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  1. #1
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    Wheel Truing Questions

    Hey everyone. I had posted a couple weeks ago about my front brakes having problems on my 7.3FX. Well, as it turns out, there were two problems. First the return springs were shot and my front wheel needs truing. I just got my Deore v-brakes in the mail so that solves the brake problem. However, I completely overlooked the wheels because I had did a mini truing after abour 500 miles of riding. I figured the machine built wheels weren't going to be perfect, but they were pretty spot on. This was all based on me eyeballing the wheels. I'm overseas and I don't have a truing stand. However, after 2200 miles, stuff has changed. So my question is this: How reliable are these wheels on the lower end FX series bikes? I have actually taken the bike in to the bike shop on base to have them trued, but I want to know if these wheels are reliable or if I should look into getting a cheap replacement. By cheap I mean something along the lines of $200. I like the bike, but I got it for $500 brand new and I would rather not spend more than what it is worth to keep it going. Thanks everyone!

    Edit: Also, is a wheel truing the same as a wheel "alignment?" The clerk at the bike shop had no idea what wheel truing was and I pretty much had to explain it to her, and then she said, "Oh you mean alignment?" She said she would let the mechanic know and the bike should be done tomorrow. I am crossing my fingers.

  2. #2
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    Yes, truing and aligning a wheel or rim are all different ways of saying the same thing, namely adjusting spokes so that when spun the rim runs straignt and true (no wobble or vertical deflections). I'd stay with the existing wheels as long as they continue to go for a long time between servicing. Expect the rear wheel to need a complete or rebuild before the front, because it has higher stresses, and because it is asymmetrical as to spoke tension, which though necessary is less than ideal.

    You could buy replacement wheels but at your budget, I don't thing you'll get much of an improvement in performance or reliability than what you have, so hold off and cross that bridge when you get to it.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    Yes, truing and aligning a wheel or rim are all different ways of saying the same thing, namely adjusting spokes so that when spun the rim runs straignt and true (no wobble or vertical deflections). I'd stay with the existing wheels as long as they continue to go for a long time between servicing. Expect the rear wheel to need a complete or rebuild before the front, because it has higher stresses, and because it is asymmetrical as to spoke tension, which though necessary is less than ideal.

    You could buy replacement wheels but at your budget, I don't thing you'll get much of an improvement in performance or reliability than what you have, so hold off and cross that bridge when you get to it.
    Thanks for the advice. Surprisingly the front wheel looks more laterally untrue than the rear. It is probably because it receives most of the "impact" of the horrible roads we have here in South Korea. Also, I kind of figured I wouldn't get much for a couple hundred bucks, but unless I am building my next bike I don't see a need to spend more than half the cost of the bike on wheels. Then again if this bike turned into a commuter when I got back to the states the sky would be the limit.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    A lot of the stabilizing in a hand built wheel comes from the stress relieving done during the tensioning and trueing process. This stress relieving is actually a bit of a misnomer since it really is about stressing the spokes to encourage them to bed into the rims and hubs and to each other so they are well formed through the middle at the cross over points and better grounded at the hubs and rim. This process is something that gets missed in a machine built wheel. So with such wheels it is left to your natural riding to perform this rather important function. It also means that it's not uncommon to have to keep chasing the tensioning and trueing through multiple tuneups of the wheels before they settle in and stabilizer. Both ways are valid but most of us would rather do it once and avoid the frequent process of retrueing.

    So if you can find a good wheel builder somewhere around the area and ask them for a full tuning they could go around and match the tensions more closely as they also true or align the rims and perform a couple of stress relievings on the wheel along the way. The final product you get back after this would actually be better than yet another set of machine built wheels that cost more than your current wheels just due to this stress relieving and more finely tuned tensioning and trueing.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    A lot of the stabilizing in a hand built wheel comes from the stress relieving done during the tensioning and trueing process. This stress relieving is actually a bit of a misnomer since it really is about stressing the spokes to encourage them to bed into the rims and hubs and to each other so they are well formed through the middle at the cross over points and better grounded at the hubs and rim.
    While that's useful too, there's no misnomer in stress relieving.

    When you apply force to a material (stress) you get deformation (strain) until you exceed the elastic limit and it permanently deforms with stress dropping.

    When the elbows are formed and threads rolled not all of the material is taken past the elastic limit, thus leaving areas with high residual stress.

    Since spokes fail due to fatigue, and the number of cycles which can be survived depends on both the magnitude of the variation and average stress, areas with high average stress will fail much sooner than the rest (although you can put 100,000 miles on the same set of stress relieved 1.8/1.6mm spokes, some people break 2.0mm spokes inside of 500 miles on machine built wheels).

    This process is something that gets missed in a machine built wheel. So with such wheels it is left to your natural riding to perform this rather important function.
    Your natural riding will never stress relieve a wheel. Wheels essentially stand on their bottom few spokes, with significant tension decreases there and _very_ minor tension increases elsewhere in the wheel.

    So if you can find a good wheel builder somewhere around the area and ask them for a full tuning they could go around and match the tensions more closely as they also true or align the rims and perform a couple of stress relievings on the wheel along the way.
    Or just read the relevant on-line articles.

    The final product you get back after this would actually be better than yet another set of machine built wheels that cost more than your current wheels just due to this stress relieving and more finely tuned tensioning and trueing.
    Right.

    My last front wheel stayed true from when I built it for over ten years when I bent the rim on an obstacle (probably at low tire pressure).

  6. #6
    Senior Member peripatetic's Avatar
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    USAF1blahblah, the basic point others are making is that a machine-built wheel needs to be re-tensioned after you've ridden on it a bit. That is, you need to have a mechanic (or yourself), go back to the wheel, true/align it, and then re-tension the spokes, i.e. tighten them back to high tension. After the mechanic/you do this, you can actually de-stress the spokes on your own by going around the wheel and squeezing very hard on adjacent pairs of spokes and/or, removing the wheel from the bike and applying pressure onto the spokes while the wheel is flat. If you get the wheels re-tensioned and then go back and de-stress the spokes a few times after each ride, this will help equalize all the tension on the spokes. Finally, for those first several weeks after this truing-re-tensioning, watch the true-ness of the wheel, and when it starts to go even just a little bit, either get it trued or re-true it again yourself. After going through this process once, twice, a few times, as long as you keep your tires well-inflated, your wheels should remain true and at high tension for a long time. As others above have pointed out, once the spokes are well-seated into the flange of the hub and their tension is high but stress is gone, the wheel will stay true for a long time. Remember to keep your tires well-inflated to protect your rims and spokes from those bad roads.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    A lot of the stabilizing in a hand built wheel comes from the stress relieving done during the tensioning and trueing process. This stress relieving is actually a bit of a misnomer since it really is about stressing the spokes to encourage them to bed into the rims and hubs and to each other so they are well formed through the middle at the cross over points and better grounded at the hubs and rim. This process is something that gets missed in a machine built wheel. So with such wheels it is left to your natural riding to perform this rather important function. It also means that it's not uncommon to have to keep chasing the tensioning and trueing through multiple tuneups of the wheels before they settle in and stabilizer. Both ways are valid but most of us would rather do it once and avoid the frequent process of retrueing.

    So if you can find a good wheel builder somewhere around the area and ask them for a full tuning they could go around and match the tensions more closely as they also true or align the rims and perform a couple of stress relievings on the wheel along the way. The final product you get back after this would actually be better than yet another set of machine built wheels that cost more than your current wheels just due to this stress relieving and more finely tuned tensioning and trueing.
    It is stress relieving. The spokes are stressed to nearly their yield point when they are manufactured and then tightened up in a wheel. Stress relieving takes them past the yield point which relieves the stresses.

  8. #8
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    If you can get a spopke wrench you can true it yourself. On a front I like to add tension on the spokes to bring it into true. After it is true grab parallel spokes on each side of the wheel and squeeze the heck out of them to stress relieve the wheel.
    ON a rear wheel I only use the non-drive side spokes to true it laterally. This is on a rear that I have built or checked the drive side tension with my tensiometer.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidad View Post
    If you can get a spopke wrench you can true it yourself. On a front I like to add tension on the spokes to bring it into true. After it is true grab parallel spokes on each side of the wheel and squeeze the heck out of them to stress relieve the wheel.
    ON a rear wheel I only use the non-drive side spokes to true it laterally. This is on a rear that I have built or checked the drive side tension with my tensiometer.
    I've got a spoke wrench and the tools to do most basic maintenance but I have never had the "eye" to true wheels that are pretty wonky. It's just one of those things that I lack the skill for. If it is only a little untrue it's simple, but the front wheel was going to take some work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by peripatetic View Post
    USAF1blahblah, the basic point others are making is that a machine-built wheel needs to be re-tensioned after you've ridden on it a bit. That is, you need to have a mechanic (or yourself), go back to the wheel, true/align it, and then re-tension the spokes, i.e. tighten them back to high tension. After the mechanic/you do this, you can actually de-stress the spokes on your own by going around the wheel and squeezing very hard on adjacent pairs of spokes and/or, removing the wheel from the bike and applying pressure onto the spokes while the wheel is flat. If you get the wheels re-tensioned and then go back and de-stress the spokes a few times after each ride, this will help equalize all the tension on the spokes. Finally, for those first several weeks after this truing-re-tensioning, watch the true-ness of the wheel, and when it starts to go even just a little bit, either get it trued or re-true it again yourself. After going through this process once, twice, a few times, as long as you keep your tires well-inflated, your wheels should remain true and at high tension for a long time. As others above have pointed out, once the spokes are well-seated into the flange of the hub and their tension is high but stress is gone, the wheel will stay true for a long time. Remember to keep your tires well-inflated to protect your rims and spokes from those bad roads.
    Thanks for the advice. That's exactly the info I was looking for. I appreciate it! Also, what I might end up doing is looking for a set of the Bontrager OEM wheels that come on the FX series bikes on eBay as a set of backups so I won't ever have downtime when I either attempt to true or take the wheels in to have them trued.

  11. #11
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    Check the wheel(s) for small cracks in the rim near the spoke holes, this is where rims usually fail. If there are no cracks and if the bearing races are in good shape there is no reason to replace the wheel. If possible grease the bearings.

    You can do a pretty good job of lateral truing with the help of a magic marker. Brace the marker against a fork leg and hold it very close to the rim. Turn the wheel slowly, marks on the rim show the "high" spots, adjust the spokes to reduce the high spots. Do the same to both sides to keep the rim centered between the fork legs. You can use the same process on the rear wheel bracing the marker against the seat stays or chain stays.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
    Check the wheel(s) for small cracks in the rim near the spoke holes, this is where rims usually fail. If there are no cracks and if the bearing races are in good shape there is no reason to replace the wheel. If possible grease the bearings.

    You can do a pretty good job of lateral truing with the help of a magic marker. Brace the marker against a fork leg and hold it very close to the rim. Turn the wheel slowly, marks on the rim show the "high" spots, adjust the spokes to reduce the high spots. Do the same to both sides to keep the rim centered between the fork legs. You can use the same process on the rear wheel bracing the marker against the seat stays or chain stays.
    Whoa! I like that idea. I'll definitely use that in the future!

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