Wheels Anyone true their own wheels?



I have built 10+ pairs of wheels, road and MTB. Truing self built wheels is a snap because of the prep that is done...like lubing the threads with bee's wax before assembly. Trying to true a wheel with frozen nipples will not be fun. Nipples can be heated with a 60W soldering iron after a drop of oil placed on the spoke end to be drawn in by the heat.

I would strongly recommend disassembling a junk wheel and practice building and truing. For a truing stand I use an old road bike fork clamped in the bench vice or the bicycle up-side-down. I use a dial indicator but coat hanger works well as a pointer for young sharp eyes.

Google making a dishing tool. I don't use one, I just use a straight edge to the frame.
Very good info and to the point. http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

NOTE: Carry a few zip-ties to tie off broken spokes to prevent more damage.


Truing is not

Truing is not a big deal.. Unless your rim is not serviceable. If rim can be trued, it is not a big deal. Spin wheel and decide on which side you need to pull. Once you decide, use brake pad and push it or bias it towards the rim. Gently spin rim and where it touches the brake pad or gets close to it, simply tighten the spokes " usually 2 or 3 depending on the size of the spot" that will pull the rim the other way. not a big deal at all. I had a rim truing tool that you pull the wheel off the bike and put it into this tool and it is a precise for sure. But.. I have found that truing on the bike is as good. Sometimes even better since there could be a bias of the wheel needed for that particular bike posture that the truing tool can not account for. So.. I sold my truing tool on ebay. And have gone back to truing on the bike. It is much easier on the bike too since you do not have to remove the wheel. Thanks.. Enjoy the ride...


Thanks for the tips guys, will save me a few dollars at the bike shop fersure!


True! Truing is not difficult...But

If one expects a wheel to stay true under heavy loading all the spokes must be of equal tension.
Do remember that the left rear spokes will be tensioned less than the right rear because of hub offset. Sheldon Brown explains these things in the link I offered.
Practice. Build an old wheel as the ultimate learning experience. :cool:


Useful info found in another post.

.Originally Posted by Keepthedrivetommy
Hi all,
I noticed a little while ago that my back tire does not spin completely straight like it use to. When I am riding my bike, it wobbles a little from left to right, not a huge amount but enough to notice. I feel a little unsafe, but I figured that since the drive chain sprocket is only on one side, when the motor pulls it, it is creating an uneven balance, therefore the tire wobbles. But maybe I am wrong. Is it normal for the tire to wobble a little like that, or am I putting myself in harms way?
If you need clarity of what I mean when I say left to right wobbling, I mean if you are standing behind the bike looking at the back tire, and then the tire starts to spin, the tire will move left to right and wobble. Not the entire tire, but almost like the tire is slightly bent.


Hi Tommy,
To begin, let me say....I am NOT a wheel builder or an expert.
I can true a wheel, if it's not too bad. (If not careful, I can also make a wheel bad...this is TRUE)

you mentioned that your tire seems bent. It could be!! If the inner cords have a break in them, your tire will take on a crazy free-form rolling look.

First, Is everything tight inside your axle? any side to side movement when you push on your wheel? If so, this is a good place to start. Our wheel-bearings need re-packed with grease frequently, due to our higher than normal speeds. If you use coaster brakes, that'll need generously greased too.

With your wheel off the ground....go around the wheel, squeezing each "pair" of spokes, above where they cross. Squeezing, simulates tightening. Watch which way your rim moves while squeezing. this also helps you find that pesky broken spoke.

I true most wheels, while still on the bike. I use the brakepads as a reference point.

Mark the area along the rim where it begins to be un-true. I use small pieces of tape. Using my squeeze method, I can tell which spokes need tightening.

you should also loosen the opposite side spokes first, in sorta equal amounts, so not to over-stress the spokes you are tightening.
Start with 1/4 to 1/2 turns and recheck your progress. your turns will get progressively larger as you reach the point furthest out of true, then progressively shorter as you move past.

check your progress often.

Be very careful, as it doesn't take much to make it worse. Been there/Done that!!


Truing wheels is not difficult if all the parts are in good order. i.e. rim is straight (not bent), no broken spokes, etc.
There are four things to watch for: roundness; flatness (wobble); dish; and tension.
To remove wobble, tighten the spokes on the side you want to move the rim toward, while simultaneously loosening the spokes on the opposite side. If you don't loosen the opposite side you will pull a flat spot in the rim. (then it's out of round).
Roundness can be adjusted by tightening the spokes at the high spot and loosening the spokes at the lows. If the wheel is not too tight, you can sometimes get away with just tightening the high spots. Sometimes low spots are bent rims, caused by hitting a curb or pot hole, especially if the tire is under inflated. Often at such a spot, the rim will have a wide spot (called a "blip") where the brake will tend to grab. A flat spot like this is hard to remove, but the blip an be pushed back in by supporting one side (at a time) of the rim against (perhaps) the edge of a work bench and tapping the blip GENTLY with a hammer.(The edge of the work bench works well because it's easy to see your progress looking down at the rim.) Be really careful not to push it in too far because it usually can't be moved back out.
Dish refers to the rim being centered between the parts of the axle that touch the inside of the fork ends/ drop outs. Because the rear wheel often has a multiple gear cluster on the right side, the axle has spacers under the cluster so that the hub is not centered. If the rim were centered between the flanges of the hub it would not be centered in the frame (most noticeable between the seat stays).
As for tension, if the wheel is too loose, it will loosen further with miles. If its too tight it may "potato chip" (collapse, and assume the shape of a potato chip) with a side load, (hard cornering?) thereby releasing all the tension at once.
The process starts by spinning the wheel and watching the movement against a fixed point like the brake shoe, or perhaps a bit of wire wrapped around the chain stay, to create a pointer aimed at the rim. The movement is easier to see if the tire and tube are removed. Spin and watch the rim a lot, and turn the spoke nipples in small amounts (1/4 turn or less).(Sometimes a drop of penetrating oil on each nipple is necessary.)
If it doesn't seem to get any better, or gets worse, the rim may be bent and no amount of truing will fix it. If that's the case take it to a bike shop for advice.
I could go on and on but I think I better stop here. Good luck.