How To True A Bicycle Wheel

How To True A Bicycle Wheel

This is something we’ve had a lot of
requests for underneath our Maintenance Monday videos: how to true a wheel. Well,
luckily enough, here in the workshop we’ve got a high-end wheel truing stand in which
to do the job. You can get much cheaper ones which are perfectly adequate if
you’re just doing this job occasionally at home. The advantage of a wheel
truing stand is this point here. It allows you to very easily see and hear
exactly where the rim is warped. You can do the same thing with a wheel
inside the frame or forks, using the break pads, but of course it’s
much harder to be accurate and it’ll make the job overall a lot harder as well.
Tools you’re going to need for the job apart from the stand, well, of course
you’re going to need a spoke key. These come in different sizes so you’ll
need to make sure you’ve got the right one for the job. If you’ve got bladed or aero
spokes, you might also need a tool in order to keep them in the right position.
And finally, if you want to be extremely accurate, you can do with a wheel dishing
tool, which I’ll show you how to use now. What is the dish of a wheel,
I hear you ask. Well, effectively, it’s how central the rim is in comparison
to the hub. And of course, it’s very hard to do that by eye, which is
where this tool comes in useful. Effectively, just put the two ends of the
tool against the rim itself and you wind this part in until it meets the part of
the hub which meets the internal part of the fork or the frame on the bike. Once
you’ve got that, simply take it away. Do the same on the other side. Now as you
can see, the dish of our rim is correct, but if you find that your rim is one way
or the other, you’ll need to pull it over before you start truing the wheel. To do
this, you’ll need to use your spoke key and tighten the spokes on the side of the
wheel that you want to pull it over to. Start by the valve hole so that you know
that you’ve gone all the way around. Using your spoke key, just do each spoke
up half a turn, which means turning your spoke key anticlockwise. And then
recheck that it’s in the center, using your dishing tool. Before we begin
with this process, it’s a good idea to go round the spokes a little at a time,
feeling with your fingers to make sure there aren’t any that are really
overly loose. If there are, you can tighten them up using your spoke
key before you start truing your wheel. Now one of the first things to remember
is that to tighten a spoke, you need to turn this spoke key
anticlockwise. The second thing to remember is that as you tighten a spoke,
it will pull the rim towards the side of the hub that the spoke is attached.
And the other thing it’ll do, it will also pull the rim towards the hub,
from a radial point of view. Put your wheel into the truing stand. Spin
it gently and find a point where the rim is touching one side of the dishing
fingers or break pad, and then tighten the spoke which attaches to the hub on the
opposite side. If you’ve got a wheel truing stand which allows you
to see the radial true of the rim, i.e. , the distance away from the hub,
as well as the side to side true, then you can use the following method.
If the rim pulls over to one side and it moves slightly away from the hub in terms
of its radius, then tighten a spoke on the opposite side. If, however, the rim moves
to one side but also moves closer to the hub, then loosen the spoke on the same
side. Keep going around the rim until it no longer touches the dishing fingers. At
which point, you can wind these fingers in and start going around the rim again. You
can spend as much or as little time as you want going around the wheel, but of
course the longer you spend on it, the truer it will be, and the longer it
will remain in true. It’s a good idea every so often to remove the wheel from
the stand, place the hub on the floor, and put your weight on opposite sides of
the rim. Do this on both sides and make sure that everything is seated properly.
If you don’t do this, then you might well get your wheel very
true when it’s on the stand but it may well quickly buckle again when you start
riding it. Well, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on this now. I think this is about
as good as I’m going to get it. It’s accurate to within 0.1 of a
millimeter from side to side. Which, despite the fact that professional
mechanics who have been helping me have scoffed at that, I think it’s as good as
I’m going to get it. And it’s perfectly adequate for me to ride. Stay tuned
to GCN for more mechanical videos. But what can you expect to get from a
basic service? Well, that very much depends on how much you’re willing to pay,
what type of bike you’ve got, and what type of riding you do.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. to anyone trying to true a wheel I've got a cheap solution, if your brakes can be adjusted make sure to have them adjusted so that they are just slightly clearing the rim therefore if the brakes start rubbing you can tighten or loosen the spoke in the correct places
    Happy fixing 🙂

  2. Great. All of the most vital things to know are glossed over in a super fast thick British accent so…thanks for nothing.

  3. just picked up a cheap second hand winter bike……………it's got stock wheels on………………..on the rear wheel while it runs true a lot of the spokes where very loose when I had a feel of them and had a lot of play side to side……………………so I took my spoke key to them and gave them around a half turn or so and tightened them all but now the wheel is way out of true and pulls to the left………………..doI back off the spokes a bit and try to get the wheel trued again but have loose spokes or do I try and tighten the spokes that are laced on the right hand side of the wheel…..? thanks

  4. The length of this video is perfect. You tell and show just enough to get the job done, without over-explaining as so many other videos do. Good job!

  5. If the center of the indicators is exactly inline with the center line of the drop outs in the stand, the truing stand can easily be used as a dishing gauge simultaneously, which is why I' building my own stand that will literally be better than any stand money can buy.

  6. the method in the video is to get it super accurate – you can leave the tyre on and simply turn the bike upside down and spin the wheel and use the brakes or something else as a guide for the alignment. Then loosen a spoke on one side and tighten the one on the other to adjust – you can get it fairly close simply using your eyes.

  7. just had a small crash and my rear wheel is not true anymore. It's not an expensive wheel, do you guys suggest just getting a new one altogether or truing it?

  8. did anybody noticed at the marker 2:00 that the instructions are correct but the picture is wrong? LOL  both arrows point to the same direction – clockwise and counter-clockwise :)beside that – very nice video

  9. Good advice, but your graphic showing "Anti-clockwise – Tighten" and "Clockwise – Loosen" (at 2.02 in the film) have the arrows of rotation both going the same way. Think you need to change the "Loosen" to the other way around.

  10. Hi Sir I'm frm South Africa. I would just like to know what is the name of the tool that u have put the wheel in. I've seen it for the first time in your videos

  11. Tightening by going clockwise versus counter clockwise… ??? It depends on whether you're looking down into the inside of the rim at a spoke at six o'clock versus looking down from the outside of the wheel at a spoke at 12 o'clock! If you look from the outside of the rim, your spoke wrench should go clockwise to tighten. The trick is to always maintain the same perspective or similarly always use the spoke wrench at the same spot on the truing stand or frame

  12. How important is the balance of the wheel? Mine vibrates at the frequency of rotation, it could be the valve of course plus some of the "no flats" liquid. My question is: Should I do something about it or not?

  13. In my experience, this is a tricky job and unless you really know what your doing do not mess around with this, use your LBS

  14. Replace 6 spokes so i put my wheel in my Jet trainer stand, got it running true and then found when i tried to fit to my bike the dish was way out, so followed the instructions, adjusted to true again and sweet! First time ever tried – big thanks GCN!!!

  15. What about wheel balancing? I saw a video of Shane Miller showing some drastic wheel shaking due to the weight of the valve on one side of the wheel. I never heard of this phenomenon before and couldn't find a video explaining it on the GCN page. Cheers!

  16. Oh man ! This is one of the best youtube videos i have seen in years,,, and i spend 2-3 hours daily. Your voice /instructions/ illustrations/ lenght at the vid etc .
    I enjoed the moment 🙂 !

    Thousand thx Bud !

  17. What if all the spokes on the side that you are trying to pull towards are too tight, while the other side is loose?

  18. I weigh 77 kg and I have a ztr mk3 rim, cube tune king and kong and spokes sapim cx ray. I would like to know how much voltage (tensiometer) I put in the rays. Because when I ride of standing  the wheels pop

  19. I'm confused, I just read on another website that to tighten the spokes, you turn it clockwise and to loosen turn counter clock wise? Which is it? Thanks

  20. another useless video from you guys. I mean if you want to teach people something spend some time doing research how to best present the information. There is also no explanation of the important aspects of theory behind the contruction of the wheel and why turning clockwise loosens rather than tighten the spoke. Lastly, most people do not own all the equipments in this video so the process is not exactly replicable for 99% of the people watching this.

  21. Very very good and efficient video
    Also it shows clockwise and anticlockwise at same direction, but the video explain solution very good

    But it needs professional and complete tools. Now what's your solution and your idea for disk brake wheels and without these professional tools for measure the force of wheel and any bracket???

  22. This dood in the video did a poor explanation of dishing. If you your wheel is out of dish 9 times out of 10 it's a manufacturing defect. When you redish a wheel you at the point where you are rebuilding the wheel. Best start with simple truing before you open that can of worms.

  23. i'm confused. i just did a finished my try at truing a wheel 5min ago, and i'm pretty sure i went clockwise to tight, anti clockwise to loosen. the wheel came out straight..

  24. I am really sure you can build it yourself mates. I made it 2 weeks ago thanks to woodprix website.

  25. correction so that you tighten correct, at 2:02 to tighten the spokes you need to turn clockwise, to loosen the spokes anti clockwise

  26. "just true it yourself it'll be cheaper" but don't forget to buy like 20 damn tools and also not ruin whatever you're trying to fix which could end up making the situation even more expensive and worse.

  27. This is actually quite awful. Never change the dish of a fully tight wheel with 1/2 turns, more like 1/4 turns. The rim is being pulled to the left or right, not towards the hub. There were no explanation of "long areas" out of true only short ones that need single spoke adjustment. there was no part on truing out of round??

  28. how tight do the spokes have to be? is there something like too tight? can i over tighten them with just the spokie?

  29. Took me a good 2 minutes to realize you were in fact saying 'spoke key'… and that you didn't just have an affectionate nickname for your spoke wrench and liked calling him Spokie…

  30. Where can I get one of those? I have a ton of rims in my storage unit. I have no money to buy new rims.

  31. i hate when my foot fall asleep during the day watching videos … cause that means it's goin to be up all night .

  32. This video for me was pretty disappointing. I'm trying to true a wheel on a normal bike stand, which he said should be possible, then goes into a pretty rapid explanation of how to use these professional style tools.

  33. Thx bro ! Perfect! I am ready to build my new rim with fresh spokes and a hub! BTW, I am thinking theses Pros are a bit who scoff at your wheel would faint at my DH bike. Rear wheel has been 6-12mm off or so for more the 7 years !!!!! hahahaha It has never failed! just keeps pounding the trails out. Cheers !

  34. Why don’t the truing stands have rubberized tips? That would prevent a lot of scratched rims. I built my own and I used plastic tips.

  35. Excellent advice! Followed your instructions and now my wheel is almost perfect. Bike shop quoted me more than the bike is worth for a new wheel.

  36. Hello Global Cycling Network, I find this tutorial interesting. For employment, I'm a bicycle mechanic on a level of novice when it becomes to obtaining this essential skill and as well as the knowledge of truing a bicycle wheel. Right now I'm still in progress of practising wheel truing, I just like to say thank you for having the time to do a demonstration. It really helps me out. 👍

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