How to Adjust Bike Spokes

How to Adjust Bike Spokes
Truing bike wheels and adjusting bike spokes can be a finicky process. It is important to make sure your spokes are adjusted and tight so that you get the power transfer of your legs from hub to the wheel. Properly adjusted spokes also add strength to wheel rims and help support body weight, especially when out of the saddle. If your spokes just need minor adjustments, you can do that at home. If you have damaged or broken spokes or spokes that need heavy adjustment, it's best to take your bike to a mechanic.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Truing stand
  • Wheel
  • Spoke wrench or all-in-one tool
  • Bike
Step 1
Take the wheel off the bike and place the wheel in a truing stand. If it is the rear wheel, make sure the cassette is facing the right side of the truing stand to help the truing process. The front wheel doesn't matter as much. It is also helpful to have the skewer lever facing the left side of the truing stand. Make sure the wheel is sitting in the stand straight before you start truing the wheel. If it is not in the stand straight, it will be a nightmare truing any wheel.
Step 2
Find the right truing tool size for the spokes that you are truing. If the truing tool is too wide, you will risk stripping out the spoke nipple. If it is too small, it simply will do nothing. If you have a traditional spoke nipple, an all-in-one tool would be ideal. Many wheels today have their own specific size tool that will come with the wheel or a tool company will typically make an after-market version as well. Once you have found the right size you are ready to start.
Step 3
Spin the wheel to see where it is out of true or what spokes need to be adjusted, depending on tension of the wheel.
Step 4
Determine which spokes need adjusting. Spokes that need adjusting will not line up together on the rim. If a spoke on the right side is out of true, tighten the two left side spokes that offset the right spoke to bring the rim to center. You may have to loosen the right spoke to tighten the left spokes. Repeat this step until all the spokes are adjusted.
Step 5
Reinstall the wheels back onto the bike after you have made the adjustments. Take your bike for a short ride. If you hear some spokes popping, don't worry because that is normal. After your ride, double check that the wheels that you adjusted are still true.
Step 6
Take your bike to a mechanic if the spokes will not adjust.

Article Written By Courtney Johnson

Courtney Johnson is a freelance sports writer and photographer based in California. Her articles and photos appear regularly in newspapers and magazines such as "Triathlete" and "Cross Country Skier." Johnson graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in media production and minor in writing. She is studying for her copy editing certificate at the University of San Diego.

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