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Wheel Truing

Wheel truing is not as difficult or as mysterious as most people think. There are certain steps you must follow to ensure that you’re successful – but there’s nothing magical about it.

First off you’ll need the right size of spoke wrench. There are three common sizes (Park Tools uses a different colour for each size – black, green, red). Bring your wheel by your local bike shop to make sure you purchase the proper size.

Next, remove the tire and tube and check for a bent axle or loose cones to see if that’s the cause of your wheel wobble. If not, then start the process by working your way around the wheel using a reference point as a start (the valve is a good reference). Check the tension of each spoke and with your spoke wrench tighten any loose spokes so they’re at the same tension as the others. Remember that the spoke nipples are like the nuts of a nut & bolt combination. The nipples are screwed into the spoke from the tire side, so to tighten a spoke, you have to turn the nipple clockwise when looking at the rim from the tire side.

As you tension each spoke, make sure that it doesn’t turn along with the nipple. If it does, back off the adjustment and try again. Once all the spokes are close to the same tension you’re ready to start truing the wheel.

Note that half the spokes attach to one side of the hub and half to the other. Tightening a spoke running from one side of the hub will pull the rim in that direction. To pull a bent area back into true may require you to tighten a few spokes in that area – but remember it must be every second spoke you tighten to be able to move it over.

Always work in small increments – tightening only half to a quarter turn at a time.

To eliminate high spots in the rim (putting the wheel out-of-round), tighten the spokes on the high side and, if necessary, loosen spokes on the opposite side of the wheel to the high spot.

Alternate between working on the high spots and the sideways trueness until the variations become smaller and smaller as you spin the wheel around.

Remember to be patient – it takes time.

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