Pro Wrenching Tip—Aligning the Front Axle

Keep your fork legs from binding when reinstalling the front wheel.

Anytime you pull the front wheel off a dirt bike, it’s critical that you get the front wheel centered on the axle between the fork lugs when reinstalling it, otherwise the fork legs will bind under compression. During a round of the AMA National Enduro series, FMF KTM Factory Racing mechanic Nick Saylor gave us a very simple lesson on how to align the front axle in order to prevent the fork legs from binding. Here’s Saylor going through the process along with photos.

FMF KTM Factory Racing mechanic Nick Saylor reinstalls the front wheel on Johnny Girroir’s KTM 350 XC-F after mounting a fresh Dunlop Geomax MX33 tire. We caught him just in time to ask how he centers the front wheel on the axle.Shan Moore
“A lot of people like to tighten one side and then compress the forks, then tighten the opposite side,” Saylor said. “I’ve never really found any true consistency with that, so what I like to do is have all four of my fork lug bolts loose. You put the axle through the fork lugs and wheel with the pinch bolts loose. Next, you put a wrench on the left side (when looking at the front of the bike) and then you have your torque wrench on the right side, where the nut is. So you’ve got a wrench on the left, your torque wrench on the right, and you’re just going to torque the axle exactly how you normally would.”Shan Moore
“When you’re done torquing it, the left side of the end of the axle should be flush with the fork lug. So you shouldn’t see the axle sunken in and you shouldn’t see any actual axle pushed out either. It should be flush with the end of the fork lug.”Shan Moore
“Once the axle is flush with the outside edge of the fork lug, you know it’s centered and then you just tighten your pinch bolts and you’re done. It makes it super easy.”Shan Moore
Nick Saylor is new to off-road, coming from the world of supercross. He’s Johnny Girroir’s mechanic on the FMF KTM Factory Racing team for 2023.Shan Moore