my spokes are loose

Does this happen alot on xrs?? Do I need to take it to the shop, or can I just true them myself? Is the tool expensive?

I have done it before for bicycles, but im sure motorcycles are alot harder.

If you're XR is new, then yes, it's normal for the spokes to loosen during break-in. Tighten them lightly and evenly after every ride. As the spokes seat-in, they will need tightening less frequently. Eventually, after about 500 miles or so, the spokes may never loosen any more, but keep a check on them before each ride.

All XR's that I know of, come with the spoke tool. If not, then you can get one from a Honda shop. Or simply use the correct size open end metric wrench.

Never skip around when tightening the spokes, instead, lightly tighten each loose one you come to, and increase the tension only until you hear a nice "ting" sound when you tap the spoke with the wrench. Keeping the rim true during this procedure can be difficult if you do it wrong, it takes practice, I really can't explain it well here.

As a side note, the old Suzuki RM's from way back in the early 80's, came with straight pull spokes which for some reason never loosened at all even when new. I never figured out how they managed that. Every other nut and bolt on those RM's would loosen and fall off, but the spokes always stayed tight. I don't know how they did it.

Spokes coming loose are common on many new bikes from my experiences with Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Husky, etc, and it should be a regular part of your maintenance to check and tighten loose spokes, especially on a new bike.

It sounds like you've already got some good experience with bicycles and the same principles apply here. Tighten or loosen no spoke more than 1/4 turn at a time. Make note where you start tightening them (i.e. rim lock, valve stem, etc). Turning right makes it tight while left loosens. Tighten the loose spoke 1/4 turn, then skip 2 spokes and tighten or loosen the 3rd spoke 1/4 turn, then skip 2 spokes and tighten or loosen the 3rd spoke 1/4 turn, etc, until you've gone all the way around the wheel. Once you've gone around the wheel 3 times you will have adjusted every spoke on the wheel.

Make sure to get a good spoke wrench like from Motion Pro or another reputable company. I believe the XR200 and larger XR's use a 6.0mm spoke wrench (Yamaha uses 6.2mm as I recall). You can tap each spoke with the spoke wrench and kind of use it as a tuning fork. The higher the pitch, the tighter the spoke usually is. If the spoke makes a dull thud sound, then you know its too loose. The goal is to try to get all the spoke sounding fairly similar, but make all your adjustments in small increments of 1/4 turn at a time. It's tempting to make larger adjustments with the thought of saving time, but its too easy to get a wheel out of whack that way. With your front wheel off the ground, make sure to check the runout before you start adjusting the spoke and afterward to make sure you haven't messed anything else up.

I've got an article somewhere that explains this much better and when I find it I'll post it for you.


Truing of rims for off-road bikes is not as critical as for pure road bikes. A quick and dirty check can be done by putting the bike on a stand with the front or back wheel off the ground. Spin the wheel and observe the rim. More precision can be had by making a homemade clamp on system that attaches to the swingarm or fork and has an adjustable pointer that touches the rim.

I check my spokes every other ride. I use an inexpensive universal spoke wrench (about $7 at a motorcycle dealership) See an example at:

The method I follow is simple. I simply rap the spoke with wrench and listen for a nice ring. I don't want to hear a thud sound, nor do I want to over tighten. I tighten just enough to get a ringing tone, but not a high pitched ring.

Usually the tuning only requires a 1/4 -1/2 turn of the spoke nipple.

If your spokes are really loose then you need to follow the standard practice of tightening every third spoke until all of them have been tightened to the same degree (again I do this by ear). Do this incrementally. It may take 2 or 3 go rounds to tighten them up. Loopsided tightening can cause a rim to snap.

Hope this helps

A trick I learned way back. On the rear, put zip-ties on the spokes that are touching, in the middle of the wheel. If by chance one comes out while riding, it won't go anywhere, and will most definately not go into your chain. Checking them and for other loose bolts after every ride should be part of the "routine maintenance" anyway. If you didn't find a loose one, then you aren't looking hard enough.

I find several loose spokes after every HARD ride... Usually on the rear. I always check the spokes after I wash bike & lube chain... I just tighten as needed. Not too concerned with a perfectly true wheel since 95% of my riding is in sand, whoops & rocks. :)

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