How To Fix a Bent Motorcycle Rim: Try My 9 Proven Steps

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You’ve hit a snag that’s all too familiar: a hefty dent in your cast-aluminum motorcycle wheel from a rough patch of road. Unlike with spoke wheels, where replacing the rim is a straightforward fix (assuming it’s just bent, not creased), cast wheels—now a staple since 1981—are a different ballgame. They’re one piece!

So, what’s the solution? Can you fix a bent motorcycle rim, or are you resigned to shelling out for an expensive OEM replacement or taking a chance on a used one from eBay? Well, the good news is that fixing a bent cast motorcycle rim is indeed possible and doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It may take about 15 minutes but requires a considerable amount of skill, finesse, and specialized equipment.

Having a stable work surface that properly props up the wheel is key, as is applying the right amount of heat precisely where it’s needed. Your trusty wooden bracket, even if it’s made from sturdy oak, probably won’t cut it in terms of support, and your handheld propane torch won’t dish out enough heat to do the job right.

Now, while some shops might offer to straighten out your wheel, any hint of cracks—no matter how small—means it’s time to start scouting for a new wheel. And oftentimes, I find myself grappling with the dilemma:

Unreliable + Risk + Economic = Ride in Anxiety


Reliable + Certainty + Expensive = Ride with Peace of Mind

Which option speaks to you? Once you make your choice, don’t forget to give your tires a good pump-up.

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9 Effective Steps To Fix a Bent Motorcycle Rim

Just recently, my Yamaha MT-07 front wheel got bent after taking a hit, and replacing the cast wheel would cost me over $1,500. With budget constraints in mind, I considered having it fixed by bending it back into shape, a job done by specialists using heating and reshaping or hydraulic straightening methods.

And so, I hit the web for info, but resources on this topic are scarce, and there’s a ton of conflicting opinions out there. Some forum discussions suggest bending it back should be fine, while others warn of potential risks like microscopic gaps that could lead to bending, cracking, or even breaking under stress.

But based on my 50+ years of motorcycle riding experience and encountering bent wheels before, I’d say fixing a bent motorcycle wheel depends on the situation.

For smaller bikes (under 400cc) used mainly for commuting within speed limits, reusing a slightly bent wheel might be acceptable, as long as the bend is minimal. On the flip side, for high-performance motorcycles (above 600cc) capable of higher speeds, replacing the wheel is the safer choice to avoid potential dangers, especially considering unpredictable road conditions.

And when considering the three types of motorcycle rims (carbon fiber, billet forged aluminum alloy, and cast aluminum alloy), all three materials lack flexibility and could potentially crack, albeit not visibly, under stress. 

That said, I’ll own up to straightening cast-aluminum motorcycle rims with minor bends using a small jack, a propane torch for heating, and a truing stand. It’s a hands-on approach that demands care and know-how, but it’s an option worth considering. Here’s how I tackle it:

1. Check Whether Your Wheels Are Carbon Fiber, Billet Forget Aluminum or Cast Aluminum

Bent Front Wheel Rim on Yamaha MT-07

Knowing the material you’re dealing with makes fixes much easier.

Carbon fiber rims, made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites through autoclave curing, are lightweight yet incredibly strong, albeit at a higher cost. Billet forged aluminum alloy rims provide durability and reduced weight compared to cast aluminum due to the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) forging process, which aligns the grain structure of the metal, making it stronger.

Meanwhile, cast aluminum rims, formed by pouring molten aluminum alloy into a mold where it solidifies into the desired shape, are more budget-friendly but may carry more weight.

2. Remove the Wheel From Your Motorcycle

Removing a wheel from a car or truck is a task many of us are familiar with, but when it comes to motorcycles, it can feel a bit more daunting. The first step is a crucial one: securely lifting your motorcycle. Here are some of my tips for lifting four common styles of motorcycles to help you confidently tackle wheel removal on your own.

First things first, you’ll need some tools. A service manual specific to your make and model is invaluable, as it’ll guide you on what tools you’ll need, such as large-diameter sockets or wrenches for axles, smaller diameter allen and combination wrenches for pinch bolts, chain adjusters, and brake calipers, along with a torque wrench, waterproof grease, shop rags, and gloves. Most bikes will require an axle tool for removing the front axle.

Next, you’ll need a method to safely lift the bike. Different bike styles call for different lifting methods:

  • For dirt bike wheel removal, a static-style stand or a lift-type stand are common options. The latter is preferable for heavier bikes, as it’s easier on your back.
  • Adventure bikes usually have center stands or mounts for optional ones, making rear wheel removal straightforward. For the front wheel, a scissor-style bike jack or a hydraulic motorcycle jack can be used, ensuring the bike’s weight isn’t on the exhaust.
  • Sport bikes often feature swingarm spools for rear wheel lifting with a stand, and front wheel lifting can be done with a fork lift stand or a head lift stand, which is advantageous for fork leg service and tuning.
  • Cruiser wheel removal is made easier with a hydraulic lift due to their low and heavy build, which provides a stable platform for lifting.

Once the motorcycle is raised, the process for removing the wheels is similar across models but may vary slightly. Consult your service manual for specific instructions tailored to your machine, including which components need removal before taking the wheels off, such as brake calipers or fenders, and guidance on dealing with the rear wheel’s drive system, chain, or drive belt, as well as shaft drive maintenance considerations.

With these lifting techniques in your arsenal, removing and reinstalling your motorcycle wheels should be a breeze.

3. Deflate the Tire If It’s Not Already Flat

Yamaha MT-07 Front Wheel Rim Bent

Working on a fully-inflated tire can be quite a challenge. If your tire is still holding air (yes, some bents flatten a tire), the first step is to release the pressure.

Simply unscrew the valve cap and attach a tire pressure gauge to the valve. Then, gently press the tip of a screwdriver onto the metal pin at the center of the valve until all the air is out and the tire is deflated.

4. Detach Rim from Tire

You’ll need a prybar to lift it over the top lip of the rim. Begin on one side of the tire by pushing down on the rubber, then slide the prybar underneath and lever it up. With the prybar holding the tire in place, use a screwdriver to lift the rubber around the rest of the wheel until you can remove the rim.

Before starting the rim work, my usual move is to roll it to identify any bends. Sudden shifts or bouncing indicate the location of the bend.

5. Weld Torch on Rim Bend to Correct Shape

Heat is the key to making metal more pliable for reforming without becoming brittle and cracking, but safety comes first – wear goggles and gloves, always. Now, onto the torch, or as some call it, the blowtorch. Before igniting, familiarize yourself thoroughly with its operation:

  • First, check that the gas valve is closed and the ignition switch is in the off position.
  • Gradually open the gas valve and ignite the flame using the ignition switch.
  • Adjust the gas flow to achieve a steady flame.

Once the torch is up and running, aim the flame directly at the specific bent area of the rim for approximately 2 minutes. In cases of significant or stubborn bends, you might need to apply heat for a longer duration. It’s interesting that a rims’ malleability can differ based on the manufacturer, with BMW wheels being notably softer. Regardless, addressing the dent promptly usually results in easier straightening, as metal has a memory!

Maintain a safe distance from the flame and refrain from contact with any flammable materials. And before you wrap up, always remember to deactivate the welding torch by closing the gas valve.

6. Prop Wood to Straighten the Heated Bend

Place a piece of wood against the bend so that the mallet strikes the wood rather than the rim directly. Ensure the wood remains in position throughout the repair process, utilizing it to reshape the wheel bend safely.

But exercise caution regarding fingers while using the mallet in conjunction with the wood. Ideally, select a piece of wood that mirrors the curvature of your wheel for optimal effectiveness. If such a piece isn’t available, any small wood block can still provide adequate protection.

7. Straighten the Bent Rim with a Hammer

To for this step, I recommend a 2-pound (0.9 kg) dead blow hammer. With each strike, apply a moderate amount of pressure to pound out the dent until the rim straightens. Sometimes, if the rim’s material doesn’t respond enough before cooling, you’ll have to heat the dent again and repeat the hammering process until it’s back in shape.

If the wood block isn’t doing the trick, consider removing it and hammering the rim directly. But always keep in mind that hitting the rim too hard directly could cause it to crack. So, maintain a steady force with your blows and avoid applying extra pressure, even if it means taking a bit longer to get the job done.

8. Remount the Tire onto the Rim

Allow the rim to cool completely before reattaching the tire. To get the tire back onto the fixed rim, generously apply metal lubricant to both the tire and rim surfaces. Lay the rim flat on the ground and position the tire on top of it. Gradually press down the upper lip of the tire onto the rim, working on one side at a time. Utilize the prybar to guide the tire’s lip over the remaining rim sections.

Once you mount the tire, use an air compressor to inflate it. Ensure both tire beads are positioned beyond the rim’s lip before connecting the compressor to the tire’s valve stem. Throughout the inflation process, use a tire inflator with a pressure gauge to monitor and ensure the motorcycle tire reaches the standard psi (pound-force per square inch).

Using the Aigular Smart Tire Inflator on My Duke 390 Front Tire

Street bike tire pressure typically falls within the range of 28 to 40 psi. Sport riders typically lean towards the lower end of this range as indicated on the manufacturer placard, while commuters often prefer the higher setting. These guidelines are commonly adhered to for sport/road motorcycle tires.

I recommend maintaining a standard tire pressure of 32 psi for both front and rear tires to enhance grip and ensure an enjoyable sporty ride. Alternatively, for prolonged tire life, consider a higher setting of 40 psi for the front tire and 42 psi for the rear tire.

9. Check the Tire for Air Leaks

You have to check for those sneaky air leaks that can totally ruin your day with a flat tire. My go-to move? I grab some water and give the space where the rim and tire meet a good spray, then keep a keen eye out for any bubbling action, as it’s a telltale sign of a leaky rim, with air escaping between the two.

Now, should you uncover a leak, pat yourself on the back for trying! It’s time to pass the torch to the professionals. Let them assess the situation and maybe work their magic to fix it up. Or, if you’re already weary (understandably so), why not treat yourself to a shiny new rim altogether?  Sometimes, an upgrade is just what the doctor ordered!

Michael’s Summary and Conclusion

FAQs — I Have The Answers!

Q: Can You Fix a Bent Motorcycle Rim?

Yes, you can fix a minor bend in a motorcycle rim at home using either a heating and reshaping technique or by seeking hydraulic straightening from a professional tire expert. With either method, you can expect the rim to be restored to its original shape in roughly 15 minutes. But if you’re dealing with any cracks, you’ll need to bite the bullet and replace the rim, even though it can be a pricey fix.

Q: Is It Safe to Fix a Bent Motorcycle Wheel?

Yes, repairing a bent motorcycle wheel is safe if done properly by someone with the necessary skills, tools, and experience. But it’s important to first assess the extent of the damage and consider factors such as the severity of the bend, the structural integrity of the wheel, and the type of repair method being used.

Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government, educational, corporate, and non-profit organizations:


Picture of About the Author:

About the Author:

Michael Parrotte started his career in the motorcycle industry by importing AGV Helmets into the North American market. He was then appointed the Vice President of AGV Helmets America. In total, he worked with AGV Helmets for 25 years. He has also served as a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets.

In 1985, he founded AGV Sports Group, Inc. with AGV Helmets in Valenza, Italy. For over 38 years now, the company has quietly delivered some of the best protective gear for motorcyclists in the world.

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