Motorcycle Wheel Repair
by Tim Gowens
Motorcycle wheels can be repaired just as easily as any other alloy wheel. The process is the same, but requires a different machine, because most motorcycle wheels have a "pressed in" bearing that remains with the wheel.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. So Metro Wheels converted an old brake lathe to a state-of-the-art motorcycle wheel repair machine. All our hard work has been worth it, as the new custom repair machine allows for the bearing that is pressed in and accommodates most wheel sizes. The wheel is centered on a shaft and then heated to ensure smooth movement under hydraulic pressure.
Repair vs. Replace
Why invest in motorcycle wheel repairs? Because replacing OEM motorcycle rims and wheels can range from $350 to $2,000 per wheel. So those who didn't want to spend that kind of money began asking about having them "pressed" back out - and the motorcycle wheel repairs industry was born.
So long as safety isn't an issue (that is, when a wheel can be repaired by a professional technician without jeopardizing the lives of the riders who are relying on the wheel to do its job), then alloy motorcycle wheel repair is an excellent choice for economy and cosmetic restoration. But when a wheel has been damaged severely, Metro Wheels will not compromise your safety: if there's any question, we'll err on the side of not repairing what could lead to serious injury.
Our Team of Experts
One of the better-known motorcycle wheel repair businesses in the country is Metro Wheels, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. Metro has one of the largest wheel repair facilities and wheel networking capacity in the country, with the expert team to repair alloy wheels quickly and safely.
At Metro Wheels, we teamed up with the sharpest engineers to design a state-of-the-art wheel repair facility. Our repair processes assure 95-100% wheel accuracy at completion.
Motorcycle wheel repair in the Atlanta area has been saturated with many companies claiming that they can fix any wheel. But the truth is that many of them are "fly by the night" companies with a sledgehammer and a torch. They can bend out a wheel, but most cannot check it for accuracy because they do not have a proper way of "spinning" the wheel. This is not the correct way to fix any wheel.
Some can make the wheel unsafe by not properly applying consistent pressures in a specific way with an exact heat. They stress crack the wheel beyond safety standards and call it a repaired wheel. But you could be jeopardizing your safety by using someone without proper experience.
Because we have been in business for over 15 years, our experience in motorcycle wheel repairs exceeds most shops'. Our aluminum wheel repair specialists can repair most wheels that have been curbed, scraped up, cracked or chemically damaged, providing excellent structural and cosmetic repairs; and our professional, certified welders are second to none.
Metro Wheels uses its own engineered equipment and guaranteed processes to return damaged, scraped and, in most cases, cracked wheels back to their original factory specifications. Because your safety is our highest priority, we will not repair any alloy wheel that cannot be safely ridden on after repair.
Metro Wheels' Repair Process
The repair process is straightforward. First, we mount the wheel accurately on a motorcycle axial simulator. With the proper heat, consistent hydraulic pressure and light vibrations under pressure, the alloy wheel will move - without cracking - back to its original condition. If there is a crack that can't be seen by the naked eye (under chrome or paint), it will instantly pop out; our certified welders will then fill and repair the crack. After the wheel has cooled, it will retain its original strength. Heat, consistent pressure and vibration are key to an excellent wheel repair.
When a wheel is delivered to Metro Wheels, it is either dropped off by the owner, shipped in or picked up in the metro Atlanta area from our wholesale customers. We generate a work order for each individual wheel, detailing the customer's information and any special instructions. Each wheel is assigned a unique work order number that is engraved on the inside of the rim, so that Metro can track its history precisely. This number also makes it much easier to track the wheel throughout the repair process.
Once identified, each wheel is washed thoroughly to remove all road dust and dirt, because the dust could be hiding additional scratches, gouges or cracks. Metro uses a pressure washer system with a diluted acid-based cleaning compound that will not damage a wheel's existing finish.
This is particularly important because brake dust removal is essential to determining the level of damage to a wheel. But it must be done correctly, because wheels with a polished or anodized finish can be damaged if the wrong washing compound is used. For instance, a two-piece wheel with a bright lip that is not chromed is typically an anodized finish, a chemical treatment that is very hard to see. If the wrong cleaner or acid is used on such a finish, the wheel surface will be streaked; however, this anodized finish can be stripped off and any scratches buffed out.
Once thoroughly cleaned, one of our expert technicians performs a complete inspection of the wheel for radial and lateral runout. Radial runout is vertical, and Metro measures to see just how much the wheel is out of round with a micrometer gauge that measures to 1/1,000 of an inch. If a wheel has 5/1,000 of an inch radial runout, you could put a dial indicator on the wheel and then spin the wheel. The distance the wheel traveled up and down while spinning would be 5/1,000 of an inch both in the high and low position - or swing.
Lateral runout, on the other hand, is how much the damaged wheel will wobble from side to side. On some larger diameter wheels subjected to a hard pothole hit or curb, the wheel will be bent and, if hit hard enough, it will bend and twist the spokes. Most lateral runout can be corrected with pressure on the back of the wheel. But when the lateral runout cannot be corrected, the wheel is not repairable.
Lateral runout is the hardest type of repair to make. It also happens to be the most deceptive, because while a wheel may look like it has only minor rim damage, it can actually be fairly significant and not easily seen to the naked eye unless the wheel is spinning.
The next point of inspection is for alloy defects such as curb rashes and cracks. Metro recommends that the tires be removed for this inspection because most damage cannot be seen otherwise. Metro wheels will not remove the tire for you. You will need to have the tire removed and please keep the bearing in the wheel (if it is loose). We will bring it back to its original condition ready to have the tire re-mounted. You will be riding again in no time.
Written on Thursday, January 16, 2014 by