Factory Tubeless Motorcycle Wheels
If you've talked with Woody or the team here at Woody's Wheel Works for any length of time, you have likely heard us mention that the factory wheels that come on most motorcycles today are not up to snuff in one regard or another. Most of the time, we are referring to dual sport and off road motorcycles, as they are often the ones that incur the most damage to their wheels. Read on to see why we recommend upgrading as soon as possible!
Finesse!: Most factory made wheels are trued by machines in the factories these days. We have found that because of this, brands like BMW will call anywhere up to 0.060" of run-out to be within spec! A machine at this point in time simply does not have the finesse it takes to fine tune the spokes on a wheel. 0.060" is absurdly high where it comes to these tolerances. Woody considers somewhere between 0.010-0.015" to be within spec for new wheels.
Design: According to our standards, factory designed rims & wheels have been lacking for quite some time. As time has gone on, bikes have gotten larger and heavier, and yet the wheels are soft, almost like butter. Motorcycles from the likes of KTM and BMW (and more!) have opted for wider, more road-worthy wheels to make the bike more comfortable on extended highway trips. All have sacrificed both strength and integrity of the wheels by going this route
OEM brands have also recently opted for designing their wheels with a softer aluminum rim to make them "easier to repair". This last part is disagreeable at best, as they've since become unrepairable in many cases! As you can see below, this BMW wheel is suffering a very common fate: Cracking at the spoke hole as a result of a slightly bent rim on a wheel that has extreme spoke angles from the hub (BMW wheels particularly) and a soft aluminum rim. Many factors play a role in the damage that this image shows.
The same softness is true of KTM. When paired with the tubeless liner that relies on a perfectly round wheel, as well as rubber gaskets around each nipple, you are riding against a countdown to when your wheels will start to lose air pressure.
Even if you've just brought your new motorcycle home from the dealer, we recommend at least checking your wheels for true. It isn't unheard of for new motorcycles to have wheel issues! Dealers and tire professionals rarely will check the wheels for true, so the best practice is to know how to do this yourself! We recommend using the *ping* test to check your spokes and make sure that they are all ringing at the same tone. This is also the best way to check your wheels over while they are still mounted on the bike.
Please note: We are not here to talk down about any brand in particular. As people/riders who work in this very niche market, we see these issues come up quite often, and it is our desire to make sure that everyone has as much info as is needed when dealing with circumstances like this. Consider upgrading to a set of our Superlite wheels today to gain a peace of mind about your ride for years to come!