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When is a wheel at a point where it can't be trued?

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When is a wheel at a point where it can't be trued?

Old 05-22-21, 02:08 PM
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hamcereal
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When is a wheel at a point where it can't be trued?

I had brought a set of wheels into a LBS last week to have them trued. When I got there, one of the employees said the young man who owns the place is the wheel building master, so that made me relieved after having a bad experience at another LBS.
However, when he started reciting his sales mantra full of wheel building related vocabulary, I had a strange feeling about the place.
The set of wheels I brought in to be trued didn't seem, to me, really all that out of line. Lateral movement was off by maybe 2-3mm, MAYBE 4.
Long story short I paid 74$ tax included, and my wheels don't seem much straighter than when I first brought them in.
They said one of the wheels had a bend in about a 3 inch section of the rim and that there was nothing they could do about it.
All this to say, at what point does a wheel become untrueable?
I'm no wheel builder, and my truing knowledge is very basic, but I can't help but feel I just got played by this shop.
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Old 05-22-21, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by hamcereal View Post
I had brought a set of wheels into a LBS last week to have them trued. When I got there, one of the employees said the young man who owns the place is the wheel building master, so that made me relieved after having a bad experience at another LBS.
However, when he started reciting his sales mantra full of wheel building related vocabulary, I had a strange feeling about the place.
The set of wheels I brought in to be trued didn't seem, to me, really all that out of line. Lateral movement was off by maybe 2-3mm, MAYBE 4.
Long story short I paid 74$ tax included, and my wheels don't seem much straighter than when I first brought them in.
They said one of the wheels had a bend in about a 3 inch section of the rim and that there was nothing they could do about it.
All this to say, at what point does a wheel become untrueable?
I'm no wheel builder, and my truing knowledge is very basic, but I can't help but feel I just got played by this shop.
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At some point you cannot true the wheel and it is better to simply get a new wheel. I can say though that a rim that is 2-3 mm out of lateral true is out by my definition and 4 is completely unacceptable. I think for a used set of wheels with many miles 1-2 might work fine depending on the bike and nothing really needs to be done. A new set of wheels though should be true and be able to true within reason. I think you paid a lot of money to get a wheel trued and unless you have specifics on the trueness it seems not like a good outcome.
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Old 05-22-21, 02:30 PM
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If they couldn't true it, then they couldn't true it.

You can always take it elsewhere and see what they say about it. Otherwise what's knowing that someone somewhere in etherland thinks they could fix it going to do for you?

How much out of true is it? The rim, not the tire.
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Old 05-22-21, 02:42 PM
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An issue is how stable after a truing will a wheel be? Is it better to have those last few mms of straightness come at the expense of really loose spokes or rounded off nipples? I I got a wheel within a few mms of lateral true and they stayed that way for many more miles I would say I did a good job with what I hade to work with.

Now what woulkd be interesting, but not at all worth it cost wise, would be to completely de tension the spokes so the rim was still "held in place" but not being encouraged to be any shape (true) but what it is naturally. If that rim then shows it's not very round or "flat" then the wheel will always have some pretty uneven spoke tensions.

So not asked or offered is the question about the spoke tensions in the wheels being talked about. How even are they? How loose is the most lax spoke? There's more to truing then just having a rim look straight. Andy
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Old 05-22-21, 03:01 PM
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When it's bent and not out of true.
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Old 05-22-21, 03:16 PM
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If the rim is bent or the spokes are as tight as you can get them. I had a rim where the drive side was out of threads so there really wasn't anything I could do further other than de-tension the entire thing and try and rebuild but it was a 30 year old wheel at that point and probably was time for replacement which was fine. Took the 7400 hubs off and got a close enough H+Son TB14 rim in Hard Anodized Grey and rebuilt with fresh spokes and nipples and really cannot complain now they look so much nicer and have a fresh rim to travel many more years.
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Old 05-23-21, 11:12 PM
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74 bucks what a rip.

when i rode into my bike shop one time with a new bike i bought there, the guy started ripping the wheels off my bike without asking, put them on the truing stand and 5 minutes later i had a set trued wheels. i guess those type of people are hard to find nowadays.

OT: i took an old wheel apart the other day to harvest some spokes. did not need the rim any more so i did a destructo test. the rim snapped apart into may pieces. very brittle and crumbly, oxidized and all that. so no more NOS "vintage" rims for me.

with that money you could have bought a truing stand, a dishing tool and a spoke wrench. it is not rocket science. i you need to bring the rim over, you tighten one spoke and loosen another. back wheel - non derailleur side spokes will have more effect per 1/4 turn than derailleur side. other than that, you are set to tune your wheels for life, and it is a good way to relax and feel good about being self sufficient.

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Old 05-24-21, 08:06 AM
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A couple of comments- If we sell a bike we are responsible for the condition and total package of customer satisfaction. This includes a lot of during and after assemble, during the sale sale and "officially" up to the first year of riding. We routinely do minor adjustment tweaks on our bikes either on the spot or after we are done with that day's previously promised work. This is pretty much the LBS standard approach. Now when a customer brings in a bike or wheels that we didn't sell out policy does shift to one of, usually. flat rate charges and promise dates dependent of all the other jobs that came in before. This is also the common approach every shop I've worked in follows. We do this as both a thank you for buying from us and how to be fair to any one else coming in. The bike shop is a business and does have to have structures of pecking order in place, just like other industries do.

Our flat rate for a minor/basic level of wheel truing is $25 per wheel. If a spoke is broken or a dents need removal the rate becomes a major level at $35. Here in NYS our sales tax rate is 8%. So that $74 bill the OP owed would have been about $34.25 each wheel. If the wheels needed serious tension changes, dishing, a hub adjustment to even be able to start truing then the billed amount is not unreasonable. Remember it's not the time or tools you are buying but the skill and convenience too. This "contract" and cost of doing business is no different then other industries.

Now the only situation I can see that the amount owed could be considered wrong is if the service writer didn't estimate and relay the costs at the time of the drop off or before the work was done. This aspect wasn't told to us so I assume that didn't happen. Andy
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Old 05-24-21, 09:37 AM
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A mm is .0394" 3 mm is less than 1/8". You should really learn how to true and build your own wheels. When I help out a friend with their wheels I check for loose or tight spokes with my hands. you can pluck the spokes with your fingernail and listen to the sound. If all sound about the same is easy to true the wheel. You don't need allot of expensive tools for this. There are tutorials and documents on how to on the web. John Forester and Sheldon Brown have documents on how to maintain or build wheels.
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Old 05-24-21, 10:08 AM
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Several here have talked of the rim being bent but not at length. A new, good rim can be laid on a pane of glass and touch all around the rim. The wheelbuilder's task is to take that rim and arrange it around the hub so it is centered and keeps that now invisible pane. Truing of that rim later is simply returning the rim to its natural state.

But, if the rim have been bent; either from a blow inward (hitting a pothole, say) or to the side (crashes and non-riding accidents to the bike or wheel) the game is different. Now the wheelbuilder has to either juggle spoke tensions to force the rim to a shape it will no longer take naturally or (violently) re-damage the rim in the opposite direction.

In the old days, with the much "softer" aluminums, re-bending the rim was common practice. Good wheel builders had the tools and skills. Now, the much stronger, harder aluminums take far less kindly that second bend. Quality wheelbuilders will not do it. Lesser damage can be tweaked to acceptably true with unequal spoke tensions and often made to be ridable wheels but they will never be great wheels. Different wheelbuilders have different levels of willingness to do this. The fact that one builder will and a another will not does not necessarily make the one who will a better wheelbuilder, just one who is more willing to make an unridable wheel an OK ridable wheel that will never be a good wheel.
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Old 05-24-21, 02:34 PM
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5 bucks a wheel should be standard.

spoke wrenches use to be 35 cents. flip the bike upside down and use the brake pads as guides.

paid 275 for my SR maxima, got about 5000 miles on it last year,

for the price of an S Works i could buy a shotgun shack near Winthrop.
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Old 05-24-21, 03:06 PM
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When a rim is bent enough that it can not be held true without going outside the acceptable range of spoke tension, it can't be trued. Hops from impacts are especially problematic as even zero tension will not bring that section back into place.

I also hate truing wheels that others have tried to true before. Nipples are often rounded off from some dude who overzealously tightened spokes and never loosened any, and who knows how long it's been ridden with that excessive tension.
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Old 05-24-21, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by cjenrick View Post
5 bucks a wheel should be standard.

spoke wrenches use to be 35 cents. flip the bike upside down and use the brake pads as guides.

paid 275 for my SR maxima, got about 5000 miles on it last year,

for the price of an S Works i could buy a shotgun shack near Winthrop.

Spoken like someone who has never been responsible for a payroll or rent or insurance or any other overhead that real businesses suffer with. But if your neighbor offers a beer for you to take a look at their bike I say go for it. Andy
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Old 05-24-21, 08:40 PM
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Had my rear wheel on my commuter get a wobble in it with a lot of wind and icy conditions it was scary. only about 9200 miles on it. took it to a high end shop and they told me they could not get one side fully tensioned and that wheel will need to be trued often or replaced. decided to get a new wheel for my birthday and went to a noter shop that was not so backlogged about 300 miles later. well when checked the rim had cracks on one side. that wheel always had a shimmy when I had a uneven load in the pannier. now the bike is far more solid without that issue.
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Old 05-25-21, 05:26 PM
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If the bike shop said they couldn't true it because the rim is bent, they shouldn't charge or at most a token charge only. They should be able to asses the wheel to see if that can be done at minimum when the truing job was started upon and the mechanic should have stopped the work on it and not charge for it.

This looks like they tried their best, spent time on it, while they should know better. Excusable for amateurs but not bike shop pros.

Also, even a mm out of true is too much for any decent bike. I like to have brake pads quite close to the rim when the brakes are not depressed. One mm would cause rubbing at each wheel turn.

I wouldn't like to do major truing job but was able in past to do smaller truing jobs myself, just using common sense and thinking or reading on it a bit. It helps to know about plucking spokes like guitar strings to check the tension and work both hub sides, loosening and tightening in tandem....

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Old 05-25-21, 06:57 PM
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It is not difficult to true a wheel yourself, and get it within 1 mm. I have no problem riding with a wheel 1 mm out of true. Just turn the bike up side down, hold something against the fork or frame, spin the wheel, see where it is out of true, then adjust the necessary spokes.
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Old 05-25-21, 08:36 PM
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I put the bike upside down and since my brakes are normally fairly 'tight', I can use the adjusting screw on them to bring the pads even more together and then spin the wheel. If it spins OK, I adjust the brake so the pads come even closer to the rim and spin again.

Before long, you will detect one or two spots where it begins to rub and you can start on correcting that. If you work on 'unknown' wheel that someone might have tampered with not quite knowing what he did, you need to check if one or more spokes are not pulling the rim out of the straight by being at high tension, higher than usual for the wheel. If that is the case, you start loosening them a bit and after every tension change, check for that free spinning.

More often, one or two spokes have lost a bit of tension and need tightening up to the average tension of the rest of the spokes. Wheel should be true but that shouldn't be achieved at any cost, like none of the spokes should be either too loose or too tight when compared to the majority of spokes. I test for tension by knocking on spokes with finger nail, for initial examination, you can take each spoke in turn between two fingers and wiggle it a bit or press down on it with soft finger pad to locate too loose or too tight spokes.

I repeat fine tuning by closing brakes on the rim with that adjustment screw until I am satisfied, then back that screw off to open the brake up, quite a bit more than really necessary because brake levers should have some free travel but not way too much.

If you mess up and get lost in it, I suggest taking the wheel to a pro in LBS and pour ashes on your head in there. Sometimes the best way is to loosen all spokes and start from the beginning and that is something I wouldn't care to do.

As to the standard, how precise to true you want to get, that depends if your wheels cost you $1000 or $100 and if you are touring or riding like a wannabe racer but probably it just depends on how nitpicky one is by nature

Last edited by vane171; 05-25-21 at 08:48 PM.
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