Author Topic: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?  (Read 5073 times)

bo_knows

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Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« on: October 21, 2013, 12:29:08 PM »
On my hybrid bike, I lost a spoke a couple of months ago (rear wheel).  I have never replaced one before, but after some youtubing, figured it wouldn't be a big deal.

I managed to take the rear gears off, clean them, and get the spoke in place and tighten it up, with a few surrounding spokes, until it spun pretty well.

Fast forward to recently, and the wheel still spins true, but there are 2 or 3 spokes that are so loose that they are essentially barely attached.  If I just tighten them up, it throws the wheel out of true.

Is this just an "art form" that I need to play with for awhile? It also doesn't help that my hybrid has disc brakes, so I can't really use the brake pads as a guide.

Thoughts?   Side note: does anyone know where they'd do bike maintenance classes?

iamlindoro

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 12:32:16 PM »
It is definitely an art form, and that fact that you even have a concept of how to true in the first place puts you head and shoulders above the rest.  The PArk Tool tutorial on truing is quite good, if you already have a truing stand.

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/wheel-and-rim-truing

If not, if you get along well with the head mechanic at your LBS, you might be able to say "Hey, can I buy you a 6 pack of beers and true my wheel on your stand, and just have you tell me where I'm going wrong?"  It's generally a more advanced topic than most basic mechanic classes cover.

But like everything, doing it over and over is what makes you good at it.  And it can be infuriating as you throw a wheel out of true over and over again while learning.

mpbaker22

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 12:42:44 PM »
It is actually pretty easy, but it's definitely an art form (i imagine if you could add a new spoke, you could true it).  I don't have good bike maintenance skills, but I've trued a few wheels.

Sounds like you probably need to loosen/tighten other spokes, to be able to tighten the ones that are nearly off.

bo_knows

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 12:45:48 PM »

Sounds like you probably need to loosen/tighten other spokes, to be able to tighten the ones that are nearly off.

Right. I almost wonder if I should loosen up all/most of the spokes and start from scratch "building" the wheel back up.

iamlindoro

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 12:49:03 PM »

Sounds like you probably need to loosen/tighten other spokes, to be able to tighten the ones that are nearly off.

Right. I almost wonder if I should loosen up all/most of the spokes and start from scratch "building" the wheel back up.

Are you using a tension meter, or just a truing stand (or neither)?  If you have access to a tension meter, then you want the spokes are at relatively same/similar tension, and that will help you focus on the right spokes quickly.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 01:30:15 PM »
I've trued two wheels on the bike to get small wobbles out (you can use zip ties on the wheels to check how far off the wheel is) and it's time consuming, but works OK.  I'd tighten up all the loose spokes until they feel about the same taughtness as the other spokes on the wheel and then work on truing the wheel.  You absolutely do not want to ride around on a bike with too little spoke tension, this weakens the spokes and causes breaks in the future.

Might be worth taking in to a bike shop if you're not sure about it.  Wheels and brakes are your interface with the road.  You don't want either giving out on you unexpectedly . . .

bo_knows

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 01:54:43 PM »

Sounds like you probably need to loosen/tighten other spokes, to be able to tighten the ones that are nearly off.

Right. I almost wonder if I should loosen up all/most of the spokes and start from scratch "building" the wheel back up.

Are you using a tension meter, or just a truing stand (or neither)?  If you have access to a tension meter, then you want the spokes are at relatively same/similar tension, and that will help you focus on the right spokes quickly.

Neither... I just have a spoke wrench.  Is a tension meter advised? Seems like it'd make it a lot easier.

iamlindoro

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 02:01:21 PM »
It's really helpful, but it's not a cheap tool.  You might be able to borrow one, or possibly join a local bike mailing list and borrow the truing stand and tension meter together.  Oh, or perhaps there's a bike co-op nearby you could drop in on?

zarfus

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2013, 02:35:57 PM »
I spent about an hour truing my wheel without even a spoke wrench.  It's an art form.  I felt like i was getting nowhere until it just clicked.  I didn't 'reset' the wheel or anything, just slowly tweeked where it looked like it needed tweeking!

m8547

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2013, 10:18:08 PM »
You probably don't need a tension meter. If the rim is a bit bent, the tension will have to be non uniform around the wheel to make it true. Tension meters are great for building new wheels or fixing major problems, but I haven't seen much use on old wheels.  You can also test tension by hand and at least get a rough idea of it.

You also probably don't need a truing stand either. Just mount the wheel in the frame and use something like a pencil clamped or held on the frame as the distance indicator. You won't get the centering capability of a real stand, but assuming you are starting with a correctly dished wheel and it's bad in just one or two spots, it will be good enough.

If all else fails, just take the wheel to a bike shop and pay them to true it. It should be $10-20.  Watch out for shops with overpriced service; it's really common around here. Researching wheel truing price, the first shop I could find that lists a price (out of four I checked) says $25 for a standard wheel true, which sounds like too much to me. They also have a note in fine print: "*Certain service menu items will be charged a $3.00 Shop Service Fee to cover shop supplies and lubricants used during the course of the repair." Why not just include that in the price? And grease and rags certainly don't cost $3 in the tiny amounts needed for common service. This is probably one of the better shops in the area, too.

tfordon

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2013, 06:33:49 AM »
I trued my wheels using the brakes as guides (I know this won't work for OP) about 3 months ago.  What are advantages to having truer wheels than my amateur job provides?  Less likely to lose spokes?

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2013, 07:11:37 AM »
The straighter your wheel is, the easier it is to adjust your brakes so they don't rub.  You also probably get slightly better braking power.

lackofstache

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Re: Bike Maintenance - Truing a wheel?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2013, 09:59:33 AM »
It's not an art. It's a craft, and thus can be learned w/ a little practice. It takes time and honestly, the best way to learn truing is through building a complete wheel. As always, just follow Sheldon: http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html