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Should All New Bikes Sold by an LBS Have Gotten Precision Truing?

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Should All New Bikes Sold by an LBS Have Gotten Precision Truing?

Old 04-26-12, 10:00 AM
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Should All New Bikes Sold by an LBS Have Gotten Precision Truing?

If I buy a lower-end bike from an LBS (a quality brand, but their rock bottom model), should I expect that at some point between the assembly line and me rolling out the door, the wheels have gone on a truing stand with tension meter for precision adjustment?

Or in reality do distributors ship semi-trued wheels to the LBS, the LBS assemblers "tighten things up" a bit during assembly, and technical truing only happens later during maintenance "if there's a problem"?
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Old 04-26-12, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by torquewrenchles
If I buy a lower-end bike from an LBS (a quality brand, but their rock bottom model), should I expect that at some point between the assembly line and me rolling out the door, the wheels have gone on a truing stand with tension meter for precision adjustment?

Or in reality do distributors ship semi-trued wheels to the LBS, the LBS assemblers "tighten things up" a bit during assembly, and technical truing only happens later during maintenance "if there's a problem"?
Unless you paid over 1K, the latter case.

Once got a stern talking to from the boss for wasting time/money truing wheels on the low end bikes; policy is just make sure the rim doesnt rub the brakes. Really, for most users of the low end bikes, that is actually good enough; probly90% do not even think about trueness unless there is some other symptom. besides, if the rims reieved tensionmeter treatment, the bike would have to cost more to break even for the shop.
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Old 04-26-12, 11:01 AM
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Really depends on the shop and the buyer IMO. I have 4 LBS near me and am fairly familiar with a couple of them. Any top end bike going out of any of the shops I’m sure are fine tuned. Low end products I think are generally assembled well, much better than a box store assembly. But I would say most of them give a few spokes a pinch test and look to see if the wheel runs true and that’s it. If you asked them to check the wheels as part of the sale I’m sure they would.

I wanted both my wheels rebuilt last year on my tour bike with all new DT spokes as I was having an issue with factory spokes. The first shop I stopped at said they don’t do that type any longer and haven’t in lots of years as a whole new wheel is cheaper. And they had lots of them hanging from the rafters. Told me a lot about the shop. The second shop I went to sat down and spent a lot of time looking at my hubs and rims first and then said sure they are of good quality and should be worth rebuilding. They had the bike for about a week and when I picked it up they advised me to bring it back after a few hundred miles and let them have a look.
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Old 04-26-12, 11:18 AM
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I also have more that one LBS close to me and all three will true the wheels and do a complete service before the customer ever sees the bike. The wheels should be true, the gears should shift correctly. They check to make sure the proper torque is applied to each bolt and then the bike is test ridden by the LBS. If for some reason the customer is not satisfied with the set up of the machine any reputable LBS will correct any defects. And yes, some LBS rebuild wheels and some do not. But just about all of them can true a wheel. And a lot faster than I can to be honest.
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Old 04-26-12, 12:11 PM
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Yea , assembly line > boxed up > shipped Ocean, and various trucks, then the carton hits the dealer.

They do set up prep, and wheel touch up truing is part of it, hub bearing adjustment,
gear and brake setup prep. and offer post sales service.. 6months, in the local..
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Old 04-26-12, 01:01 PM
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I think they should. But they don't.
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Old 04-26-12, 01:08 PM
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Just how long does it really take a pro bike mechanic to true wheels that are brand new and should not have any issues? I imagine its a lot easier truing a factory new wheel than a wheel that has been abused on roads/trails for a year or two.

I would like to believe that the shop would true wheels even on lower end bikes.
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Old 04-26-12, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bobotech
Just how long does it really take a pro bike mechanic to true wheels that are brand new and should not have any issues?
Assuming the wheels show up rolling straight (which they should) it takes them no time because they don't do anything to them.

Originally Posted by bobotech
I would like to believe that the shop would true wheels even on lower end bikes.
Why do people buy cheap machine built wheels if they want expensive hand built wheels delivered?
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Old 04-26-12, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
Assuming the wheels show up rolling straight (which they should) it takes them no time because they don't do anything to them.



Why do people buy cheap machine built wheels if they want expensive hand built wheels delivered?
Only because I have read here at BF is that most LBS companies deliver their bikes with the wheels nearly finished, but still needing some final truing done. Until I joined BF and started reading, I didn't even know that most LBS bike companies didn't deliver their wheels 100 percent finished.

i'm not talking about walmart bikes but your typical 400 dollar and up LBS bike.
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Old 04-26-12, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
Why do people buy cheap machine built wheels if they want expensive hand built wheels delivered?
I don't buy either, I build my own.

And I learned how to do it because the LBS wheels would not stay trued.
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Old 04-26-12, 05:25 PM
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Most of LBS does not use tension metres. I'm into custom wheel building and when I talk to LBS about why they need to use a tension metre to build wheels, they said they listen to the sound of the spokes which is just as accurate.

I do understand why tho. When a bike shop makes less than 20% margin from a new bike sale after all the servicing, I can't really argue.
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Old 04-26-12, 06:45 PM
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I was in my LBS today checking on the progress on my new hand builts. The hubs are coming from England and will not get here till next week. While we were talking the builder was mounting new spokes and a hub to some rims. In 30 minutes we discussed cycling infrastructure and what gearing I wanted on my new wheels, just as he was checking the tension on the spokes with a meter. It takes me 30 minutes just to true a wheel. No wheel leaves his shop without being true. If it is true out of the box fine but they still hit the trueing stand before they go on the bike. If your shop doesn't do that go to another shop. Two out of the three shops in town use a tension meter one has an old bike mechanic in the third store can true and tension a wheel without a meter and if you put on one one of his wheels more than likely they will be right on.

The real problem is the less a bike costs the less the wheels are worth and the less likely they are to stay true.
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Old 04-27-12, 12:32 AM
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I worked in a bike shop for awhile. It's interesting to me that there are so many anal retentive practices related to bikes that might not be necessary. I think measuring spoke tension is one of those. I've built up about 20 wheels or so, all of them without measuring the spoke tension. I've had no real problems other than a few loose spokes (easily remedied) and some of these bikes were mountain bikes that were pretty heavily thrashed.

In theory you could pull a new bike out of the box, throw the front wheel on it and straighten the handlebars and it would be ready to go. In reality, the factories that assemble most bike don't do a good enough job so the shop I worked at would take the bikes apart and check everything. That included truing the wheels, but not checking the spoke tension.
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Old 04-27-12, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bobotech
Only because I have read here at BF is that most LBS companies deliver their bikes with the wheels nearly finished, but still needing some final truing done. Until I joined BF and started reading, I didn't even know that most LBS bike companies didn't deliver their wheels 100 percent finished.

i'm not talking about walmart bikes but your typical 400 dollar and up LBS bike.
I wasn't aware of that. I haven't bought a complete bike from a shop since 1992 though.

I wonder why a bike company would want to leave that up to the last guy to touch the bike? Seems strange. There's no reason you can't ship wheels trued.
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Old 04-27-12, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bobotech
Only because I have read here at BF is that most LBS companies deliver their bikes with the wheels nearly finished, but still needing some final truing done. Until I joined BF and started reading, I didn't even know that most LBS bike companies didn't deliver their wheels 100 percent finished.

i'm not talking about walmart bikes but your typical 400 dollar and up LBS bike.
I don't think that is accurate. It might be accurate to say that machine built wheels do not always ship in perfect shape.
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Old 04-28-12, 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by bobotech
Just how long does it really take a pro bike mechanic to true wheels that are brand new and should not have any issues? I imagine its a lot easier truing a factory new wheel than a wheel that has been abused on roads/trails for a year or two.
It depends on the wheel. On average, I haven't gone out of my way to time myself but I'd guestimate about 30 seconds to 2 minutes per wheel. But if the wheelbuilding robots had a bad day, they can dish out stuff like this:


Correcting that kind of monstrosity can take 3-5 minutes. Attempting to precisely balance the spoke tensions on one of these beauties would be an exercise in futility.

should I expect that at some point between the assembly line and me rolling out the door, the wheels have gone on a truing stand with tension meter for precision adjustment?
Truing, yes. But to be blunt, no, you shouldn't expect them to bust out a tension meter on a production bike assembly. And honestly, over the long haul, it matters less than you may have been led to believe. With a lower-end production bike, the main goal regarding spoke tension would simply be to ensure it's sufficiently high throughout the wheel that spokes don't unload and start loosening their nipples or prematurely fatiguing. That's the cold harsh reality, but I'm sure some Internet experts will be along shortly to haughtily state otherwise
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Old 04-28-12, 02:03 AM
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The higher the price point of the bike- the more the LBS will check it. High end bikes will have better components and need less adjustment and that includes the wheels.

But a if the shop has a low end bike they they are only going to make $20 profit on- they are not going to put $50 of labour into it. The assembly will be done- brakes adjusted right- every check for safety but if the wheels turn with fouling the brakes- nothing more will be done to them.

Wheels are my fetish. Stock OM wheels are not my favourite and if I do not like them they will be upgraded to a respectable wheel before the bike leaves the shop. I do have one pair of OM wheels that are my winter/foul weather wheels. Why wear out a $400 set of wheels when I have a $100 set that are not as "Fragile" and have more metal on them when the road dirt will be acting as grinding paste on the bearings and rims.
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Old 04-28-12, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott
I think they should. But they don't.
Yeah. It's like I think women should just adore me. But they don't.
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Old 04-28-12, 09:31 AM
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I'm a big fan of having a pro check/true all my wheels before ever riding them. they see stuff that escapes me.
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Old 04-28-12, 10:12 AM
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I think the LBS margin is thin on a 400-500 dollar bike. Many of which would not be ridden even two or three hundred miles in the first year. I would guess that the members of this forum would knock out those miles in less than a month. What we want and expect is different. And lets face it we are not buying 400 dollar bikes for the most part. Most good shops are busy and in today's competitive market have to use their resource's wisely including labor. To go over every bike with tooth and comb is probably not cost effective. Safety check get it on the stand make sure every thing is cool shifting braking wheel seat and handlebar alignment is what you expect. Any purchase the shop will generally tell you to break it in and bring it back for adjustments. At this time if you mention "hey could you check the spoke tension and truing on the wheel" I am sure they would be happy to. I will use only shops with a head mechanic that I know and trust. I am not a huge buyer and perform much of my own maintenance so I do not expect a deal and never ask for one. Because of this and the fact that I go over my bike with a good cleaning before I bring it in am courteous to the staff and know what I want I get very good quality service. I normally get a pretty good deal as well.
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Old 04-28-12, 10:26 AM
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I read years ago you judge a shop by walking in and inspecting what they have on the floor before buying a bike. I've walked out of some terrible shops. Heck, even if I am paying $400 for a low end bike, I expect to be able to ride it.
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Old 04-28-12, 05:11 PM
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As part of final assembly at the store, a BASIC truing should be done; a precision job, with a 'meter', is something you'll need to PAY for. It takes more than basic skills. (BTW, last I knew, the industry standard for an initial true is <=1mm of wobble.)

I just say that because, even at the Wally where I work, wheels on anything bigger than a training wheel bike are trued to within 2mm...... (Think that's easy, try it on a Huffy with steel single-wall rims and oversize spokes/nipples; building from SCRATCH is sometimes easier!)
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Old 04-28-12, 05:49 PM
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I think the LBS margin is thin on a 400-500 dollar bike.
Correct. Net margin is not good on bikes, period. We might mark a bike up 38%, for example. Sounds like a lot, huh? Well, guess what our overhead costs are. Yeah, about 38%. Yay us.

This is why, whenever the store's owner is celebrating that we did, say, $7000 in business for the day, I promptly ask what our margin was. Because that's what counts. Not how much went through our hands on its way to ___________ (Trek, UPS, the landlord, the power company, the gubmint, etc), but how much we get to keep.
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Old 05-02-12, 07:47 PM
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I think it's fair to ask the shop to check wheel true and tension before you buy. If it's a bottom of the line model, you might be asked to pay extra ($20-40?), which, if you're going to ride the bike more than the 300 mile median for new bikes, is probably worth it.
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Old 05-03-12, 11:27 AM
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I think there is a difference between a precision tune and a standard factory specified tune-up. As already mentioned, I wouldn't expect too much if you buy a low end bike. I just had a couple wheels re-laced with new double butted spokes and a new set of hubs for a high-end bike and got a free full blown professional tune-up.

Last edited by silvercreek; 05-03-12 at 11:31 AM.
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