Feeling like the balance is off or the bike is pulling in one direction? These are common reasons why you might need motorcycle frame straightening. But what’s involved? How much does it cost to straighten a motorcycle frame and what’s the impact? We’ll help you understand more about why you might need motorcycle frame straightening in this 10-minute read.
Motorcycle frame straightening is the process of putting the frame on a jig and ensuring it is level across all axis. The main reason your motorcycle frame will get bent is usually because of a crash or a drop.
This is best done using a jig at a professional motorcycle body shop. According to Gone Outdoors, “Motorcycle frames are fabricated from tube steel or aluminium alloy tubing, and either type is vulnerable to bending as a result of [an] impact. Frame shops use metal jigs when straightening frames, and each shop has its own method of straightening. In the event your motorcycle frame is seriously bent in more than one place or at the steering headset, a frame shop is the best solution.” Since you need to take everything off the frame, you might not want to attempt this at home.
Your body shop can check this by putting it on a jig. But if you want to check if a motorcycle frame is straight at home, you’ll want to do a few different steps. According to Australian Motorcycle News, “carry out a detailed visual inspection, then measure the frame with string or a straight edge, and for the ultimate in [peace] of mind, use a Frame Align tool.” But these tools can cost around £450, so if you’re still not sure after the first 2 checks, it’s probably best to take it to a specialist.
Straightening a motorcycle frame can cost anything from an hour to a day’s work. But the charge out for a good bike shop starts at £79 an hour, including VAT. You can help your bike body shop provide a quote by sending in detailed pictures with your straight edge or string guide measurements. If it’s not rideable, look for repairs that are offered with a collect & deliver service.
When a frame is bent, it will feel strange to ride. It may track to the right or the left. The tyres will wear unevenly as a result. And it might become totally unrideable if the damage is significant enough. It may even get written off as a result of a bend in the motorcycle frame if the bike isn’t worth the cost of fixing it. Now that doesn’t mean it will never be rideable again, but it does mean that you’ll need to invest money into motorcycle repairs to get it in good working order. You’ll want to check the frame is not bent before you sell or buy a bike. To do this, MotoFomo suggests you, “Get an eight-foot or longer length of brightly coloured string. You’re going to wrap it around the wheel and the frame of the motorcycle to see if gaps are the same on both sides of the motorcycle.” If the gaps are different, it’s likely the frame is bent and you’ll want to bring the price down. You can also do this with a straight edge, but that’s a little harder to transport.
Yes, Gas metal arc (GMA) and gas tungsten arc (GTA) welding are best for motorcycle frames. And most frames are welded with GMA in the factory. In fact, if your motorcycle frame is bent, you may see cracking across the welds. If you see broken or cracked welds, you need to repair them before you attempt to straighten the motorcycle frame. If you’re going to weld a motorcycle frame, you’ll need to rent, buy or make a jig. This can be cost-prohibitive, so weigh up if it’s worth doing this at home. Most bike body shops will have a jig already and low-cost welding rates.
If you have motorcycle insurance, it will likely be a condition of the policy that you inform them any time your bike has been in an accident. This includes damage that occurs even when you don’t necessarily want to claim. And this may increase your premium even if you don’t carry out a repair. It’s possible that motorcycle frame straightening will increase your insurance premium, but if the damage is significant enough to warrant repair, it’s probably in the best interest of the bike and your enjoyment of it to have the work done.
According to Bennetts, “Wherever you decide to have your damage estimate produced, the insurance company will then have an independent engineer look at the damage. [...] Based on the market value of your bike, the underwriter will have set a proportion of the value to determine if a repair is worthwhile, or if the bike should be ‘written off’. In this case, the owner is given money up to the market value, and the machine is sold for salvage.”
In short, you might need motorcycle frame straightening if your bike is pulling to one side, the tyres are wearing unevenly or it feels odd to ride. You can check this with a bit of bright string or straight edges. If you feel your bike is in need of frame work, it’s probably best to have it carried out by a reputable bike body shop. That’s because the work needed to fix any welds, prep the frame and carry out the frame job requires a jig. And making one at home is also fairly expensive and time-consuming. So, if you’d like to have your bike looked at by a professional, talk to our helpful team about bike repairs today.