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  1. #1
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    Constantly un-true wheels

    I commute 4-5 days a week, 12-15 miles per day on my "flat-bar road bike". Almost entirely on roads -- most in decent shape, although thru some very rough construction zones as well.
    Ever since I last had my wheels trued at the LBS, about a year ago, I've had to adjust my brake calipers to one side or the other, or simply loosen them, at least once a week. This began within a week or two of having them trued.
    I haven't taken the time yet to learn truing on my own -- I'd like to, just haven't had the time/patience (I tried previous to bringing it into the LBS a year ago, which was a disaster).
    I'm wondering though if other commuters have this issue with constantly out-of-true wheels and brake rub? If the wheels were just slightly out-of-true, and stayed in that condition, it'd be Ok -- I could adjust the brakes accordingly, and forget about it. But they seem to be constantly changing in the degree/location of out-of-truedness, necessitating constant brake adjustment. Not to mention that my brake calipers by now are far looser than they probably should be (certainly appear looser than most other bikes I see). Also, I imagine out-of-true wheels make for less efficient riding...

    What tends to cause out-of-true wheels? Potholes/rough roads, hitting the wheel on curbs/walls (which I'll admit to), cheap wheels, ..? Is it normal to need to re-true wheels every few months..?

    thanks for any input...

  2. #2
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    this is better off in the mechanic forum

    Once a wheel is out of true for a while it *may* set in that position. Ideally try and get your wheels trued as soon as they go out of straight. If they continue to do so even after a quality LBS has looked at them then it's time for a new rim and rebuild with stronger spokes.

    I read your post again. Your wheels are way past due for a rebuild by the sounds of it. Have them trued again and the spoke tension checked but I have a feeling that they'll go back to out of true within a month.
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  3. #3
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    A couple of things will lead to the problem you describe. First, heavy riders on weak rims leads to problems. Heavy = 200 lbs +.

    Are you riding old school aluminum rims? These never were any good. If the answer is yes, then switch to steel rims (for rear) or upgrade to new and strong alloy rims.

    Heavy rider + old school aluminum rims + bad roads = trouble.
    Mike

  4. #4
    Single Speed freak langster 2008's Avatar
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    I had this exact same problem as you about 2 years ago. I was doing 120 miles a week on busy roads and the bumps/drains/pot holes the road users forced me to cycle over warped the wheel. I had the wheels trued at my lbs a few time but i got fed up of paying. I decided to true up the up the wheels myself which took about 4 hours on a saturday. Now it take me no time at all todo because i reguarly check/ adjust the spokes. Slackening the brake doesnt help because it just hides the problem. Wheel truing kits are reasonable priced ad a goood investment in my opinion.

    So i take it your wheels are 700c x 23-28 something like that. what pressures do u run?
    "Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat"

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses (and thread re-location). Yeah, the wheels are 700x28c, I weight 130lb, and run at ~100psi (anything higher is too bumpy).
    The bike itself is only 2yrs old (Marin Mill Valley '05: http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...tNumber=744486),
    but apparently the wheels are aluminum:
    Shimano WH-R500
    http://www.bike-x-perts.com/en/produ...cts_id/125488/

    So it sounds like I should get them re-trued at the shop, possibly re-built if they quickly go out of true again (approx. cost $USD?), or perhaps just upgrade to a nicer set of wheels?
    I'll consider a wheel truing kit also, but am hesitant to do this work myself as I hate to be without my bike for several days in the (likely) event that I throw my wheels even more off as I try to learn to fix them..

    thanks again...

  6. #6
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike View Post
    A couple of things will lead to the problem you describe. First, heavy riders on weak rims leads to problems. Heavy = 200 lbs +.

    Are you riding old school aluminum rims? These never were any good. If the answer is yes, then switch to steel rims (for rear) or upgrade to new and strong alloy rims.

    Heavy rider + old school aluminum rims + bad roads = trouble.
    ahh... no.
    Steel rims are god awful, and only come on the cheapest of bikes. They dont stop well either.

    What you want are some double wall rims. laced together by someone competent.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Steev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike View Post
    A couple of things will lead to the problem you describe. First, heavy riders on weak rims leads to problems. Heavy = 200 lbs +.

    Are you riding old school aluminum rims? These never were any good. If the answer is yes, then switch to steel rims (for rear) or upgrade to new and strong alloy rims.

    Heavy rider + old school aluminum rims + bad roads = trouble.
    Please don't give advice if you don't know what you're talking about.
    Steel rims are so poor for braking traction in wet conditions that they are dangerous. Also, aluminum rims are not old school compared to steel, aluminum rims replaced steel for very good reasons. Just what metals do you think are alloyed to to make "alloy" rims? For your information, aluminum is the major metal in "alloy" as used in bike-speak.

  8. #8
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Well built wheels will take a lot of miles even with a heavy rider. I weigh 235 and have a set of alloy wheels I bought last year, Mavic Open Pro rims laced with Wheelsmith spokes to Ultegra hubs. I bought them on line for $229 for the set - quite reasonable. I then re-tensioned them to bring the tension into close balance. Machine built wheels are rarely tensioned well. It's hit or miss at best. These wheels have lasted this heavy rider for 3500 miles to date with not even the slightest truing needed. I checked them the other day and the tension is where I set it last spring.

    That said, for a commuter, I would buy a slightly beefier rim and straight gage 2mm spokes. The most critical issue is good balanced tension where all spokes are withing 10% of each other. 20% in considered "balanced" but I like to dial them in as close as I can get them. Do this and a 130 lb rider should have little trouble.

  9. #9
    Mr. Dopolina Bob Dopolina's Avatar
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    OP, you are a light rider, running good tire pressure on a fairly new bike. Your commute is on fairly decent roads and isn't epic in terms of distance. Once those wheels were trued by your LBS, they should have stayed that way for quite a while. Something is missing here.

    When the wheel was first trued was it actually damaged?

    A wheel can go out of true for 2 reasons: 1. Spoke tension or, 2: A bent rim. If your spoke tension was off (which happens to almost every new bike during the brake-in period) then re-tensioning the spokes should have done the trick. If the rim was actually bent, then you can true it back into shape (sort of) but then it will continually go out of true - the damage has been done.

    I would stop off at your LBS and ask them if the rim itself has been damaged. If so, you will need to replace it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Those wheels are strong enough and you are light enough that the wheels shouldn't go out of true if they are properly tensioned. I am 200lbs (just lost 38 lbs) and have ridden a set of 32 hole 3 cross lacing with campy record hubs and Mavic open pro rims (alloy). I ride quite often on hardpack (washboard) roads and my wheels stay true. I hand built the wheels and have had zero problems. Sounds like your wheels were machine built and were not tensioned properly. Take the wheels to the best (by reputation) wheel builder in your area and pay him what he charges with out quibbling. He may have to detension the spokes completely and start over using a good spoke prep. The results should surprise you.
    I have never used the wheels you describe but, I have bought bikes with those wheels and resold them after checking them out. They are relative heavy wheels with strong rims and you should NOT be seeing the problems you are having. Good luck.

  11. #11
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    I think you should learn to true your own wheels, based on the mileage that you are doing. It may seem like a mysterious process at first. But after a while it will become second nature and you will save yourself considerable $$ and time.

    You will need a spoke wrench and a truing stand. (Investments that will pay for themselves within about 10 truings).

    As far as learning how to true up a wheel, pick up a throwaway wheel at an LBS, or buy an old $25.00 bike at Goodwill just for practice. Sheldon's wheel-building/truing instructions are all that you need. The most important thing to know is to make adjustments in small increments (like a 1/4 turn at a time).

    Once you master truing you will kick yourself for not learning sooner.

    Bob
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  12. #12
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    It sounds to me as if your spokes never had enough tension and now the rims are warped or bent or cracked. Inspect the rims for cracks near the spoke holes, if you have any replace the rims. If you replace the rims my recommendation is double butted 2.0-1.7-2.0 spokes laced 3-cross. This will give you a more durable, more reliable set of wheels.
    And avoid the chug-holes and curbs.

    Al

  13. #13
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    It sounds to me as if your spokes never had enough tension and now the rims are warped or bent or cracked. Inspect the rims for cracks near the spoke holes, if you have any replace the rims.
    Al
    For the win.
    Also, Deep V rims are stronger and stay true longer.
    Quote Originally Posted by SBFixed View Post
    You're a dick, if your bike gets stolen I hope that you don't get a thread.

  14. #14
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    Thanks all, again, for the responses. I'll get to the shop or a wheel builder asap. Truing practice on an old wheel sounds like a good idea, too.

    Much appreciated!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Caspar_s's Avatar
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    Should I bother trying to learn/practice on cheap Walmart quality wheels? I have a couple lying around.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caspar_s View Post
    Should I bother trying to learn/practice on cheap Walmart quality wheels? I have a couple lying around.
    Sure. The most difficult part of building wheels is truing. Lacing spokes is easy if you have good instructions. For basic 3-cross lacing I like the Jobst Brandt's instructions in "The Bicycle Wheel" book best,
    but Sheldon Brown's online instructions give the same results and they're free. Sheldon's instructions are very well illustrated.

  17. #17
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caspar_s View Post
    Should I bother trying to learn/practice on cheap Walmart quality wheels? I have a couple lying around.
    yes, but I would recommend picking up a little bag of brass nipples from your LBS. Ive had terrible luck with nipples rounding off on x-mart bikes.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
    yes, but I would recommend picking up a little bag of brass nipples from your LBS. Ive had terrible luck with nipples rounding off on x-mart bikes.
    I quit rounding off nipples after I learned the value of having the correct size spoke wrench to fit each of the various sized nipples. I think the wrench makes the difference, not the nipple material. I use aluminum alloy nipples on the wheels I build for myself.

  19. #19
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    Your wheels should absolutely not be going out of true that often.

    I don't think you need to worry about "practicing" truing. As long as you have the correct sized spoke wrench, there's little damage you can do. It's very satisfying and pretty simple.

    To think a little outside the box, are you sure your brake calipers are secure in their position?

  20. #20
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    I quit rounding off nipples after I learned the value of having the correct size spoke wrench to fit each of the various sized nipples. I think the wrench makes the difference, not the nipple material. I use aluminum alloy nipples on the wheels I build for myself.
    On X-mart wheels?
    Re-he-he-heally?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tellyho View Post
    Your wheels should absolutely not be going out of true that often.
    To think a little outside the box, are you sure your brake calipers are secure in their position?
    Actually, I was just thinking about that last night -- no, I'm not sure the calipers are properly secured. Can you explain how to do this (or, if there's a Sheldon Brown or other link that I haven't found...)?

    thanks...

  22. #22
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    If a wheel needs to be trued constantly t has some structural problem. It may be poor tension, or it may be a failure that you haven't identified. I had a wheel that I had to true every hundred miles. Finally a spoke broke, and after I replaced that spoke it never went out of true again. I think that spoke had failed in some way that I didn't identify, like it was stretching or the threads were slipping. Also, sometimes rims will crack around the spoke holes, and those rims will never be stable. A rim like that should be replaced ASAP.

    em

  23. #23
    Senior Member rb07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bert37 View Post
    Actually, I was just thinking about that last night -- no, I'm not sure the calipers are properly secured. Can you explain how to do this (or, if there's a Sheldon Brown or other link that I haven't found...)?

    thanks...
    Depending on what type of brake you have, you can find information on Sheldon's site, but I also like the information here: Park Tools. Also, check out the repair map section in general. A lot of good info.
    '07 Specialized Allez Comp | '08 Santa Cruz Superlight RXC | '08 Kona Jake the Snake | '70s Motobécane Grand Touring

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlatFender View Post
    On X-mart wheels?
    Re-he-he-heally?
    Yeah, right. Most high end wheels have aluminum alloy nipples. I think DT's are as good as it gets.

  25. #25
    Senior Member FlatFender's Avatar
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    I have spoke wrenches coming out the wazoo, but I dont even bother to try and true x-mart wheels because the nipples always round off, or break.

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