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Monday, August 06, 2007

HOW TO ALIGN OR TRUE A BICYCLE WHEEL

Well it's been a long time coming, but here it is. I have attached a video to this article. It's not great, but it will have to do for now until I figure out a better studio set-up.

Truing a wheel is not that complicated. The rim is attached to the hub with the use of spokes. The spokes are divided equally on each side of the rim and are held there by brass nipples that can be screwed or unscrewed. A brass nipple is basically an upside down screw, so you have to go counter clockwise to tighten it and clockwise to untighten. Tightening a brass nipple will make a spoke "pull" the rim to the outside and the reverse will "push" it inside.

This means that if the rim is too much to the left from the center and this happens in front of a spoke located on the right side of the rim, you would have to go counter clockwise so that the spoke will "pull" the rim back to the right. If the same situation would occur in front of a spoke located on the left side of the rim, you would go clockwise to unscrew the nipple and that would "push" the rim to the right.

The main thing to remember is to go at it one spoke at a time. If you try to straighten the wheel by adjusting 6 spokes in one shot, you will have problems. Also, if you have to make more than one turn on a brass nipple, make half as many turns on the 2 nipples on each side of it to avoid creating a flat spot in the rim. When you are close to finishing the job and the adjustments are minute, you don't have to do this.

If you want to try this, get a truing stand, find some busted wheels and practice, practice, practice. Remember though, not every taco wheel can be saved. Sometimes it's better to start with a fresh rim.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry


40 comments:

jeff said...

What's the purpose to removing the tire and tube? Is it a necessary step?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Yes Jeff it is. The tire would just be in the way and block your vision while doing the job. Don't take my word for it, just try it and you'll see.

Gerry :)

Sarab Singh said...

you're my hero, but what does godspeed mean?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Thank you :) Godspeed derives from the old English "God spede" and means to wish success or prosperity upon someone. So I wish success and prosperity to all my readers in their quest, whatever it might be.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I don't quote understand.
Which way do I turn if like the rim is moving to the left side?

Also, what do I do if it moves up and down?

radius said...

..so you turn it in the direction you need the wheel to go to correct the wobble?

Can you do it on the bike if u don't have a stand??

Gerry Lauzon said...

The basic thing to know is that the nipples are "upside down" so you need to reverse for tightening or loosening. Clockwise to loosen and counterclockwise to tighten. Example: If your wheel pulls to the left on a spoke that is on the right side of the rim, you need to pull that spoke by tightening the nipple. If it was in front of a spoke on the left side of the rim, you would need to push it by loosening it. You can do this on a bike using the brake pads but it will not be perfect. As for flat spots, if the rim itself is not bent, you need to pull the spokes on the opposite side of the wheel. Depending on how big is the spot will depend on how many spokes you need to pull. The best thing you can do is get your hands on a scrap wheel and practice, practice and practice.

Gerry

Alex said...

I got a job offer as a bike tech for a small bike shop, but I don't feel that I know enough to do that. I know all the basics like how to fix brakes, rear and front derailleur, adjust disc brakes, how to true a tire, how to fix a flat and change a tire, how to swap cranks, how to do a total frame swap. But I'm not sure what else I should google and learn, any suggestions?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Good for you Alex. You seem to have all the basics covered. Go learn how to build a wheel and you can truly call yourself a bike mechanic.

Good luck

Gerry :)

Bob said...

What happened to your Hozan stand? The part used to fix those high or low spots seems to be missing.

Gerry Lauzon said...

It was missing a few accessories when I bought it. That's why it was cheap, but I manage without.

Gerry :)

headcaver said...

Gonna try this tommorrow!
Thanks Gerry

fritoChicken said...

mmm... 2007... maybe a little late to post this question...
Is this process useful for aligning a wheel which has suffered serious lateral beating (well, not so serious, the wheel doesn't hit the frame)?

A side hit against a concrete bench left it looking like an 8 rather than a O

thanks, and, anyways, great site by far!!!

Gerald said...

Yes it is. But it's hard for me to judge without seeing the wheel for myself. Worst case scenario, try it and if you can't bring it back, you can say you got some more practice on wheel truing.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry! Can i ask if i can build a new wheel by myself? I need to change the rim with a new one. I do adjust small problems in wheel, but never have build a new one. Thnx man!

Gerald said...

Yes you can. You can do a simple spoke tranfer to the new rim and then align or start from scratch. Check Sheldon Brown's site in the wheel building section, he was the Master. I actually learned from his website.

Gerry :)

Dodge This said...

I'm going on a long trip and would practically be able to take a stand with me. Is it possible to fix the spokes without a stand, and if so, how?
Thanks

Kenneth said...

I can true a wheel side to side.But how do I do the up and down part once I learn this I"ll be ok with wheel setups.

Kenneth said...

Where could I get a truing stand like the one you are using.Or do you sell them your self.

Kenneth said...

What is a flat spot in the rim?

Anonymous said...

Godspeed is the speed at which Gods travel in a year...

*giggles and runs away

Gerry Lauzon said...

Now that's funny. :)

Gerry

Danny said...

hi gary, im just wondering if you can give me a simple point form formula to set your bike to its best! for example, to begin with, oil your chain, pump your tires, etc.. plz and thank you!

Danny said...

Hey, can you give me simple steps to improving my bike performance. for example, pumping tires, oiling chains, aligning wheels, etc??? plz and thnk you

Gerry Lauzon said...

Keeping your chain well oiled, checking your tire pressure once a week and making sure that everything is tight will ensure an optimum bike all the time.

Gerry :)

Peter said...

There is such a thing as a spoke wrench. The one I used looked like a hex or square piece of metal with a slot and two little arms. Several varities out there. Quite usefull for spoke work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoke_wrench
I have had to service several bikes at my job (shipyard) as a self preservation effort. I have had to replace "zillions" of spokes. The railroad tracks are verry hungry.

bones said...

hi gerry my front spokes are catching on my disc brake caliper how do i fix this ?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Either the caliper is on the wrong side of the bracket or your wheel is not dished or centered properly.

Keith98058 said...

Thanks for a great article. Being on disability I did not have the extra money for a real truing stand.. so I did the next best thing and used my front forks to true my rear wheel. Worked like a charm, just do it by eye and the downtube hole works for a center line.

Gerry Lauzon said...

Great to hear Keith. You could also use a side pull brake caliper with bolts instead of the pads for a guide.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have a back wheel on my bike that while riding will randomly pop to the right side. Only the very back the wheel itself pops of to the right and grinds on the bar. Do you think I should get it aligned or is something else wrong with it?

Michelle

Gerry Lauzon said...

Either it is not bolted on properly or the axle is loose. A misaligned wheel is always out of alignment. Best have a pro look at it if you can't figure it out for yourself in the end. Something is definitely not right with your rear wheel.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Michelle

Gerry Lauzon said...

You're welcome.

Gerry :)

Anonymous said...

I have an issue... I put pucture-less inner tubes on my son's rims. (This is a mild workout.) and I believe this bent them up a little.... But it was a used 20 inch Schwin ($20 exactly I might add!) Now I have alignment problems... Can I still use this technique? (A very stout solid rubber inner tube.)

Gerry Lauzon said...

If the wheels had no issues before putting the tires on, then they are not on straight. However, if you can't get them to align properly, you can always compensate by aligning the wheels with the tires on them

Gerry :)

Benjamin Gunthorpe said...

Hi Gerry, my disc brakes are rubbing on the wheel and I am not sure if I should adjust the brake pads or if the wheel is out of alignment. Please help

Benjamin

Gerry Lauzon said...

I've never adjusted disk brakes but if the rubbing is constant, the pads needs to be adjusted. If it rubs only at certain point during rotation, you might have a distorted disk.


Gerry

Benjamin Gunthorpe said...

I took it to the bike shop and he said it was the wheel alignment so I moved the axel slightly as it looked like it had moved. It was a bit more worn in a different position.

Thanks
Benjamin

Gerry Lauzon said...

The disk sits on the hub so wheel alignment at the rim should not affect it. Either a crooked hub or a loose axle is the source of your problem. If you have a high spot on the disk because of it, you might need to replace it.

Gerry