There are two types of motorcycle wheels available on the market for custom bike builders or for motorcycle owners who want to upgrade their OEM set. The two types are spoke wheels and the one-piece solid billet type with the preference to either depending on what look and appearance you going for with your bike.
There was a time when spoke wheels were the only option that was available on motorcycles and there was really nothing all that special about them. But over the last several years several manufacturers have come up with various spoke configurations and some of the spoke wheels that are on the market right now are pretty sharp. But with that being said, spoke wheels do have a down side to them and in fact can be much more of a maintenance pain than the one-piece billet type.
First of all, the spoke type wheel is incredibly difficult and time consuming to clean and if you live in an area, such as near the ocean, you have to stay on top of the “cleaning” issue or the wheel is going to deteriorate and lose its luster real quick. Another hassle with spokes, since there are a bunch of them on the wheel, is they need to be maintained on a regular basis because they do loosen up which can lead to a potentially dangerous situation.
Another thing specific to spoke wheels is that because they are usually physically attached to the rim, it can be harder to assure the connections are leak-proof if you’re interested in running a tubeless tire. Please be aware that spoke wheels… unless of real special circumstances… need an inner tube and tube-type tires.
Here are a couple of things to consider regarding tires that require inner tubes:
1. Tires with inner tubes can experience major failures when they are damaged whereas tubeless tires do not due to the different type of manufacturing process.
2. Tires with inner tubes can’t be fixed when you’re on a trip with a motorcycle tire repair package. Have a flat… call a tow truck.
Another characteristic of spoke wheels is they tend to be lighter than the solid billet type wheels and because the wheel’s mass is concentrated largely at the rim… rather than closer to the hub… it takes more energy to accelerate or stop your motorcycle.
One quick thing about tires: At some point in your motorcycle ownership life, if you do ride at all, you will have to buy new tires. After you’ve just had a new set mounted, there is something you need to consider before you go jamming down the street trying to impress anyone that will pay attention to you.
When tire companies are manufacturing the tires you buy and install on your bike, they use a mold. Before all the ingredients that are used to manufacture the tire are poured in, the mold is sprayed down with an oil substance so the tire won’t stick when it’s ready to be removed from the mold.
The point is that new tires have “oily” film on them that makes them real slippery. It’s a good idea to put 50 to 100 easy miles on them to burn the oil film off. This will eliminate the possibility of ending up on your butt wondering what happened.