How to Dish a Bicycle Wheel

How to Dish a Bicycle Wheel
Wheel dishing is a method for determining whether the rim of the wheel is centered over its hub. When centered, the rim is known to be laterally (side to side) true. This means that opposing spokes are tensioned to a degree that positions the rim directly over the hub. If spokes are too lose on one side of the wheel, tension from opposing spokes will pull the rim in the opposite direction. Tightening these spokes evenly will return balance to the wheel.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:
  • Dishing gauge
  • Spoke wrench (as needed)
Step 1
Remove the wheel from the bicycle. If necessary, wheel dishing can also be performed while the wheel is still on the bicycle. Removing the wheel makes for a little easier access.
Step 2
Slide the two end blocks on the dishing gauge so that they rest on the sides of the rim. Work from the right, drive-side of the wheel first.
Step 3
Lower the sliding indicator point until the tip rests on the surface of the locknut. The locknut is the threaded nut located near the tip of the axle of the wheel.
Step 4
Turn the wheel over and repeat the above procedure. The sliding indicator should touch the left-side locknut at the same point where it contacted the right-side locknut. This indicates a centered wheel. No further action is necessary.


Step 1
Tighten all right-side spoke nipples evenly if the indicator point fell short of the locknut. Again, this presumes that your dishing measurement began first with the right side of the wheel. Spokes are tightened at the nipples, the point where the spoke enters the rim.
Step 2
Tighten all left-side spoke nipples evenly if the indicator point exceeded the face of the locknut. This would indicate that the rim is off center toward the right. By tightening opposing spokes, you'll cause the rim to move in the direction needed.
Step 3
Check your progress with the dishing gauge. Continue to tighten the proper spokes evenly until the wheel is balanced.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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