Round And Round | A Little Time With Performance Machine

Tech Swap

01. Pictured is a set of wheel blanks in various sizes ready to be shaped and formed into any of the 18 different wheel designs PM offers, ultimately ending up rolling works of billet art.

02. Here is a Contrast Cut Paramount wheel coming straight out of one of the many CNC machines in PM’s facility. The Contrast Cut process uses an anodized black blank wheel (multiple other colors are also available), which is then intricately machined to expose the raw aluminum to contrast beautifully with the black anodized canvas. Then there’s the Platinum Contrast Cut finish, which mimics the regular Contrast Cut process, but the exposed raw billet is polished to a mirror shine.

03. One of the many polishers in PM’s polishing center gets busy making sure this baby blings.

04. After wheels are done being constructed, they go through various physical tests to ensure quality. According to PM, the first test is the Side Load (cornering) testing machine. This machine simulates a motorcycle cornering at 2.25 times the maximum tire load for one million cycles. As with all of these processes, if any wheel does not pass, it is scrapped and redesigned and then put through the same testing process.

05. Next, is the Radial Load Testing machine. This simulates the load on a tire/wheel assembly. The wheel is spun to speed and loaded to real world riding conditions, but at 2.25 times the maximum tire load. This is done for 100,000 cycles for front wheels, and 500,000 cycles for rear wheels. As you can see, PM takes pride in all of its products to ensure the utmost in wheel quality and safety for consumers.

06. The Torsional Load Test comes next, which simulates starting and stopping. Load-sensitive rams cycle back and forth replicating real-world-style torture in an attempt to rip the hub out of the rim. Every wheel in production suffers the wrath of this procedure.

07. The last physical test procedure is the impact test, which simulates if the rider was to hit an object (pothole) while traveling. The goal of this test is to allow the wheel to be fully functional after a hard-edged impact from its simulated machine. The tire must hold at least 50 percent of the air pressure after the impact.

08. Witnessing the wheel manufacturing and testing made us anxious to see how simply adding a set of wheels could change up the look of a mostly stock bike. The donor bike was a 2010 Black Denim Street Glide. The owner figured a set of Contrast Cut Platinum finish Paramount wheels would complement the all-black matte finish of his SG perfectly. The owner picked out a 21x3.25-inch front ($1,449.95) and 17x6.25-inch rear ($1,449.95). For the rotors, the owner decided since the rear won’t be seen much, he’d just get some front rotors. PM offers its 11.8-inch Heathen rotors ($329.95 each), which are a perfect match for several of its wheel styles. Of course with the larger wheels the owner needed new tires to boot, so he picked up a set of Avon tires.

09. The bike owner picked up an AV71 120/70-21 front (MSRP $214.51), and an AV72 200/55R17 rear (MSRP $321.65). Avon’s Cobra line was designed with the touring market in mind as they have been constructed to handle the heavier loads associated with larger touring bikes. With their aggressive tread pattern and unique construction, the Cobra tires are designed to provide quick handling, stability, and a quiet ride while also providing longevity.

10. With the bike on a lift at Anaheim-Fullerton Harley-Davidson, service tech Kevin started by removing both of the front calipers and then the pulling the axle and removing the front wheel.

11. He then began bolting on the Heathen rotors to the Paramount wheel. The Heathen rotors feature a high-grade 420 stainless steel outer band and an aluminum inner that has been anodized black and then machined and polished to complement the wheel. The two-piece design of the rotor assembly allows you to replace the outer band once worn or as necessary.

12. With both the left and right side rotors installed and torqued to spec, Kevin took the wheel and tire over to the tire machine and slipped the Avon onto the front wheel.

13. Kevin then slid the wheel under the front fender.

14. Along with the rotors, PM provides this black spacer for the right side, which is much better looking than the stock spacer.

15. Kevin then slipped the ABS sensor into place on the left side of the wheel, and after applying some anti-seize to the axle, the axle was slid into position and tightened down.

16. Since the rear rotor and pulley are rarely seen on baggers, the owner saved some cash by just reusing his stock rotor and pulley. Kevin removed the rotor from the stock wheel, applied some thread locker to the stock bolts, then bolted the rotor to the new wheel. He then installed the rear tire.

17. In 2008 Harley implemented an Isolated Drive System on its Touring models. The system is designed to reduce noise and vibration associated with the engine’s torque pulses. Rubber compensation elements in the sprocket act like a cushion damping the stresses applied at the rear wheel by gear or throttle changes. Here you can see how the stock pulley accommodates the rubber damper.

18. PM offers its wheels to work with the Isolated Drive System as well. The left side of the hub has PM’s bearing hub/cush drive bolted to it. As you can see the basket has lugs machined into for the rubber damper to fit into.

19. Kevin then slipped the pulley over the bearing hub/cush drive, aligned everything together, then slid the wheel in place followed by the rear belt. The pulley doesn’t actually bolt to the wheel. Instead, the pulley, rubber damper, and cush drive hub fit together like a puzzle which is then all thoroughly secured together once the axle is bolted in place. Once he had the belt properly adjusted, the install was complete.

20. Here’s what the bike looked like with the stock wheels/tires.

21. And this is with the PM Contrast Cut Platinum finish Paramount wheels and Avon tires. The wheels make a huge difference in appearance. Best of all, with the wheel/tire size combination the owner chose, everything fit in place with no modifications necessary. The difference in wheel/tires sizes only raised the front of the bike 1-1/4 inches and the rear of the bike 1/2 inch, providing a little bit more cornering clearance, but still allowing the owner to rest his feet flat on the ground at stops.

22. The owner was thoroughly impressed with the fine details of the Paramount wheels and liked how the gloss black anodize and the mirrored machine finishes complemented the matte black look of his bike. He also liked how the larger 21-inch front wheel filled out the fender giving it a low profile look. After the owner puts some miles on the Avons, we’ll report back with his thoughts on how the tires perform.

After you’ve purchased a custom set of wheels for your motorcycle, there’s probably not much thought that goes into how your brand new spinners came to be. There is so much involved when manufacturing custom wheels. From the CNC machining, to the anodizing, chroming, and polishing treatments, to the rigorous testing involved for quality control, there are many necessary steps taken in order to achieve the utmost in wheel integrity.

Custom motorcycle wheel magnate Performance Machine (PM) has been cutting billet since 1970 when its first facility opened its doors in Paramount, California. Fast forward to 2011, PM continues to thrive as a leader in custom motorcycle parts manufacturing, most notably custom wheels, brake components, hand and foot controls, primary drives, and beyond, becoming a household name among all custom motorcycle enthusiasts. A few years ago PM stepped up the motorcycle wheel game when it developed its Contrast Cut line of motorcycle parts, which became a giant success with consumers. The Contrast Cut process takes a black anodized blank—be it a wheel or brake caliper—and machines one of its specific, cutting-edge patterns into the blank exposing the raw aluminum for well, a contrasting finish. As the originator, PM has a trademark on Contrast Cut finish. This just gives you an idea of how PM continues to innovate within the motorcycle industry. Recently, PM acquired Xtreme Machine Wheels and has taken over all manufacturing operations of that brand.

Recently PM held an open house to celebrate more than 40 years in business and to welcome and thank dealers for their continued support over the years. We stopped in for a quick tour of PM’s state-of-the-art facility, and Kelli Murrow, PM’s sales and marketing manager, allowed us to snap some pics of the different processes in which PM manufactures and tests its wheels. HB


Anaheim-Fullerton Harley-Davidson** | (714) 871-6563

Avon Tires
Contact your local dealer

Performance Machine | (800) 470-4037

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