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  1. #1
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    Wheel truing where there is no LBS

    Looking for thoughts on how easy this is or not... after reading quite a bit online it seems there is quite a range of opinions from very easy to you'll almost certainly do more harm than good.

    My back wheel is wobbling from side to side and this means I can't brake effectively. I just get a jerky motion from every time the brake pad hits the uneven part of the rim and lurch forward, rather disconcertingly.

    We tried using a spoke wrench to do a bit of adjustment today but after a bit of playing we are no further ahead. We are in Turkey, heading for Syria and on to Iran. Haven't seen what I would imagine to be a decent bike shop for ages and don't expect to see one in the future.

    Not sure if it is better to keep playing or just leave it alone and only brake with my fronts??!
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  2. #2
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    Let the wheel rotate until it hits the brake and then tighten the opposite two crossing spokes on the other side of the wheel by turning to the left. I would start by turning in a quarter turn increments first. You should be able to pull the wheel away from the brake that way. It won't be perfect, but it should be enough to get you going. BTW, you should probably always be using the front brake anyways. The front provides better stopping power.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
    ... We are in Turkey, heading for Syria and on to Iran. Haven't seen what I would imagine to be a decent bike shop for ages and don't expect to see one in the future. ...
    When I was growing up, I didn't know how to cook. I worked out the basics of making peanut butter sandwiches, but that was about the extent of my culinary abilities. There was no need to go beyond that, my mom took care of the whole family.

    When I went off on my own and lived without my "cook", I learned how to broil meat, bake, steam vegetables -- even how to shop for groceries. Obviously, you get to a point where you need to learn these things to survive.

    If you head out on your own through Turkey, I'd say you've "left home" and need to know the basics to survive. You need to learn how to true a wheel -- maybe not up to the "5-star chef" level, but I'd consider basic trueing necessary mechanical skills on a trip like that.

    First, you need a spoke wrench. Then you need an hour to sit down with your wheel. If you have access to internet sites on trueing, that can help. But it's just basic wrenching and common sense. Once the wheel gets so out of true that it wobbles into the brakes, it might take several passes to true it up, since you've probably got both side-to-side and radial adjustments to make. But as long as you get the side-to-side wobble corrected, you'll be able to roll.

    You need a fixed reference to gauge the wheel wobble, as you spin it. I leave the wheel mounted on the bike and flip the bike over, rest the spoke wrench against the seatstay and position the spoke wrench about a millimeter from the rim. That's the fixed reference. Then spin the wheel, keeping an eye on the mm gap. You can see the spots on the wheel that wobble; tighten the nipple on the spokes where the wobble is, to "pull" the wobble back toward center. (That is, where the wheel wobbles to the right, tighten the spokes on the left side; the nipple threads are standard right-hand threads, so be sure you're tightening the nipples, not loosening! The nipples "screw down" onto the spoke.) Check the wobble on both sides. Keep doing this, swapping side-to-side, until you reach "adequate trueing" -- I aim for less than a mm wobble, but you may be satisfied with more.

    A well-trued wheel needs more work than this (radial trueing, centering the rim, and making sure the spokes are all tight enough). You really should know how to do this on such a trip to ensure long life for your wheels. But the above description should keep you rolling until you find a bike shop.

    -- Mark
    Last edited by EmmCeeBee; 11-02-07 at 09:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    You have to find a compromise between the trueness of the rim and spoke tension. If the rim is true but some spokes are slack as a result, the wheel will get knocked out of true fairly quickly. I aim for a trueness of +-1mm but 2mm will do.
    Ping each spoke and note any which sound very tight or slack.
    As noted, do it gradually using 1/4 turn increments and check trueness and spoke tension in the affected area.
    When you rotate the spoke key, make sure that you are turning the nipple on the spoke, not rotating the whole spoke. Winding up a spoke can cause it to break or stretch.
    You need to be in a good mood, have plenty of time and located somewhere convenient (ie not some remote roadside).

  5. #5
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Here is a site that I always use for all bike repairs >>> Park Tool Website <<< If you do it right once you'll go a long way before tinkering is needed again.
    Hope it helps some

  6. #6
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    And remember to deflate or the tire will work against you!
    Santana Fusion Enduro
    Raleigh R600
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  7. #7
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    Well, you know we fiddled for a couple hours with moderate improvement but not quite enough. Admittedly we did not take off the tyre and in hindsight perhaps we should have. Anyway, we bumbled into Syria (Aleppo) and surprisingly found the best bike mechanic in a back alley! Three tweaks and he was done. Thirty seconds. Amazing! We will stash your tips away for next time. The Park Tools website is particularly good. I think we need a bit more practice though to come up to speed.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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