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  1. #1
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    Default Are Harley wheels directly in front and behind one another?

    Or offset by a few millimetres?

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    On XLs they are in line, as far as I know. On the swingarm big twins the rear wheel is offset to the left by varying amounts, depending on which chassis family. I don't know about the rigid frame bikes, I have never done the analysis.

    Jim

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    my Shovelhead rear wheel is dead straight in line with the front wheel, I know this as I did the spacing myself,
    all bikes need to be inline or they will become dangerous to ride & you will be fighting the steering,
    plenty of dished sprockets & spacers to line it all up,
    it seems to me that the only ones off center, are when running oversized tires which I don't do, a 130/90x16 is stock for most shovelhead rear wheels..... what size tyre are you wanting to fit ??
    Last edited by tzienlee; 04-06-2021 at 8:31 AM.

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    Round swing arm is a V Twin part.

    When I compress the arm till the axle plates are parallel, the wheel is offset to the left by about 6.5 mm.

    There is little room to machine the banana brake stay to perfectly center it and I am unsure it was centered before?

    Does this sound like a problem?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tzienlee View Post
    my Shovelhead rear wheel is dead straight in line with the front wheel, I know this as I did the spacing myself,
    all bikes need to be inline or they will become dangerous to ride & you will be fighting the steering,
    plenty of dished sprockets & spacers to line it all up,
    it seems to me that the only ones off center, are when running oversized tires which I don't do, a 130/90x16 is stock for most shovelhead rear wheels..... what size tyre are you wanting to fit ??all I need
    You can set up your bike as you wish. ALL the swingarm H-D big twins had the rear wheel offset to the left, as I stated above. I believe that is to compensate for the rather heavy primary drive assembly hanging off the left side of the bike. I centered the rear wheel on my FXE when it had an open belt primary drive. I have since installed the stock primary, and I haven't decided if I'll move the rear wheel back to its stock position or leave it centered.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    You can set up your bike as you wish. ALL the swingarm H-D big twins had the rear wheel offset to the left, as I stated above. I believe that is to compensate for the rather heavy primary drive assembly hanging off the left side of the bike. I centered the rear wheel on my FXE when it had an open belt primary drive. I have since installed the stock primary, and I haven't decided if I'll move the rear wheel back to its stock position or leave it centered.

    Jim
    Interesting..

    Did you notice a difference in the handling at all? Since you ride it both ways..


    How much did you move it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    Round swing arm is a V Twin part.

    When I compress the arm till the axle plates are parallel, the wheel is offset to the left by about 6.5 mm.

    There is little room to machine the banana brake stay to perfectly center it and I am unsure it was centered before?

    Does this sound like a problem?
    For the shovel four speed chassis with the square swingarm, the rear wheel is offset from centerline by about .19, or 3/16 inch. 6.5mm is about 1/4 inch, so that's a little more than what the round swingarm had originally. (I don't know that exact figure, but it's close to the square swingarm figure.)

    Jim

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    Unless you’re racing super bikes, you won’t notice any difference with an offset smaller than the contact patches of the tires. What you will notice, however, is if the wheels are not in parallel alignment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    Interesting..

    Did you notice a difference in the handling at all? Since you ride it both ways..


    How much did you move it?
    I haven't ridden it much since putting the chain primary back on it. With the wheel centered and the belt drive, it went dead straight, hands off and arms folded at 70mph, as it should be. (Many four speed chassis just do not go quite straight, my '80 FLH as an example.)

    Jim

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    Thanks for the replies.. Appreciate it.

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    Respectfully to all but I disagree.

    This question comes up often and has for years.

    I believe that by design the wheels are not offset but are designed so that the centerline of the tires tracks the centerline of the bike.

    If the MoCo engineers calculated an offset to compensate for side to side balance they would have to specify a different offset for an FLH dresser with the big lead-acid battery and an FXE with a small battery etc. There are too many variables between models to come up with one offset that works for all. As an engineering problem it results in different solutions for different models. That would be a real difficult problem during production and assembly - and would result in different part numbers for spacers, wheel assemblies, swingarms, brake assemblies, etc. That is not the case - a wheel assembly for an FLH dresser is the same part number and configuration as for an FXE..

    I own a large library of Harley service data. Shop manuals, service bulletins, Shop Dope, etc. I have this service info for models from 1936 up through the 80's. The MoCo has produced many many pages of service information, and I've looked very carefully at a lot of it. I can find nothing that describes an intentional wheel offset from centerline or describes how to verify it or create it. This is very unusual for the MoCo - their service data is typically very complete and describes exactly how to set up any part of the machine..

    There is a part of the procedure for lacing and truing a wheel assembly that describes measuring the distance from the rim edge to the brake drum surface. Maybe that is where this belief comes from??

    I would love to see some MoCo service documentation relative to intentional wheel offset - until then I maintain that by design the center of both the front and rear tire should track on the centerline of the chassis.

    I'm not saying that there are not a lot of bikes out there that don't track this way - I've seen and worked on many. When a customer comes in complaining of handling problems I don't spend any time trying to figure out if the wheel offset is correct - I have no way to know. There are a lot of things that affect handling but an offset in wheel tracking is not on the list.

    69

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    69,

    Respectfully, you're wrong. I've done analysis of the PARTS of many of these bikes over almost half a century, and what I have written above is true.

    H-D started addressing this in the repair manuals in the nineties, but the practice goes back at least as far as the first ElectraGlides. Specifically, the Softail manuals list the offset factors to use when aligning the bike.

    The rubber mount chassis is a whole different deal, and those manuals don't go any further than to tell you to get the rear wheel square in the swingarm, and check to see that both wheels are vertical.

    Jim

  13. #13

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    When I built my sportster originally out of a box of parts it was offset at both ends. The weld on hardtail was as crooked as the torch-cut steering head holding the 12" over twisted springer with major rake.
    I aligned the rear tire by eye to be in line with the front tire and that thing tracked straight like nobody's business. Low speed maneuvering, however,...

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    69,

    Respectfully, you're wrong. I've done analysis of the PARTS of many of these bikes over almost half a century, and what I have written above is true.

    H-D started addressing this in the repair manuals in the nineties, but the practice goes back at least as far as the first ElectraGlides. Specifically, the Softail manuals list the offset factors to use when aligning the bike.

    The rubber mount chassis is a whole different deal, and those manuals don't go any further than to tell you to get the rear wheel square in the swingarm, and check to see that both wheels are vertical.

    Jim
    We will just have to disagree.

    I would need to see the MoCo factory information, until then I am confident in my analysis and conclusions based on my almost half a century of experience with these machines.

    Pretend I'm from Missouri - Show Me

    Best
    69

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    I did make a mistake in an earlier post about the square swingarm four speeds. The difference in the axle spacer on the left, and the caliper bracket on the right is right at .19". That means the wheel offset from centerline is half that, or .095, or 3/32". I'm sorry for any confusion.

    Anyone who has worked on these old shovels knows that the rear tire always crowds the left side of the fender. (And that's where the factory put the wiring harness, DUH!)

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    I did make a mistake in an earlier post about the square swingarm four speeds. The difference in the axle spacer on the left, and the caliper bracket on the right is right at .19". That means the wheel offset from centerline is half that, or .095, or 3/32". I'm sorry for any confusion.

    Anyone who has worked on these old shovels knows that the rear tire always crowds the left side of the fender. (And that's where the factory put the wiring harness, DUH!)

    Jim
    Jim -

    You are right.. I can't find any offset info on the early models - rigid frame and hydra glide and early Duo-Glide. But I found offset measurements and specs for later FLH and Softails. I don't see anything for 58 through 77 ElectraGlide though, but I'm not discounting that it is there.

    I looked into this several years back and thought I knew what I knew - but I missed this on the later models...

    I have always set my bikes up so that the tire and frame centerline are common....

    I appreciate the knowledge update.

    thanks,
    69

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    I believe all the rigid frame models have the rear wheel centered. I'm not sure about the DouGlides either, but I now have one so I'll be able to figure it out. In any event, it's not much offset.

    Jim

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    This is a very difficult topic to search for because you end up wading through pages and pages and pages of irrelevant info on wheel backspacing and offset..


    But I found a "How to" document on wheel alignment that claims harleys are offset between 8 and 15mm?


    http://www.motorcyclemetal.com/downl...e%20Simple.pdf

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    I bought a Indian 741 military scout that drove fine absolutely a hands off rider and after I owned it foe years I had the rear fender off and discovered that the rear wheel was a little over an inch out of line. Closer inspection revealed a Chief sprocket driver gear and the wheel was moved to align the rear sprocket with the misaligned front. Since it rode ok I left it but it always troubled me.
    Dusty

  20. #20

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    So being only the rear wheel is offset would that mean that interchanging between the front and back wheels is not advisable? Man I’ve been swapping them out on my 65 flh for years because of how much faster the rear wears out, and really did not notice a difference.

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