Some riders consider lacing and truing to be “old school”. Being that Harley-Davidson still manufacturers motorcycles with spoke rims; there is nothing old school about it! 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.
Find A Master
If you know somebody that has a solid mastering of this task, ask if you can shadow that person while he works out a set of wheels. It is also a good idea to find a rim that you can practice on.
For wheel truing you will need a truing stand, a dial indicator, a spoke wrench, a scale, and a straight edge. There are three factors to work in order to have a true wheel. Radial runout (aka hop), Lateral runout (aka wobble), and offset. Radial runout is the circumference of the wheel. Lateral runout is the “side to side”. Typical Harley Davidson spec/tolerance for these is under .030″. The first, most important, thing needed to do is to determine your offset. The offset for your rim can be found in your year/model specific service manual.
Next, you can mount it in the wheel truing stand and begin roughing it in. You need to work all three factors in conjunction with one another. For this reason, it is vital that spokes are turned in small intervals after rough in.
Take Your Time
Never tighten a set of spokes without, first, loosening a set. This will pull the rim out if round.
When working the Lateral runout, you will need to work in sets of two. When working Radial runout, you will need to work in sets of four. You will need to continuously alternate working the three until the offset is correct and the Lateral and Radial runout are .030 or less, out. Lacing and truing was in the earliest motorcycle service manuals and is still in the most current manuals this year.
If your spokes loosen, or your rim gets a little twist in it; you don’t need to run out and buy a new rim. Go to the chassis section of your factory service manual, watch our videos and learn how to true your own wheels.