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Although some of the reasons should be pretty obvious, I thought this would still be a good topic to cover here at the HappyWrench Motorcycle Repair Blog. Some people out there are still unclear why dirt bikes use spoked vs. solid rims.
Why was I thinking about this particular issue?
Well, I am planning to build a dual-sport Harley-Davidson sportster or flat tracker after I finish up work on my Shovelhead “Cal.” That said, I want to make sure my donor bike or jumping off point makes sense. For example, it would be better to start off with a bike with spoked rims, as opposed to cast or forged alloy that I will ultimately have to swap out. That way, I have the proper hubs and just need larger spokes and rims. Anyways….
Below are the main reasons why dirt bikes use spoked rims:
1) Spoked wheels can handle shocks much better than solid wheels due to their inherent degree of flexibility
2) The individual spokes act like tiny springs in extension and compression making the entire wheel stronger pound-for-pound
3) Spoked wheels tend to be lighter on a dollar-for-dollar basis
4) Solid wheels bend and suffer more catastrophic failures
5) Individual spokes on spoked wheels can break (and be replaced) without catastrophic failure
6) Spoked wheels are essentially “serviceable” with individual pieces (rim, spoke, etc.) being relatively inexpensive, while a bent solid wheel is pretty much a goner and needs to be replaced in its entirety
Those are the main reasons I am aware of for why dirt bikes use spoked rims. There might be more that I am not aware of, so please feel free to use the comments section below.
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Also, forgive any typos or grammatical errors a I wrote this blog post from my phone.