How "aligned" does the rear wheel need to be? - ZX6R Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 03:03 AM Thread Starter
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How "aligned" does the rear wheel need to be?

Aligning the rear wheel after adjusting my chain is by far the most annoying, mentally uncomfortable, pain in the ass to deal with while owning a bike.

Last night I adjusted the chain on my new bike. It stretched quite a bit in the first 360 miles.

It's impossible to measure from the axle bolt to the drive sprocket because of the rear sets. I measured the tick marks on the swing arm and they are off by almost 1/8".

So I measured from the back of the swingarm. They were both 29/32". Then I did the string method which is a total pain in the ass. The gaps "looked" the same on both sides but I wouldn't bet a dollar that they were, let alone risk my sprockets and chain.

This is my fifth bike and you'd think I'm still a newbie when it comes to this stuff but I am just way too OCD for this. Of course you want the rear wheel aligned perfectly but how much "give" is there in that? I can't imagine there are myriad problems out there from regular bros just using the marks on the swingarm. Right?
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post #2 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 03:17 AM
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The more the merrier. A little off prolly wont even be noticed.

But since youre OCD, u might like this: Motion Pro Chain Alignment Tool | MotoSport
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post #3 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 04:22 AM
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If the chain was new, a need for adjustment would be totally expected after 350 miles. A little out of alignment may give around a 1bhp drop and a fractionally shortened life for the chain/sprockets. If it were that great a difference - where it becomes dangerous - you'd be able to see it just by testing by eye.

I'd say there's a 99% likelihood you can ignore the marks on the swingarm, because it's only 1% of the time they're anywhere near accurate. The string method, etc are better, but not by much. I've got a copy of the chain alignment tool to which Scorpi0 linked; it was next to nothing from either eBay or Amazon (I'm too lazy right now to check my purchase history).

If you want super workshop brag rights, you can get a laser version, but the eBay ones are every bit as accurate as you need (just roll the bar along a known flat surface to make sure it's straight).

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post #4 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 04:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eurodriver View Post
Aligning the rear wheel after adjusting my chain is by far the most annoying, mentally uncomfortable, pain in the ass to deal with while owning a bike.

Last night I adjusted the chain on my new bike. It stretched quite a bit in the first 360 miles.

It's impossible to measure from the axle bolt to the drive sprocket because of the rear sets. I measured the tick marks on the swing arm and they are off by almost 1/8".

So I measured from the back of the swingarm. They were both 29/32". Then I did the string method which is a total pain in the ass. The gaps "looked" the same on both sides but I wouldn't bet a dollar that they were, let alone risk my sprockets and chain.

This is my fifth bike and you'd think I'm still a newbie when it comes to this stuff but I am just way too OCD for this. Of course you want the rear wheel aligned perfectly but how much "give" is there in that? I can't imagine there are myriad problems out there from regular bros just using the marks on the swingarm. Right?
The main purpose of aligning the back wheel, is to get the chain to run with the teeth running on the center of the rollers. Every other consideration is a far cry down from that one.

It's easy enough to see when you have it right (enough), because you will see the wear pattern of the teeth on the rollers. If the shiny spot is more or less centered, the sprockets are aligned. If it's all biased to one side or the other of the roller, you know the rear sprocket is skewed with respect to the pulling force of the chain. The 'dirty' side is trailing... that side of the wheel needs to be brought 'forward' slightly.

Very similar to using a spirit level. The shiny spot on the chain is equivalent to the bubble in the level.

"There's this adage that we have 2 ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately with the Internet people have taken this old adage and turned it around. They have two eyes and 10 fingers so they think they need to post 5 times as much as they read. And since they have 10 fingers and one brain, they only have to think 10% of the time! "
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post #5 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 04:37 AM
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I just go by the markers then with the bike on a stand of some sort, I look at the rear sprocket/chain and make sure they lines up straight going to the front sprocket as I spin the wheel. If I see any alignment issues, I adjust as needed. Is this 100%, who knows, but I've never had an issue so good enough for me.

The chain adjusting after market blocks are great. They are expensive but makes the alignment process take like 30 seconds. I have one on my R1 and I love it. Makes me wish i needed to take my rear wheel off more.
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post #6 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 04:40 AM
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I do think this is one of those areas that is beaten to death on most forums..... if you don't hear any interaction between the sprocket teeth and the chain, it's probably good enough. If you take it that little bit further and check to see that the chain is running in the center of the roller, better.

No realistic definition of 'best' exists, IMHO.

Far more likely to find people running their chains far too tightly than anything else. Followed by excessive cleaning.

"There's this adage that we have 2 ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately with the Internet people have taken this old adage and turned it around. They have two eyes and 10 fingers so they think they need to post 5 times as much as they read. And since they have 10 fingers and one brain, they only have to think 10% of the time! "
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post #7 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by RJ2112 View Post
[...] Far more likely to find people running their chains far too tightly than anything else. Followed by excessive cleaning.
If anything, I'd probably recommend erring on the side of slightly loose. If it's tight when you've got it on a stand, it'll be tighter yet when the rear suspensions starts through its expected range of motion. By all means, make the chain tight, but only if you want the left foot of Darryl Beattie (am I showing my age with this one?).

The Scottoiler I have on mine makes lubricating the chain child's play. No excess oil, no need to constantly scrub with paraffin/kerosene/cleaner. I check the chain tension once per week (I ride every single day), but needing to adjust the tension is rare.

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post #8 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Twistee View Post
If anything, I'd probably recommend erring on the side of slightly loose. If it's tight when you've got it on a stand, it'll be tighter yet when the rear suspensions starts through its expected range of motion. By all means, make the chain tight, but only if you want the left foot of Darryl Beattie (am I showing my age with this one?).

The Scottoiler I have on mine makes lubricating the chain child's play. No excess oil, no need to constantly scrub with paraffin/kerosene/cleaner. I check the chain tension once per week (I ride every single day), but needing to adjust the tension is rare.
I know that my chains have lasted in excess of 15K miles on repeated occasion, simply by keeping the chain damp with gear oil, and not running it too tight. I know I have gone near 25K miles on chains by this method. Vee twins are more abusive to chains than inline 4 cylinders, that's where the shorter mile chain came into the mix.

I have given serious thought to employing a Scottoiler -- I know that's the foolproof way to ensure long chain life. It's always come down to cost/benefit for me. The expense of purchase, and replacing the special oil, vs, ~$8 USD for a quart of 85w-90 high pressure gear oil, which lasts me a couple of years.

"There's this adage that we have 2 ears and one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we talk. Unfortunately with the Internet people have taken this old adage and turned it around. They have two eyes and 10 fingers so they think they need to post 5 times as much as they read. And since they have 10 fingers and one brain, they only have to think 10% of the time! "
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post #9 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 06:09 AM
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I use that alignment tool. On my bike the marks are way off on the swing arm.
Checked a friends chain this weekend, his marks pretty much dead on. Not enough to bother with the tool again.

Dupont Chain wax. $4.50 a can at lowes. Works great, minimal sling off.
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post #10 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ2112 View Post
I have given serious thought to employing a Scottoiler -- I know that's the foolproof way to ensure long chain life. It's always come down to cost/benefit for me. The expense of purchase, and replacing the special oil, vs, ~$8 USD for a quart of 85w-90 high pressure gear oil, which lasts me a couple of years.
There are a lot of factors, but considering the purchase is a one-off (it can easily be moved between bikes), it really does pay dividends.

At the Scottoiler facility, they have several bikes they use for testing from Hayabusas down to small capacity dirt bikes. The dirt bikes actually eat chains and sprockets faster than the Hayabusa, due to the on-off nature of the torque application.

I've had a newly-fitted chain and sprockets last over 50k miles on a tuned CBR600 with a Scottoiler. I'm not a perpetual mentalist on the road, but I don't treat my machines like glass either. Coupled with the negligible amount of cleaning and adjustment needed, it's certainly cost-effective to me.

To be perfectly honest, I don't always use the official Scottoil in the reservoir, but it does work a little better if you do. I've used gear oil in the past, but the colouring in the Scottoil does provide a useful visual aid as well.

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1999 ZX6R (G2) - Pipewerx exhaust (dB killer removed) | Dynojet Stage 1 | K&N air filter | flushmount front LED indicators | Clear LED tail light with integrated indicators | Scottoiler eSystem | Pyramid Plastics hugger | HID headlight | Stubby levers | HEL braided steel lines | 07 ZX6R radial master cylinder | Bar-end mirrors | Double-bubble screen | Crash bobbins | one hell of an anal-retentive owner.
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post #11 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 10:01 AM
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Measure from the swing arm pivot to the axel. . Done.
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post #12 of 20 Old 04-17-2017, 10:37 AM
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I've measured the distance between the adjuster and locknut/base with a caliper. It's almost perfect, but still got a motionpro chain tool to double check. Everything seems to check out fine.
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post #13 of 20 Old 04-18-2017, 02:19 PM
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How "aligned" does the rear wheel need to be?

Big straight edge pushed against rear tyre long enough to reach front wheel, then measure from edge of straight edge to edge of front tyre, then check other side and make sure same! I do it with two big levels and then measure from them works great


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post #14 of 20 Old 04-18-2017, 02:27 PM
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I've measured the distance between the adjuster and locknut/base with a caliper. It's almost perfect, but still got a motionpro chain tool to double check. Everything seems to check out fine.
You are getting crazy with a caliper but hey not everyone can read a tape measure. I have proven this time and time again to many peoples dismay. Ya, just get it close and you are good. This thing is not Rocket Science.
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post #15 of 20 Old 04-18-2017, 02:37 PM
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[...] Ya, just get it close and you are good. This thing is not Rocket Science.
This.

Ever seen a crew change the back wheel in an endurance race? The last thing they're going to do is worry about being within 0.003 of a millimetre on either side. It's really not that vital.
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The best advice I ever received was "Just look pretty and try not to break anything."

1999 ZX6R (G2) - Pipewerx exhaust (dB killer removed) | Dynojet Stage 1 | K&N air filter | flushmount front LED indicators | Clear LED tail light with integrated indicators | Scottoiler eSystem | Pyramid Plastics hugger | HID headlight | Stubby levers | HEL braided steel lines | 07 ZX6R radial master cylinder | Bar-end mirrors | Double-bubble screen | Crash bobbins | one hell of an anal-retentive owner.
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