Cruiser and sport bike owners have been known to spend big money on all sorts of custom bits for their bikes.
A large chunk of that cash can go for wheels; custom wheels can easily run into the thousands of dollars. But all wheels have to be balanced, and who wants a crummy old hunk o’ lead that was trimmed with a pair of wire cutters glued on your nice, shiny hoops?
But even if you don’t have custom wheels, you’re probably fussy about how your bike looks, and it’s pretty hard to argue that those lead weights do anything for the bike’s appearance. Most people either try not to think about them or ignore them.
My Triumph Thunderbird Sport has some really nice, chrome plated Akront rims — the last of a breed and reminiscent of bikes of old.
I balanced both the back and the front wheel, and while I had them off the bike, I cleaned and polished both wheels, which wasn’t an easy task! It struck me when I re-balanced them and added the weights back on how out of place the little hunks of lead looked on those nice, shiny rims.
Well, here’s a pretty cool solution — MetalArts makes custom cast wheel weights in either flat or spoke styles. Each of these weights are literally miniature works of art.
MetalArts has been in the precision and art metal casting business since 1985, and they make these weights (and some other neat products) using the same processes they use for their art sculptures.
The MetalArts flat weights are made using the same process that coins have been made for hundreds of years. Each design is hand carved and reproduced in a die.
The process, dies and presses are used to “mint” these weights is just like the one used by good ol’ Uncle Sammy. In fact, the press actually belonged to the U.S. Treasury, and was used to strike coins at the San Francisco Mint!
The MetalArts “Spoke Dancer” weights are designed to clamp on the spokes of the wheel. I had plain old lead spoke weights on my Thunderbird Sport, because I think they at least look a bit better than the flat stick-ons.
The MetalArts spoke weights are made using a precision investment casting process, based on the ancient “lost wax” casting process, which was developed literally thousands of years ago and is still used today for precision, low volume metal casting, especially in the jewelry industry.
A lot of work is involved in the lost wax process, from the initial design of the part, through several casting steps, and involving hand finishing and polishing.
The “Spoke Dancer” crimp-on weights are available in several designs, such as a hog’s head, bullet, a really nice-looking Indian head, eagle, skull (my favorite, see below) and even a couple of R-rated “pole dancers”!
There are other uses for the Spoke Dancers — my wife wants one for her horse’s bridle, you can clamp one on your car’s antenna, on other parts of your bike, or in your car!
The MetalArts weights are just as easy to apply as traditional lead weights. The flat weights come with double-sided tape, and the spoke weights are applied by carefully clamping them on the spoke.
The prices are definitely higher than standard lead wheel weights, but you’re basically buying a work of art! These photos don’t really do justice to the detail, so check out the MetalArts website for more photos. I only hope that my next set of tires need balancing!
Product Comments: A cool solution for those ugly lead wheel weights! Hand made, custom cast motorcycle wheel weights. Available either as flat stick-ons or “Spoke Dancers” and in chrome or gold plate; all weights are hand polished.