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ADV ProductsTusk Wheel Stand: Easily Balance Wheels At Home

Tusk Wheel Stand: Easily Balance Wheels At Home

 Save time and money by learning how to balance your own wheels.

Published on 01.07.2020
While balancing wheels on a car or exclusively road-going motorcycle is a given, wheel balancing on adventure bikes can be less of a consistent occurrence. Occupying an odd space between serious off-road and big road miles, adventure bikes can often do fine with unbalanced wheels when traveling on dirt. Once back on the pavement, however, unbalanced wheels can quickly become a nuisance depending on the tire, and condition of the wheel itself.

When performing a tire change, virtually any shop will balance the wheels before reinstalling on the bike. When swapping tires at home this step is sometimes overlooked, however the process is made quite easy with the Tusk Wheel Balancing and Truing Stand. With its simple, solid design, the Tusk Wheel Stand would look at home in any shop and offers everything you need to begin doing your own wheel balancing.

Tusk Wheel Stand for wheel balancing and truing.

Assembly of the Tusk Wheel Stand is straightforward and everything goes together in minutes. It includes a leveling sight bubble and adjustable-height feet that ensure you get a perfectly stable platform. While this how-to is exclusively related to wheel balancing, the Tusk Wheel Stand also features a rim pointer and cylinder spacers for precise lacing or truing wheels. Read on for the basics on how to balance your own wheels at home.

Wheel Balancing Steps

 1.  Install The Tire

Tire marker for lightest spot.

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Installation of the tire itself plays an important role in more quickly and easily achieving a balanced wheel. Almost all tires come from the manufacturer with a balance mark on them. Typically a small paint circle, this mark can take different forms depending on the manufacturer. Regardless of what it looks like, the mark denotes the light spot of the tire, and thus should be lined up with the valve stem hole. The valve stem, and even the valve cap creates a small amount of additional weight, so lining that up with the lightest part of the tire brings things closer to balance, before the process of adding weight has begun.

 2. Remove The Cush Drive

Remove cush drive before mounting on Tusk Wheel Stand.

One additional step which applies only to some rear wheels is removal of the cush drive. This serves two purposes: one, the entire assembly becomes more narrow and easier to work with (although it’s worth noting there is ample room on the Tusk Stand); and two, the components of a cush drive have the potential to shift slightly during wheel balancing, causing some variance. Removing it ensures more accurate results.

3. Mount Wheel On Stand

Mounting the wheel on the Tusk Wheel Stand.

Install the hub cones on the balancer shaft firmly against the wheel bearings and tighten the Allen bolts. As the Allen bolts themselves create a variance of weight, it’s best to position them 180 degrees opposite of each other. For example, if the Allen bolt on the right side of the hub is positioned at 6 o’clock, position then left side bolt at 12 o’clock before tightening. Also note that the cylinder spacers on the Tusk stand are not touching the bearings when performing a wheel balance – these spacers are used for the lacing or truing process. 

4. Check Initial Balance

Balancing a wheel on the Tusk Wheel Stand.

Once mounted in the stand, gently spin the wheel. This does not need to be fast, and in fact simply releasing the wheel without spinning can also work, as the “heavy” spot will move downward. Spinning the wheel provides some additional information about how much weight will be needed. If the rate of spin slows quickly, more weight is needed. The more gradual the decrease in the rate of spin, the less weight will be required to achieve balance. 

5. Mark Weight Location and Add Weight

Add wheel weights for tire balancing.

Once the wheel stops, use a ball-point pen to mark the tire at the 12 o’clock position. This is the light spot where weight will be required. Clean the rim at the mark and apply weight accordingly. If desired, weights can be temporarily held in position with a small amount of tape to check the amount needed. The tape itself technically will affect balance, however by an insignificant amount. On wider rims, the weights can often be placed closer to the center of the rim near the spokes. When using narrow motorcycle-specific weights, distribute the weight on both sides of the wheel. 

6. Re-check Wheel Balance

Gently spin the wheel again and watch where it stops. If the marked spot where the weight was added stops at the 12 o’clock position, more weight is required. If the marked spot where weight was added stops at the 6 o’clock position, less weight is needed. 

7. Final Check

Checking tire balancing.

If the marked spot stops somewhere other than the 12 o’clock or 6 o’clock positions, the final check can be performed. Without spinning, position the marked spot at four different points, and release the wheel. Any four points will do. For example, position the marked spot at 10 o’clock (pictured), and release the wheel, noting where it stops. Then position the wheel at 2 o’clock and release. Repeat at 4 o’clock, and 8 o’clock positions. Each time the wheel is released it should drift no more than roughly 1/4-1/3 rotation, and settle in a different spot. As long as this movement stops in a different position each time, the wheel is balanced.

Once you get the hang of it, the entire process should take no more than 5-10 minutes for most wheels.

Additional Tips

Once the wheels are re-installed on the bike and the tires hit the ground, numerous variables come into play. Basic wear of the tire from use can affect balance to varying degrees, most notably in off-road contexts where more uneven wear or even chunking of knobs can occur. As the balancing marks are usually erased from the sidewalls with off-road use, repairing a flat with a tube-type tire on the trail means the tire will almost certainly be re-installed in a different position than designed for optimum balance. Even on a tubeless tire, repairing a flat with a plug can affect balance to a degree. 

A dent creates a light spot in the rim that usually requires adding more weight to the area.

These variables do not entirely negate the balancing process however. When re-balancing a wheel after installing either a used tire or a new one, the weights generally tend to go back to the same area of the rim, often with only minor variances in positioning and amount. Some tires are inherently more balanced than others, which accounts for the variance. The rim itself contains a significant amount of weight in the balancing equation, and this amount remains consistent for the most part. 

As mentioned previously, the Tusk Stand can also be used to True motorcycle wheels. Here’s a useful video with tips on how to True your wheels at home:

Final Thoughts

With adventure riding comes the increased chance of out-of-round wheels, rim dings and other factors that can affect wheel balance. Taking the time to check the status of a wheel’s balance when swapping tires can make for a more enjoyable experience over the long stretches of smooth road that are often a part of any adventure bike journey.  And at $70, the Tusk Wheel Stand makes the job a whole lot easier and can easily pay for itself within a few home tire changes. 

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Rocky Mountain ATV/MC

Author: Jon Beck

Jon Beck is fulfilling a dream of never figuring out what to be when he grows up. Racing mountain bikes, competitive surfing, and touring as a musician are somehow part of what led Jon to travel through over 40 countries so far as an adventure motorcycle photographer, journalist, and guide. From precision riding for cameras in Hollywood, to refilling a fountain pen for travel stories, Jon brings a rare blend of experience to the table. While he seems happiest when lost in a desert someplace, deadlines are met most of the time.

Author: Jon Beck
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