How to Fix a Crashed Bicycle Wheel

How to Fix a Crashed Bicycle Wheel
A warped wheel from a bicycle crash will never be completely as good as new, but you can bend it back into a functional shape. Severely damaged wheels may never be strong enough for racing, mountain biking or touring trips, but they will still get you around town. The key is to bend the rim as close to its original shape as possible before attempting to true the wheel with your spoke wrench.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Table-mounted vice
  • Large crescent wrench
  • Truing stand
  • Spoke wrench
Step 1
Remove the wheel from your bicycle. Take off the tire, inner tube and rim tape.
Step 2
Check the wheel for broken spokes, a loose or damaged hub, and any other damage you can see, hear or feel on the wheel. If all the spokes are intact and the hub turns smoothly, your wheel will be easier to fix.
Step 3
Bend the wheel back into shape by hand. Place the hub between your legs and grab onto both ends of the wheel, then try to force it back into shape. You can get more leverage with wheels that have larger bends. After you have bent the wheel as much as you can, check again to see if any spokes have cracked or snapped.
Step 4
Place one end of the wheel in the table-mounted vice and tighten it just enough so it doesn't pinch the rim. Secure the jaws of the large crescent wrench to the other end and slowly--with regular pressure--bend the wheel back into shape. You may have to "over bend" somewhat, because the wheel will have some memory of the bent shape and will return to it unless you compensate.
Step 5
Set the wheel on the truing stand and look for the points where it deviates from the vertical plane and for the high point of the wheel. At the high point, tighten the spokes a half turn each to pull the rim down into a more circular shape. At each point where the wheel wobbles in the truing stand, tighten the spokes a half turn on the opposite side of the rim until you get a smooth-turning, round wheel.

Tips & Warnings

Take your bike for a short test ride before riding on the street or taking it out for long rides. Damaged, weak or bent rims from improper wheel repair can cause serious injury.

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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