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Balancing Your Wheels

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Balancing Your Wheels

Old 05-16-20, 03:18 PM
  #1  
PoorInRichfield
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Balancing Your Wheels

Having grown-up with a father that was an automobile mechanic, I learned all about wheel balancing and the importance of doing it. While bicycles certainly don't obtain the same speeds are cars do, most bicycle wheels are quite off balance because of the valve stem only being on once side of the wheel. My brand new bike with carbon wheels has noticeable "wheel bounce" if I pick it up and give the rear wheel a good spin.

As such, I'm interested in balancing my wheels some day. The following video does a great job of showing why and how:


I'm interested in hearing from those of you that have already done this, particularly with a tubeless setup. The author of the video suggests using a two part epoxy on the waits if running tubeless which seems a little 'permanent' to me. Is there any alternative to epoxy for mounting the lead weigh inside the rim on a tubeless setup? Perhaps automotive grade double-sided tape?

Since my current wheels have a plastic rim strip to make them tubeless, I guess I could always replace the rim strip if I epoxy the weights to the strip and I no longer want the weights. I suppose that as long as I keep the same valve stem, perhaps there'd never be a reason to remove the weights? Thoughts?
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Old 05-16-20, 03:35 PM
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Not worth the time invested doing it on a bicycle. Mostly because the weight of bike tires and tubes is significantly less than auto or truck tires. Roger
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Old 05-16-20, 04:00 PM
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Hmm, this actually looks interesting. I've thought of balancing my wheels before, but I was thinking about some kind of little compact lead weight attached to a spoke nipple or something on the outside. This solution looks pretty decent.

I'd probably put a layer of very thin rim tape over them when finished, just to "seal them in" so to speak, and keep the edges from mucking with the inner tubes. My wheels currently have a double layer of Kaptan tape as their rim tape. It's thin stuff and would cover these little weights nicely.

Only drawback I could see of filling that space is when fitting very tight-fitting tubes, where you need all the space you can get with the bead scrunched in to the center of the wheel so there's enough slack to get the tire on. I'm sure it could be worked around, though.
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Old 05-16-20, 04:17 PM
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Typical passenger vehicle rim/tire combo, ~40lbs and 800rpm @ 60mph, with 3,000lbs spread between four of them.
Typical road bike rim tire combo, ~3lbs and 330rpm @ 30mph, with 150-300lbs split between two of them.

It's a fun exercise if you want to kill some time during a slow afternoon, and the butt-dyno will probably "feel it," but not much is really going to change.
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Old 05-16-20, 04:30 PM
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Probably not going to get a lot of MTBers to jump in on this. But it looks like an interesting exercise for the lockdown.

John
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Old 05-16-20, 04:44 PM
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My bike has really wide rims (25mm internal width) so I'm not really too concerned with the lead weights interfering with the tire beads. Putting some rim tape over the weights seems like a reasonable alternative to epoxy.

I understand that an automotive tire is considerably heavier than a bicycle tire. However, when I pick-up my rear wheel and give the tire a good spin, it's very obvious the wheel isn't balanced... likely because my wheels came with these insanely long tubeless valve stems. One thing I'm going to do is buy much shorter valve stems and see what that does. I also have my speed sensor magnet on the opposite side of the valve stem, at least on my rear wheel, so maybe a lighter valve stem and the relatively heavy magnet will come 'close-enough' to balancing the rear wheel.
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Old 05-16-20, 05:15 PM
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All it will accomplish is making your wheels heavier. No functional improvement.

It is important in vehicles with suspension, because an out of balance wheel can bounce up & down, compromising traction, and causing uneven tire wear.
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Old 05-16-20, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
However, when I pick-up my rear wheel and give the tire a good spin, it's very obvious the wheel isn't balanced...
You will never notice any difference while riding. Buy, hey, it's your bike and your time and effort to waste.
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Old 05-16-20, 05:38 PM
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Yep, no chance of feeling a difference. This pops up occasionally, usually someone new to cycling having a light bulb moment. A good rule of thumb is avoid adding weight to the bike.
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Old 05-16-20, 07:10 PM
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Years ago I stumbled on an accessory for sale that was intended to balance bicycle wheels. Interestingly, it was designed to fit around the valve stem.

Back in the days when I was installing a lot of computer wheel magnets, I theorized that it would be better to put the magnet on the lightest part of the wheel. If I let the front wheel rotate to it's natural stopping place the lightest place was almost always near the valve stem.
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Old 05-16-20, 07:41 PM
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It is still an acceptable practice to add weights to the spokes of motorcycle wheels to balance them. I have experienced the problems with this effect on long down hills and coming down the mountain rides in RAAM. We were always aware and chose the right wheel set for those descents. You won't likely notice unbalanced wheels until you are moving above 40 mph. JMO, MH
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Old 05-16-20, 07:58 PM
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You lost me at "add weight". Especially to the wheels.
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Old 05-16-20, 09:16 PM
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I think balancing the engine will result is far more benefit then the wheels would. Andy ("I am the engine")
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Old 05-16-20, 09:38 PM
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So Andy,
Does that mean eating left side granola vs right side granola? I sponsor a short track car that turns 7300+ rpm, but we still have to balance the car on the track. Our work to balance the the engine to spin at those rates is just like polishing bearing races on wheels, so they spin easier. Balancing the wheels is just part of it. Taking vibration out of the car is important to getting to be able to balance the car on the track. This also applies the a bike rider and racer. Remove any variables and it makes the riding and competing easier. I am of the opinion that optimizing every aspect is important.
I have been the recipient of a ride into a corn field off the road from a wheel that was out of balance. Just like the pump in the wheel scene in Breaking Away. I have long since disposed of both the wheel set and the frame, as I lost faith in both of those. I still have a firm belief in balancing the wheels on all vehicles, two wheeled, three wheeled , or four. Just my experience, and opinion. Smiles, MH
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Old 05-16-20, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
I think balancing the engine will result is far more benefit then the wheels would. Andy ("I am the engine")
My engine is a little unbalanced sometimes
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Old 05-16-20, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Honk View Post
So Andy,
Does that mean eating left side granola vs right side granola? I sponsor a short track car that turns 7300+ rpm, but we still have to balance the car on the track. Our work to balance the the engine to spin at those rates is just like polishing bearing races on wheels, so they spin easier. Balancing the wheels is just part of it. Taking vibration out of the car is important to getting to be able to balance the car on the track. This also applies the a bike rider and racer. Remove any variables and it makes the riding and competing easier. I am of the opinion that optimizing every aspect is important.
I have been the recipient of a ride into a corn field off the road from a wheel that was out of balance. Just like the pump in the wheel scene in Breaking Away. I have long since disposed of both the wheel set and the frame, as I lost faith in both of those. I still have a firm belief in balancing the wheels on all vehicles, two wheeled, three wheeled , or four. Just my experience, and opinion. Smiles, MH
For male riders it's about evening out the X and the Y chromosomes on either side of the body Really the lack of high rpms of any bike component and the variations of spoke tensions, tire seating make spinning weight issues pretty moot.

There are millions of bike wheels with spoke reflectors that seriously affect spin balance and we don't hear of thousands of riders hurtling off the roads because of this. There are situations that on paper (or in other fields) can be maded to show a number but when real life's statistics speak otherwise...

Lastly I fail to see how a vertical unbalance results in a sideways force so sudden and severe to steer a bike many feet off the road. I do know of many times when a rider's "corrections" are not correct though. My "engine" reference is about the rider, not a gas engine. Andy (who has also has his off road excursions but not from the bike's problems)
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Old 05-16-20, 10:42 PM
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If you are successful in your endeavor, I have a Mavic 217 that might drive you nuts trying to balance.

John
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Old 05-17-20, 05:37 AM
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May not be worth the effort

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Old 05-17-20, 06:29 AM
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The tread on my gravel/hybrid bike is constantly picking up and throwing off small stuff. This means that as I ride, my wheels are continually balancing and unbalancing themselves depending on how much stuff is collected. It's an amazing feeling when I'm balanced - like a tailwind pops up suddenly. But then I lose the balance and it's like a head wind. I'm thinking about rigging some sort of scraper on the tire tread so when I feel an unbalance I can tweak it a bit as I ride.
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Old 05-17-20, 08:43 AM
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It would be pretty simple to just tape a weight to the outside of your rim to achieve a balanced wheel and test it out to see if you notice anything and then look for a more permanent solution afterwards. If you don't have any small lead weights for cars/motorcycles/fishing weights try using some steel pieces such as nuts or bolts etc. Try it and report back here.
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Old 05-17-20, 09:00 AM
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Moving the computer magnet will solve most of the unbalance. Wouldn't hurt to add another if necessary, not where it engages the pickup.
When spinning the back wheel I could feel it jumping pretty good sometimes. I wouldn't call it a nothing problem. Same thing when I rode a Flying Pigeon bike with wobbly rims.
I had a 1 mm flat spot on a rim, I could feel that.
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Old 05-17-20, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
.............When spinning the back wheel I could feel it jumping pretty good sometimes.....
On a bike stand is the only place you'll notice it,
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Old 05-17-20, 11:44 AM
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Isn't the easy way to balance wheels to go out and get fishing weights and crimp them onto the spokes. Granted, you'd see them. But zero tire issues. Easy to adjust if you change tire brands or sizes.

I'd have to spend more time at speeds over 40mph or have wheels that were far off to bother.

Ben
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Old 05-17-20, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Probably not going to get a lot of MTBers to jump in on this. But it looks like an interesting exercise for the lockdown.

John
Surprisingly at least one pro DH team wrench has been balancing riders' wheels.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Surprisingly at least one pro DH team wrench has been balancing riders' wheels.
Placebo is a powerful thing.
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