There are a few things that can ruin a leisurely ride on a motorcycle. One of those things is an annoying pull towards one side your motorcycle is trying to do while on the road.
Not only is your motorcycle pulling to one side annoying, but it can also be dangerous in the wrong circumstances. And, unfortunately, it’s not an unheard of problem to happen with motorcycles.
Why is my motorcycle pulling to one side? A motorcycle may pull to one side while on the road because of a misalignment between the handlebars and the front tire which is usually caused by misaligned front forks. A pull to one side can also be caused by wear on one side of the front tire as well as an unbalanced front tire.
Having owned a dozen motorcycles myself, I’ve ran into this problem several times. It’s important this issue is promptly taken care of if you notice it happening to your bike. This article will explain why it’s happening and how to handle it when it does happen.
Reasons For A Left Or Right Pull
Having your motorcycle pull to one side can sometimes take you by surprise. It can happen slowly and you finally notice it one day or it can be abrupt and suddenly be an issue. However long it took for you to notice, here are some possible culprits as to why it’s pulling to one side.
One likely and common reason is a misalignment between your handlebars and your front tire. The front tire and handle bars should be perpendicular to each other, meaning they could create a perfect 90 degree angle. When they’re misaligned from each other, you may feel like your handle bars are straight while your front tire points slightly to the side giving the sensation that your motorcycle is pulling to that side.
A misalignment between the front tire and handle bars are sometimes caused by a misalignment with the front forks. It’s possible that the front forks were tightened down when they were still a little crooked.
A misalignment like this can also be caused by some hard hit done on the front tire whether you ran into something with your motorcycle recently or someone or something ran into you. If you your motorcycle was hit hard enough, it’s possible the handlebars were slightly bent as well which would also give the sensation your motorcycle is leaning to one side.
Most of the time the handlebars are connected to the triple clamp which is at the top of the forks. There are bearings in there and a big bolt or two that comes up through the triple clamp and your handlebars bolt on top of it. Sometimes, if someone tinkers with that and doesn’t know what they’re doing, they tighten it down a little crooked.
So even if you put your handle bars on correctly, they’re still going to be a few degrees off. If you’ve recently loosened the triple clamp, this is likely the culprit.
A worn tire can also cause a motorcycle to pull to one side. This could either mean the entire side of the tire is worn or there is a bald spot on said side. A completely worn side of a tire is usually due to a manufacturing error. A bald spot on the tire is usually due to the tire being dragged somehow.
And easily enough, low tire pressure can also cause a motorcycle to pull to one side. Tires on a motorcycle need to be inflated to fit a certain shape for optimal traction on the road. If it’s flatter than it should be, the rubber will “roll” to one side or the other which usually ends up pulling to one particular side.
Motorcycle tires also require to be balanced. When a motorcycle tire is unbalanced, that means one side weighs more than the other which will ultimately make the motorcycle pull to the heavier side.
How To Fix A Pulling Motorcycle
To fix a misalignment with the front forks, you’ll need to loosen the fork bolts, shake it a little bit to get it lined up straight, then tighten everything down again. Take the motorcycle for a ride and see if that solved the issues of pulling to one side.
If you suspect a tire balance is your issue, you’ll need to take the tire in to a shop so they can use their heavy equipment to properly balance it for you. There are two types of balancing. You want a circumferential balance so when you spin it, it doesn’t have a heavy spot that’s pulling and wobbling the tire.
That’s why they put those metal chips on the rim to balance out the weight of the tire. A shop’s equipment will easily be able to find the heavy spot that needs to be evened out.
When a motorcycle getting pulled to one side while riding on the road is caused by a faulty tire, you’ll need to simply replace the front tire altogether . Luckily with motorcycles, you don’t need to replace both tires at the same time if the other tire is less than five years old and the tread looks good.
If you suspect the triple clamp is the cause of your motorcycle leaning to one side, I recommend you take it in to a shop and have them realign it for you. There are a lot of small ball bearings and if you lose any of them, your steering is basically permanently impacted. So unless you’ve done a fix like this before, let the professional mechanics do it for you.
Preventing A Motorcycle Pulling To One Side
The steering system on a motorcycle doesn’t usually require much maintenance and most people don’t pay much attention to it unless a problem like this arises. Every once in a while, check the alignment between the front tire and the handlebars; they should always be perfectly perpendicular to each other.
If you’ve had a hard hit anywhere on your motorcycle, check the alignment. Even if the hard hit was on the back end of the motorcycle. Sometimes the motorcycle may seem just fine after a rough collision, but more often than not there is some sort of impact on the bike’s alignment.
Lastly, make sure to always maintain a proper pressure in both of your tires. It’s best practice to check your tire pressure once a month or about every other time you fill up with gas. Check the side of the tire to know what specific PSI your tire requires.
Difference Between A Right Pull And A Left Pull
People will often wonder if a pull to the right or a pull to the left on a motorcycle is worse or if there’s any additional indication of problems when it steers towards one direction.
In actuality, there is no difference whether your motorcycle pulls towards the left or towards the right. The steering system on a motorcycle is basically symmetrical, meaning each side has the same parts and there isn’t one side that has an additional part or risk of failure compared to the other side. A pulling one way isn’t an indication of more problems compared to the other.
Why Pulling Is Dangerous
A motorcycle that’s pulling to one side is a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. There are parts of the motorcycle that can become ruined if left unchecked and could even cause a safety hazard for you as the rider.
A motorcycle pulling to one side isn’t an issue that’s simply going to go away one day. It will gradually get worse if it isn’t fixed. One of the biggest consequences you’ll face is wearing out your front tire much more quickly. And replacing a tire isn’t necessarily a cheap fix.
Getting thrown off balance is another issue you may deal with. If for some reason you need to take one hand off the handlebar for a few seconds, it can be extremely hard to control a pulling motorcycle with just one hand. You run the risk of running into something, getting thrown off balance, or over correcting yourself.