How to Align a Bicycle Wheel

How to Align a Bicycle Wheel
If your bicycle wheels have fallen out of alignment and need to be trued, you're in luck--unless you have a bike that's 25 to 30 years old or older. Older bike models aren't equipped to be aligned and almost always require a trip to the bike doctor. But wheels on newer bike models can be aligned at home with a spoke key. Just one simple fix is all it will take to get your bike wheel aligned and ready for the road or trail again.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Spoke key
Step 1
Flip your bike over so that its seat and handlebars are sitting on the ground.
Step 2
Slowly spin your bike wheel, and watch the brake blocks on that wheel. Make a note of areas where the rim touches one of the brakes or comes close. Where the rim nears or touches the brake block, the spoke connected to the rim on the opposite side needs to be tightened.
Step 3
Place your spoke key where the spoke attaches to the rim (called the spoke nipple), and make very gradual turns to the right. Frequently test the wheel and slightly turn the key until the brakes are no longer rubbing on that area.
Step 4
Spin the wheel to check for other wobbles or brushes with the brake block. Repeat the process above on other spokes, if needed.

Tips & Warnings

Aligning a bike wheel take a long time, particularly if you haven't done it before or if the wheel hasn't been maintained well.
If you tighten too much with your spoke key, you could pull the bike wheel out of alignment in the opposite direction or even break the spoke.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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