Do you know how to true your bike wheel properly? If not, you could be in for a bumpy ride. Truing your bike wheel ensures that it is round and stable, which makes it much easier to ride.
This article will teach you what it means to true a bike wheel and how to use truing tools to true your bike wheels so you can ride safely and efficiently.
Use a spoke tension gauge to true your bike wheels. This tool will help you determine the proper amount of tension to apply to your spokes to ensure they are true. Then, use a spoke wrench to tighten or loosen the spokes on your wheel. Finally, look for bent spokes. If you notice any bent spokes, act quickly before they become too damaged and cause serious injury.
What does it mean to ‘true’ a wheel?
A true wheel is a wheel whose rotation is perfectly aligned with no side-to-side wobbles or hops (up-and-down). Truing is the process of tightening spokes in small increments until the wheel does not wobble.
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061
How do you check if your wheel is untrue?
To check for this, simply lift your wheel off the ground, choose one spot to watch (the brake pad is easiest), and spin it. It’s out of true if it wobbles back and forth or right and left.
What happens if you don’t true a wheel?
Untrue wheels are weaker, can make steering difficult at high speeds, and can cause stuttering or lockups if you use rim brakes. That said, it would have to be seriously faulty for any of the above to be a severe problem.
What tools will I need?
The only tool required for truing is a spoke wrench. The spoke nipples are gripped by this small wrench, which allows you to tighten or loosen the spokes to align the wheel. Nipples and wrenches come in various sizes, so choose one that fits your wheels.
If you need a spoke wrench, check out these options below (I bought the Park one, and I love it).
You should use a bike stand that supports the wheel and makes it easier to see flaws. Then, simply hang the bike, so the wobbler is about chest level. Also, keep a good light near the bike to see what you’re doing.
Of course, you don’t need to use a stand. You can just flip your bike upside down and spin the wheels. But a stand can make things much easier. Below are some popular bike stands to consider. However, if you want absolute precision, you must purchase a truing stand. This is a bike stand dedicated to truing.
How to true your bike wheels
Here are some beginner-friendly steps to follow in truing your bike.
Position your wheel on the stand
Take the wheel from the bike and place it on the truing stand. Vertically adjust the calipers on the stand until they are level with the outer edge of the rim.
Spin the wheel
Spin the wheel. Adjust the distance between the caliper’s jaws until it is just clear of the rim. Check that the wheel isn’t bobbing up and down or right to the left. If it does, the wheel is not true.
Find the buckle
Dial in the jaws until they begin to lightly contact the rim while slowly turning the wheel; this will indicate where it is most heavily buckled. Next, rotate the wheel back and forth to find the buckle’s center.
Locate the relevant spoke
If the rim is pulling to the left, locate the spoke coming from the hub’s right-hand side closest to the buckle’s center. If it’s pulling to the right, look for the corresponding spoke coming from the hub’s left side.
Fine-tune the tension
Turn the nipple in half. Looking at the nipple from above (through the rim), it tightens clockwise. However, looking at it from the stand, it tightens counter-clockwise.
Check and double-check
Check the outcome of your adjustment by moving the wheel back and forth. If necessary, increase the tension. Then, slightly adjust the caliper and proceed to the next buckle.
- Spoke wrench
- Bike stand
If you want even more tips, watch this video called “How To True A Bicycle Wheel” from the Global Cycling Network YouTube Channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about truing a bike wheel.
Can I true a wheel myself?
Yes, you could true your wheels yourself, but be careful. You might end up with a more true wheel and possibly damaged spokes.
How do you know if your wheels need truing?
Raising your bike, spinning a wheel, and inspecting it from the front or back. If it wobbles more than five millimeters from left to right, it’s time for a new wheel. In extreme cases, the rim of an untrue wheel may come into contact with rim brake pads, or the tire may rub against the seat stays or chainstays.
Why do bike wheels go out of true?
Loose spokes are one of the most common causes of wheels going out of alignment. Squeeze two spokes simultaneously between your thumb and fingers to test the tension. A really loose spoke will be obvious (as you practice, you’ll notice subtle differences).
Truing your bike wheel assures you that it is safe to ride. Truing your bike wheel is like playing a video game: once you’ve mastered it, it becomes extremely simple to do again! You should have all the information you need to test your bike wheel successfully. If you suspect your wheel is out of alignment, double-check it. Using our advice ensures a safe ride and keeps your wheels in good condition for years to come.
This article covered what a “true” is, how to check if your wheel is true, and how to true your bike wheel. Here are some key takeaways:
- A true wheel is a wheel whose rotation is perfectly aligned with no side-to-side wobbles or hops (up-and-down).
- To check for this, simply lift your wheel off the ground, choose one spot to watch (the brake pad is easiest), and spin it.
- Untrue wheels are weaker, can make steering difficult at high speeds, and can cause stuttering or lockups if you use rim brakes.
- The only tool required for truing is a spoke wrench (the term for straightening a wheel).
- When tightening rims, the spokes come out of their holders.
So, did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on maintaining your bike. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.