Bicycle wheels come under a lot of strain. They are designed to maintain tension and carry a heavy load, but sometimes they can buckle and become bent. Even a slight buckling or bend in your wheel will result in reduced speed and stability. You should try to make sure your wheels are true at all times.
Straightening, aka truing, a bicycle wheel can easily be done with easy tools. As long as the wheel is not damaged too much! All you need is some time and a bit of knowledge.
How to straighten (True) a bike wheel
You can straighten bicycle wheels if they are only slightly bent.
However, if you have had a severe crash or accidentally ran over your kid’s bike that was left on the driveway, resulting in the wheel being completely bent out of shape, you are best off buying a new wheel rather than attempting to straighten it. The picture above gives a great representation of a wheel that can’t be trued.
If you think your wheel is bent, you can easily adjust the spokes to pull the rim back into shape.
Quick wheel check
Before you begin trying to adjust the spokes, do a quick check to ensure that all the spokes are still there. If not, you will need to get a replacement before attempting to true the wheel.
Not having a spoke will quickly throw your wheel out of whack and can cause tons of issues. You can read more about bike spokes in this article here!
Find where the wheel is bent
You may already know where the wheel is bent because the rim is rubbing against the brake at specific points.
If you are not too sure about the exact location, the easiest way to check is to turn your bike upside down, spin the wheel gently while holding a marker pen in a fixed position near the brake and a few millimeters away from the rim.
If you gently turn the wheel, you will notice marks on the rim that will highlight where your wheel is slightly buckled.
Tighten the spokes
Once you have located the area where your wheel is bent, you need to tighten the spokes to pull it back into shape. For this, you can get a relatively inexpensive spoke key like this one.
You need to tighten the spokes on the opposite side of the wheel to where it is bulging. To start with by evenly tightening two spokes by half a turn. Place the key on the spoke nipple and turn counterclockwise to tighten the spoke.
Continue to do this, until your wheel is back to being straight, and when no marks are made when you do that test from earlier where you found the bend in the first place.
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This can be a tedious job, but you can straighten a slightly bent bicycle wheel with a little patience. Of course, if you do not have the time or would rather a professional do it, most bike shops will offer a service to true your wheels.