagree. It has been my experience that if you take the caliper off (which I usually do anyway) the wheel bearings are adequate to balance the wheel/tire. I'm not sure about the BMW set-up with the rear wheel. You can probably do it with the wheel on the bike. I usually support the wheel on the axle between a couple of chairs/milk crates/cement blocks.
    #3
  4. kerhonky

    kerhonky Adventure Poser

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    The one and only time I've changed a motorcycle tire myself, I balanced it using the axle, but not on the bike. I supported both ends on speaker cabinets. I have had no issues with balance of that tire, even up to highway speeds.

    If you're in doubt as to whether there's too much drag using the axle, I would suggest adding a little weight (maybe a 0.25 oz weight) to the rim before you change the tire, and see if it's enough to make the tire spin on the axle. In other words, support both ends of the axle, and turn the tire until the added weight is at the 3:00 or 9:00 position, and let go. If the minimal weight is enough to make the tire spin until the weight is at the 6:00 position (or better yet, enough to make it go past 6:00 and then swing back, like a pendulum), the drag on the axle is probably not enough to affect your balancing.

    All this comes with the caveat that you'd be taking the advice of someone who:

    a) is not a motorcycle mechanic;
    b) has minimal experience balancing tires; and
    c) does not go over 75 miles on his motorcycle, so balance issues might not show up.

    FWIW.
    #4
  5. Papa Dulce

    Papa Dulce Old Enough to Know Better

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    The Marc Parnes product set up on simple auto jack stands has worked well for many a tire arond here. Take your time and sip a beer while you spin the wheel. Successfully used on maybe close to 50 tires between several rider buddies. Make sure the jack stands are level.
    Papa
    #5
  6. space

    space a.k.a. Jake

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    Thanks for the advice. I'll try it on the bike, and if that doesn't work maybe I'll invest in one of the Mark Parnes balancers. Look good, and I like a multi-bike tool. (That way I can have my friends give me beer in return for balancing their tires. Everyone wins.)
    #6
  7. pecos

    pecos BAM!!

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    I use a manual balancer. Is it accurate? Yeah, I think so. Of course nuematic ones are the best.

    I place the weight in the what I think is the right spot. When mounting the tire I try to offset the heavy part of the tire. You know the red or yellow spot. There is a science to it but I do not fret over it.
    #7
  8. Lurch II

    Lurch II Been here awhile

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    +1

    I, too, have the Marc Parnes product. Trick little balancer. I spin the tires between two chairs in the kitchen, never had an issue. Have done both my bike and MrsL's F650GS, front and rear, no problem.
    #8
  9. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

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    +1 here too. Works just fine.
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  10. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Just an FYI, at both VIR and Summit Point last year both Michelin and Dunlop tire sales were using the Nomar tire machine and balancer. Both manual types. Powered spin balancers are complete overkill for even racing bikes according to them.

    I like either Marc Parnes or Beamer Balancer for tire balancing. I still don't think, for true accuracy, just using the axle and wheel bearings are sufficient.

    Jim :brow
    #10
  11. murgatroid42

    murgatroid42 Great Adventurer

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    Put the axle through the wheel, put it on a pair of jackstands, and spin it slowly until it rests on the heaviest part. Stick the weights on the opposite side and repeat. Yes, the wheel bearings have drag, but you can estimate the heavy part by nudging the wheel, then observing the rate at which it slows down. Maybe not good for 100+ mph, but it worked for my DRZ and my former XR650L. Some people never balance dirt bike wheels :patch so this approximation is far better than most.
    #11
  12. Hooliganrick

    Hooliganrick Adventure seeker

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    What kind of weights do you guys use, and where can they be purchased. I've tried every auto store in my area for the strips, but no luck
    rick
    #12
  13. bmwktmbill

    bmwktmbill Traveler

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    +1 for Von Baden. No need for balance. If you balance anything balance the wheel without the tire on an Adventure bike.
    Keep it under 90, enjoy yourself.
    Bill.
    #13
  14. Luke

    Luke GPoET&P

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    I'd add the rimlock to that. They're heavy. Someone else posted ages ago that they added 2.5oz to the front and 4oz to the rear on a drz, exactly opposite the rimlocks. That looks about the same as I added to my XR. I don't know exactly, because I made my own weights. I don't reccomend doing that. What a PITA.
    #14
  15. R_W

    R_W wannabe

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    balance the rim + rimlocks, then MARK THOSE WEIGHTS and don't take them off.

    then it is fairly quick to balance the tire, or throw balance media in there.
    #15
  16. ldeikis

    ldeikis Dirty daydreamer

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    I have the Parnes balancer and it's the business--beautifully machined and works flawlessly--but in retrospect it would have been awfully easy to make something more or less as good. Go to a skateboard shop, buy a few bearings; go to the hardware store and buy a length of steel rod. Stick the rod through the wheel, slide the bearings on the rod, and set the whole thing on a couple cinder blocks. Bingo. I can't think of how having a narrower "axle" in the wheel/balancer affects anything too much, and not having it snugged to the bearings (ie, with Marc's beautifully machined cones) shouldn't matter, either.

    And +1 on rimlocks. Run 80mph on a bike with rimlocks front and back and tell me it doesn't need balanced! On the flip side, I've never bothered to balance the tires since balancing them years ago when I installed the rimlocks. If the tire were out of balance enough to overcome the huge weight of the rimlock you could probably feel it in your hands :huh

    ...and I use regular stick-on weights from AutoZone. I tried the clamp on ones and they didn't stay put, kept sliding up and down the spokes. If you can't find some in the store, send your girlfriend to a tire change place with a smile.

    -Luke
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  17. CMWoody

    CMWoody Banned

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    I know those guys. Truth be told, they go the route they do simply because they don't want to carry around a compressor and fool with a generator. Getting it close is entirely possible with hand spinning though no where near as perfect as a machine that rotates at high speed. That said, race tires only last a few races and usually balance themselves within a few laps anyway so its not so important. Slow wearing street rubber pounding out miles on the slab is entirely different. Only my opinion but its nice to have perfect balance at 100:D I dynamically balance all my street rubber..and as its been said already, who cares about knobs.:D
    #17
  18. djg

    djg Been here awhile

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    If you use stick on lead wheel weights, seal the edges with rtv, the double sided foam tape on these weights can deteriorate if moisture gets to it. The guys doing race tires put color matching duct tape over their weights.
    #18
  19. murgatroid42

    murgatroid42 Great Adventurer

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    Motion Pro sells packages of weights. I purchased them online, but I forgot where I bought them. (American Tire when I bought my D606's?). Put duct tape or RTV them down.
    #19
  20. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Noah only had a 6 tubes of RTV (read it, true), but he made them work. The Ark didn't sink.....
    #20