Many of us are riding around on an out-of-true wheel. If it’s not rubbing against the brake pads, we might not even notice it. Then again, it might be and what you don’t hear/feel is costing you watts (not to mention wear and tear).

So, how do I see if my wheel is out of true and how can I fix it? Well, the easiest thing is just to take it to your local shop and have them look at it/fix it. For those of you who want to try it themselves, it’s actually not very hard. You really don’t need a truing stand unless you want to get serious. All you need is a spoke wrench (~$5). You could use a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench, but I don’t recommend it since it can ruin your nipples (OK, get your mind out of the gutter).

  1. Get your wheel off the ground (eg, work stand).
  2. Rotate your wheel slowly and look for areas where it’s close to the brake pads or rubbing. If the brake pads rub or are within 1mm or so, you should probably true the wheel.
  3. To true the wheel, you just need to think about how the spokes pull on the rim. Nipples screw into the spokes just like a nut on a bolt. If you could look through the tire at the nipple, you would see this (see photo). Tightening a nipple is just like any other nut…”lefty loosey, righty tighty”. From this angle, if you were to turn the nipple clockwise, you would increase spoke tension, and if you were to turn it counterclockwise, you would decrease spoke tension. Now, when using a spoke wrench, you need to remember how you’re turning the nipple, so you don’t do the opposite of what you want to do. The actual truing isn’t that hard when you think about spoke tension. Let’s say the right side of your wheel is rubbing against the right brake pad. In this case, you would want to tightening the spokes on the left and loosen the ones on the right (see diagram). Does this make sense?
  4. Go all of the way around the wheel and adjust spokes/nipples as needed. This process is called lateral truing. Radial truing (how round the wheel is) requires a little bit more and I might cover that at a later time.

That’s it! Not very hard is it?

NOTE: If you have a wheel with disc brakes, attach a zip tie to the bike frame so that the end of it is very close to side of the rim. You can use this the same way you would a brake pad.

Here’s some more instructions from Park Tool……/repair-help/wheel-and-rim-truing

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