Are you hearing faint rattling or rubbing noises coming from your bike’s wheels every time you take your wheels for a spin? If so, your wheel is likely bent, and the time has come to true (straighten) your wheel.
How much does it cost to true a bike wheel? The short answer is that truing can range from 15 to 40 dollars per wheel, depending on if you wish to do it yourself or put your wheel in the care of a professional at your local bike shop. Here we’ll explore the ins and outs of bike truing, why it is important, and how often you should be doing it.
It’s Inexpensive to True a Bike Wheel, But it’s Super Important
Exactly how much does it cost to true a bike wheel? Truing your bike wheel will cost you around 20 dollars the first time you do it yourself. This price comes from the cost of a leg strap and spoke wrench, two crucial materials needed to true your wheel. Even though it’s super cheap, that doesn’t mean it’s something you should skip on!
If you wish to ensure your wheels are perfectly true, an additional tool is a truing stand, which is a greater investment. We’ll cover all of these facets later on.
Why is Wheel Truing Necessary?
When your wheels’ spokes are loose, the wheels become wobbly, and your wheel may even appear bent. Truing refers to straightening your wheel to curtail the wobbliness.
Truing is important upkeep – with proper wheel maintenance, you won’t need to shell out big money to replace your bike wheels. It is also paramount in bike safety to ensure that you aren’t riding on wobbly wheels, which could result in an accident and injury.
How to Test if Your Wheel Needs Truing
You can sense if your bike wheels need truing if you feel as though there is a rub between the tires and the brake pad. It sounds like a rattling and rubbing sound coming from the tire. The sound is usually one of the first signs of an out of true wheel.
It isn’t always easy to tell if your bike wheel is bent just by looking at it on your bike. You will need to turn your bike over, get very close to your bike wheel, and spin the wheel in question.
Next, rotate the wheel again, but slower this time to see if the wheel has some wobble to it. Make sure you position yourself from both sides of the wheel to see it spin from the front and back.
After a couple times truing your wheel, you will know exactly when the time comes based on how long it´s passed since your last truing and the telltale signs above.
What Do You Need to True a Bike Wheel?
The first time you true your bike wheel yourself, you will need to invest in a few simple tools. You are probably wondering, how much does it cost? The total cost of the tools doesn’t need to exceed twenty dollars – each tool costs around 10 dollars.
The good news is that cheaper tools will work just as well as more premium options , so it’s perfectly acceptable if you prefer to opt for the more inexpensive tool brand.
The only tools you will need to true your bike wheel are:
- a leg strap (thigh strap)
- a spoke wrench or spoke tool
If you keep these handy on your ride, you will even be able to true your wheel on the trail if you notice flagrant wobbliness.
Your leg strap will help straighten your bike wheel. IOGEAR is a trusted brand for these kinds of straps. However, you won’t be putting this on your leg.
Leg straps are used on the brake grip, putting stress on the brake pads just enough to correct the most warped point on the wheel. This will aid in identifying where the spokes are weak, and then you can determine if you need to pull the wheel to the right or left.
Your spoke wrench will help you loosen and tighten your spokes. Spokes are the rods that connect your bike´s hub and rim. They are responsible for transferring the weight between these two. Loose spokes cause a bent wheel or wobbly wheel.
Spoke wrenches come in many different forms, and any kind will work. The most recommended kind is the Goabroa Spoke Wrench hard-steel 8-way truing tool. It sports an anti-slip design, and will only set you back around 6 dollars.
The most experienced wheel truing experts will notice how sometimes a wheel can remain ¨out of round¨ even after truing. In these cases, a truing stand is necessary to ensure you are straightening your wheel up to standard. However, you can rectify this with a simple piece of masking tape as well, as a truing stand is an investment of 50 to 80 dollars.
Can I True a Bike Wheel Without a Truing Stand?
Yes, you absolutely can. Follow the below steps to flawlessly true your bike without a truing stand. Watch the video below to help you get an idea of the process. If your wheel still remains out of round, you can bring it down to your bike shop to get it checked out.
How Do You True a Bike Wheel?
If you wish to true your wheel yourself, here is an introduction to the procedure. To make sure you get your bike wheels properly straightened, make sure you are equipped with the tools mentioned above. Watch the video below How to True a Bicycle Wheel for a visual step-by-step.
- First, you’ll need to invert your bike (flip it upside down).
- Position yourself in front of your inverted bike, grip the wheel in question and rotate it so it is between the two brake pads.
- Spin your bike wheel and take note of how it is wobbling and unevenly rotating between the two brake pads.
- Affix your leg strap to the hand brake.
- Rotate the wheel while stretching the thigh strap. You should hear a rubbing sound coming from the wheel rim and brake pads. This is where your bike is warped, and you have identified the problem zone of the wheel. Now that you know where the wheel is warped, you will need to adjust the spokes in this part of the wheel.
- Next, you will need to tighten the spoke that is causing the wobble. Use a spoke wrench to rotate the spokes to about a quarter circle.
- After tightening a spoke with your spoke wrench, loosen the spokes immediately adjacent to the spoke you have tightened. This will make sure your bicycle wheel is not overly tightened.
Be sure to check your work – spin the wheel to make sure it doesn’t wobble or make a sound when you ride it. If that’s the case, then it’s likely you have what is called a perfectly trued wheel.
How Long Does It Take to True a Bike Wheel?
You can expect the truing process to take about 20 minutes, depending on the expertise of the handyman. The first time you decide to true a bike wheel yourself, definitely factor in some more time for trial and error.
Why Do Bike Wheels Go out of True?
The most likely reason your bike wheel is out of true is because the spokes become loose over time. As you ride, the weight and stress on your bike wheels causes them to loosen. The tension on your spokes should be evenly distributed across all of your the wheel´s spokes to keep them tight.
You can conduct a tension test on your spokes from time to time to see if it’s time to true your bike wheel. I recommend you check out the below video to learn more about spoke tension and how to measure and adjust it if needed.
Can I Ride My Bike if My Wheels are not True?
The answer is, it depends. While we don’t advise riding on a wobbly wheel, whether or not it is safe depends on the origin of the wobbly wheel. The stress on your wheel’s spokes may not be evenly distributed. This could mean you have a broken spoke, which needs immediate attention.
What if I Make Mistakes When Truing My Bike Wheel?
If you make a mistake, don’t sweat it! Even with errors, truing will not create lasting damage to your bike wheel. If you feel you messed up, try again or head to your local bike shop to correct it.
How Often Will I Need to True My Wheels?
You will need to true your wheels once or twice a year, but it is recommended to consistently conduct a spoke tension test (mentioned above) to spot any sloppy spokes, which will soon result in wobbly wheels.
Of course, your wheels will require more truing the more you ride your bike. Your wheels’ age also plays a factor, as newer wheels will last longer before truing is necessary.
The Bottom Line
So, how much does it cost to true a bike wheel? If you opt to do it yourself, it should be 20 dollars or less to true any number of wheels without the use of a truing stand. The bonus with tackling this yourself is that you can continue to use the tools for future wheel truing.
If you take your bike to a professional, it will hover around 20-30 dollars per bike wheel. The benefit of bringing your wheel to a professional is that they will be able to make your bike wheel perfectly true with a truing stand.
It’s super important to keep up with your wheel truing so you won’t need to shuck out more money to replace your bike’s wheel prematurely. A new wheel can set you back up to 100 dollars or more, and tire tubes aren’t cheap either!
Did you enjoy this article? Have you had experience truing a bike wheel? Let us know your thoughts and comments below!