Can you repair a cracked motorcycle frame? The question isn’t whether you can do it or not. It’s about whether you should do it or not.
Motorcycle frames are a pretty integral part of a bike’s overall construction. This frame is holding up everything that is on your bike. Of course, if a crack occurs, you can permanently weld it, but the job done is a serious consideration.
Any impact on the road can open it again, and you don’t want to be riding that bike with a crack. It will put you in harm’s way, and the risk is immense.
There are various aspects associated with it that you have to consider. So, we will go through them in this guide and see whether it should be done or not.
Can You Repair a Cracked Motorcycle Frame or Replace it?
A motorcycle frame can take a serious toll, and there can be numerous reasons behind it. There can be occasional crashes, or sometimes performing too many stunts can be the reason.
Or, the frame has got cracked because it’s too rusty and didn’t get much care and attention. It would be better to replace the frame for good in the latter scenario because once it has started to rust, any efforts to revive it will be in vain.
In the prior scenarios, you have to do some cost-benefit assessment of what kind of damage the frame has sustained and if any repair efforts will be durable and effective in the long run. But, again, it’s a matter of your safety, so you need to decide with a lot of thinking.
But before you get to the fixing part, make sure you take it to the technician and get it assessed. They have an instrument called theodolite that evaluates all the angles in a bike and will guide you to work.
Doing the fixing without any assessment might end up welding the bike in the wrong way, which might affect its overall balance and suspension. And you don’t want that to happen either.
If your bike is too old, making any effort will make it even weaker, and you would instead invest in a new bike frame or a completely new bike. So, make your decision carefully.
How to Straighten a Motorcycle Frame
Maybe your bike hasn’t sustained much damage, and it’s still pretty new, and there are no rusting signs because you park and store it properly as well. In that case, let’s continue our discussion on the question “can you repair a cracked motorcycle frame” and talk about straightening your bike frame.
Motorcycle frames are made using aluminum or steel alloy tubing. And due to impact, either of the alloys is prone to bending. All frame shops tend to use metal jigs when they straighten bike frames. Each shop has a different approach to straightening as well.
If your frame is bent way too much and in more than one place or around the handlebar, you better take your bike to a professional. When fixing any minor bends and cracks, you can try your do-it-yourself skills using basic tools in your garage.
You need to do this straightening by removing the gas tank, engine, suspensions, wheels, and all other accessories that you like to have on it. This will bear the frame and make its angles more evident to the eye.
- Pipe brackets.
- Duct tape.
- 0.75-inch full sheet plywood.
- 1.25-inch steel pipe half-round.
- Nylon string line.
- Steel mallet.
- Optional welding equipment.
- Cordless drill having a screw tip.
Assessing the Crack in the Frame
Secure the bike frame, and it has to be in an upright position. Make sure you secure it on a 0.74-inch plywood sheet with the help of pipe brackets. Place the bracket on the lowest tube frames and fasten those brackets to your plywood sheet with the help of wood screws.
You can drive these wood screws with your cordless drill that has a screw tip arrangement. If you need to straighten your lower tube frame, secure your frame right on its side.
Now, evaluate each weld on either side of that bent area of your bike frame. If there is a broken or cracked weld, you need to repair it before actually straightening it. Make sure you repair any of those damaged welds before straightening.
You need to attach a string line of nylon to both the ends of the area of a tube frame that you have to straighten. Next, you have to tape one end of this line using duct tape on one end of that bent section. Now, string the opposite side of the bent section. Moreover, you have to pull the line to keep it straight and secure the other side using your duct tape.
You have to measure the distance between the center portion of the bent area and the string line. Mostly, a bent area that is not longer than 0.25-inch right from that string line can easily be straightened on your own, and you will not need any external help from a professional.
Straightening the Frame
You have to remove those wood screws securing the pipe brackets with the plywood sheet using your cordless drill with a screw tip. Now, set the pipe brackets along with the screws aside.
Lay down the bike frame on your plywood sheet with its bent area right on the plywood. Now secure it to the sheet with the help of the remaining wood screws and pipe brackets. You can play a piece or a strip of duct tape right along the upper section of the bent bike frame tube to keep it safe from any scratching or scarring during your straightening process.
Now, measure the length of a 1.25-inch steel pipe that is half round that is long enough, and spans over the bent section. It will keep a hard hold on the other side. You can cut it to length using a hacksaw.
Make sure you wear safety gloves and glasses and position your half-round pipe right over the bend. Next, you have to make one end of this pipe stable with your hand and straighten the bent area by striking the pipe using your steel mallet. Evaluate the straightened area during this process by checking the distance between the plywood and the bent area.
Now, remove those brackets and stand the bike frame upright on that plywood sheet. Next, attach a string line right along the frame tube that you have just straightened with the help of duct tape. Continue this straightening process until the distance between the center position of the bent area and the string line is no longer than 0.03125 inches.
How to Weld a Cracked Motorcycle Frame – Step by Step
You might be thinking about welding your cracked motorcycle frame. This is one significant aspect of the question: can you repair a cracked motorcycle frame on your own. First, you need to consider whether you should do it yourself or hire a professional welder for this job.
We would recommend a professional welder for this job. After all, your bike frame is not worth more than your life. So, get it fixed for sure.
But if you will do it on your own, then make sure that you go for a TIG or a MIG welder instead of going for a stick welder. But you need to repair the crack first.
- Grind out your crack, and make sure to fill it with your MIG or TIG welder.
- Now, lay that gusset right over that crack to ensure better strength and durability.
- If you have welded the gusset throughout the crack, it will raise the stress, and it will cause another crack to develop in a new area. So, weld the gusset intermittently to flex in time of stress and distribute the pressure on the entire frame tube.
- You can also go for a tube sleeve but make sure that the tube is not too thick, or it might also cause additional and unwanted stress. This sleeve shouldn’t be thicker than the tubing itself and should be around 0.25-inch to 0.5-inch in thickness.
Can you repair a cracked motorcycle frame using a stick welder?
make sure to use a stick or arc welders that can produce a lot of heat and crystalize the metal surrounding the crack, making it weaker in those areas. These welders are better on very thick metals. For example, a MIG or a TIG welder will work best for a tube frame that a motorcycle has.
What type of crack should I repair on my own?
It is best to get a professional assessment before you start working on your bike. Cracks that have rust or are too bent can’t be repaired in your home garage. They need to be professionally handled. If a crack is not more than an inch long and has no signs of rust or too much bending, you should handle it independently.
How do I know if my motorcycle has frame damage?
You will notice your motorcycle starts to wobble, or its alignment is off a bit. And this will be more obvious when you are accelerating or slowing down. It won’t be easy to handle, and cornering will be off as well.
Can you repair a cracked motorcycle frame yourself, or should you go for professional assistance? First, you need to assess what kind of damage the bike frame has sustained. If the impact causes the damage and your bike is in good condition, and the crack or bent area is not that big. You can do it independently but make sure to use a TIG or a MIG welder.
If the cause of the damage is poor storage and plenty of rust and corrosion or the crack or the bent area is too big, you should go to a technician or think about replacing the frame or even a new bike. Nothing’s worth more than your life, even your favorite motorcycle!