Upsetting your bike wheel’s equilibrium could be as easy as hitting a rock or pothole or hopping off a curb, which has dire consequences. You could rock your rim out of shape. Since such accidents are inevitable, it is important to learn how to true a bike wheel at home. Truing your bike wheel will keep it straight, warp-free, and rolling smoothly.
Although it requires meticulousness and consumes a lot of time, anyone can true a bike wheel. Its principle is pretty easy and doable at home. With a little practice, you wouldn’t have to pay for a bike mechanic’s services. This article has all the details about truing bicycle wheels, including preparation, the process, and a few tips for hacking the process easily.
Before you begin truing your bike wheels, you have to be able to diagnose the wheel and establish that it needs truing. This means you have to know the components of a wheel.
A wheel comprises:
You will know your bike needs truing if it is wobbling from the non-drive side to drive side. Lift your bike or turn it upside down, spin a wheel, and observe it from the front to rear. If it wobbles more than five millimeters from left to right, it needs truing.
A truing stand will support the wheel and make it easier to see the imperfections. The stand also allows you to set up the wheel on a work surface at a convenient eye-level access. A truing stand TS-08 from Park Tool will do the job amazingly.
This is the most critical tool you need for truing. A spoke wrench is a small wrench that can grip the spoke nipples, tighten and loosen the spokes to align the wheel. Since spoke nipples and wrenches have different size, you have to ensure you have a wrench that suits your wheels. You can check on your bike’s manufacturer’s website for the correct spoke wrench size to get. We do recommend you buying LETUSPORT’s spoke wrench though, as it is suitable for multiple spoke nipple sizes.
Read our article on how to measure bike wheel so you can know your bike’s wheel measurements when buying maintenance tools.
A spoke holder is crucial if your wheel has bladed spokes. It will hold the spoke in place as you tighten the nipples to align the blades.
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Take the wheel off the bike and place it in the truing stand. If you don’t have a truing stand, clamp your bike on a regular bike stand then use your rim brake pads as a guide. The truing stand should be at an ideal eye-level position on a workbench or table for convenience.
Spin the wheel slowly on the stand. Adjust the distance between the caliper’s jaws until it sits slightly clear of the rim. Observe the wheel and ensure it is not bobbing up and down as this would mean a trip to the bike shop for radial truing.
While the wheel is spinning dial in the jaws until sections begin to lightly contact the rim. This will indicate the sections with heavy buckles. To locate the buckle’s center, rotate the wheel back and forth.
If you feel the rim pulling to the left, find the corresponding spoke from the hub’s right-hand side. If it’s pulling to the right, find the corresponding spoke coming from the hub’s left side and is nearest to the buckle’s center.
Turn the nipple halfway. If you are looking from above, through the rim, you should tighten the nipple clockwise; if you are looking from the stand, you should tighten the nipple in the anti-clockwise direction as it is reversed.
Move the wheel back and forth to check if the tension needs further tweaking. Dial in the caliper and move to the next buckle.
If the wheel is spinning and clears the brake pads without contacting the frame or fork, you can safely ride home. Ensure the brakes are capable of stopping the wheel before riding.
Grab the spokes in pairs and squeeze to check for loose ones. One spoke may have slackened off and tightening it could be all you need to do to restore the wheel’s equilibrium.
Rotate the wheel to find the section that is pulling to one side. Use rim brake calipers as a gauge or carefully place your thumb against the fork. Locate the spokes opposite the buckle’s center.
After identifying the spokes that need tightening, attach the spoke key and twist it quarter-way, in a counter clockwise direction.
Spin the wheel to see the effect of the adjustments you made. Make the necessary adjustments, like loosening the spokes next to the one you are tightening by turning them clockwise. Be careful not to throw, the wheel’s balance out.
Wheels are tricky structures. They may be spinning well even if the spokes are unevenly tensioned. If you are unsure about your wheel’s balance, especially after having a collision, see a bike mechanic for a proper check.
Do you need to learn how to fix a bike’s gear at home as well? Check out our detailed article on how to fix bike gears for a step-by-step guide.
A good mechanic should true a bike’s wheel in less than half an hour. As a beginner, you may spend between 30 minutes and 1 hour truing the bike.
Your bike’s spokes and wheels should be trued an tensioned at least once a year if you are an avid rider.
Although it is typically not dangerous, riding on a bent rim is not recommendable as it can cause more damage to the wheel.
We have covered all the steps and tips on how to true a bike wheel in this guide. Worry no more if you have been wondering how much it costs to true a bike wheel so you can hit the road again. The tips apply to nearly all types of bikes. We have even covered how to true your dirt bike wheel when you are on the road without a truing stand.
If you feel you can’t hack the meticulous procedure of truing a bike, or simply can’t get bothered with learning how to true a bike wheel, take the bike to a bike mechanic. Nonetheless, you should true your bike wheel at least once every year if you ride often. Add truing to your maintenance routine.