21 Jun 2016


With road vibration and pothole impacts, even the best wheel might need a spot of truing every now and then. Vision shows you how to get on the straight and narrow.

A wheelset such as Vision’s Trimax 30 all-rounder or Metron 81 TT aero rim is a work of art, created by experienced craftsman who are at the top of their game. But thousands of rolling miles, over potholed roads and the occasional crash mean, occasionally, you’ll need to true your wheel. It’s actually relatively simple if you have the right tools and some patience, but let’s recap on what truing is and why it’s so important to your riding performance.

What is Truing?
Unless you’re time-trialing or taking part in a triathlon, where you might employ a disc wheel like the frighteningly aerodynamic Vision Metron Disc, your wheel broadly comprises a rim, spokes and a central hub. Each spoke should elicit a degree of tension around the hub while also pulling on a section of rim. You’ll find that spokes coming off the right side of the hub flange pull the rim to the right; spokes coming from the left-side hub flange pull the rim to the left.

In general, the spokes attached at the rim are then offset in a ‘left-right, left-right’ pattern to balance out the pull of the other side. Tight spokes with even tension ensure the wheel runs true and smoothly. However, if a spoke loses tension, the pull on the rim becomes unbalanced and your wheel doesn’t run as it should, leaching energy and affecting performance. To rebalance the spokes is called ‘truing’.

What you need
There are a variety of cutting-edge tools out there designed for truing your wheels, including a truing stand, spoke tension meter and dishing tool. Yes, they make the procedure that bit easier and are more accurate if your wheel really is wobbling or you’re thinking of setting up as a bike mechanic; but for most of us this is a luxury and an expense that’s not required.
What you will definitely need is a spoke wrench. You can pick up a spoke wrench at any reputable bike shop. For square nipples, use the type that grabs at least three corners. Note that there are different size nipples so check tool compatibility to avoid risk of rounding.
Owning or having access to a bike stand is something we regularly promote, because it’ll makes a whole host of jobs – including this one – easier and quicker; they’re even great ‘just’ for checking, cleaning and lubing your bike.

How to True
1. Prepare
Clamp your bike in the stand or simply turn it upside down. You could also remove the tire and tube so you can clearly see what’s going on. If your spokes and nipples have not been adjusted for a long while, have been ridden through a winter, or show any signs of fatigue, apply a small amount of penetrating oil or spray to each first and allow it to work. Wipe off any excess and dry the square edge of the nipples that the key locks into.

2. Set guides
Presuming you’re using calipers, use the brakepads as a guide – just ensure they’re aligned correctly – and spin the wheel to see where the rim rubs or wobbles close to the pads.
If you run discs, and hence don’t have calipers to use as your guide, then it’s easy to make a guide from a pair of zip-ties fastened around each fork leg, cut off a couple of millimeters away from the wheel rim surface.

3. Test tension
For extra reassurance, work your hands around the wheel and squeeze each spoke. You are searching for either a loose pair or a single one that’s significantly looser than the rest. It may help to squeeze the spokes of a good wheel to establish a base line of how good tension feels.

4. Adjust
Then where the wheel is out of true, the spokes that mount to the opposite side of the wheel’s hub need to be tightened, steadily pulling the deformation out of the rim. Attach the spoke wrench and do this one spoke at a time, one quarter of a turn at a time for accuracy, dropping even to one eight of a turn for the finest tuning.
Continue testing after each adjustment by spinning the wheel and checking the variance in the gap between the caliper/zip-tie guide and the rim’s braking surface. Go steady and soon your wheel should be back to its former glory.

Just remember two things
First: if you have a few spokes out of true and things are starting to get confusing, take your bike to your local bike shop. They’ll be able to sort thing quick smart. Second: aero, bladed spokes can be more complicated. Here you’re likely to need additional tools. Again, if things are becoming complex, seek help from a bike mechanic.