important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to True a Wheel

Aspects of wheel truing covered include radial, lateral, centering (or dishing) and spoke tension.

Wheel truing is a delicate procedure that requires time and patience. In this tutorial I’ll try and demonstrate the many aspects as clearly as possible. Ideally you’ll want to have a wheel truing stand, good lighting and a comfortable workspace.

Wheel Truing Tips

If you don’t have a truing stand, lateral, or side to side adjustments can be done using your brake pads as a guide. If truing the wheel on your bike, be sure to deflate the tire before you begin. For radial, or up and down adjustments, you can use an L-square as a guide by attaching it to your fork or frame.

It is very important to use the correct size spoke wrench to avoid stripping the spoke nipples.

Before you begin, carefully inspect your wheel for any bent or broken spokes. Make sure your hub bearings don’t have any play and then carefully squeeze a drop of light oil into all of your spoke holes.

Spoke nipples have a regular right-hand thread, but that while you’re truing a wheel, you will be looking at the nipple upside-down, so you have to turn the spoke wrench clockwise to loosen and counter-clockwise to tighten.

Make sure the spoke doesn’t turn with the nipple, which will cause it to twist and break. If it does turn, apply some light oil to the nipple threads and try again.

If a spoke does break while you’re truing, it’ll shoot out the spoke hole with great force, so be careful not to place your face in line with the rim. Safety glasses are highly recommended.

Radial (Vertical) Adjustments

To check radial alignment, place the guide near the highest point on the outer edge of your rim. Find the high spots in your rim by spinning the wheel and correct them by tightening both left and right side spokes evenly. Correct any low spots by equally loosening the spokes in the effected area.

Tighten or loosen spokes in 1/4 turn increments. For example, if the effected area spans the length of four spokes, tighten all four spokes 1/4 turn, and then tighten the middle two spokes another 1/4 turn. Then re-check the radial alignment and repeat the process as needed.

Lateral (Side to Side) Adjustments

To check lateral adjustment, place the guide close to the rim sidewall and look for high spots on either side. To correct a left or right high spot, tighten the spoke that leads to the opposing hub flange and equally loosen the spoke that leads to the hub flange on the same side as the high spot.

Just like radial adjustments, tighten or loosen the spokes in 1/4 increments. Again if the effected area spans four spokes, loosen and tighten all four spokes 1/4 turn, and then loosen and tighten the middle two spokes another 1/4 turn.

Re-check the lateral alignment and re-adjust as needed. Remember that on the rear wheel, the right side spokes have a lesser angle and effect lateral movement less than the left. The left side spokes have greater angle and effect radial alignment less than right. To compensate for this difference, the right side spokes should be adjusted two turns for every turn on left.

Centering (Dishing)

Rims should be exactly centered between the axle nuts. To check this you can use either a dishing tool, or your frame to check the measurement on each side.

If the rim is off-center, pull it in either direction by equally tightening all of the spokes on one side 1/4 turn, and loosening all of the spokes on the other. Then check the alignment again and repeat the process until the rim is centered.

Spoke Tension

To check spoke tension, pluck each spoke in the middle and listen to the sound. On the front wheel, all of the spokes should sound the same on both sides. On the rear wheel, each side should sound slightly different, but the spokes on each side should sound the same as each other.

Most people don’t have a spoke tensiometer, so it’s a good idea to compare the sound of your spokes to the sound of a wheel that you already know has proper tension. Remember that spoke changes effect the whole wheel, so you might have to repeat these steps several times before it is true.

Stress-Relieving Spokes

After the wheel is true you should always pre-stress the spokes and re-adjust before riding. Failure to do this could cause broken spokes later. There are two ways to do this. The first way is to squeeze together the parellel spokes on both sides of the wheel. The second method involves resting the wheel sideways on the floor and gently pushing down on both sides of the rim, all the way around the wheel in 1/8 increments.

After pre-stressing the spokes you will usually have to re-check and make some minor adjustments. If after stressing the wheel you notice that your rim is severly warped, it means that your spoke tension is too high. Loosen all of the spokes 1/2 turn and re-true the wheel.

Related Links

Related Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

Here's my repair situation: I have a what seems like a relatively nice road bike which I found for free on the side of the road years ago. Around three years ago, while cycling, there was a stuck link in the chain that caused it to jam. As I was pedaling uphill, the force caused the metal near the mount screw on the rear derailleur to shear. I have recently wanted to repair this bike. Unfortunatel...

Read more

Hey Everyone, New here and I'm currently taking on a small project on converting an old-school Fuji to a SS/Fixed flipflop. Firstly I want to thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to being in this forum as a regular 😁 So im currently having trouble figuring out how to remove the DT Shimano shifters seeing as I don't want to ruin the frame, but do want a nice clean frame look. is the...

Read more

I'm fairly new to bike repair aside from regular maintenance. Lately I've noticed by rear wheel has not been spinning properly--it's a Shimano 105 hub and axle. When I spin it freely on the bike, or when I spin it when the wheel is off, if feels clunky, like the axle is spinning into 'grooves' or 'notches'. I have two videos to show: On bike: https://imgur.com/a/SQX0I3P Off bike: https://imgur.c...

Read more

Ok, so I am not real fluent with bikes, however I am attempting to repair my girlfriends Next PowerClimber 24". The cog that holds the rest of the sprockets on the rear tire is threaded to lock them in place. The cog is cracked and the threads are not holding allowing the rest of the sprockets to fall off. I have attempted to find a place to buy this broken threaded cog with no luck. I am get...

Read more

Bike Chain Falling Off

Lastest post 1 week ago

My chain keeps falling off especially when I transition from 1st to 2nd chain ring. I also feel like I have to use a lot more pressure to shift from 1st to 2nd compared to going from 2nd to 3rd, which just might be me but I thought it was relevant to include. I am not super mechanically inclined so I can't diagnose an issue on my bike like this. Can you please tell me whats the issue and maybe how...

Read more

Cassette compatibility question

Lastest post 1 week ago

A short questions for those knowledgeable. I currently have on my bike a Shimano HG50-11-36t 10 speed cassette. Would the HG81-11-36t 10 speed be a direct replacement or will I encounter problems?...

Read more

Podcasts with bike mechanics

Lastest post 1 week ago

Hello everyone. Are there any podcasts about cycling and more specifically bike mechanics? I have been learning more about bike repairs recently and would love to hear tricks from guys with know-how; need something to listen to during the work....

Read more

Tire and Rim sizes

Lastest post 1 week ago

I was looking into wheels, just for the heck of it, and something is confusing me. I have a cruiser. The tires are 26" x 2.125" (57 x 559) The rim is 1.25". Cruiser wheels, online, are 1.75" The difference between a 1.75" cruiser rim, and the 1.25" rims I have, is approximately half-inch. I bought the bike, new, from a bike shop, and bought white wall cruiser tires for it. It had wide tires o...

Read more

Hi folks! I was directed here by the folks over at r/bikewrench as I hear you are a helpful lot! I have a beautiful old Sekine which I think after a little research is a SHC 271 from the mid seventies. Unfortunately I was in a pretty nasty accident last year and it was out of commission for a while. I was using it indoors on my trainer and slowly going about repairs, getting it road ready again wh...

Read more

Is that possible without switching out the hub, and is that possible at all? I have a base shimano groupset and I'm in the process of upgrading everything (I'm switching out the crappy tourney der for altus 9-speed, cables etc), and I would really rather switch out my freewheel for a 9-speeder also. Do you think it's achievable?...

Read more

  20200613_221949.jpg (Size: 64.32 KB / Downloads: 62) Hey everyone. I'm new to working on bikes and have been cleaning mine from using it at college. I replaced the chain since it was very stretched. The new chain was slipping a lot. After searching for why that was happening I concluded that I needed to replace my sprockets. The tool fitting rotates with the sprockets, so I think th...

Read more

Hey everyone! I was led here from reddit and told to try my luck with the fine folks here on bikeride. Let me preface by saying I know I’ve seen a lot of criticism when it comes to converting a MTN bike to a road bike due to a variety of reasons. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I am in need of direction. My father passed away a little over 5 years ago and a little over a year ago...

Read more

hello from Estonia, I try to help a friend in replacing bottom bracket. we don’t have the old one anymore, so we have to find out the right bottom bracket just from measurements on the frame. the frame is supposed to be an old Dutch one. Detailed pictures of left and right side of the bottom bracket are here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-D-RO479uMl7NKhsrdkNF2oPW2IdTd1U wide = 65.8...

Read more

As I pedal on the highest gears (the 2 smallest rings on my casette) I can hear a pretty loud clunking/clicking noise that I can't locate the source of. The chain also drags against the front derailleur. You can hear both sounds in this video: [https://gofile.io/d/2MY8gS] Unfortunately I couldn’t upload the clip here for some reason. I just recently replaced the crank arms, gave the bottom br...

Read more

Possible bad pedal bearings.

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

I have these [VP Urban pedals](https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2191/9809/products/vpurban__83868.1471321314.1280.960_700x.jpg?v=1501609051). One of the pedals were making a ticking sound each revolution. So I greased the hex bolt and the pedal threading with lithium grease. Not sure what the pedal hex bolt is called. Now, when I ride I'm getting a clicking feeling in the pedal on the downstroke....

Read more