How to Know if a Motorcycle Wheel is Bent? (And How to Fix it)

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In the wake of the internet era, even the most challenging motorcycle fixes are becoming easier.

Unfortunately, the potholes, curbs, and other driving hazards can damage your bike rims, leading to expensive repairs and replacements.

Motorcycle wheels can bend under pressure, and you might only notice later when the morning and evening rides become unenjoyable. These issues could cause the entire rim to bend when not addressed on time.

When you notice that your motorcycle wheels are wobbly and vibrating, it could be a symptom of a bend. If that is the case, considering fixing it through a professional repairer is a great idea. However, if the bend is minor and manageable from your garage, nothing should stop you from fixing it.

Learn more about the telltale signs that your motorcycle wheel is bent and what you can do to fix it.

Signs of a Bent Motorcycle Wheel

Vibrations and Shakiness

When there is any issue with the motorcycle wheels, the most common symptom is shakiness and vibration.

Vibrations are evident because the bent wheels transmit them to the handlebars, which makes your ride uncomfortable.

Excessive shakiness happens because of uneven tire contact with the road surface.

Poor Bike Handling

A bent rim affects the handling of your motorcycle because it destabilizes the steering and performance.

You may have a bent wheel if you feel like you cannot control your motorcycle properly and it keeps wobbling. Visually inspect the tire and check it further for any issues as soon as possible.

Visible Damage to the Wheel

A rim in perfect condition should be radially and laterally correct.

Wheel damage is pretty obvious if you look at the rim. You will notice uneven surfaces and possible warping of the aluminum, which is enough to show that your bike is problematic.

If you notice any deformity, you must consider whether it needs repair, straightening, or replacement.

Constant Tire Deflation

The wheel on your motorcycle should fit flush against the tire. If the wheel bends, it pulls away from the tire and can cause air leaks or even press hard against the rubber to cause flats.

If you realize your tires keep deflating and you have to fill up every few days of the week, it could be because of damages that cause slow leaks.

If you continue using this tire, it could expose you to a blowout, so you must get it fixed immediately.

How Does a Rim Get Bent?

Bends often result from the motorcycle coming into contact with obstacles on the road at fast speeds. Motorcycle rims have different bends, and there are multiple ways these bends come by. Some bends are less severe, while others are entirely dangerous when you go to ride with them.

The biggest culprit of bent rims is large potholes in the road, unseen speed bumps, and accident impact with other vehicles.

In some cases, it could be a prior unnoticeable bend that manifests with constant riding to a point it cannot go unnoticed. This is the time you will start feeling the vibrations and wobbling in the steering column.

How to Fix a Bent Rim Yourself

Tools required;

  • A jack
  • A workbench or flat surface
  • Soap solution
  • Degreaser
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • Paint
  • Heat gun
  • Protective coatings

Step 1 – Analyze what caused the bend

Check your motorcycle rim to determine the cause of the bend. If it results from a crash, your best shot at getting it fixed is at the repair shop.

Some rims need more effort and machinery to fix that you may not have. However, if your rim bends because of a gradual process, either excessive weight on one side, then there is a chance that you can put it back into shape.

Step 2 – Remove the motorcycle wheels and clean the rim

Before starting the repair, remove the motorcycle wheels from the motorcycle and place them on a flat surface.

Whether using a table, workbench, or bench, clean off any accumulated dirt with warm soapy water. Start by cleaning the metal surfaces to avoid getting dirt trapped in the motorcycle rim.

Step 3 – Bend the rim into position

In this step, you will have to beat the dent into position. This process could be harder because it needs keenness.

Use a rubber mallet to avoid scratching or damaging the rim. Gently tap the motorcycle rim into shape as you work from one side of the bend to the other. This method helps you fix sides without damaging the straight parts of the rim.

If the dent appears too severe, use an adjustable wrench to grab the dented part of the rim. This wrench makes it easier to pull the rim into shape and only beat the edges to adjust the surface.

Do not use a hammer or other hard blunt object to beat the dent. A hard object will end up causing more collateral damage, and the dent might worsen.

Fixing a Bent Rim Using Heat

Applying heat to the rim before you fix the dent becomes flexible and easier to malleate. Follow this process for better results.

Step 1 – Remove the clean rim

Remove the rim from the axle and use a mild soap solution to wash the iron rim on both sides. If possible, you can use a degreaser to keep the rim clean to prevent dust from lodging into the dent.

Step 2 – Apply heat

With a heat gun, apply heat to the part of the rim with the dent by blasting it for about three minutes. You can use a propane torch in the full-bore position, where it produces a bright blue flame. Lightly heat the area until it becomes somehow suppler than before.

Use the heat gun sparingly because you do not want to keep it in one spot longer. This results in uneven heating and could cause the metal to melt or deform further.

Step 3 – Beat the dent

With a rubber mallet, beat the dent on the rim lightly because hitting it too hard causes more harm. You can also use a wrench to pull the rim into position.

Repeat the beating and pulling process until the visible dents flatten. You may have to constantly apply heat on the rim to keep it supple enough for working the surface.

Always be gentle on the rim and avoid going overboard with the beating process. Once you are done, reapply finishes and paints to give the rim a natural shine that keeps it as new as possible.

Here’s a great video showing how to straighten a bent rim with the ehat method. Sure the video shows how this is done on car rims, but the same technique would apply to motorcycle rims as well:

Inspection After You Have Fixed The Bent Rim

Even after fixing the rim, you still need to take some time for testing before you install it back on your motorbike. First, allow additional coatings or paint to dry before inspecting for cracks. It is critical to check for cracks because metals like aluminum can develop unnoticeable tracks under pressure.

Over time, these cracks will cause bending, leading to the problem reoccurring. The best way to check for cracks is by shining a light behind the wheel and looking at it from one side. Then, move over to the other side and repeat the process. Ensure that there is no light coming through the rim.

After confirming no cracks on the rim, reattach the wheel to the motorcycle and take it for a test run. Drive around short distances to see if the cracks affect the performance. If these cracks are not too severe, your rim is perfect.

Should You Get a Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim Fixed?

Yes! fixing a bent rim goes beyond cosmetic remedy for your motorcycle. Bent rims are common among motocross racers riding through rocks and other debris.

First, a bent wheel means the tire is not sitting flush against the iron. Poor positioning leads to unwanted air loss and can also get your tires punctured.

As you ride the motorbike, you keep adding stress to the wheel from the weight and ground force. The stress damages your wheels and tubes, and you may have to replace them. In addition, the wheel being out of shape means the ride becomes too wobbly.

Dangers of Driving With a Bent Rim

Often, you will hear people argue that they can fix their car rims, and everything will turn out fine. So, they try to make it seem like fixing a motorcycle rim is no different. However, you have to be careful about fixing motorcycle rims.

When you poorly fix a bend on a rim, you risk creating bulges due to deflation as you ride. It is also likely that the tire will blow out because of improper suction against the rim, especially when riding tubeless tires. A blowout or flat is significantly dangerous on a motorcycle which can throw you off the bike and cause severe injuries.

If you have a bent wheel that wobbles when you ride, your rim could be “out of round.” Instead of having a flat spot or deep bend on the edge of the rim, the rim itself will appear crooked when you look at its back profile.

Each time you ride with the wheels in such a condition, the bend worsens, and the constant pressure will cause the wheel to bend completely in half.

Is it Safe to Repair a Bent Motorcycle Wheel Yourself?

Repairing a bent motorcycle wheel is necessary, and even though you can do it alone, it could be very risky. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a motorcycle repair service because they already have the systems and tools to make the job easier.

The repair shop has a spinning apparatus where they mount the wheel. Some sensors scan the rims to point out where the dents are. Even the slightest bends become visible, and the sensor will send the data to a computer that a mechanic can read. The mechanic will use this information to determine the suitable solutions.

Whether they use heating or beating methods, the mechanic checks the rim against the sensor after every step to look for faults. The entire process is very intensive, and it could take hours to fix a wheel that is out of shape.

Now when you compare the household methods, you may realize they are somewhat inferior. You might fix a bend perfectly, but some will still be left behind. For example, riding around with a slightly bent rim, even after minor fixes, can still cause a disaster. In addition, you could fix a bend but not the cracks in the rim. Only a professional can fill the cracks and save your wheel from total damage.

Wheel Bend Fixing by Weight

The easiest way to determine if you can fix your bent rim is by checking the weight of your motorbike. Here is a guideline for different motorcycle sizes.

  • If you have a 125-cc or a 200-cc bike you never use for high-speed riding, it is easier to fix the wheel yourself. In addition, the damage will be manageable because the wheel is not used for daily off-road adventures.
  • If your bike is stronger than 600cc and above, only professionals have the best fix for you. The damage may become too pronounced when riding at higher speeds.
  • You will need to visit the local repair shop when there is too much damage. Although you can fix the superficial bend, the underlying cracks will keep developing.

After going through the details above, you can easily diagnose issues with your wheels and find appropriate ways to handle them. Wheels can sometimes be problematic, especially if you are a beginner rider.

You may keep riding for weeks or months without finding any issues with your bike, only for them to blow up on your face when you least expect them. To avoid damage mid-journey, constantly inspect your bike for maintenance to understand what you should fix. 

Bent Wheels FAQs

Are Aluminum Alloy Motorcycle Rims Easy to Fix?

Unfortunately, aluminum alloy is considerably strong and rarely flexes. Therefore, it becomes harder to fix. However, you can get the job done by applying a lot of heat and frequent trips to the mechanic shop.

When Should I Replace my Rims

If you cannot use the bend using the methods given above or one recommended by your mechanic, you should consider a replacement. In addition, if you notice cracks forming without any clear cause, it is time to replace your rims. Finally, if you keep everything in check and your rims are still cracking, consider buying another rim.