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.
Is the rear wheel on a bike properly dished if the rim is equally distant from the frame? I trued my rear wheel a little today, and I'm wondering if I need to go any further to check if it's centered than measuring the distance between the rim and the frame on either side of the wheel.... Read more >>
Hi. Riding in sub zero temps here and my rear brake has seized for the last three days heading to work but today I started off pedalling but after about 100m my pedals no longer moved the rear wheel. I had a major service a few months back where all cranks, chains etc were replaced. Could it just be the cold that is preventing me moving and if so what can I do to cure it.
Sitting sadly on the bus commute as I type.... Read more >>
I need a couple spoke protectors for a 70+ mm hub. I see some listed on e-bay, but they are the smaller hub spoke protectors.
Can anyone tell me where to find the bigger hub spoke protectors ??... and how do they measure for them ??
Thanks... Read more >>
Hi I need help. I'm rebuilding my bike ready for spring and noticed my rear wheel bearings needed changing so took cones off removed. Axel and the non driver side bearing and cassette and I'm struggling to get the other side bearing out I have tried Everything possible they are sealed bearings any help would be great I can post pictures if needed.... Read more >>
I need to replace the suspension plate on a chariot trailer. The plates slide onto the axle, and therefore I need to remove at least one brake drum from the axle.
This is what it looks like.
However I subsequently found this parts diagram, which suggests what I've labelled as "final part of axle" and "collar" are actually a single part which fits inside the axle (ringed in red)
I can think of several ways of getting this out - unscrew it (seems unlikely), heat the axle with a blow torch, or ... Read more >>
Question: Say you have a bike that was built in every 10 year increment since 1920 or so...
1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, etc...
What grade of Bearing 100, 50 25, etc would have been used for Mfg, and I realize this might be MFG specific too... ??
What I'm trying to determine (And this could be another of those 'unknown' things about 1970--1980 French bikes...)
If you rebuild an old bike, based upon year, what grade of bearing do you think you're replacing?
I would assume there would be a diminishing returns issue....
Jus... Read more >>
i have an old motobecane roadbike, and have been learning that nothing on it is standard sized (relative to american road bikes), which has posed some difficulty when making repairs and replacements.
id like to replace my back wheel- can i use any wheel or do i need to find a french/motobecane manufactured one?
thank you very much for the advice!... Read more >>
hey I'm trying to build a bike for the first time and I would like to build one in its entirety (including putting together the wheels). I am fairly smart, and am confident that I will be ok assembling everything, but I just need help finding what parts I need.
so, I have a 1973 Schwinn Continental frame and fork, and I am currently working on comverting it to a fixie. As I dont have any wheels as a reference (I only have the frame and fork that I bought off of eBay), I was wondering what hubs I should choose for this bike.
thanks for any help!
-cvs1998... Read more >>
One of my bearings collapsed in the free hub so I decided to see if I could fix it. After cleaning all the gunk out I was able to see the circlip on the threaded side of the hub.
I then removed circlip thinking it should be just a case of knocking the old ones out and replacing however there doesn't appear to be anyway to knock these little buggers out.
Here is a pic of the other side
Hopefully you can s... Read more >>
I am looking for a new front wheel to replace my buckled wheel. I have seen a very nice looking wheel with quick release but my fork has a 20mm through axle (see attached picture of my fork). Would the wheel be compatible with my fork?
Thank you for your help.... Read more >>
Took on a front axle rebuild on a 1989 Schwinn World Road bike I saved from the trashman. In seperating the cone from the keeper nut on one end of the axle I must have twisted my spanner when it finally broke free. Bad day - the dust cap was forced off and now the dust cap slides completely off the cone. ( see pic ) Does this mean I need to replace the cone with dust cap or whole axle as now nothing will insure that the dust cap will stay in place other than the grease. Can you just get the dust caps and slide a new one back on the cone? Are the cones slightly beveled above the part of t... Read more >>
I'm new to the term "Dish", and have been pointed to links about it...
I've done rims once before... in 1992. put fixed gauge near rim and made sure both sides were identical.
I am up against a rear wheel assembly where I re-positioned spacers and cones on the shaft.
I know the size of the spacer (2mm) but can only guess about the amount of change done to cones... as it was done once in error, and then a 2nd time (after spacer was moved to opposite side, based upon a 'calculated Chain-Line that was within .7mm of where I thought I was heading.)
I have got a fixie wheel which i wish to change so i can use it on my road bike i want to also change it from 12-25 to 11-28 so it makes it easier on the hills, i have attached a image of the wheel i want to change... Read more >>
Im quite fresh to the sport of cycling. Over the last month ive compacted knowlegde on bikes in this tiny brain of mine. That being said, when i started up i bought cheap bikes to work on, so i could just get my hands dirty. I bought and old Sears "FreeSpirit" bike as the first bike i would tweek with. I found out the hard way that my rims/wheelset required a certain wheel size. 26x1 3/8, and that no other 26inch wheel would fit my rim. So now i have a set of bikes, and this FreeSpirit bike just collects dust. I would like to take the tires off the old bike, and install ... Read more >>
I'm back from trip, and all the loose black ceramic bearings that I was waiting for have arrived (These were a gift by the way, for work I did for associate at work).
The bike. 1980 or so Peugeot U09 with solid axle, Normandy Hubs.
When I put in new #25 5/32" bearings on front axle exam (heard noise), 2-3 Months ago, I found the cones pitted (Polished/re-used at that time, as I did not at first find parts)Front axle was also found slightly bent. (I replaced rims and headset bearings on this 10 years ago). Races were good.
Found an ebay quick release axle that f... Read more >>