How to Improve Bicycle Wheels

How to Improve Bicycle Wheels
Improving your bicycle wheels can directly improve your overall riding experience. Smooth turning, lightweight wheels are the foundation of an efficient bike. You can improve your bicycle wheels by administering regular maintenance and by making a few adjustments. You can make these improvements at home, saving yourself the time and cost of bringing your bike to the shop.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Improving Your Wheels

Things You’ll Need:
  • Spoke wrench
  • 15mm wrench
  • Tire levers
  • Bicycle grease
  • Hub wrench
  • Electrical tape
  • Grease rag
 
Step 1
Remove the wheels from your bike frame. Loosen the quick release levers or use your 15mm wrench to unscrew the wheel nuts. Lift the front wheel from the frame and set aside. Remove the rear wheel and remove the chain from the gear teeth.
Step 2
Take apart the wheel hub by loosening the outer nuts with your 15mm wrench and the interior nuts with your hub wrench. Once the interior nuts are loose, unscrew them by hand. Remove the bearing rings and axle. Clean the axle with your grease rag and remove any dirt and debris from the hub and the interior of the wheels.
Step 3
Grease the ends of the axle and the bearing rings and replace them in the wheels. Screw the hub back together and tighten just enough so there is no play in the hub when you pull the ends of the axle. Turn the axle with your fingers. If you feel any resistance, you tightened the hub too much. Play around with this until you find the right amount of tension, then secure the outer nuts on the axle to hold the hub in place.
Step 4
Replace the wheel on the frame of your bike or put it in a truing stand. Spin the wheel and stand above it. Watch for deviations in the cycle--places where the wheel is bent or drifts out of its vertical plane. Mark these spots with small pieces of electrical tape. With your spoke wrench, alternately tighten and loosen the spokes on either side of the trouble spots until the wheel spins true on its vertical plane.
Step 5
Replace the chain on the gear teeth and use your bicycle lubricant on the freewheel and gear teeth while slowly turning the pedals.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Some older bikes have steel wheels. In this case, the biggest improvement you can make is by replacing them with aluminum alloy wheels. You can find these wheels for under $30 at used bike shops.
 
After following these steps, take your bike for a short test ride to make sure that everything is working properly before you head out on longer rides.

Resources

Article Written By Jake Kulju

Jake Kulju is a Minneapolis-based freelance outdoors writer with 10 years' experience. He is an outdoors guidebook author for Avalon Travel and his work is regularly published in "Outdoor Traditions Magazine" and "Naturescape News." His nature-based poetry is published in "Poetry Canada" and "Farmhouse Magazine." Kulju holds an English degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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