What to do if the rear wheel is Wobbling

Often, we find that after getting a puncture repaired, or after replacing the tyre, the wheel tends to wobble. What do we do in such situation, how can we detect and correct wobbling? This guide provides step by step guide on how to detect the problem, the specific areas to identify and the common symptoms associated and identification of the symptoms. If you have ever experienced something like rear wheel wobbling, just read on, find the trouble, rectify it.

The Problem of rear wheel wobbling

Remember the days when we got a puncture repaired, or replaced the rear wheel, or got rim or spokes corrected? For some of us, the bike just lost its balance and we lost confidence in it... we were too scared to make even the slightest of the dip while turning, didn't know when we would topple, and no matter what, the bike just won't go in a straight line.... scary, ain't it?
Well, even I had the same trouble when I got the rear wheel of my bike replaced by a new one after completing about 18000 km on the odometer. When I rode it after that, there was a marked difference in the ride quality. The bike would shake dangerously above 70kmph. And, I just couldn't even think of taking a steep turn at a fairly high speed, which I used to do frequently on old tires. I went to the service centre, they did some thing... don't know what, and the problem persisted. I went to the local mechanic... but to no avail... Then, I decided to handle the problem myself.

The Symptoms of rear wheel wobbling

Unstable setup at high speeds, losing grip constantly on the tarmac or let's say, road, scary turning experience..

Possible points of trouble: -

Excessive air in the tube, mis-alignment of swingarm nut, bent or uneven suspension, incorrect wheel alignment, broken rim.

Now, let us examine each problem in details...

1. Excessive air: When the tires are filled up to a limit much more than that recommended by the manufacturer, the tire inflates and leaves very little surface area available for contact with the tarmac, which in turn, means worser grip. Hence, the remedy is to check the air pressure constantly and deflate the tire a little if necessary. If you are unsure about the air pressure levels, just refer to your user manual. And, if you lost it, which, we often do... then check the swingarm or the area around the brakes of rear wheel at the left side, you should find a sticker mentioning the recommended pressures. If you have lost that sticker too, then google is always there to help you..

2. Mis-alignment of swing arm nuts: Swing arm is the square or round tube that house the base end of the suspension. It is a part of the frame. Now that you know what swingarm is, lets get into the details. The nut which holds the tire to the rim goes through swingarm. If you observe the nut area carefully, you will find that there are black vertical strips before and behind the nut area. These strips are provided on both sides. The point is, the strips should match each other on both sides when we replace the tire. For example, if there are two strips visible on the left side, there should be two strips available on the right side too. If they are not, then adjust the small nut on the back of swingarm until both strips are equal.

3. Bent or Uneven Suspension: Ok, lets accept the facts. Indian roads are pothole ridden and bikes have to go through them often. The suspensions can take the jerks upto some point. But, like all parts, they are also subject to wear and tear and have a specific life period. After that, they no longer serve their purpose. Or sometimes, it happens that some part of the springs may have broken, or the suspension fork is bent. Here, I am specifically talking about rear suspension. Now a days, we see adjustable suspensions, it might also be that the settings are just wrong. Now, there are two types of suspensions, soft and hard. Softer suspension provides better ride comfort but bad stability. Hard one are exact opposite. We have to look at the fine balance, somewhere in between. Now for the solution part, check if the springs of suspension are at the same level, if not check for adjustment and verify that the both sides have same levels of adjustment. If this the case, the spring has worn out, replace it. If the adjustment is the problem, well, just readjust it. If the problem still persists, check for bent forks by opening up suspension and replace if necessary.

4. Incorrect wheel alignment: We face this problem when placing the wheel back on the brake setup after removing them for repairs.When the axes of both the brake and wheel doesn't co-incide, the wheel alignment is said to be bad. To check this, just rotate the wheel with one hand and inspect if the wheel dances around the axis. If its not possible visually, use a marker pen and draw a line along the wheel as it rotates. This should tell if the wheel is wobbling or not. If that's the case, get the wheel realigned.

5. Broken Rim: Well, just check the rim. While riding potholes, it is very common for them to bend under pressure or develop cracks. If that is the case, either replace or repair them and your bike should do fine.

Back wheel wobbling is a very common problem and with little care, inspection and common sense, we can avoid wasting money on such a small problem.

Happy Biking And Safe Riding

Read Lightening the Load with the Right Choice of Castors


Guest Author: K. K. Vinaykumar10 Apr 2018

Sorry to comment on an very old article but now I really need help. My 2014 Honda Dazzler starts to sway only if I go on bad roads or on an pot holed road or on a road where only patch work has been done. To stop it from swaying I have to completely come to a stop for a second & then I should start to ride. My motorcycle won't sway on perfectly laid road or on the road that is completely flat & I can even go at the speed of 60 KMPH to 80 KMPH. What might be the problem? Please help.

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