Maintaining ATV Alignment

Maintaining your ATV Front – End alignment

As quads become more advanced, their handling characteristics become more refined. Most quads today have front-end geometry that has alignment specs similar to any fine-tuned race car. These configurations are what allow one quad to out-handle another. They can be altered to make the machine handle different terrain with improved results, as top riders and racers try to do to give them optimum performance. Knowing how to alter or maintain these settings is a part of keeping your quad, in peak condition.

Quads incur a lot of abuse, crashes and unforeseen obstacles that causes misalignments and damage to the front – end. For that reason they must always be checked and adjusted for optimal performance.

Here’s how you can keep your ATV in tough condition without bringing your ATV to the mechanic First, have a buddy to help you set up your bike which is very important. Have him set the ride height and hold the handle bars straight making the outcome much nicer. Since the upper control arm, lower control arm, lower control arm and steering tie rod are all different lengths, the quad must be aligned closest to ride height.

Then make sure you check the tire pressure in all four tires and also that the quad is on flat, level ground. Then inspect the components for damage, making sure parts aren’t bent, broken or loose. Checking the camber can be done by using carpenter’s square. The camber is the amount of “lean” the tire has. Variations in camber can help or hurt traction in corners. This measurement is usually taken at the gap between the edge of the square and the top of the wheel. In most cases this is 0.2 to 0.8 inch depending on the rack conditions.

In order to change the camber, the upper control arm ball joint jam nut is loosened and the ball joint screwed in or out for the desired angle. In most cases the factory arm cannot be adjusted for camber, but aftermarket A-arm kit usually allow camber adjustability.

With the camber set, the toe can now be checked and be well adjusted. Toe in and out is the angle which the tires face, toe-in and they are angled slightly inward, toe-out and they are angled slightly out, from the perspective of straight ahead as the quad faces. Use a straight edge at the front center of the wheel and measure the distance between the front wheels. Remember, do this at the ride height to make these measurements more accurate and precise.

Now measure the distance at the back of the wheel, 180 degrees from your last measurement. In most cases the front of the tires should be toed-in 1/8 of an inch, so your first reading is 1/8 less than the last. To adjust the toe, loosen the jam nuts on the tie rod shafts and with the handled bars held in place theses shafts can be screwed in or out to set the toe. Rolling the quad back and forth will relax the force against the tires.

With the jam nuts tight you are ready to ride. Remember the stance of the front end and the alignment can be set into many different configurations. Find one that works best for you is the key to proper control and comfort

By Contributing Writer