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.
Early 1980's Peugeot -- One Owner. Solid Axle.
Hear wheel spin.
Opened it up, and learned the hard way it's loose bearings...
Cones are pitted... Axle is slightly bent.
Bought new Bearings, but No cones or axle is available from local bike shop. Normandy Hub.
Up against a rock and a hard place, this is what I did....
Used Dremel tool, polishing wheel, and jeweler's rouge, and Polished the cone..... to remove the pitting ...
New Bearings and grease, and put it all back together... and it works....
Now, I... Read more >>
I'm about to replace the rear wheel on my bike. The new wheel has a quick release, and I'm wondering if, since the axle is hollow, it would make it more prone to bending than the fixed bolt axle.
The new wheel is the same brand as the old one (Weinmann 519, 26"x1.5), and they appear identical in all respects except for the axle.
My question is, would it be better for the sake of durability to use the old bolt on axle on the new wheel? One consideration may be that my bike is equipped with a freewheel as opposed to a casstette/freehub.
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I am VERY new to biking. I have a Trek 800 MB from I think 2000. I bought a trainer and want to get a trainer tire for it but have no idea what I need to look for sizewise..... I'm also wondering if for ease I'd want to get another wheel with the tire on that wheel for quick changes?
Thanks!... Read more >>
Hi, I'm new to this forum, so I hope I' m posting this in the right place.
As a matter of general interest, is it any more difficult to change a 7 speed freewheel
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how about this kind rims,it is more better than bead hook rims?... Read more >>
I need to replace the bearings on my rear wheel, while I'm doing it I plan on changing the Axel as well. The Axel measures 170mm, I was thinking of changing to a quick release one.
My question is how do I know what size Axel do I buy, how do I measure for this.
Neil.... Read more >>
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It's not too bad, but at low speeds it is more noticeable, than at high speeds.
Thanks !!!... Read more >>
Hi guys. This is my first forum experience.
Ok I have a set of old Ukai rims on my 1983(?) Lotus. I want to keep this baby intact as much as possible but my rear wheel is FUBAR. Everytime i bring it to a repair shop they... make it seem like i have to buy a whole new bicycle because everything that connects to the wheel also needs to be replaced.
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It's about 30yo. A few years back I bent the rear wheel on our poorly paved streets. I've since acquired a more modern daily ride (CAAD 9) that I quite like.
But I was thinking about refurbishing the Fuji.
I assume that exact parts would be near impossible to find.
Could I modernize the wheel, chain and perhaps the cassette, or is there more to it than just that?... Read more >>
If I spin a wheel and it does not make contact with my disk pads, is it "true"?... Read more >>
I'm having troubles changing tires on on Van Schothorst stainless steel rims (widely used on Raleigh, Batavus and other retro style bikes).
It seem nearly impossible to take off the old or to put on a new ones. Rim is like "too big" for the tire...
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I've read in one of the threads that I may need a special tool...?
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I have an Avaya 27" wheel. On one side of the hub, the bearings were pushed out.
I purchased a new set of bearings for both sides (the kind that come in a casing, not loose), greased everything up and made thumb tight. One side, I couldn't even tighten/loosen, which wasn't an issue.
Maybe a month later, both sides are now pushed out, the bearings/casing is bent, making it unable to put the seal back on, and the wheel wobbles probably within 1/2" each way. I obviously made a mistake somewhere, but I'm not sure where.... possibilities:
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Is it possible to go from 7 to 10 on the rear wheel. The bike is a schwinn sidewinder sold at walmart. I think it is a freewheel. It's a pretty decent bike, it get's me around without costing too much.
if it is going to cost more than the bike is worth, than I will live with 7 on the back, but the rear gear needs to be replaced one way or the other. I would like to go to 10, but not if it will cost alot of money.
I am mechanically inclined and will do the work myself, but if the more experienced of you could point the way, that would be great.
TIA... Read more >>
I've been having a terrible time trying to remove a very old Regina America Freewheel. I purchased a Park FR4 remover from a local bike shop. However, the tool would not fit over the ridged round "nut" on the outside of the wheel. A tech at the shop indicated that I should try to "tap" the "nut" in to access the freewheel locking nut. I gave it quite a few "taps" (actually, hard raps) with no success. I tried using a vise to press on it, also with no success. I'm trying to replace a broken spoke on the freewheel side of the wheel and have been off the bike for 2 weeks... Read more >>