How to Fix a Warped Bicycle Wheel

How to Fix a Warped Bicycle Wheel
Warped wheels are an inevitable part of bicycle repair. Rough roads, wrecks and even normal riding wear can cause a wheel to bend or lose spoke tension, resulting in increased roll resistance and shaky handling. Learning how to straighten your wheel rims -- called truing the wheel -- will help you round off your maintenance skills and ensure general safety and preparedness on and off the bike.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Truing stand
  • Spoke wrench
Step 1
Remove the tire and tube from your wheel and mount it in the truing stand. Spin the wheel in the stand and bring the guide calipers as close as possible to the rim on either side without touching it. Any wobble in the rim will be readily noticeable.
Step 2
Locate the spokes at the warped point. To remove the wobble, tighten the nipples of the spokes on the opposite side of the wheel, and loosen the opposite side's spokes the same amount. Make no more than 1/4-turn adjustments to avoid damage.
Step 3
Spin the wheel to check for trueness. If you see a wobble, repeat Step 2.
Step 4
Adjust the stand's guides to the outside edge of the rim. Spin the wheel to check for roundness.
Step 5
Remove high or low spots on the wheel by adjusting the spokes directly inside the warped area. Tighten the spokes to remove a bulge, and loosen spokes to lift out a low spot. Again, use small increments.
Step 6
Check for roundness by spinning the wheel. If any irregularity is present, repeat Step 5.

Tips & Warnings

If you do not have access to a truing stand, leave the wheels on your bike and use the brake pads like a truing stand's guides.
Spray a little lubricating oil into the spoke nipples to make adjustment easier.
Listen for serious spoke tension irregularities by plucking the spokes with your fingers. Listen for a tone much higher or much lower than the others.
Check your wheels often for truing problems to avoid serious adjustment requirements. Small, frequent changes are easier.
Do not allow the entire spoke to turn when you adjust tension. If the nipple is stubborn, spray some oil into the area and try again.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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