How to True a Bike Wheel Without a Spoke Wrench

Introduction:

Trucking a bike wheel means checking and/or adjusting the spoke tension to straighten the wheel so that it is round (not out of true). The terms “wheel trueness” or “out of trueness” refer to the condition of your bike’s wheels when they are not perfectly round but concave or convex instead. Wheels become out of true for various reasons. Typical culprits include potholes, maintenance hole covers, and curb drops. Even riding on rough roads can cause damage to the wheels. Today I am going to discuss how to true a bike wheel without a spoke wrench.

A Bike Wheel

Why Bike Wheel Required Truing?

A bicycle wheel is made up of round spokes that form a three-dimensional structure known as the rim. The bike wheels tend to bend due to different forces when in motion. This makes them prone to wear and tear, which requires you to true your bike wheel from time to time.

Another reason why you may need to true your bike wheel is simply that it needs to be aligned according to the hub bearings during assembly. Even though professional mechanics can do so, most novices find this task difficult for themselves. In such instances, using the services of True Bike Wheel Tools can help with ease and precision.

Step-Wise Guide on How to True a Bike Wheel Without a Spoke Wrench:

Step 1:

Remove the wheel from the bike and have it sitting on a bench. Ensure that the axle nuts are loose enough for the wheel to spin but tight enough to not slip off the ends of the axles.

Removing Wheel From Bike

Step 2:

Use your fingers or pliers to give each spoke a one-half turn outwards as you examine them in order around the rim (clockwise). If you grab at an angle and push a little harder than normal like I am doing here, then the chances are good that every other spoke will turn easier than you expected. So try grabbing each spoke head itself as close as possible, moving it slightly back and forth if necessary before turning it outwards. There is no need to give it a full 180-degree turn either.

Step 3:

While you are doing this, or perhaps before step 2, if your wheel design has spoken nipples that come out of the rim as well as ones that stick up into it (like mine do), give each nipple just a 1/4 turn clockwise (away from the spokes) with your fingers to keep them from getting in the way of each other after you trued the wheel. If they need to be tighter still, then, by all means, use pliers but make sure not to overtighten these, which can ruin their threads and cause them to snap off when you go to put new spokes on later. They should also turn quite freely now when you try turning them with your fingers or pliers.

Step 4:

As you progress around the wheel, give each spoke half a turn outwards and pull it away from its next closest neighbor that is still in the rim until you get to the last few spokes on one side of the axle where you will give them a full 180-degree turn outwards (away from ghat hub) as shown here. I am doing this on my front wheel, which has 24 front spokes and 20 rear ones and those that stick up into the rim. Notice how what I did above with these spoke nipples helped me keep them from getting hooked by their neighbors and made everything so much easier to do because they didn’t get in my way or bend any other spokes while I tried turning them outwards.

Spoke Nipples

When you get to the last two spokes that have screws in their heads, be sure to tighten them really well to don’t come loose during riding or while you are working on your wheel later. The front one is easy to do, but the back one may require removing the rear hub from your bike if it has a cotter pin holding it in place, as shown here, which can easily be removed with just pliers. If you true lots of wheels, it might help to buy a spoke wrench for this job, but I usually put my old tired bicycle into a work stand and use its axle as my spoke wrench instead, as I will explain further below.

Step 5:

Now evenly distribute all those half-turns of spoke tension by giving all the spokes a half-turn inwards (closer to the hub) to tighter than they were when you started this process. You can use your fingers for this part, of course, but they will be easier to grab if you first remove their brake or shift cables from whatever parts they are hooked up to and put them somewhere else where they won’t get caught up on anything as shown here.

Step 6:

Now, take out either the rear wheel from your works and, if you have one, set your bicycle upside down onto its front wheel with the seat facing towards the floor just like I am doing here. This makes it easier for you to grab the spokes and turn them inwards with your fingers or pliers. Turn each spoke a little bit at a time until it feels really tight, then check all the other spokes around it for any looseness before moving on to the next one.

Precautions While Learning How to True a Bike Wheel Without a Spoke Wrench:

Truing your bike’s wheel without a spoke wrench may seem like a good idea, but it really isn’t. It is best to use the proper tools so you can be sure you did it right. If you don’t have the proper tools, make sure you check with someone who knows how before attempting to true your wheel. Some things are better left to the professionals.

There are some risks involved when truing a bike wheel without a spoke wrench. First, there is always the risk of breaking off the nipple, or while tightening and loosening one end of the axle repeatedly to get the rim and tire straightened up again on your own, there is a chance that one might slip out of place and wind up either breaking the nipple off or worse yet, slip out of the axle entirely. Once that happens, there is nothing you can do until you get to a bike shop.

Even then, they will have to rethread your broken spoke before they can repair it and true your wheel again. The result might be just as bad as if you had started with the proper tools instead of trying this on your own without one in hand, which is why it is better left for those with experience than those who want to give it a try without knowing whether or not their methods are actually going to work when they need them to.

Conclusion: 

In the end, you should have a spoke wrench if you are working with your wheel. If not, at least make sure someone knows what they are doing and has the experience to prevent any accidents such as broken nipples or, worse yet, even breaks while working with your wheel on the bike during this time. Truing, a bike’s wheel without a spoke wrench, can be risky business, so it is best left for those who know what they are doing when trying to do so themselves on their own. I hope this article has been helpful for you in learning how to true a bike wheel without a spoke wrench. Thank you and have a nice day!

You can check it out – How to Fix a Broken Gear Shifter

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