I had always installed and positioned my rear wheel by feel and sight.  After setting the drive belt tension I would check the alignment by sighting down the center of the rear tire, checking the brake disk in its caliper, and eyeballing the position of the wheel.  I've got a pretty good eye, and it always worked well.  But, since I was about to run through multiple belt tension adjustments, and movement of the rear axle, I thought I'd try the more scientific approach and position the rear axle using Harley's alignment tool.  After using this gizmo once, I was sold on it.  It makes rear wheel alignment a snap! 
Aligning the Rear Axle/Wheel

Before I get into the rear axle alignment process, let me say that it was much cheaper to make the rear wheel alignment tool than to buy one.  It is really an easy tool to make.  The picture to the right (from the service manual for the XR1200) shows the dimensions for the tool.  I picked up a steel rod from a local hardware store, enlarged the Harley diagram to full size, and bent the rod in a vice to the shape of the drawing.  I also picked up a couple of rubber plugs, drilled a hole in their centers, and inserted a finishing nail in each plug.  The plugs mark the center of each end of the axle, and a rubber gromet slides on the rod to help position the axle. 
I've included some pictures to show how I used the tool to quickly and accurately position the rear wheel.
First, the below is a picture of the tool that I bent.  As mentioned, I used a rubber gromet as a slider on the rod, to mark the center of the axle.  I also used a grinder to put a blunt tip on the rod at the end of the bend.

Rear Axle Tool

A rubber plug gets inserted in each end of the rear axle.  The nail is used to point to the line in the center of the gromet that slides on the measuring rod.

Inserting Plug

Once the belt tension is set, the end of the measuring tool is placed in the dimple in the center of the swingarm pivot bolt and the distance to the rear axle measured.  I am showing the left side of the bike since it is easier to see without the exhaust system, but the first measurement would be taken on the right (drive belt) side of the bike.

Swingarm Tool Centered in Swingarm Dimple

After marking the distance from the center of the swingarm to the center of the rear axle on the right side of the bike, the tool is positioned in the center of the swingarm on the left side of the bike, and the left end of the axle positioned in the center of the gromet using its adjuster screw.

Measuring the Distance to the Rear Axle Center

Voila! a perfectly aligned rear axle!  I should have made one of these measuring rods a long time ago...

Rear Axle Tool Diagram

The below is a closer look at the rubber plugs, with nail inserted, and the gromet slider.  The extra gromet just shows the under-sized gromet that I used, so that the slider stays snugly in position while measuring.


Here is one plug inserted in an end of the axle.

Plug in Rear Axle

Keeping the end of the rod seated in the center of the swingarm, the rod is aligned with the center of the axle, and the rubber gromet slid to mark the distance to the center of the axle.  Again, this measurement is taken on the drive belt side of the wheel, once the drive belt tension has been set using the axle adjuster screws.


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