Garage Files: Quick and Easy Wheel Truing Tips

Quick and Easy Wheel Truing Tips

Wheel building is a mix of art and science. Accomplished bike mechanics pride themselves on making a crucial part of the bike that not only lasts for many years, but also looks and feels beautiful once it’s bolted to the bike. Wheel building is a skill that takes years to learn properly and a lifetime to master. Well, we don’t have that kind of time in this month’s “Garage Files.”


Thankfully, learning to true a wheel is much easier than building one from scratch. With today’s bikes almost universally using disc brakes, they don’t even have to be perfect anymore to work. In this article, we tell you how to bring your wheels back to true and get you back out on the trails. While we can’t promise this advice will fix every taco-ed wheel, we can assure you that it will help in most cases, whether you’re in your home shop or out on the trails.

A broken spoke may seem like a ride- ending mechanical, but it’s typically not. With a 32-spoke wheel, you can easily limp home when this happens by relying on the other 31 spokes. Most often when spokes break, it happens at either the J-bend at the hub or at the threads, like this one.


If you have a broken spoke out on the trail, don’t worry about trying to remove it. Instead, simply wind the broken spoke around one of the good ones to prevent it from flailing and pinging about as you limp home. While the wheel may be out of true, it will likely not be so far gone that you can’t ride the wheel.


Once you’re home, you can begin the process to replace the spoke. (Keep in mind that if you’ve broken one spoke, the others are also probably fatigued and ready to break as well. If your wheel is more than a few years old, it may be better to simply replace the whole wheel rather than dealing with broken spokes on every ride.) Start by removing the brake rotors and, if it’s a rear wheel, remove the cassette.


Remove the tire and tube and set them aside. If you’re not comfortable doing this step, you’re best taking the bike to the shop for the professionals to handle the issue rather than handling it yourself.


Remove the rim strip to access the spoke nipples through the rim. If you’re running a tubeless setup, this will likely require you to remove the rim tape, which is not reusable. Be sure you have an extra roll of tape to install if you need it.


Remove the old nipple. These little buggers can fall into…


1170garage fileshow to'smountain bike maintenancespokestipswheel truing