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Discussion Starter #1
What tool or how do you align the rear wheel on your KLR?

- Tool: I use a piece of tubing with two heavy zip ties cut at 45 degrees. One zip tie should be fixed and the other should be adjustable.

- Using a lathe a friend center indexed both ends of the rear axle and rear engine bolt. The rear engine bolt is the fixed reference. The distance between the center of the rear engine bolt and the center of the rear axle has to be the same on each side. The index marks make this very exact and simple to do.

- Need a tool that travels better. The distance between the rear engine bolt and rear axle is approximately 23"-24".
 

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What tool or how do you align the rear wheel on your KLR?

- Tool: I use a piece of tubing with two heavy zip ties cut at 45 degrees. One zip tie should be fixed and the other should be adjustable.

- Using a lathe a friend center indexed both ends of the rear axle and rear engine bolt. The rear engine bolt is the fixed reference. The distance between the center of the rear engine bolt and the center of the rear axle has to be the same on each side. The index marks make this very exact and simple to do.

- Need a tool that travels better. The distance between the rear engine bolt and rear axle is approximately 23"-24".

Why don't you use your tool to reference the chain adjusters? Get the wheel straight and note any difference in the adjuter bolts. Keep the difference the same when adjusting the chain.

I wouldn't count on a KLR frame being square anywhere, look at the welds on the thing! Chains will tolerate some misalignment, there's slop available!
 

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aligning the wheel to the engine will ensure the chain runs true
although
the most important alignment check is to verify the rear wheel is tracking properly behind the front wheel
this is easily done by placing 2 long straight (sticks, tubes, what ever) against either side of the rear wheel going forward to the front wheel and then check for parallelism between the sticks and wheel(s)
a good eye won't need the sticks ...
 

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Aligning wheels

Racers use a piece of string (the thin florescent type that you can grab at Lowes etc is the best). Tie it to a spoke, wrap it around the back of the rear tire and run it up alongside the front. Bring the string in towards the front tire till it just touches the front of the back tire. Adjust (turn) the front tire till the string is equal distant from the front and back of the front tire. Note this measurement. Now reverse the string on the other side of the back tire again bringing it to the front. Note the measurement. Adjust the rear tire till the measurements of the string to both sides of the front tire are identical. Done.

Quick, easy, and pretty much free.

Oh and mark (scratch) your rear swing arm on both sides so you always have a reference point for future adjustments and pass the string on to the next guy!
 

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from handyman1018

Oh and mark (scratch) your rear swing arm on both sides so you always have a reference point for future adjustments

righty O ... forgot to mention that part
 

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Discussion Starter #6
"What tool or how do you align the rear wheel on your KLR?

- Tool: I use a piece of tubing with two heavy zip ties cut at 45 degrees. One zip tie should be fixed and the other should be adjustable.

- Using a lathe a friend center indexed both ends of the rear axle and rear engine bolt. The rear engine bolt is the fixed reference. The distance between the center of the rear engine bolt and the center of the rear axle has to be the same on each side. The index marks make this very exact and simple to do.

- Need a tool that travels better. The distance between the rear engine bolt and rear axle is approximately 23"-24"."



Why don't you use your tool to reference the chain adjusters? Get the wheel straight and note any difference in the adjuter bolts. Keep the difference the same when adjusting the chain.

I wouldn't count on a KLR frame being square anywhere, look at the welds on the thing! Chains will tolerate some misalignment, there's slop available!
Spec, I am not sure what you are referring to with the frame not being square. The reference I am using s the bolt that passes all the way through the rear of the engine. Are you saying the engine is not square in the frame? The counter shaft sprocket is square with the engine now the rear axle is square with the engine which would indicate the rear sprocket is square with the counter sprocket.
Are we trying to align the wheels or the sprockets?
 

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Racers use a piece of string (the thin florescent type that you can grab at Lowes etc is the best). Tie it to a spoke, wrap it around the back of the rear tire and run it up alongside the front. Bring the string in towards the front tire till it just touches the front of the back tire. Adjust (turn) the front tire till the string is equal distant from the front and back of the front tire. Note this measurement. Now reverse the string on the other side of the back tire again bringing it to the front. Note the measurement. Adjust the rear tire till the measurements of the string to both sides of the front tire are identical. Done.
Just a note on that. Tires are notorious for not being true radially and what with the lugs / knobs that we run can make this measurement inaccurate. Reference points need to be made at the outside of the rim. And to split the hair further you need to know that the rim is running true.

I have a setup similar to Tomato's and have often wondered how accurate that is compared to this method. Guess I'll have to get some more string.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Just a note on that. Tires are notorious for not being true radially and what with the lugs / knobs that we run can make this measurement inaccurate. Reference points need to be made at the outside of the rim. And to split the hair further you need to know that the rim is running true.

I have a setup similar to Tomato's and have often wondered how accurate that is compared to this method. Guess I'll have to get some more string.
flash, we are just kicking alignment methods around. What is your method?

I also measured from the center of the rear engine mounting bolt to the end of each swingarm and they are the same.
 

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flash, we are just kicking alignment methods around. What is your method?

I also measured from the center of the rear engine mounting bolt to the end of each swingarm and they are the same.
Same as you. Never run the string on the KLR since I bought it new. Other bikes I've crashed or bought used or I suspected a problem I've run the string and it is a PITA.

That's why I built this.....center drilled the ends of the bolts same as you had done because the swingarm axle marks on the '08+ models are a joke. The inspiration came from a Starrett trammel we have in the shop.


 

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Am I not being anal enough, or am I naive? I just use the marks on the swingarm. The chain has some slop in it, so it doesn't have to be dead nuts plum to anything. And as far as alignment from the front to rear wheel, these bikes have knobby tires, and are used on the dirt, so it's not like we're going top speed on asphalt all the time, so the tires are constanly slipping and sliding around, so I don't see the point in the wheels having to be perfectly in line. Maybe I'm missing something, but I want to ride, not wrench.
 

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Am I not being anal enough, or am I naive? I just use the marks on the swingarm. The chain has some slop in it, so it doesn't have to be dead nuts plum to anything. And as far as alignment from the front to rear wheel, these bikes have knobby tires, and are used on the dirt, so it's not like we're going top speed on asphalt all the time, so the tires are constanly slipping and sliding around, so I don't see the point in the wheels having to be perfectly in line. Maybe I'm missing something, but I want to ride, not wrench.
Yes.

The marks on the swingarm are useless.
 

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I just eyeball it to the marks already there and then take it for a ride. I get it up to speed and then take my hands off the bars, if I have to lean one way or the other to keep it straight, I know the rear tire needs adjusting. If it tracks straight and true with no hands, I'm betting the alaignment is pretty close.
 

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Flash, I don't disagree with you, but using your measuring devise, how far off are the factory swing arm marks on your bike?
Thanks, Matter
That's just it, I can't tell. There is no reference mark to line up to within the range offered.
 

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That's just it, I can't tell. There is no reference mark to line up to within the range offered.
I was just wondering, after you set it up with your devise, what the difference is between the left swingarm marks and the right swing arm marks. Also I forgot to ask, what gen is your bike? Thanks
 

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Spec, I am not sure what you are referring to with the frame not being square. The reference I am using s the bolt that passes all the way through the rear of the engine. Are you saying the engine is not square in the frame? The counter shaft sprocket is square with the engine now the rear axle is square with the engine which would indicate the rear sprocket is square with the counter sprocket.
Are we trying to align the wheels or the sprockets?

I'm thinking that the first priority is to align the chain, if the wheels align after that happens it a bonus!

I would be surprised if the frame is aligned very well. That requires careful assembly and a good frame jig. Looking at the quality of the welds it doesn't look to me that a lot of care went into the assembly! So yea that's why you have to loosen the back motor mount to get the swing arm bolt back in.

Once you get the swing arm to axle parallel the front tire should be dead in the middle if the frame is straight, yes? The chain should be straight also. I'm betting you can't get both on a KLR.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The method flash is using can be exact and there shouldn't be anything wrong with that. If close enough is good enough then good for you but don't beat up something that is simple and can be very inexpensive. I would prefer to have the tool that flash made. Mine is a 1/4" aluminum tube with two zipties cut to a point but it works. Take the rear axle and the rear engine mount bolt and index them or drill them. With either of these tools you are good to go.

If you believe the frame is not aligned then use TT120's method and you will be good to go. Nothing wrong with that.
 

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measure from the front of the rim, out 90 degs. to the outside of the swingarm.
Make both the same and you are done. No need to wear gloves, this aint brain surgery.
 

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alignment

Aligning the rear wheel to the front wheel reduces tire wear and improves handling.
It is possible to create speed wobbles from improper alignment and most certainly cause apprehensive moments in high speed cornering at steep lean angles.

Weld quality is no measure of frame alignment. It is common to final machine the major points after the welding is complete. That being said ... aligning the rear wheel to the swing arm pivot is not what a trained mechanic would be doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I just realized I should have made the Subject "Chain Alignment Tool". This discussion has uncovered that there is a difference in chain alignment adn wheel alignment. Doesn't you can't have both if the engine is in alignment with the frame (usually).

Wheel(s) Alignment: better straight line tracking, better handling.

Chain Alignment: better chain and sprocket wear.

Race mechanics probably don't care about chain alignment as much as wheel alignment. wheel alignment is speed and handling and chains are probably tossed after each race.

As roadies the chain is considered the hemroid of the motorcycle. PITA and needs more care than any other part on the motorcycle. Other than tires the chain is replaced more often than any other part on the motorcycle?
 
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