How to Repair Warped Bicycle Wheels Using the Spokes

How to Repair Warped Bicycle Wheels Using the Spokes
Warped wheels are common on bicycles. The degree of the warp may vary, but all it takes is a jolt from the road or some other object to loosen one or more of your spokes. Tension on the spokes defines the shape and strength of your wheel. Without tension, the rim portion of the wheel loses a bit of shape, that is, it becomes warped. Lacking an even surface, your brakes will fail to properly grip the rim during braking. The process of repairing warps in your wheel is known as "truing."


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Truing wrench
  • Oil or mild lubricant
Step 1
Stand over your wheel, and rotate it slowly past the brake pads. A warped portion of the rim will bulge in the direction of one of the brake pads. A "trued" wheel, on the other hand will spin uniformly.
Step 2
Pluck the spokes with your fingers around the warp. A loose spoke will give a thud, whereas a tight spoke will sound a higher "ping." When a spoke is loose, the tighter spokes across from it will cause the wheel to warp in their direction.
Step 3
Apply a small amount of oil or mild lubricant where the loose spoke enters the nipple. The nipple is the small cone where the spoke attaches to the rim portion of the wheel. The oil or lubricant will allow the spoke to turn more easily.
Step 4
Attach a spoke wrench to the base of the spoke nipple, and turn the nipple clockwise.
Step 5
Check the adjustment by once again slowly rotating the wheel past the brake pads. As you tighten the loose spoke, the increased tension will gradually pull the warp in line with the rest of the wheel. The adjustment is complete once the wheel no longer bulges out toward either brake pad.

Tips & Warnings

Spoke wrenches come in three sizes to suite different spoke nipples. Some spoke wrenches contain a design that accommodates all three. If you're unsure of the size wrench you need, a multi-wrench is the safe purchase.

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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