How To Measure Your Motorcycle’s Wheelbase

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Wait, What Is The Wheelbase Exactly?

The wheelbase is defined to be the distance or the length from the centers of the front axle and the rear axle. This is better visualized as the points where your tires touch the ground (although, to be clear, this is not what you are going to measure).

So, What Difference Does The Wheelbase Make?

All road vehicles that run on wheels have a wheelbase, but for motorcycles, it’s even more important to keep it in consideration (although it’s often overlooked) since it affects the ride and stability of the vehicle. Different motorbikes have different builds because they have different functions. For example, drag racing bikes have longer wheelbases.

Long Wheelbase
Stretched Wheelbase

This is because longer wheelbases are directionally more stable and less prone to wheelies. It basically makes the bike less wobbly. The longer the wheelbase, the better the bike travels in long, straight lines at high speeds, as is needed in drag racing. MotoGP and other such racing bikes, on the other hand, have shorter wheelbases. This is because bikes with shorter wheelbases are much easier to maneuver. These are bikes that are more responsive to steering and are generally more compact and lighter, which makes them easier to handle around turns and corners.

Short Wheelbase
Short Wheelbase

Expect a bike with a longer wheelbase to feel more planted on the ground when moving in one direction even at high speeds, while one with a shorter wheelbase will feel more responsive when cornering. Basically, the thing one should keep in mind is that the longer the wheelbase, the less the weight transfer, the more stable the bike.

Why Do I Need To Measure My Bike Wheelbase?

Folks have different reasons for this. Knowing what the wheelbase is and the importance of it to the bike’s ride is important when buying a new bike. However, for current bike owners, there are those who want to compare their wheelbase after, let’s say, a crash, to their motorcycle’s base specs. This could determine if the frame is bent or if there might be some other problem that would affect their ride and has to be fixed. This is why it’s useful to know how to do it yourself. A change in the wheelbase after an incident could determine if you need to have it brought it to be checked by a professional.

How Do You Measure The Wheelbase?

Now that you know why the wheelbase is so important to your ride, let’s get to measuring. There are some riders who would opt to have a professional measure it for them for more accuracy, but it’s also useful as a bike owner to learn how to do it yourself as it could save you time and money. You wouldn’t have to constantly bring in your bike to the shop unless you were to note significant wheelbase changes. With that said, the following steps may help serve as a guide for measuring your wheelbase:

How To Measure Motorcycle Wheelbase

How To Measure Motorcycle Wheelbase?

  1. Level Your Bike

    First of all, find a level surface for your bike. You may use a front triple tree stand for this for added stability. Make sure that the ground where your bike and the stand is laid on is also even (you may use a level for this if you have one). Uneven flooring may result in an inaccurate measurement.

  2. Align Your Motorcycle Straight

    Check your handlebars and make sure they are as aligned and as straight as you could possibly get them to be. Double-check your wheels if they are straight and are facing forward as well.

  3. Grab A Measuring Tool

    Have a straight tool prepared on hand. This could be a yardstick or a straight piece of wood or metal. This is what you are going to use to mark the distance between the axles. Use a yardstick if you have one since it’s already a measuring tool in itself.

  4. Find The Center Of Both Wheels

    Find the center of both wheels. It is important that you determine the dead center of the rear tire and the front tire. The center of your wheels are the rear and front axle.

  5. Use The Measuring Tool And Mark The Length

    Place the tip of your yardstick (or whatever tool you chose to use) on the rear axle. Connect the rear axle to the front axle with your yardstick then use a pencil to mark where the front axle is touching your tool. Make sure to mark exactly the spot where the yardstick is adjacent to the axle.

  6. Calculate The Distance Between Marked Points

    Finally, measure the distance from the tip of the wood or yardstick to where you marked it using a tape measure. (See how using a yardstick makes measuring easier since the measurement could be seen immediately?)

More experienced motorcycle riders have different ways of measuring their bike’s wheelbase. Some have crafted methods that better suit them. In essence, though, the steps listed above are the basic guidelines that you have to keep in mind and you are free to find ways to measure that are more convenient to you. Just make sure to keep those basic principles in mind.

Conclusion

If your bike’s new, you don’t generally need to measure for your wheelbase. The wheelbase measurement’s significance is more for maintenance.

It’s highly unlikely that your motorcycle’s manufacturer or distributor would fail to provide you (or doesn’t know) your bike’s wheelbase so you would know what the bike’s wheelbase is upon purchase. You should remember this and keep it as a reference as part of your motorcycle’s maintenance.

If you were to make customizations on your bike, the wheelbase has to be taken into consideration since it can be increased or decreased when you swap for a different sized set of wheels. Knowing the importance of the wheelbase could help you make the decision that would help you get your dream bike to ride the way that you want it to.

Keep in mind though that if you are going to change the parts or profile of your bike that it would be best to consult with professionals who are better suited to help you with such decisions.

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