How do you fix a bent aluminium motorcycle rim? You can straighten a bent aluminium motorcycle rim using only a mallet and a heat gun with the right tools.
Given how much abuse they go through, it’s not surprising that motorcycle rims are especially prone to bending. And if you found yours to have succumbed to the road over the years, then chances are that you’re panicking.
Although a bent rim is a cause for alarm, it’s nothing you can’t fix. Here’s how to fix a bent aluminium motorcycle rim and keep yourself safe on the road.
Should You Get a Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim Fixed?
Yes, and it’s more than just a cosmetic remedy.
Bent rims are not uncommon, especially among motocross racers who have to deal with rocks and debris. But is it safe to ride a motorbike with a bent rim? No, and the reasons are all too clear.
First of all, a bent rim means the tire isn’t seated flush against the rim. Not only does this lead to unwanted air loss, but it could also result in your tire getting punctured. When riding your motorbike, a lot of stress is added to the wheel from your weight and the ground below you. With a bent rim, that stress gets transferred to your wheel, completely piercing it.
And that’s not where it ends.
Since the wheel is out of shape, your ride will be a lot wobblier. On cars, it may not be as noticeable. But on a motorbike, where a wheel is 50% of your balance, you’re going to feel every bump on the road. And it gets worse if you’re habitual of veering off-road. So, let’s say that a bent wheel is every off-roader’s worst nightmare.
Don’t see a visible bend on your motorcycle rim? Check again.
Often, the bend may not be visible as a dent or a protrusion. Instead, the entire wheel may be crooked. Take a look at the back of the wheel. Does the rim seem crooked?
If that is the case, you have what is called an “out of round” wheel. If left untreated, it could lead to significant balance issues, frequent deflation, and a possible road accident.
Getting a bent aluminium motorcycle rim fixed ensures you remain safe and secure on the road.
Why Do Aluminum Motorcycle Rims Bend?
So, you noticed that your rim had been bent. But how did it come to be like that? Understanding what causes bent rims in mo0torycles is crucial to solving the problem.
The most common cause of bent rims is a collision with anything on the road at high speeds. And right off the bat, you can guess why motorcycles are so prone to bent rims. Motorbikes are typically driven at much higher speeds than cars or regular bikes. And hence, they are prone to developing bends out of the blue.
However, the cause of the bend isn’t always so spontaneous. Often, a part of your rim may start to bend after years of use and abuse. When that happens, your rim will start to accumulate a lot of cracks. And cracks are a lot harder to repair than simple bends in the rim. For this reason, you’re better off hiring a professional.
Is It Safe to Repair a Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim Yourself?
We established that repairing a bent aluminium motorcycle rim is necessary. But can you do it yourself? While the answer is yes, it’s not recommended to do so.
For one thing, the way they fix it in professional settings is different from how you’d do it at home. For example, when you take the rim to a professional, they first set the wheel onto a spinning apparatus. They then have a sensor scan the rim and sense any bends. Even the slightest bends become visible, and the sensor sends the data to the computer, which the mechanic can then read.
After that, the mechanic will use various techniques, such as beating the rim and using heat, to fix it. After every beat, the mechanic will check the rim against the sensor to look for more faults. The entire process is very intensive and not easy. For example, it can take hours to fix a bend if the rim is too out of shape.
Now you can very easily guess why your household methods won’t work. No matter how well you fix a bend, there will still be some bends left behind. And as we already established, riding around with a bent rim, even if the bend is only slight, is a recipe for disaster.
And that’s not all. If your rim has developed very tiny cracks over time, then you will need a professional. Only a professional can fill in the cracks and save your wheel from total disaster.
How much heavy bike’s aluminum bent should you repair on your own?
Here’s our answer:
- If you’re riding a 125 to 200cc bike that isn’t used for high-speed applications, you can fix the wheel yourself. In this case, you’re not using the wheel for everyday off-road ventures.
- If the bike is stronger than that, 600cc and above, then seek professional help. The damage to the rim will be a lot higher at higher speeds.
- When the damage is too monumental, consider a trip to the local. Even though you may fix the superficial bend, the underlying cracks will continue to be there.
How To Fix A Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim?
What You’ll Need:
- A jack.
- A flat surface such as a table or bench.
- Soap solution.
- Degreaser (optional).
- Rubber mallet.
- Adjustable wrench.
- Heat gun (Method 2).
- Protective coatings.
Method 1: Beating the Rim
The easiest way to fix a bent aluminium motorcycle rim is by beating the dent into place. It can even be done at home. But you must remember to be gentle enough not to harm the rim in any way.
Step 1: Remove and Clean the Rim
Remove the rim from the motorbike and thoroughly clean it. For this, you’ll need a jack to lift the bike. Lay it down on any flat surface, such as a table or a workbench. Mix some dishwashing soap with some water and apply the solution to the entire rim, cleaning it thoroughly. If needed, use a degreaser to remove any outstanding oil and dirt.
Step 2: Beat the Dent
Now, it’s time to beat the dent. This will be a lot harder than you may think. To avoid scratching the rim and damaging it, use a rubber mallet. Then, gently beat the dent to flatten it.
If the dent is too severe, a rubber mallet won’t be sufficient. In that case, it is better to use an adjustable wrench to grab the part of the rim dented and pull it into shape. Never use a hammer or any other hard blunt object to beat the dent. It will only cause a lot more collateral damage, and the dent might get worse.
Method 2: Using Heat
Applying heat to the rim before fixing the dent will make it flexible and easier to work with. Here’s how to fix a bent aluminium rim:
Step 1: Remove and Clean the Rim
Remove the rim from the axle properly. Now use a mild soap solution to wash the rim on both sides and use a degreaser if needed. You want the rim to be completely clean to prevent any dust from getting lodged in the dent.
Step 2: Use Heat
Next, apply heat to the dented part of the rim. It’s recommended to blast it with heat for about 3 minutes. Use a propane torch in the full-bore position. In this position, it should produce a bright blue flame. Lightly heat the area until it becomes a bit more supple than before.
Remember! You must use the heat gun sparingly. You don’t want to keep the torch in one spot for too long. Not only will this mean uneven heating, but the metal might start melting or deforming further.
Step 3: Beat the Dent
Use a rubber mallet to beat the dented part of the rim lightly. Make sure not to hit it too hard, or else you will cause more harm than good. If the mallet isn’t working, try grabbing the bent part of the rim with an adjustable wrench and then pulling it into place.
Repeat until all visible dents have been flattened. Sometimes you’ll need to reapply the heat to keep the rim supple enough to fix. Remember always to be gentle. Do not go overboard with the beating process.
Now reapply any necessary polishes and paints. It’s a good idea to polish your rim with a buffing wheel to retain its natural shine and keep your rim looking as good as new.
After The Fix:
Even though you’ve fixed the rim, it may require some time and testing before you can use it again. First, let any reapplied coatings such as paint dry off. Then, begin inspecting it for cracks.
Inspecting for cracks is essential. Metals used in motorcycle rims (especially aluminum) often develop cracks that can be unnoticed. Over time, these may lead to the bending problem reoccurring. To prevent this, shine a light behind the wheel and look at it from one side. Then repeat on the other side. Make sure that the light isn’t coming through any place where it shouldn’t come from.
Once you’re confident there are no cracks, reattach the rim to the motorcycle. Now, take your motorcycle for a test run, perhaps in your parking lot. Drive around a bit and across a few days to see if the cracks give way. If the cracks are holding up, your rim is indeed in good condition.
But don’t hit the road just yet. In the same parking lot, take longer rides. The length and intensity of the ride can cause the wheel to crack and break open. If the rim is still perfectly well, it’s safe to use the bike on the road. However, we still highly encourage an inspection by a professional.
Is It Safe to Fix a Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim Yourself?
While it may be convenient to do so, it’s not recommended. A garage fix for something as dangerous as a bent rim will only put your health at risk. Of course, your garage fix won’t be as perfect as your mechanic’s. And perfection is what you want.
Can I Drive with A Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Rim?
No. A bent aluminium motorcycle rim will throw off your balance. Not only that, it runs the risk of deflating your tire and causing serious harm to your health and safety. Stop driving as soon as you notice a bend in your aluminium motorcycle rim.
Are Aluminum Alloy Motorcycle Rims Easy to Fix?
Unfortunately, since the aluminium alloy is considerably strong and not very flexible, it’s harder to fix. But, of course, that doesn’t mean the job can’t be done. But you’ll likely be needing lots of heat and a trip to the local mechanic shop to fix aluminium rims.
When Should I Get a Rim Replacement?
If you’re unable to fix the bend using any of the methods above, and if your mechanic recommends it, then get a rim replacement. Additionally, if you notice cracks forming with no clear cause, then a rim replacement is due. Besides that, if your rim keeps forming bends even though you are keeping everything in check, then it’s high time you bought another rim.
How To Fix a Bent Aluminum Motorcycle Spoked Wheel?
Spoked wheels are different from forged wheels. While the straightening process is still the same, you don’t have to go for a full rim replacement if it fails. Instead, you can replace the spoke which has been bent. In fact, in many cases, it might be a lot easier to replace the bent spoke instead of trying to fix it.
Driving with a bent rim is never a good idea. You never know when the situation can get ugly. And you don’t want to risk it all over a bent motorcycle wheel.
That’s why it’s crucial to get a bent aluminium motorial wheel fixed as soon as possible. Of course, the best way to fix a bent motorcycle wheel is to have a professional do it. Any fix you do in the garage won’t be worth it. But if you do want to go for a home remedy, get your rubber mallet and heat gun ready.
But most importantly, take good care of your aluminium wheel. Perform regular inspections and never let a bent wheel go under the radar.