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  1. #1
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    First time Truing a Wheel

    Hey guys, I have an old Takara Road bike that I have cleaned up pretty well but now I want to get rid of the wobbles in both of the wheels. I have the tires and tubes off of the rims and am trying to true the wheels by using the brake pads. I have watched many videos online and still can't get it right. I find the wobble, tighten the gapped side clockwise and Im just not getting the full picture. I think it now has a wobble that started up in another spot. I was wondering if you guys had advice on how to maybe reset the wheel and start from scratch, like many loosen all spokes and then do equal turns on each one? is this a good idea? Because at this point the wheel is worse than when I started.

    thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    I was wondering if you guys had advice on how to maybe reset the wheel and start from scratch, like many loosen all spokes and then do equal turns on each one? is this a good idea?
    That will only complicate things further, don't do that. It's not always a simple task when you're just getting the hang of it, but one general concept is to try to do a similar amount of tightening and loosening. For example, if the rim is off to the right in the vincinity of two or three spokes, you try to tighten a spoke on the left and loosen one or both adjacent spokes on the right. Don't necessarily try to eliminate the wobble in one big bite, it's OK to take it in several iterations.

  3. #3
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    I agee with not trying to start from scratch.

    Yes when you move the rim in one area, there will often be a reaction in another, so you have to work patiently and by degrees getting the worst areas better, though not perfect, spinning to see what's next and slowly dialing it in.

    a few pointers.

    early on be more concerned about radial hops and low spots. These are harder to resolve, so should be cleared first.

    work the worst spot first, but only as far as the 2nd worst spot, spin the wheel and work the new worst spot next, and so on..

    Don't forget to work from both sides toward the middle.

    Spread the work around, don't try to straighten a wobble all with only one or two spokes, think in terms of general areas and spread the work among multiple spokes. Otherwise you'll end up with very uneven tension.

    Listen to your fingers, if you want to tighten a spoke that's already tight, consider loosening it's opposite neighbors, or tightening the next spoke of the same side if that seems loose by comparison. You're goal is to keep the tension as even as possible, so try to get a feel for what you're doing..

    On rear wheels the left side will be slacker than the right because the wheel is asymmetrical on the flanges (dished). On rear wheels the right side spokes have more radial influence, and the left more side to side. for wobble it's often better to loosen the left rather than tighten the right (or the opposite).

    Make sure your spoke wrench fits tightly, and is fully engaged on the entire flat area of the nipple. Otherwise it's very easy to round off the nipple, which is a royal pain.

    Lastly keep track of right/left or clockwise/counter-clockwise. For instance if you're looking from outside the rim you turn the nipple clockwise to tighten, but if tightening a nipple on the far side (looking across the hub) you tighten counter clockwise. Losing track of left and right is probably the biggest bugaboo for newbies, so take it slow and think before you turn. One way to keep track is to remember that if you turn the nipple the way your right fingers point it will move in the direction the thumb points. So if you never switch hands you won't go wrong.

    Know when to quit. You won't get it perfect, and it's easy to overwork a wheel screwing up what was decent.
    Live by the words, "do not sacrifice good on the altar of perfection".

    So slow and easy and it'll come home
    Last edited by FBinNY; 07-05-11 at 07:20 AM.
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  4. #4
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    I just reported FB's post, and said this...

    I think I've said this before - we should use the reporting mechanism in Mechanics to nominate the best explanations of stuff to be immortalised in a sticky.

    Replies could be for formatting improvements, adding pics and so on. Mods could just replace the OP now and then with the latest version, right? I'm sure you guys can edit any post... otherwise I guess the OP would need to be posted by a sybil account.

    Come on, we could have our own wiki guide, and then beautiful explanations like this won't be lost in the depths.
    Who's with me? Report this post with +1 Kimmo!

    (It's the little triangle down on the left)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ira B's Avatar
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    If you are truing for the first time and the wheel needs more than the most minor of touch up I strongly advise finding someone who knows what they are doing and asking them to show you how to do this. There is a lot of "feel", intuition and experience involved and you are probably more likely to make the wheels worse than better.
    My second best recommendation would be to get a junk wheel to practice on for awhile before trying to true any that you care too much about.

    $0.02
    Yep, THAT Ira

  6. #6
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    One last pointer: Spoke twist or "torsion" can cause under-truing, and if you know about torsion and over-tension and then reverse to remove torsion, you could over true the other way unless you properly relieve the tension on the rim by laterally applying force or riding the wheel. I've built enough wheels and just as habit turn past my mark and then ease back to relieve torsion. But I've found that many times, I over compensate and move the rim too far. I need to remind myself to take the rim out and "ping" it or simply ride the wheel first on a bike and then check it. Touch truing improves the ride a lot just by small tweaks that may not look like they fully correct the true on a wheel, but will fall into place once the load is applied and distributed to all the spokes.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  7. #7
    Senior Member reducedfatoreo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    So slow and easy and it'll come home
    +1 on this whole post, but as a fellow on-the-bike truer, this was the most important piece of advice to me. 1/8-turns at first, nothing more than 1/4-turns. When I totally messed up my first attempt at truing, I gave up and took it to the shop. The next time around, it was a little easier, until you get the feel for it.

    Even once you get confident at truing using the brake pads, take the wheel out once in a while and borrow a truing stand. Truing on a bike will get the wheel to an adequate ridable position, but over time you may be dishing it and putting unnecessary strain on one side of the spokes.

    Don't give up, you'll get it!

  8. #8
    bike whisperer Kimmo's Avatar
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    There's no reason you can't true wheels perfectly on the bike; flip the wheel to check the dish (turn the spindle to make sure it isn't bent).

    Take the tyre off and stick something to the frame or fork for radial runout.

  9. #9
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Don't adjust just one spoke, adjust several. I usually do 3 on each side (so I will do a group of six). Notice that adjacent spokes pull to the opposite side. So make sure you are tightening the right ones! Loosen one side slightly, tighten the other side slightly, like the 1/8th turn mentioned above. Don't get in a hurry, small adjustments will bring it around.

    Be sure you are watching the rim and not the tire. The tire can fool you.
    Last edited by wrk101; 07-06-11 at 08:25 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    Be sure you are watching the rim and not the tire. The tire can fool you.
    When I've done wheelbuilding/trueing, I take the tyre off completely. It gets it out of the way and makes it easier to use the brake pads as reference. You can also use a screwdriver in the ends of the nipples instead of a spoke wrench.

    Using the brake pads as reference, you can start with the brakes quite loose to find larger wobbles in the rim, work your way round until it clears both pads at all times, then tighten the brakes a bit with the adjusting barrel. You can then work round the wheel again, each time working out progressively smaller wobbles.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

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