13. How to True a Wheel
Aspects of wheel truing covered include radial, lateral, centering (or dishing) and spoke tension.
Wheel truing is a delicate procedure that requires time and patience. In this tutorial I'll try and demonstrate the many aspects as clearly as possible. Ideally you'll want to have a wheel truing stand, good lighting and a comfortable workspace.
If you don't have a truing stand, lateral, or side to side adjustments can be done using your brake pads as a guide. If truing the wheel on your bike, be sure to deflate the tire before you begin. For radial, or up and down adjustments, you can use an L-square as a guide by attaching it to your fork or frame.
It is very important to use the correct size spoke wrench to avoid stripping the spoke nipples.
Before you begin, carefully inspect your wheel for any bent or broken spokes. Make sure your hub bearings don't have any play and then carefully squeeze a drop of light oil into all of your spoke holes.
Spoke nipples have a regular right-hand thread, but that while you're truing a wheel, you will be looking at the nipple upside-down, so you have to turn the spoke wrench clockwise to loosen and counter-clockwise to tighten.
Make sure the spoke doesn't turn with the nipple, which will cause it to twist and break. If it does turn, apply some light oil to the nipple threads and try again.
If a spoke does break while you're truing, it'll shoot out the spoke hole with great force, so be careful not to place your face in line with the rim. Safety glasses are highly recommended.
To check radial alignment, place the guide near the highest point on the outer edge of your rim. Find the high spots in your rim by spinning the wheel and correct them by tightening both left and right side spokes evenly. Correct any low spots by equally loosening the spokes in the effected area.
Tighten or loosen spokes in 1/4 turn increments. For example, if the effected area spans the length of four spokes, tighten all four spokes 1/4 turn, and then tighten the middle two spokes another 1/4 turn. Then re-check the radial alignment and repeat the process as needed.
To check lateral adjustment, place the guide close to the rim sidewall and look for high spots on either side. To correct a left or right high spot, tighten the spoke that leads to the opposing hub flange and equally loosen the spoke that leads to the hub flange on the same side as the high spot.
Just like radial adjustments, tighten or loosen the spokes in 1/4 increments. Again if the effected area spans four spokes, loosen and tighten all four spokes 1/4 turn, and then loosen and tighten the middle two spokes another 1/4 turn.
Re-check the lateral alignment and re-adjust as needed. Remember that on the rear wheel, the right side spokes have a lesser angle and effect lateral movement less than the left. The left side spokes have greater angle and effect radial alignment less than right. To compensate for this difference, the right side spokes should be adjusted two turns for every turn on left.
Rims should be exactly centered between the axle nuts. To check this you can use either a dishing tool, or your frame to check the measurement on each side.
If the rim is off-center, pull it in either direction by equally tightening all of the spokes on one side 1/4 turn, and loosening all of the spokes on the other. Then check the alignment again and repeat the process until the rim is centered.
To check spoke tension, pluck each spoke in the middle and listen to the sound. On the front wheel, all of the spokes should sound the same on both sides. On the rear wheel, each side should sound slightly different, but the spokes on each side should sound the same as each other.
Most people don't have a spoke tensiometer, so it's a good idea to compare the sound of your spokes to the sound of a wheel that you already know has proper tension. Remember that spoke changes effect the whole wheel, so you might have to repeat these steps several times before it is true.
After the wheel is true you should always pre-stress the spokes and re-adjust before riding. Failure to do this could cause broken spokes later. There are two ways to do this. The first way is to squeeze together the parellel spokes on both sides of the wheel. The second method involves resting the wheel sideways on the floor and gently pushing down on both sides of the rim, all the way around the wheel in 1/8 increments.
After pre-stressing the spokes you will usually have to re-check and make some minor adjustments. If after stressing the wheel you notice that your rim is severly warped, it means that your spoke tension is too high. Loosen all of the spokes 1/2 turn and re-true the wheel.
I think the rearing bearings are 13mm ID and 30mm OD. Are these measurements correct? Please help.
Thanks.... Read more >>
I have a 10 year old Trek 7200 Hybrid. I am thinking of replacing the wheels in a while and was wondering what you guys could recommend. It came with Matrix 750's but they are no longer available. I tip the scales around 230lbs. and am looking to spend around $300. any suggestions.... Read more >>
I won a Specialized Daily in a contest. It is a pretty sweet bike. But it has an internal gearhub on the rear wheel. I have never had this type of gear setup before. I am afraid to mess with it to get the wheel off. How the heck do I remove this wheel to change my flat tube? Thank you in advance for any assistance.
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I have a fairly cheepish bike, Appolo Evade Mountain Bike. (The reason for it having a freewheel was probably due to price not age).
Anyways. So, there is a tiny bit of freewheel wobble which I have come across on a lot of freewheel bikes so I never considered this a problem. Freewheels just tend to get a little bent right? Despite this, shifting is just fine and smooth and the whole drive system is just good overall. However
When I ride up a hill, and I mean steep hills, doesn't matter what front/freewheel gears I... Read more >>
replaced the rear wheel with new one the axle is slightly longer approx 4mm had to use washers as a temporary measure. i was wondering can you get knurled washers that will do the job better
thanks chris... Read more >>
I wanted to replace the rim on my roadbike and heard from a friend that I should do it spoke by spoke, that way I don't have to be careful where to put which spoke. I tried that and now the new rim has kinda an egg shape and I can't fit any more spokes (I got stuck after switching 18 of the 32).
(both rims are 622x15c)
1. Buy an already built new wheel and be done with it?
2. Start over again?
3. Remove all of the spokes from the old rim, learn how to align them correctly and try it again?
4. or something else?
... Read more >>
I recently bought a second hand Giant Upland SE and to be frank, it is my first bike with multiple gears. The bike functioned normally for the first day or two. I could shift between all the gears. When the bike is stored indoors, the pedal and wheel work fine but once I take it out in the cold (anywhere from -10 to -30 degrees celsius), the pedals rotate freely and have no action on the wheel. Also I am not able use some gears on the rear wheel. Can anyone please help with an explanation and solution?... Read more >>
I need to find a replacement axle for the one which broke on my 1970's road bike. I've written the specs below, can anyone help me source a replacment? I don't know what to search for:
Thread size 9.2mm
Starting from the drive Side
24mm to first nut
First nut 6mm with an incorporated spacer 9mm
Second nut 3mm
Cone specification unknown
Gap to second Cone 71mm
Cone Specification unknown
20mm to end of thread
Recently bought a slightly used 26" meridian trike. While replacing wider tires on the rear, I noticed an issue with the rear drive side wheel hub. The wheel is held on with a nut and single washer. The hub is not held firmly in a location on the axle and is able to slide back and forth on the axle a good half inch even though the nut is tightened all the way down to its bottom threads on the axle. The non drive side hub and wheel has very little play on its axle , perhaps a 1/8 inch and seems to run fine.
While the drive side hub slides back and forth and seems to be creating un... Read more >>
So today I got a flat tire (unrelated, it was a nail, extracted, repaired. All good) and when I pulled over to try to find what caused it, I noticed that my rim was rubbing the brakes the way it does when it's out of true because of a broken spoke.
The spoke is fine. It's the RIM that's been damaged, and that has damaged my calm some. I took it to my usual bike shop, guys are pros, figured they'd have an answer, no such luck. They gave me vague language about how it "looked like it h... Read more >>
We have a hand me down bike which has been in the family for 30+ years. It's original ower is now in her fourties!!! I'm attached to this bike because the memories I have with my dad riding it.
It has rusted underneath the chrome coating it had so it now all pitted.
I was wondering, can I respray the paint back onto the rim?... Read more >>
I have a very annoying creaky/rubby noise that I cant shift although I have narrowed it down to the rear wheel and not the bike.
I have a Giant Propel Advanced SL 0 Aero Race Road Bike 2016 3 months old and 1,000 miles with the SLR 0 Aero wheels 55mm.
The noise noise only happens (always takes 10 mins to warm up) when I'm seated and putting some power down uphill or on the flats. Now I know its not the BB as I have put my friends Mavic rear wheel on my bike and my SLR r/wheel on his Scott and he gets the same noise on his bike. He's 60kg and... Read more >>
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I have a 1997 Giant Ferrago. Great bike, bulletproof. I was changing the rear tube, and doing a bit of lube to both wheels. When all was said and done, I had a left over spring that I think came off the bike. But where?
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I just tuned my '76 Schwinn cruiser up for spring, and after riding as far as my daughter's bus stop my rear wheel has shifted over far enough that the tire is hard against the frame. So I readjust, tighten it back down, and in the same time my wheel has shifted again. It's gone as tight as it can. I'm wondering if the mounting brackets of the fender are causing the nut to slip. Perhaps moving them to the inside of the frame would help? Any suggestions?
Edit: It only seems to be the drive side that slips. The chain is loose and the tire presses against the non-drive side under the... Read more >>