Spoke tension and condition can often be overlooked on a motorcycle. At the 1k, 5k, 20k service, and beyond it is of utmost importance that the wheels be lifted or removed from the motorcycle for this service. If you are replacing tires at, or near, one of these service points, it would be a good time for an inspection.
Use a spoke wheel wrench and see if you can turn each nipple about 1/8 of a turn without the need to exert too much force. If the nipple is tight, do not attempt to turn it at all. If spokes need to be tightened, it is important that they are snug and not over-tightened. If spokes are unevenly over-tightened, the wheel can twist or become egg-shaped, or both. This will render the rim useless.
If you find that one of your rims has a large amount of loose spokes or a group of excessively loose spokes, we recommend that you take the wheel to a tech who can professionally re-trued the spoke wheel.
If you ever have a rim that needs to be re-trued, or laced and trued, don’t be intimidated to try doing it yourself. Pick up a take off rim from your local shop so you have something that you can learn and practice on with our video. Some riders consider lacing and truing to be “old school”, but being that Harley-Davidson still manufacturers motorcycles with spoke rims; there is nothing old school about it! In fact, every Harley Davidson model that is sold with spoke wheels has a corresponding service manual with a section that explains how to lace & true their wheel.
Lacing and wheel truing is tedious. You need to approach the task with patience and an open mind. It is something that will need to be learned, and then practiced. It is not something that you will be able to master on your first attempt, but it can be learned and mastered as many have. If you know somebody that has a solid mastering of this task, ask if you can shadow that person while they work on a set of wheels.
Maintain a strict service schedule for your Harley Davidson and you will be able to keep your rims true and within spec for many years and miles.