How to True a Bicycle Wheel

How to True a Bicycle Wheel
When your bicycle wheel is not true, it's not round. As it rolls unevenly or from side to side, the rim of your wheel may interfere with your brakes, making it difficult and dangerous to ride. To take the wobble out of your wheel, you need to adjust the tension of the spokes.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Truing Stand Spoke Wrench
  • Truing Stand
  • Spoke Wrench
Step 1
Properly seat the wheel on the truing stand. If you seat the wheel even slightly cock-eyed, you will not correctly true the wheel.
Step 2
Choose the right size spoke wrench for your spoke nipples. Spoke nipples are the pieces that screw into the rim of the wheel, connecting the rim to the tire. If you true your wheel with the wrong wrench, you will strip the spoke nipples, making it impossible to true them in the future.
Step 3
To laterally true your wheel, adjust the calipers on the truing stand so they are only a few millimeters from the side of the rim. A true wheel does not have to be completely wobble-free. It's okay to have part of the rim hit the calipers when they are only a couple millimeters away from the rim. Focus on getting ride of the larger bobbles.
Step 4
Spin the wheel to see where the calipers hit the rim. This will show you which spokes to tighten. To laterally true the wheel, tighten with a quarter turn of the wrench the two spokes opposite the side that's hitting. Tightening the spokes moves the rim towards that side. To tighten, turn your wrench counter-clockwise. This seems like the wrong way, but you're looking at the spoke nipples upside-down when the wheel's in the truing stand.
Step 5
To vertically true the rim, or to get the, "bounce," out, adjust the caliper close to one of the rim's edges. Spin the wheel and look for high and low spots. This will look like the wheel is hopping. To get rid of the bounce, tighten the spokes over the high spots and loosen the spokes over the low spots. Remember to start with only a quarter turn at a time and turn all the spokes evenly or you'll end up taking the wheel out of a lateral true.
Step 6
Detension the spokes after you finish both the vertical and lateral true. After the tension of a spoke changes, it often moves after it's weighted for the first time. When you detension your wheel, you manually reset the spokes and then readjust the truing so that your wheel doesn't go out of true the first time you ride it. To do this, place your wheel on a stool with the skewer side down. Press on the sides of the rim. You may hear popping noise. These are the spokes re-seating.
Step 7
Put the wheel back in the truing stand and re-true anything that may have come out of place. Repeat the process until detensioning doesn't cause a change in the wheel.


Article Written By Kathrine Cole

Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

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