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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2018 V-Strom 650 XT with the spoke wheels. I have 3,000 miles on the bike, give or take.
Coming in from work the other day, I pulled in the clutch as I was coming to a red light and uncharacteristically coasted just a bit. I felt what I thought was an ever-so-slight bounce to the front wheel. As the 3,000 mile mark was coming, I thought I would change the oil this weekend and inspect the wheel and see if perhaps I had thrown a wheel balancing weight. Upon inspection, I can find no weights on either wheel. No standard weights, no spoke-mounted weights, no stick-on weights. Nothing.
Am I missing something here? It's been a long, long time since I rode a bike with spoke wheels but is there some unseen balancing method that I am unaware of or did I buy a bike that missed the wheel balancing? Any insight on how the factory balances these wheels would be appreciated.
 

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The stock tires have a somewhat agressive tread, intended for a bit of dirt, and the front tends to wear unevenly. My front was badly scalloped at 6000 miles, to the point I could feel the bounce while rolling around in the garage. This could be causing the bounce you feel.
 

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Most people do not bother balancing motorcycle wheels, Most manufacturers put a marking (e.g., red dot) on the tire indicatng where the tire should be oriented in relation to the valve stem.

When I changed the tires on my ST1300 I studied up on how to balance motorcycle wheels. There is a lot of information out there on how to build your wheel balancer.

https://www.google.com/search?q=diy+motorcycle+wheel+balancer&newwindow=1&rlz=1CAPPDO_enUS830&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjC2ITEudziAhWjg-AKHUz5CVIQ_AUIESgC&biw=1242&bih=539

I built one using very high quality low friction bearings. After a while I relaized that the wheel would rather spin on it's own wheel bearings than the balacers' bearings. Eventually it became apparent that aligning the red dot was all that was needed.

But check what system your tire manufacturer uses to identify the spot and where it should be aligned. Installing the tire 180 degrees out will surely give you an unbalanced wheel.
 

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Upon inspection, I can find no weights on either wheel. No standard weights, no spoke-mounted weights, no stick-on weights. Nothing.
Strange that it would have no signs of balancing from the factory. My cast wheels had clip-on weights with the original tires.

You could insert some balancing beads or Ride On to get you to the next tire change.
 

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Maybe you got the unicorn.

I balance my tires, sometimes the weight needed is an ounce or more. But, currently I have a set of Michelin Anakee 3s on and both wheels only required a single 1/4 ounce weight.

My experience differs from Ricks, my balancing stand has far easier bearings to rotate than my wheel bearings.

As for "do they need to be balanced", probably not. But I do other silly stuff when I am loving on my motorcycle.
 

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And I will add that 1/4 ounce of weight really should not be able to be felt. I have a balancer. I sometimes balance my tires. Sometimes I don't. I have had one tire that balance seemed to be off on, that was a front Roadsmart. But I also think I lost a couple of the weights that normally are left in place on it....

By far the most common reason you feel a bounce or even a vibration in tires is due to them being out of round or the tread has developed scalloping, feathering, or some kind of uneven wear. The more open the tread patter is, the more prominent the tread issues are likely to become. No amount of weights will fix an out of round tire, they might reduce the effect. This can be a bad tire, or in some cases a tire that didn't seat properly on the beads.
 

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I balance my tires and then put ceramic beads in. My bike runs down the highway smooth as glass.

And before the flames of how I don’t have to do both come my way it’s my time and if I prefer to get it weighted as close to balance as possible then just use the beads to true up the tiny difference that’s my preference. It doesn’t waste your time unless you complain about it.
 

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I just simply put in 1oz of tempered glass CounterAct beads in the front tire and 2 oz in the rear tire and call it a day. I don't even get to concerned with lining up the dots. Lately on upper tier tires they don't even have a dots to line up.

I know there are different schools of though on if balance beads do or do not work. All I can say is maybe its a placebo effect but my tires always runs smooth.
 

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I balance all tires upon installation. I have a box of thin adhesive-backed motorcycle weights courtesy of Crest Industries. The balancer is a No-Mar balancing stand with adapters for all types of bike rim centers.
If I have the rim off the bike for a tire change, fork work, or sprocket change, and I have the balancer, why woudnt I balance, or at least check the wheel?
You dont know what you dont know, and you can't know unless you check. Tha balancer allows me to do that. You buy it one time and you'll have it forever.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies. I've never really considered the necessity of balancing a motorcycle tire. I've just always assumed that this much mass spinning at the speeds required for highway and interstate speeds would necessitate it. I cannot see the manufacturing process of a tire nor the manufacturing process of a spoke wheel being good enough to negate the need. I don't even want to consider the variables involved in trying to marry the two if even the manufacturing process did accomplish it.
I may be the exception but I did not buy this bike with any intention of ever riding anywhere but pavement. I bought the bike to tour (as much and as far as current health permits). Ergonomics, weight, and cost were the deciding factors.
I have a wheel balancer for motorcycle wheels but haven't used it in many years due to using tire beads instead. I know there is a lot of debate in the world over the effectiveness beads but my personal experience has yielded more mileage and less/no cupping on the same tire/same bike. I've ordered beads and will install those and see how it reacts.

Edit: I forgot to add: The only other thing I could find upon inspection was that the front tire was low on air. I'm sure any pavement irregularities would feel exaggerated while riding on partially-inflated balloons. I'm still putting beads in.
 

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At freeway speeds underinflated tires will cause a heat buildup within the tire carcass which will cause accelerated and unusual wear. Air pressure resists heat buildup.
Look at how race teams are always chasing the perfect pressure. Too much air and ultimate grip is not achieved. Too little air and the tire overheats. Both effect grip and tire life.
 

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At freeway speeds under inflated tires will cause a heat buildup within the tire carcass which will cause accelerated and unusual wear. Air pressure resists heat buildup.
Look at how race teams are always chasing the perfect pressure. Too much air and ultimate grip is not achieved. Too little air and the tire overheats. Both effect grip and tire life.
Think of an underinflated tire this way:

When the tire contacts the street surface, the sidewall of the tire flexes. An underinflated tire flexes more than a properly inflated tire. Greater flexing generates more heat.

Just think of what happens when you take a piece of metal and flex it back and forth. Heat buildup, metal fatigue, then failure. The metal breaks.

Here is Motorcyclist Garage video on the subject.

 

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As for balancing...
You can't assume the bare rim is in perfect balance either.
Occasionally when replacing a tire I'll put just the rim on the balancer. I never see them right on the beam,
Mount the tire and balance the assembly and youre done.
Similar to someone telling me their car doesnt need an alignment, saying the the car doesnt pull, has no abnormal tire wear, and the steering wheel is straight going down the road. I'd put the car on the rack, and show the customer the printout--and it was out of spec. Then they would drive the car and come back grinning, saying it steers much better.
A smoother ride is a benefit, but not the real reason for balancing. If a tire is out of balance, the heavy spot will take some of the weight off the tread as it rotates upward. In some circumstances of speed and traction, balance is a safety factor.
 

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I want my wheels to be balanced for riding, not for spinning on my balancing stand. I put the beads in then take a test spin down a glass smooth high speed road and check closely for balance and so far with beads it is always in balance. since I started using beads my balancing stand has been gathering dust and may be put up for sale. I tried Ride On and after while it went thick and gummy and out of balance on me. many years ago I tried "tire balancing fluid" and it got thick and did not work. P J chemicals had a tire balancing liquid that they took off the market due to a lot of customer complaints. I haven't heard anybody say that the beads did not work for them. maybe they are paid to keep quiet.
 

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If you can mount a new tire onto the rim, not balance it, and ride away with the bike performing flawlessly as far as any vibrations from the tires.......

If you install beads in a new tire, not balance it, and ride away with the bike performing flawlessly as far as any vibration from the tires.....


Do you see the correlation there?

I have heard complaints from owners using beads. I have heard owners swear by them. If they were actually anything near as good as advertised, OEM would put them in tires on new bikes and cars.

Why add weight and make it harder to change tires? I think beads are pretty much non functional. But if they make the owner happy, that is ALL that matters.
 

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If you can mount a new tire onto the rim, not balance it, and ride away with the bike performing flawlessly as far as any vibrations from the tires.......

If you install beads in a new tire, not balance it, and ride away with the bike performing flawlessly as far as any vibration from the tires.....


Do you see the correlation there?

I have heard complaints from owners using beads. I have heard owners swear by them. If they were actually anything near as good as advertised, OEM would put them in tires on new bikes and cars.

Why add weight and make it harder to change tires? I think beads are pretty much non functional. But if they make the owner happy, that is ALL that matters.
What about tires that have a vibration and then you install beads through the valve stem and the vibration goes away?

How do beads make a tire harder to change? When dismounting a tire with beads in it the beads lay in the side wall. When the tire comes off the rime simply stand it up and the beads lay in the bottom of the tire where they can be reclaimed with a simple piece of stiff paper or thin plastic.

To install the beads I set both tire beads then deflate the thre and break the bead in one area. Then I have a bottle with a pointed nozzle and a piece of hose on it I extend into the body of the tire lift the bottle upright and the beads pour in. Reinstall the valve core inflate and reset the small section of tire bead and your done. It adds maybe 2 minutes to the entire process.

Unless I personally put beads in the tire I have no idea what tires do and don't have beads in them. Either way I don't change the dismounting/mounting process at all. Basically beads or no beads the process is the same. Its only getting beads into the tire that a little different.
 

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What about tires that have a vibration and then you install beads through the valve stem and the vibration goes away?
I wouldn't know about that. In the past 14 years that I have been back riding, I have yet to have a tire that had a vibration when I mounted them up and rode away with them.

If I have a motorcycle tire that does vibrate, I want to know why. Not put a band aid on it. If it is out of round, I want to remount it to see if it was a bead seating issue. If it would seem out of balance, I would try to balance it. If I were not happy with the amount of weight required, I would spin it 180 degrees on the rim and try again. If that still took more weight than I was comfortable with, I would demount it and send it back.

But so far I have never had to send one back.
 

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Seems to be the luck of the draw with tires, I have some new tires on my Valkyrie and it bounces up and down like a pogo stick. Got somewhat better with beads and running pressure to the max, but either way something is wrong with one of both of these tires. Buddy who did my tires has a business doing such, he said they static balanced no problem......go figure.
 

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I wouldn't know about that. In the past 14 years that I have been back riding, I have yet to have a tire that had a vibration when I mounted them up and rode away with them.

If I have a motorcycle tire that does vibrate, I want to know why. Not put a band aid on it. If it is out of round, I want to remount it to see if it was a bead seating issue. If it would seem out of balance, I would try to balance it. If I were not happy with the amount of weight required, I would spin it 180 degrees on the rim and try again. If that still took more weight than I was comfortable with, I would demount it and send it back.

But so far I have never had to send one back.
I'm not sure balance beads are a "band Aid" so much as simply another way to balance a tire?
 
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