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.
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.
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.
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.
- Jim Langley: Wheelbuilding
- Park Tool: Wheel and Rim Truing
- Park Tool: Wheel Tension Measurement
- Sheldon Brown: Truing Wheels
- Bicycle Torque Specifications
- Park Tool SW Spoke Wrenches
- Park Tool SW-7 Triple Spoke Wrench
- Park Tool SBC-1 Spoke, Bearing, and Cotter Gauge
- Park Tool TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter
- Park Tool TS-8 Home Truing Stand
- Park Tool TS-2.2 Home Truing Stand
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...Read more
IMG_0838_resized.jpg (Size: 195.96 KB / Downloads: 14) Howdy folks! Was hoping you all can help me out. I am going to send bicycle parts and tools to help people in Malawi. Was sent this image and told this type of bike is the "work horse" of transportation. From what I can tell they seem to be 1 speed with narrow tires, maybe 26 inch? Obviously pedals might be good too. Any thou...Read more
Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely....Read more
So I have a couple of questions that I hope someone in this group might know about or have experience with. This is for my Schwinn Meridian 7-speed trike. 1. Are the derailleur chain and the drive chain the same type? Obviously they're different lengths; and I assume the derailleur chain is a typical 7-speed chain. But what about the main drive chain? Same thing? Or is it a standard single speed ...Read more
I have these Chinese freewheels. On the inside are ridges which are supposed to be there so you can use the tool to remove it. With these freewheels, the ridges are very low. I have a tool, also made in China, and the ridges on the tool are also very low. So when trying to use the tool to remove the freewheel, it does not grip properly, and it can't be used to remove the freewheel. The metal on ...Read more
Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me! I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to ris...Read more
does this noise mean anything? The bike was not used and left outside for a long time. The freewheel sprocket spun free in both directions. After removing it and dripping oil thru it in both directions it appeared to work fine. Once reinstalled it still works fine, but does make this noise when I stop peddling. With bike upside down and rear wheel spinning freely i can also fell the noise as a vi...Read more
Schwinn Boundary bottom bracket bearing let go. I would like to upgrade them to sealed bearings. Threaded frame bottom tube 35 mm nut thread od. x 73 mm wide....Read more
Hello all. My name is Andrew, and I reside in sunny Bognor Regis, UK. I have been an avid BMX rider my entire life, but my body has taken a battering and I now have arthritis creeping in and if I am really lucky* I will also inherit my mother's osteoporosis. *yeah was being sarcastic. No other form of comedy funnier etc lol. Any way, when my body started to fall to bits and I had a bad BMX wreck...Read more
I have a 1975 Hutchins road bike and want to, if possible, fit a modern crank set, say a Campy Centaur Compact, to the bike. Can this be done and would the existing 1975 front Campy derailleur work? Thanks, Dorsey...Read more
I'm trying to find a 3 spoke or 5 spoke wheel for my virtue hybrid bike. All I can find is for road and fixie bike only. Screenshot_20220522_213714_com.android.chrome.jpg (Size: 30.77 KB / Downloads: 10) ...Read more
I just installed a new set of brakes on a bike at a hostel I've been staying at and I can't get them to work right. First, the front brake lever has a ton of lateral play and they don't have much power when applied. Second, the rear brake arms won't release. It doesn't seem to be an issue of the brake nut being too tight, I can loosen it to the point where I can easily move the caliper by hand a...Read more
Just wanted to drop some positive encouragement for taking your spindle crank out and getting some fresh grease in the cups and on the axle regularly. This will dramatically improve the performance of your drivetrain. For example on how often, I had fully overhauled my bike back in March, when I converted it back to urban street from the snow conversion. It's only May, not even 300 miles on it sin...Read more
First, I'm new here and also Thanks in advance for reading and helping me out. I'm a casual bike rider who lives in a large city and enjoys getting out for a ride in the summer to enjoy the beautiful weather. I don't have a very fancy bike (Trek) but it get's me around just fine. My Problem: I don't know if this is normal on all bike's but I have to put air in my tires every 2 weeks. I've replaced...Read more
I received an update on the purpose of the alternate hole positions for the Stone Oval Chainrings for bolt-on cranks and I wanted to share it here for everyone to learn. This is the information that was provided to me. Hole 1 is for high speed cadence on flat terrain. Hole 2 is for versatility between flat and hilly terrain. Hole 3 is for leverage for cyclists that climb hills often.  ...Read more