Bicycle wheel truing is essentially a process of re-aligning/adjusting the wheels of a bicycle to ensure that the wheels retain their original, completely-rounded shape. Bicycle wheels tend to get misshapen due to continuous use. This happens largely due to loosening of the spokes and rim.
Bicycle Wheel Truing Tips:
Before beginning your truing project, inspect the bike. Ensure that there is no widespread damage like a broken spoke. This is vital since truing doesn’t include replacements. It mainly includes tightening and adjustment of certain parts. Hence, all broken parts should be replaced before beginning truing.
Setting Bicycle for Truing
Ideally, the truing should be done on a truing stand. However, if you don’t have one, flip the bicycle upside down. You can stabilize the bicycle in this position using some bricks, though this arrangement isn't the greatest in terms of stability. This can also induce unwanted pressure on the handlebars and saddle. After setting the bicycle, inspect its positioning. You need to true the wheels vertically and horizontally, so remove any surrounding objects that might hinder your movement.
Establish Truing Points
Always begin by slightly spinning the wheels. Notice the section where the rim of the wheel rubs against the brake. This is where most of the truing is done. Please note that the rim should rub against the brake in the most minimal manner. This is most fundamental requirement for proper functioning of the wheel.
Check Centering of Wheel
This is also called dishing. Here, you need to observe the positioning of the rims. The rims should be right between the axle nuts. The central position of the rim is called its center of deviation and ensures proper balancing for the rider. You can use a standard dishing tool or a measuring tape to measure distance on either side of the rim. If the rim is not in the central position, you need to apply pressure on the spokes to realign it.
Check Spoke Tension on Front Wheels
Use a proper spoke wrench for this. Slightly pluck upon each spoke at its center. Try to listen carefully. The sound made the by the spokes on the front wheel should be harmonious. If there is an out-of-sync spoke, it will make a delayed sound that is easy to detect. Such spokes need tightening. This testing is more applicable to front wheels than the rear wheels. For rear-wheel spokes, use your visual observation and establish the correct centering.
Understand Rim Bending & Oiling
Ensure proper positioning of the rim. If it is bending towards the right, you have to tighten the left-side spokes of the wheel. It is always a good idea to oil the end of the spokes, i.e. where the spoke enters the spoke nipple, near the rim. You can even oil the surface where the nipple meets the rim.
Execute Basic Adjustment
To relieve stress on the spokes, you can do some manual adjusting. To do this, always squeeze a parallel set of spokes. This ensures that excessive bending is avoided.
Proper Adjustment to Tighten Spokes
You should turn the spoke wrench in an anti-clockwise direction to tighten the spoke. Never turn the spoke more than a quarter at one time, or the spoke get twisted. Ensure that you have the right size, tight-fitting wrench. When tightening the spokes, you need to repeatedly stop and re-check the alignment of wheels and re-adjust the tightening.
Rear Wheel Spoke Tightening
Most bicycles have a set pattern for rear wheel spokes. Here, the right spokes are inherently turned to a lesser angle than left-hand spokes. Thus, right-side spokes of rear wheels will always need lesser tightening.