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Tire changes, belt changes, and swing arm maintenance are just a few of the reasons belt adjustment and rear wheel-alignment are part of Road Star ownership. By learning to do it yourself, you can save some cash, and make sure the job gets done properly.
If your rear wheel is not pointed in the same direction as your front wheel, tires wear out more quickly, the bike feels less balanced, and your drive belt may quickly wear.
There are at least three ways to align your rear wheel:
- Match the rear wheel’s alignment to the front wheel’s straight-ahead position.
- Align the rear axle’s alignment to the frame’s alignment by matching it to the swing arm pivot.
- Align the drive belt to track properly in the rear drive pulley.
The first method is covered in another Road Star Clinic article: The $6 Wheel Alignment Jig. Its author suggests tying straight edges to each side of the rear wheel, then adjusting the rear wheel until both straight edges are equidistant from the -- centered -- front wheel. While this method is clever, cheap, and potentially accurate, it won't work with a hydraulic center lift (it obstructs the straight edges). And I don't really have the garage space or the budget for a proper, non-obstructing lift. (See “The $6 Wheel Alignment Jig” article in this website for details.)
The second method, ‘Aligning the rear axle to the swing arm pivot,’ is the way Yamaha recommends, although they offer no opinion -- pro or con -- for other methods. This method aligns the rear wheel by measuring the distance from the rotational center of the swing-arm pivot to the rotational center of the rear axle on each side the frame. When the distances on each side of the bike are identical, the rear wheel must be pointed straight. This should also make the drive belt track properly within the pulleys, theoretically. Note: This is currently the method I use and recommend, too.
The third method, 'Aligning the drive belt to track properly within the rear drive pulley,’ can be highly accurate and doesn't depend on measurement devices, but it is often very time consuming, repetitive, and potentially frustrating. With that said, I admit that this was my method of choice for 4 years, and an estimated 25 alignments (due to the many related mods I did).
This article gives several variations and refinements on the standard alignment procedure to reduce error and guess work from the task. It's a fairly simple and quick procedure, and doesn't take many tools.