Wheels are always the most stressful and impactful component of a bicycle since they directly contact the ground. Thus, don’t be surprised if your bike wheels are out of shape.
In this case, instead of bringing your bike to a repair shop, you could true these wheels by yourself.
The following article will give you all tips on how to true a bike wheel. Check it now!
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Why Do I Have To True A Bike Wheel
The wheels are the essential parts of a bicycle. Thus, if these components do not work effectively, your rides or even your safety will be in trouble.
Many people think that loose spokes on bike wheels are not problems. However, these small details could have significant impacts on your riding experience.
If you ride on out-of-shape wheels or wheels with loose spokes, you might feel unstable and uncomfortable, especially on bumpy terrains.
Moreover, an out-of-true bike wheel could make you lose control when riding at high speed. It could also have many negative impacts on your bicycle’s other components, like rims and brakes after a long run.
In short, wheel truing will help you fix the wheel’s problems in the most straightforward and effective method. It would be best if you true your bike wheel at least once or twice a year to ensure your bike’s quality.
Typical Wheel Problems
Rattling when riding
The first problem with the bike wheel is the rattling when riding. Nobody wants to hear these annoying sounds when riding.
It not only brings uncomfortable feelings but also is a sign of possible dangers. Wheel truing could help you remove this annoying sound in an effective way.
In this case, you have to tighten the spoke nipples to enhance the wheel structure and strength.
Out-of-shape bike wheels
Secondly, you have to true your bike wheels when they are out of shape. If you do not fix this problem on time, your rides are hazards!
If you hear the rubbing sound when your wheels roll on the road, it is high time to true it. This problem happens when your rim tends to pull to the wheel side with more tension.
Another reason for wheel truing is your bike wheels become out of true vertically. In this situation, your wheels will sway up and down, causing you to feel a jolt when cycling. More seriously, it could affect the rim brakes in the long run.
Last but not least, the floppy spokes are also the everyday problems of your bike wheels. When your wheels are perfectly round, but there are some sagging spokes on them, it will cause many damages.
Tools Required for Truing A Bike Wheel
Even though truing a bike wheel is a simple task, you still need some essential tools to do that. Here are some required tools for a wheel truing process.
You do not truly need a truing stand for your wheel truing. However, for the best accuracy and quality, I highly recommend you to use this tool. A truing stand will help you to fix the wheel and perform operations without entanglement.
In case you are using a bicycle equipped with rim brakes, a truing stand might not be necessary. You do not need to remove your bike wheels and use the brake pads to keep your bicycle.
An essential tool for wheel truing is the spoke wrench. With this tool, you can loosen and tighten the spokes and spoke nipples in seconds.
Notice that you have to choose the spoke wrench’s right size since the spoke nipples are not universal.
Spoke tension meter
You could use this tool to measure the tension of your bike spokes. This tool will help you have the most accurate measurement. However, in some cases, you could check the tension manually as well.
Truing A Bike Wheel With A Stand
With a truing stand, the process will be easier and more precise. Also, the steps on the wheel truing with a stand will be different from the process without a truing stand.
Step 1: Removing your bike wheel
If you use a truing stand, you have to remove your bike wheel and put it on the truing stand before starting the process. If you are a beginner, it will be best if you remove the bike tires. In general, a bike tire could block your view when truing a bike wheel.
Step 2: Setting your bike wheel on the truing stand
You will need to repair the alignment of your bike wheel when truing it. Thus, you have to place the bike wheel in the truing stand and adjust the stand’s calipers to fit the rim on the bike wheel perfectly.
If the truing stand’s calipers are too loose, they could not keep the bike wheel stable. In case these parts are too tight, it could deform the rim.
Step 3: Spinning the wheel to find out mistakes
This step is truly essential. It will help you notice irregularities on your bike wheel.
You have to spin the wheel slowly and observe it. If you see your bike wheel sway up and down, you have to true it radially. Spinning rim will help you see the buckles on the wheel clearly.
Step 4: Locating the buckle
After turning the bike wheel on the truing stand, you have determined the buckle on this wheel.
Now, you have to tighten the jaws so that they gently touch the rim. It would be best to spin the bike wheel back and forth to know where the heaviest buckle is.
Step 5: Finding the relevant spokes
The next step in wheel truing with a stand is locating the wrong spokes on your bike wheel. For example, if you feel that your rim tends to pull to the right, you should find the spokes on the left of the bike wheel and the wheel hub.
Step 6: Adjusting the bike wheel vertically
One of the most crucial steps in wheel truing is checking the vertical alignment (or radial alignment). This step will help you find the highest point on the wheel, and you need to fix it.
To adjust the bike wheel vertically, you have to put the guide to slight contact with the rim’s highest point.
To correct high spots, you need to tighten the left spokes and right spokes on the bike wheel. If there are some low spots on the rim, you should loosen relevant spokes.
Remember that you should loosen and tighten these spokes by following the 1/4 turn increment rule.
For example, if there are four spokes relating to your bike wheel’s vertical problems, all you need to do is tighten or loosen these spokes 1/4 turn.
After that, you need to tighten or loosen two center spokes added 1/4 turn (depending on whether they are high spots or low spots).
Of course, this rule is not suitable for all situations. Thus, after adjusting, you should recheck the straightness and roundness of your bike wheel.
Step 7: Adjusting the bike wheel side by side
Like vertical adjustment, lateral adjustment is essential to true an out-of-shape bike wheel. To check the side-to-side alignment, you need to put the guide on the rim sidewall. Then, look at the buckle you have located in step 4.
Now, you need to consider the hub flange on the bike wheel. As you know, there are right-side hub flange and left-side hub flange on a wheel.
If you see any high spots on the right side, you need to tighten the side spokes on the left hub flange and loosen the spokes on the right hub flange simultaneously.
Again, the 1/4 increment rule will be very beneficial in adjusting the bike wheel laterally. You have to recheck your bike wheel to ensure there are no high or low spots on the sidewall.
Step 8: Centering the bike wheel
To perform this step, you might need a dishing tool. In case you do not have this tool, you could use your bike frame to measure. However, the result might not be as accurate as using a dishing tool.
On your bike wheel, the rims have to be precisely placed in the center. In case your bike rims are out of the center between the axle nuts, your bike wheel will stall, and it is hazardous to ride.
For example, if your rim pulls to the right side, you will have to tighten all spokes on the left side and loosen all spokes on the right side. You could still use the 1/4 turn rule for adjustment.
Step 9: Checking the spoke tension
It will be best if you have a spoke tension meter. However, if you true your bike wheel at home, you might not have this professional tool.
Don’t be worried since this step is much simpler than you think. To check the spoke tension, you need to hear the sound of spokes when you pluck them.
For the front wheel, the sound of all spokes will be similar. However, the sound on the two sides of the rear wheel will be a little bit different.
Now, you need to compare these sounds and find the unusual sound. For example, a spoke that is too stretched will make a louder and more powerful sound.
Step 10: Relieving the stress of spokes
After truing your bike wheel, it is necessary to adjust the spokes. This step will help your bike wheels and spokes be more durable for long runs.
For more information, you can check out this video about how to true a bicycle wheel:
Truing A Bike Wheel Without A Stand
Step 1: Deflating the bike tire
The first thing you have to do is deflating the tire since this component could reduce your view. Your bike wheel needs to be mounted on the bike frame instead of being removed like when you use the truing stand.
You could also turn the bike upside down to make it more stable. However, you have to accept that there will be a few slight wobbles when you start truing your bike wheel.
Step 2: Spinning the wheel to find out mistakes
Without a truing stand, you still have to turn your bike wheel to find out the buckles. Then, you could use a pen to locate them.
Step 3: Adjusting the bike wheel vertically
To make the radial adjustments, an L-square might be an excellent guide for you. You could attach this tool to the bike frame and observe the rim’s high or low spots. Then, using the mentioned step and rule to repair it.
Step 4: Adjusting the bike wheel side by side
At this step, you could use the brake pad instead of the calipers of the truing stand for orientation.
For the following steps, you could do them usually without a truing stand. Do not forget to carefully check the alignment, straightness, and roundness after truing a bike wheel.
For more information, you can check out this video about a bike wheel without a truing stand:
How much does it cost to true a bike wheel?
In case you cannot true a bike wheel at home, you might have to spend about $20 – $30 truing it in local bicycle shops. At this price range, you will receive professional services for wheel truing.
How true should a bike wheel be?
Your bike wheel could be a slight runout since it does not affect total performance. Thus, you have to tighten loose spokes and nipples to make sure your bike wheels are rationally straight on roads when you true a bike wheel.
Is it safe to true a bike wheel by myself?
Yes, it is. You can true a bike wheel by yourself if you have necessary tools like a truing stand. However, this process might be pretty time-consuming. In case you are a novice, you should research the steps of wheel truing carefully before starting.
Can we true a bike wheel at home?
Yes, of course, we can. In general, wheel truing is a straightforward process so that we can do it at home. Even though truing a bike wheel at home takes a long time, some tools like a truing stand, spoke wrench would help you finish this work faster.