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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 10-03-04, 03:13 PM   #1
rog
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Wheel truing for commuters

I hope this isn't too off topic, I was debating putting this up in the mechanics section. Anyways, just wanted to get a feel for how often a regular commuter will yank off the wheels and true 'em up. My commute is 16.5 miles each way, and I've been averaging doing the commute about twice per week (hoping to have it an almost everyday thing by next summer). For the most part, roads are smooth between my place and work, but there is about a one mile stretch where it's got it's share of potholes, and wear and tear. I'm taking off the back wheel about once a week right now, which is definitely overkill, but I'm just learning to true the wheel, so I figure the repitition is a good thing.

So, of commuters who go a fair distance, how often do you true your wheels? Or do you just have your LBS do it periodically?
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Old 10-03-04, 05:02 PM   #2
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I ride some pretty crappy country roads as part of my commute. Of the four bikes which I use for commuting, I've only ever had to touch up one front wheel. And that was probably more due to an initial crappy build up.

4000 miles since May 1st. 240+ lbs.
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Old 10-03-04, 05:35 PM   #3
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It's pretty easy to true your wheels, you just need the tool to do so. Just spin your wheels ever so often to check if it's true. If you see it wobbling side to side, you'll know that it's time to true them
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Old 10-04-04, 05:49 AM   #4
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Good question Roq
Generally, the wheels I have don't require much attention - perhaps once or twice a year (commute total is about 25 miles a day). Wheels are one of the few things that are worth a little extra expenditure though, and I have upgraded to good wheel-sets on both my (road) commuter bikes as replacements were necessary. The only fly in the ointment is that the rear wheel on one bike is breaking spokes (6 so far...) with only about 2000 miles added from new. Luckiliy I am able to fix these without repeated (costly) visits to the shop.

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Old 10-04-04, 12:14 PM   #5
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It's not exactly the approved method, but I check my wheels using my brakes as part of my nightly tuneup. Just flip the bike upside down and move the brakes so that one side is about a millimeter from the rim. Spin the wheel slowly and you can spot areas that need adjustments. Normally, it takes less than five minutes per wheel. I usually have to make small adjustments every 100 miles.
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Old 10-04-04, 12:20 PM   #6
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I don't have a truing stand, I just throw the bike on the car's bike rack if I notice them wobbling, and true them up on the bike.
As I have a new Giant Cypress, it's got very cheap single-walled rims. I'm just going to keep using them until they aren't usable anymore (pretty much inevitable) and then I'll rebuild with Mavic rims.
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Old 10-04-04, 12:24 PM   #7
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I only have to true my wheels if I hit or got hit by something. otherwise they tend to stay nice and true.

BTW, my wheels are jsut some bottom of the line cyclepro/shimano 700c wheels I paid about $100 for the set.
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Old 10-04-04, 02:16 PM   #8
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I only true my wheels when I can feel the brakes 'catching' on the untrue parts while riding. I spin them occasionally, right now though my rear wheel is so perfectly rounded it almost makes me wet to do so.
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Old 10-04-04, 05:09 PM   #9
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I've had some wheels stay true for hunderds of miles and others go wonkie every other week. I have mine trued at the shop about every 3-4 months. I budget 20 bucks a month to keep my bike in repair, so If I don't crash into anything, keeping the wheels true and swapping out chains, casettes and cables pretty much is covered.
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Old 10-04-04, 06:45 PM   #10
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Huh...for some reason I was expecting to hear that it had to be done a bit more often. I haven't thrown mine on the truing thing (I picked up a spin doctor...seems to do the job, and only 40 clams) in a couple weeks, but they seem fine right now, so hopefully it will tend to stay that way. BTW, dobber, thanks for including your weight - I'm 220 myself, so I was wondering if that was a contributing factor.
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Old 10-05-04, 11:10 AM   #11
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I ride on tracks, trails and roads on my commuter wheels, and they have lasterd about 3 years with one minor tweak.
My LBS build them from fairly low-end components (Shimano Altus hub) but to his usual, high standards.
I'm pretty lightweight and ride over bumps rather than though them, so 36 spokes are probably overkill.
If you are heavier, you really need 36 spokes with quality build. How is your riding style over ruff stuff?
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Old 10-05-04, 11:14 AM   #12
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After many problems, I bought a hand-built wheelset from my LBS. They include a check for true at one month and will fix any out-of-true issues for a year. The rear went quite a bit out of true before the one month check up, but is perfect now - as is the front.

I check them about once a week, when I adjust my brakes.
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Old 10-05-04, 02:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW
I ride on tracks, trails and roads on my commuter wheels, and they have lasterd about 3 years with one minor tweak.
My LBS build them from fairly low-end components (Shimano Altus hub) but to his usual, high standards.
I'm pretty lightweight and ride over bumps rather than though them, so 36 spokes are probably overkill.
If you are heavier, you really need 36 spokes with quality build. How is your riding style over ruff stuff?

Usually, I do what I can to avoid it...but the rough part of my commute, it's difficult, as I'd have to ride almost in the middle of the street to avoid it all, and even at 5am, there's just enough traffic so's I don't want to do that. I have a pretty bright front light, so I usually have time to stand up, and do what's referred to in the motocross world as "pre-loading" before the bump/hole. What that means is I'll bend my knees and then straighten them before the bump, which in effect is a bunny hop without leaving the ground. I'm going pretty quick into that section, as it's at the end of a long, gradual elevation drop, and I just can't bring myself to slow down when gravity is on my side. ;-) I think I mentioned my bike is a cyclocross bike, so it's pretty tough, and does indeed have 36 spoke wheels.
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Old 10-05-04, 02:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
After many problems, I bought a hand-built wheelset from my LBS. They include a check for true at one month and will fix any out-of-true issues for a year. The rear went quite a bit out of true before the one month check up, but is perfect now - as is the front.

I check them about once a week, when I adjust my brakes.

Ah, ok...so would I be correct, then, in assuming there is a break in period? Cause I did notice they stay a lot "true-er" than they did the first couple months...I assumed it was cause I was re-aquiring riding skills, and learning the roads I was riding on, but I guess it would make sense that there is a break in period for wheels, as well as anything else.
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Old 10-05-04, 03:15 PM   #15
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I noticed some wobble this morning, so started truing my rear wheel at lunch. Broken spoke at the hub.

LBS will fix it free, but wtf, the bike's only about six weeks old.

I haven't beat it, the wheel's still round, not sure now about the quality of the wheels (Trek 7100, Borntrager wheel).
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Old 10-06-04, 11:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rog
Ah, ok...so would I be correct, then, in assuming there is a break in period?
It's like a break in period. The wheelbuilder will pre-stress a wheel, but once you've done a few hundred miles, the spokes seat and settle. They then re-tension the wheel and you should be good to go, for a while.
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Old 10-06-04, 02:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
It's like a break in period. The wheelbuilder will pre-stress a wheel, but once you've done a few hundred miles, the spokes seat and settle. They then re-tension the wheel and you should be good to go, for a while.

Cool, thanks! :-)
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