Wheels not only carry the load but take most of the abuse the land offers.
Wheels also hold on tight to the tires so when you think about it, the wheels on your dirt bike keep you grounded, upright and rolling. One could argue wheels have as much importance as anything else on the bike.
So, take care of them.
It's easy to neglect the wheels. The most respect wheels get after any given day probably comes from the hose during the wash down. But wheels carry a trifecta of parts that need regular maintenance that if ignored could mean the difference between a podium or even finishing a race. The wheel consists of:
In a nutshell, the hub holds the axle, the rim hugs the tires and the spokes pretty much help keep it all together.
As a whole, the wheel contains the highest number of connections thanks to the spokes. Like any connection that tightens and loosens, the spokes can unravel and often do after a day of riding. All the jostling that comes with riding a dirt bike offers more than enough to undo a tightly fitted spoke. Once one goes, others often follow.
Therefore, before every ride check the spokes. Grab a torque wrench and spend the three minutes it takes to go around the wheel and tighten every single spoke to spec. Front and rear wheel. For a quick check, tap on each spoke and listen for a tight similar sounding ping all the way around.
The Hub, a most appropriate term, acts as a central meeting place for a number of other components. Each hub carries an axle, and the brake system which includes the rotors, while the rear hub also holds on to a sprocket. Check the sprocket and rotor bolts because like the spokes those have a tendency to work free after a day of riding. Don't forget that some OEM specs call for loctite on sprocket and rotor bolts.
Wheels have bearings, also inside the hub, that need routine cleaning and greasing but not prior to every ride. Most bearings, once in place, need a check-up just a few times a year depending on how often you ride and the conditions ridden. Sandy and/or wet conditions require more maintenance.
The bearings remove quite easily with a flathead screwdriver and once out you can clean and grease the seals. Check out How to Replace Wheel Bearings On Your Dirt Bike for more information.
Another important and probably the most overlooked aspect of wheel maintenance comes with truing. Put your bike on a stand and spin the wheels. If you see any wobbling, the wheels need truing. Now you need a truing stand.
Remove the wheel from your dirt bike and once on the truing stand, work your way around the wheel tightening and loosening spokes until the wheel has no wobble. It's kind of like the old way of finding which bulb ruins the rest of the bunch on the Christmas tree. Use your torque wrench and tighten to spec.
In case you're wondering: Simply torqueing the spokes while on the bike does not fix a wobbling wheel. Thus, the need to check each one individually. After you have placed the wheel on the truing stand, you can loosen every spoke and then torque to spec if you'd rather not check each one to determine the problem spoke(s).
Regularly torquing to spec keeps the wheel in true longer.
Wheels need cleaning after riding like everything else and whatever you use for the rest of the bike works well for the wheels. Refrain from using harsh chemicals as most rims come black and you can fade the color quite quickly. A light misting of SC1 helps prevent the accumulating of dirt.
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