Imagine you are riding your bike on a long trail and bump into a massive pothole mid-ride. The next thing you realize is the annoying rubbing noise of a wheel knocked out of true. What an unlucky day, isn’t it?
You are in the middle of the road and there is absolutely no mechanics nearby for that little favor.
What are you going to do now?
Well, what if Just Not Sports tell you that truing bike wheels is something that anyone can do by himself, including you?
Basic concepts of a bike wheel
The hub: Wheel hub is basically the center part of a bike wheel. It contains an axle, bearings and a hub shell. This is the part where all the spokes are connected.
The spoke: Spokes are long straight metal bands that connect the hub with the rim under tension. One end of the spoke is firmly attached to the central hub, while the other end is connected to the rim using specialized threaded nuts called “nipple”.
The rim: The rim is the outermost part of the wheel, excluding tires. It’s a metal extrusion bent to form a hoop and gives the wheel its shape.
Necessary tools to true a bike wheel
Of course truing a bicycle wheel requires some tools to ensure success. Don’t worry, these tools are all very basic and easy to find on the market. You can consider investing a little amount of money on these things, and you will never need to spend money on a mechanics again. Totally worth an investment!
With just a few tools and practice sessions, you will master this fairly simple procedure. Better yet, you can still do it without most of the tools we mention in this article (and we will certainly show you how).
However, it is recommended that you have these tools because they improve precision level and save you some effort.
A truing stand: A truing stand is something that you use to put the wheel on to secure it. The biggest advantage of a truing stand is the calipers, with which you can spin the wheel and detect the imperfections. The price of a truing stand ranges from low-end to higher-end. Just read online reviews to find out the best one for you.
A spoke wrench: This is the one item that is compulsory when truing a bike wheel. Basically, the spokes are connected with the rim by threaded nuts at the end called “nipples”. Spoke wrenches are used to adjust the tension of the spokes by turning the nipples. Mechanics often say “tighten the spokes” but technically, it’s the nipple that is tightened.
Wheel dishing tool: this is used to examine the distance from the rim to the hub. Of course you can do this by eye, or other measuring tools like rulers, but it will be much less accurate.
A pair of thick gloves: Always a bonus.
Lubricant: if your wheels are old, you may need this.
How to choose right bike? See more: https://justnotsports.com/bike-size-chart/
The truing procedure
In this section, we will present you a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for bicycle wheel truing. Some steps may sound challenging when described in words but they are actually simple when you do it with your own hands.
There are 4 types of truing: lateral true, radial true, rim centering, and tension. In the scope of this article, Just Not Sports will discuss lateral true only because it is the easiest one for novice mechanics, and also the most common one.
The purpose of this step is to check the overall condition of the wheel and examine carefully to see where the problematic part is. Once you are correctly locate the imperfections, you start to true the wheel.
Step 1: Set the wheel up
Pop the wheel out of the bike for the procedure. You should remove the tire too, so that you can see the wheel more clearly from rim to hub. Place the wheel on the truing stand and secure it. In case you don’t have a truing stand, you can flip the bike upside down. Let the seat and handlebars act as a resting place.
Step 2: Inspect the tightness of the spoke
Feel it with your fingers to see if there is any spoke that is overly loose. If that’s the case, just use a spoke wrench, or spoke key to tighten. If you want to tighten the spoke, turn the key anti-clockwise and vice versa.
True wheels laterally
Step 1: Check for roundness
On the truing stand, spin the wheel gently. Find the point where the rim touches one side of the dishing fingers or brake pad. That is the problematic area. When you are done finding out, use the spoke wrench to tighten. The spot to tighten is the spoke attached to the hub on the opposite side.
Try to tighten each spoke equally. You should go with half a turn only for every spoke because the goal here is to make sure each spoke is tighten on the same level.
If you don’t have a work stand, you can place a ruler by the forks so that it almost touches the rim. It acts as a substitute for a brake pad. Spin the wheel gently and the principle is the same. You have to adjust where the tool touches the rim.
Step 2: Repeat
Keep repeating the process until you see that the distance from the rim to the brake pad is equal. If you are doing it right, no spots should touch the brake before any others. This step can take as much or as little time as you want. The longer and more careful you spend on it, the truer the wheel will be.
Step 3: Add some final touch
When you are done, remove the wheel from the truing stand. At this point, you should place the hub on the floor and push on the opposite side of the rim. Do it on both sides several times. This extra step really helps with wheels positioning. If you don’t do this, the wheel may look perfect when it’s on a truing stand but it can buckle again once you start riding.
Finally, you can use alcohol to gently clean the all the spokes. Install the tire and you are good to go.
If you have never experienced the satisfaction of truing a wobbly wheel yourself, you should definitely try it at home. This is a fairly simple process that anyone can practice on their own. It seems like a daunting task at first, but trust me, once you nail it, you will never want to see the mechanics again. Sarah Nguyen hope you choose right bike wheel.
Published by Inder Chauhan