How to straighten a bike wheel rim help

Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by FAB Jim The Cyclist

Bike wheels often develop a bit of a wobble that should be straightened out.  If the wobble is too big it will often drag a little on the brakes and slow you down.  While it might seem like a task for the professional mechanic, it’s not that hard.  You might think you need a fancy truing stand and lots of tools, but usually all you need is a good spoke wrench like this one from Park Tool:

You don’t even have to remove your tire. 

Now you just need to take it real slow.  The first thing I do is spin the wheel slowly and determine just what I’m going to fix.  Usually there is just a wobble to one side.  I use the brake pads as my gauge, watching for where the rim gets closer to the pad.  If you have disc brakes, you could tape something to the forks to gauge how the rim is moving.  For example, you could tape a pencil on each side of the rim where brake pads would normally be.  Once I figure out where the wobble is and about how big it is I put a piece of tape on the side of the wobble in what I think is the middle of it.

Photo by Haydan As-soendawy on

Time to slowly go to work with my wrench.  Make sure you are really clear on which direction to turn for loosening and tightening.  This can get a little confusing.  Start with the spoke facing up toward the sky and look down on the rim from above.  From this angle righty tighty and lefty loosey works.  Spinning the wrench clockwise will tighten the spoke, and counterclockwise will loosen it.  First, I loosen spokes on the side of the wobble.  So, if the wobble is going to the left, I loosen the spokes going to the left side of the hub.  I just start with small quarter turns and usually loosen 2-3 depending on the size of the wobble.  Now I do a quarter turn tighter for the spokes going to the right side of the hub, pulling the rim to center.  Now, I spin it and see how it looks, usually it would look just slightly better.  I keep repeating these steps until the rim is visibly straighter.  Only a truing stand will get a wheel perfect, but this will make it invisible to the eye which is good enough for most of us.  Remember to take it slow.    

Here is a great video from RJ The Bike Guy on straightening a wheel.  This is the one I used when learning:

Did you know the guy who invented the wheel was fired?

He was cutting too many corners.

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