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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 07-17-14, 07:06 AM   #1
lazaruss
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are my wheels only good for scrap now?

Hi

I am currently in the process of giving my old bike a service. When trying to fix the rear brakes I notice the rear wheel slowly tilts from left to right. Not by a lot but enough to effect the breaks. I'm not a bike expert at all but I assume this means the wheel is out of true? As it doesn't wobble when stationary, I don't think anything is loose. Is that it for my wheel? As it's not your standard wire spoke. Please see attached photo of wheel.


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Old 07-17-14, 07:18 AM   #2
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So, let's clear up the key question. Does the wheel appear to wobble as it spins? (like a warped record) If so, by how much?

Or does the wheel move over slightly when you apply the brake?
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Old 07-17-14, 07:31 AM   #3
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And another question to clarify: when you say it "slowly tilts from left to right." Does that mean from the top of the wheel to the bottom of the wheel? What I'm getting at is the tilt consistent (i.e. one side of the wheel is always closer to the brake pad) or does the tilt vary as the wheel turns?
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Old 07-17-14, 08:24 AM   #4
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I think they are shot! Please carefully pack them up so as keep them aligned in a north/south direction while shipping. I have a guy down the street that disposes of those old toxic metal wheels. (If you don't have a matching front wheel, then forget what I just said)

Seriously, I suspect the bearings in the hub are worn and will need replacing/adjusting. Look for a bicycle co-op/collective near you, and go learn how simple (and cheap) a hub overhaul can be.
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Old 07-17-14, 08:28 AM   #5
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Seriously, I suspect the bearings in the hub are worn and will need replacing/adjusting. Look for a bicycle co-op/collective near you, and go learn how simple (and cheap) a hub overhaul can be.
The OP stated the wheel doesn't wobble while stationary which tells me the problem isn't loose hub bearings. I also expect is a problem with the truing and the only way to straighten these wheels is to bend them back into line.
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Old 07-17-14, 08:40 AM   #6
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If it wobbled when stationary you would need to adjust your axles, and it might have ruined the bearing cups in the wheels if you let it go long enough.

If you're sure it doesn't, then the wheel is bent. I don't think it's necessarily useless depending on how bad it is. You might be able to get it to work if you carefully open up your brake caliper adjustment to have just enough extra clearance to keep from hitting the rim when you ride, then readjusting the brake lever to have enough pull so that you can use your rear brakes by taking any slack out of the system.

There might be enough adjustment in the brake cable so you can live with it.

Are cantilever brake arms called "calipers?"

OTOH a solid aluminum wheel is different from steel spokes. I would definitely try to research whether a solid aluminum rim is safe when it is out of true. Bending aluminum makes it brittle sooner than steel. Or, you may even find a truing procedure relevant to a solid aluminum wheel.
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Old 07-17-14, 09:04 AM   #7
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Everybody is asking lots of questions because they don't know what you have and can't see the problem first hand.

Since we can't see the wheel, I am going to guess that it needs to be trued, because I am assuming this is an old bike in the garage that probably doesn't have great wheels to begin with and hasn't seen a lot of maintenance. True the wheel and then tension and stress relieve the spokes properly and you are probably good to go.

And, you probably need to overhaul the hubs, too. You can do all this stuff yourself if you want to learn, or take it to a shop. You will need to buy the right tools and supplies or pay the shop to handle it all. Fifteen minutes in a bike shop will probably get you a basic diagnosis of the problem and an estimate of what it will take to fix it.
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Old 07-17-14, 09:28 AM   #8
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Since we can't see the wheel...
Maybe the image isn't showing up for you, but there's a picture attached to the first post. It's not a traditional spoked wheel, so it can't be trued with a spoke wrench. It's a Grimeca cast metal rim, kinda like an old BMX "mag" like a Skyway Tuff Wheel, but cast from aluminum or magnesium.

The two possibilities for lateral play are something at the hub (bearings, axle, etc.) or the wheel is out of true. There's no obvious looseness at the hub, which would be an obvious indicator of a problem, but take off the wheel to inspect more closely. If the hub checks out, the wheel's probably out of true. If it is, you can't adjust it back into shape like you can a spoked wheel. Unless there's a way to precisely bend the rim, the damage may be permanent.
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Old 07-17-14, 10:25 AM   #9
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As skydog says, this isn't a traditional spoke wheel, he has made a good job at describing what it actually is so if it is out of true then I need to find a way to bend it back into shape, if that's possible. To clarify a few things when I have the wheel off the ground and spin it I can see it go from side to side at regular intervals, and when I apply the brakes it doesn't appear to effect the way the wheel wobbles, which would suggest something isn't strate. When it's not moving I am unable to wobble it manualy which would suggest the axel is fine?

How would I check out the hubs? I'm new to bike maintenance! Thanks for your help!
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Old 07-17-14, 10:39 AM   #10
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Is there a chance that the sides of the rim are out of parallel? If so a shop that has a rim roller may be able to bring them back to true. I don't know where you are, but there is a shop in State College, PA that should be able to do it.

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Old 07-17-14, 11:38 AM   #11
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How would I check out the hubs? I'm new to bike maintenance! Thanks for your help!
If the wheel is not loose on the axle and doesn't shake when the wheel isn't turning, and the wheel can turn freely, then the hub adjustment is probably fine.

It might need to be repacked with fresh grease especially if you ride in the rain a lot though, but that's not related to the wobble issue. Some bikes don't have rubber seals to keep grit out of the axle. They depend on the grease to catch any grit that works its way into the hub. If you wait too long, too much grease will wash out or get grit in it and it will reach the ball bearings.
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