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To true or not to true...

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To true or not to true...

Old 08-10-08, 04:28 AM
  #1  
condiment
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To true or not to true...

that is NOT the question.

My LBS charges $20/wheel for trueing.

I can get a trueing stand and spoke wrench from THE INTERNET for a little more than $50.

~

So my question is this: Is trueing a wheel something that needs to be done often, and if so, will it be need to be done often enough for me to learn how to do it in less than 4 hours?

I've read a bit about it so I kind of know how it all works but I thought I would ask the "experts" before I went out and spent a bunch of money on tools.
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Old 08-10-08, 04:30 AM
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Do it yourself on the bike before you buy the stand, then decide if it's something you want to do down the road.
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Old 08-10-08, 05:24 AM
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Originally Posted by condiment
Is trueing a wheel something that needs to be done often
Depends on the wheels and your ridding style.

I true mine by watching the rim goes by between the 2 brake pads. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 08-10-08, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by condiment
So my question is this: Is trueing a wheel something that needs to be done often...?
IMHO the ability of a wheel to stay true is one the three most important consideration when buying a wheelset (the others being cost and weight). Several years ago I had a set of Mavic's that I thought were the best wheels I ever had. After about 2500 miles the truing began, and went on and on and on.

I finally switched to a set of Eastons and haven't touched the spoke wrench since.

Riding style and rider's weight are big factors in keeping wheels true. Some people have great success with Mavics, others don't. I'm sure the same is true with Eastons. But the bottom line is this...good wheels don't need regular truing at all. They just stay true.
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Old 08-10-08, 06:26 AM
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A bike is like a car. Either you prefer to work on it yourself, or you prefer to pay someone else to do it. Nobody can answer that for you.
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Old 08-10-08, 09:55 AM
  #6  
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I think that the question the OP is after could be rephrased as "how difficult is it to true a wheel"? I've wondered that too, since my friendly LBS recently took a quick look at my front wheel and quickly trued it in a couple of minutes (it wasn't too bad) - leaving me to think, hmmm, how difficult can this be?
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Old 08-10-08, 10:11 AM
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^ Not difficult to get a wheel laterally straight. It takes some knowledge and ability to get it true,and keep the spoke tension right.

Harder again to true for roundness.
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Old 08-10-08, 10:15 AM
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Thanks Merlin, I had a sneaky feeling that wheel truing probably falls into the category of jobs that the pro's make look easy, but hacks like me could really screw up.

Do you true your own wheels? If so, how long did it take you to get it down?
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Old 08-10-08, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Beaker
Thanks Merlin, I had a sneaky feeling that wheel truing probably falls into the category of jobs that the pro's make look easy, but hacks like me could really screw up.

Do you true your own wheels? If so, how long did it take you to get it down?
I've started truing some wheels myself with a stand at the co-op. If you read a guide on the theory behind it and remember to go a few spokes in either direction of the wobble, and remember to mark things with tape or chalk, then it can be fun to do. I don't get them perfectly true or tensionned, but it's a learning process. You can listen to the pitch of the spokes to check tension. I actually might start using a chromatic tuner as a tension meter to see if things are tensioned properly.
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Old 08-10-08, 12:45 PM
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I've always trued my own wheels. But that was before i got my first set of carbon wheels. The idea of messing up the spoke tension scares me. I'd certainly never worried about it with my old Open Pros.
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Old 08-10-08, 01:25 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by condiment
that is NOT the question.

My LBS charges $20/wheel for trueing.

I can get a trueing stand and spoke wrench from THE INTERNET for a little more than $50.

~

So my question is this: Is trueing a wheel something that needs to be done often, and if so, will it be need to be done often enough for me to learn how to do it in less than 4 hours?

I've read a bit about it so I kind of know how it all works but I thought I would ask the "experts" before I went out and spent a bunch of money on tools.
It's not just the $20 (which can add up depending on the wheel/rider combination). It's also the down time and the hassle of taking the wheels to the lbs (ok, ok, for those idiots who prefer to hangout at a bike shop spraying about their training regime instead of actually training, this may not be such a bad thing).

Also, a lot of mechanics only true for lateral and not vertical. If you don't believe me, watch the typical mechanic true a wheel; he'll only keep his eyes on lateral play.

And let's face it: no one will love your bike more than you. This usually translates into that extra few minutes resulting in a great job as opposed to just a good one.

So, yeah, unless you are all thumbs, I think it's a good idea to learn this skill. As a bonus, it'll be one more thing you bring to the table on a group ride.

Check the Park Tools website. There are also some good books out there. Make no mistake - there is a learning curve.

As for the truing stand, I agree with the other member in regard to truing the wheel when it's still on the bike. I use the cable tension to bring the pads closer together. Then it's a matter of visually using the pads for lateral AND vertical alignment. Tighten up the cable some more. Repeat. If you want to go crazy, tighten up the cable some more and LISTEN for the soft scraping sound to determine which way the wheel is off. I get less than 1mm of play; although 1mm should suffice.

Last edited by LifeIsSuffering; 08-10-08 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 01-17-09, 04:23 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by LifeIsSuffering
Also, a lot of mechanics only true for lateral and not vertical. If you don't believe me, watch the typical mechanic true a wheel; he'll only keep his eyes on lateral play.
I just found that out the hard way. The reason I took the bike into the shop was to get perfect truing, both lateral and vertical. I was very disappointed that it came back out of true. I could have done a better job myself without a truing stand. The question now is, should I worry about the vertical true. The flat spots are not major and this is for a recreational bike.
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Old 01-17-09, 04:37 PM
  #13  
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I think truing is one of the basic wrenching skills every rider should have. Helps you to be more in tune with your equipment.
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Old 01-17-09, 04:56 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by condiment
to learn how to do it in less than 4 hours?
Nothing worth doing can be learned in less than 4 hours.

The more that you learn about how tension bicycle wheels work the more you will realize there is that you don't know.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:40 PM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by LifeIsSuffering
It's not just the $20 (which can add up depending on the wheel/rider combination). It's also the down time and the hassle of taking the wheels to the lbs (ok, ok, for those idiots who prefer to hangout at a bike shop spraying about their training regime instead of actually training, this may not be such a bad thing).

Also, a lot of mechanics only true for lateral and not vertical. If you don't believe me, watch the typical mechanic true a wheel; he'll only keep his eyes on lateral play.

And let's face it: no one will love your bike more than you. This usually translates into that extra few minutes resulting in a great job as opposed to just a good one.

So, yeah, unless you are all thumbs, I think it's a good idea to learn this skill. As a bonus, it'll be one more thing you bring to the table on a group ride.

Check the Park Tools website. There are also some good books out there. Make no mistake - there is a learning curve.

As for the truing stand, I agree with the other member in regard to truing the wheel when it's still on the bike. I use the cable tension to bring the pads closer together. Then it's a matter of visually using the pads for lateral AND vertical alignment. Tighten up the cable some more. Repeat. If you want to go crazy, tighten up the cable some more and LISTEN for the soft scraping sound to determine which way the wheel is off. I get less than 1mm of play; although 1mm should suffice.
one thing, its pretty simple to notice a hop in a wheel when you think that your mechanic is just checking for lateral wobble....and if he isnt checking the dish on the wheel he isnt doing his job.
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Old 01-17-09, 10:19 PM
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if you induced a hop, the rim is bent. Once the rim is bent, there is a definite balancing act between getting it true and having proper tension. You can't always have both.
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Old 01-17-09, 11:51 PM
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It really helps to have an extra bike, like a commuter bike that's less critical, and less expensive if you make a serious mistake, which is unlikely to happen but possible.

I started truing my old open pros on the commuter bike a year or two ago infrequently when necessary and have since had the opportunity to true up some friends wheels, and even rebuild my radially laced front wheel after 3 spokes were ripped out on a local crit practice. That proved to be much simpler than anticipated (likely because it was laced radially). This afternoon I spent maybe 30 minutes working on a friend's commuter wheelset, and got them to fairly even tension and spinning with minute/no lateral movement. Just like anything else, the more wheels you do, the better your results will be.

It was stressful the first few times, but has gotten less so with more experience. As long as you're not cranking huge tension or no tension (spokes REALLY tight or REALLY loose), you're likely not hurting anything, so there's room to safely learn before you do any damage. So if you're not stupid about it, the worst case scenario is that you'll have to pay the LBS $20 to true your wheel. =)

I too have thought about getting a truing stand, but have so far been able to do precise enough work with the wheel on the bike. Why invest when you already have a "stand" that works fine.

-Jeremy
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Old 01-18-09, 12:49 AM
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If a wheel is properly tensioned and you don't hit any large things in the road, it shouldn't need truing ever. Also, I actually think a tension meter would be more useful as you want to make sure that's correct just as much as true, and you can actually get an already built wheel quite reasonably true just using your brake pads as a guide. Tension is harder to get correct without the tool.
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Old 01-18-09, 01:10 AM
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Have a look at this thread: Build your own truing stand?

Check out the photos of the latest incarnation of my homemade truing stand on page 3 of that thread (post #69 -- here if you're too lazy to go to the thread yourself). I'm absolutely thrilled to be in possession of this thing!

Learning how to true wheels (and how to build them--why stop at truing, building them is terrific fun!) is a skill that takes a bit of patience to get good at. Over the past month I've built one set of wheels twice. I did it wrong the first time, then did it right the second time with the help of Ruger Musson's book (The Professional Guide to Wheelbuilding -- call me a shill, I don't care). Building includes truing, of course. I've gotten good at it now. I'd estimate I've spent about 10 hours in total building and truing them.

Let's say you need to put in about 3 or 4 hours of time truing a wheel or wheels until you start to get a real feel for it. Unless you absolutely cannot squeeze in a spare minute of time at all during the week due to the busy-ness of your life, I'd say it's worth it, if only for the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you get from making your wheels ride right.

Last edited by rousseau; 01-18-09 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 01-18-09, 01:15 AM
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If you spend four hours learning to true wheels, you'll probably have to do it often. However, I think it's a good skill to have. On the other hand, I think knowing how to build wheels is a good skill too.
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Old 01-18-09, 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
^ Not difficult to get a wheel laterally straight. It takes some knowledge and ability to get it true,and keep the spoke tension right.

Harder again to true for roundness.
Doesn't happen often but cleaning the bike and one of the things I check it lateral trueness of the wheels by turning the wheel and watching the rim up against the brake pads. If it is out and a couple of minutes with a spoke key and I can get it true. What I cannot do is check for ovality or retension the spokes. So if I have to retrue the wheel on a regular basis- It goes into the shop for retension and true because something else is starting to go wrong.
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Old 01-18-09, 07:48 AM
  #22  
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If you decide to true your wheels, get a good spoke wrench and don't turn nipples more than 1/8 turn each time.
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Old 01-18-09, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Beaker
Thanks Merlin, I had a sneaky feeling that wheel truing probably falls into the category of jobs that the pro's make look easy, but hacks like me could really screw up.

Do you true your own wheels? If so, how long did it take you to get it down?
Yeah, any idiot can true a wheel poorly; you have your choice of which spoke to tighten. Say the rim is out of true 3 mm to the right, do you:
A. Tighten the spokes on the left side, bringing the rim to the left
B. Loosen the spokes on the right side, bringing the rim to the left
C. How many spokes do you touch?

This all depends on spoke tension.
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Old 01-18-09, 09:10 AM
  #24  
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what truing stand are you getting for less than 50? i want it.

don't know if it's been said already, but what a lot of people new to truing wheels will think that any wheel can be fixed. this is mostly correct, but it can't always be fixed just by tightening the spokes. if it's very bad, you have to take the rim off, straiten it by hand the best you can, then put it back on and get it true. not really a big deal unless it's a really good wheel and you're trying to do serious riding. someone told me it wouldn't work, but i did it and that wheel is better than it was new.

Last edited by KasbeKZ; 01-18-09 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 01-18-09, 10:18 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by jccaclimber
If you spend four hours learning to true wheels, you'll probably have to do it often. However, I think it's a good skill to have. On the other hand, I think knowing how to build wheels is a good skill too.
Agreed. Once you learn to true wheels, lacing them is the easier part to learn.

Originally Posted by Reynolds
If you decide to true your wheels, get a good spoke wrench and turn the nipple 1/4 turn and then 1/8 turn back at a time to prevent spoke wind-up.
fixed.
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