5 Signs That Your Wheels Deperately Need Truing

Are you having trouble because of floppy wheels with loose spokes? The wheels are one of the most important components of your bike. Having perfectly round wheels that spin straight allows your bike to perform better. If the wheels fail in the middle of a ride, you will be in big trouble.

How to prevent it? And, how to identify the signs that your wheels desperately need truing?

Spokes help to adjust the tension on the rim which directly affects how straight the wheels spin. Truing is the process of creating a strong structure with tightened spokes and straight rims.  However, most disc and blade model wheels do not support any adjustment or repair other than replacement.

So, how to check if your wheels desperately need truing? Here are 5 signs that your wheels are out of true and need immediate attention.

Signs that Your Wheels Need Truing

Rims are damaged from impacts such as curb, pothole, or hitting a rock. Falling down or crashing can also cause damage to the side of the rim. In some cases, the wheels are repaired with a few adjustments to the spoke tension.

But first, to determine if it’s time for truing, these are a few signs you should look for:

Rattle and Hum

This sign easily goes unnoticed because you will not hear a lot of rattling noise when you’re riding. If you pay attention at times when you cross a fence or pull your bike down from the hangers, you may figure out a pattern to these sounds.

It may seem like the derailleur or the chain is the source, but it could be your wheels as well. Sometimes, this happens because of loose spoke nipples.

When your spokes are loose, they make a rattling noise. It is similar to a missing or broken spoke as they provide no strength to your wheel structure. This is an obvious indicator that your wheels need truing and you should take it to a local bike shop.

Rhythmic Rubbing Sound

As soon as you hear a rhythmic rubbing sound coming from your bike, you blame the brakes. But the brakes are not at fault every time. The problem might be in your wheels. It can happen with something as simple as an impact from a large pothole.

When the wheels are out of true, they lose their original shape. This results in a deformed rim that pulls to the side which has more tension.

The Flintstones Wheel

A wheel is not perfectly round when it deforms vertically. Going for a ride with these wheels is risky as it wobbles up and down as it rolls. Too much wobbling can affect rim brakes as well.

Vertically deformed wheels make the rim rise and fall as they spin, which diminishes contact. A bike with such wheels is less efficient. It is also an indication of wheels with no strength and rigidity.

It is easy to diagnose; you just flip the bike upside down so that it is resting on the handlebars and seat. Then, spin the wheels.

Wonky Brakes

If your wheels are wobbling, they rub against the brakes of your bike. This leads to wonky brakes and will not be fixed by mild adjustments.

In order to fix it, you must tighten the spokes on the opposite side. The technique provides enough tension when you need to pull the wheel back in shape.

Keep in mind, a tiny amount of wobble is completely normal. You should only be concerned if there is a serious deformity.

Floppy Spokes

If you can easily move the spokes with bare hands, they are too loose. The spokes should be extremely rigid.

The perfectly true wheels with a sagging spoke are no different than a disaster waiting to happen. Such scenarios compromise the strength of your wheels and it is worse if you’re a low number (18 – 28) of spokes.

The reason for this can be stripped spoke nipple that has disconnected from the rim. Crashing with a bike like this could cause irreparable damage.

Just a true wheel will not work well if you don’t fix a wobbly spoke. It can even cost you the whole wheel.

Aspects of Wheel Truing

Basically, there are four aspects of wheel truing.

Lateral True

It is also known as “rim run-out” and is a rim that wobbles side-to-side as the wheel spins. This is most critical to brake caliper settings.

Truing Procedure

  • Remove the wheel and mount it in a truing stand. Make sure the right side of the wheel falls on the right side of the stand. The threads of the spokes need lubrication just where the nipple exits the rim.
  • Bring calipers up to the rim level and place it close to the outer end of the braking surface. Spin the wheel and move the caliper until it begins to lightly scrape the rim on either side.
  • Stop the wheel right where the indicator and rim are closest, at the point of scrape. Rotate rim back and forth to find the center of rim deviation. Tighten nipple ½ turn and check for deviation again.
  • If the nipple is too tight, loosen the spoke on the same side as a rub on the indicator. Repeat until the wheel is true. Lastly, clean the rim braking surface with a solvent.

Radical True

It refers to the up and down wobble. When the wheel loses its shape and isn’t round, it goes up and down with each revolution. You can feel a bump when the wheel revolves. It can affect brake pad placement if it is not taken care of. This can feel like a bump with every wheel revolution.

Truing Procedure

  • Remove the wheel and mount it in a truing stand. Bring the caliper close to the lower edge on the outside of the rim. Bring the caliper close to the rim while spinning it. Do it until there is a light rub.
  • Move rim back and forth through rub to locate the center of deviation. This section of the rim is relatively further and needs to move closer to the hub.


  • Tighten the two spokes with ½ turn. Move the rim back and forth to repeat tightening if necessary. Tighten a left-right pair at the center to correct rub. After three radial corrections, check for lateral true and fix it if needed.
  • If the rim only shows areas moving towards the hub, loosen the area to make it rounder. Isolate the center and loosen two spokes from either side of the worst low spot. Repeat the process on all the low spots.
  • The wheel is adequately trued when the deviation from the lowest spot to the highest spot is about 0.5mm (1/32 inches).

Rim Centering or Dish

This refers to a centered rim in the frame. The brakes are hard to adjust when the rim is offset to either side of the frame. This causes handling problems as the rear wheel does not track behind the front wheel.

The rim should be centered in the rear triangle or the front forks. You can check its centering with a dishing tool.


It is the tightness of the spokes. Similar to other fasteners, the spokes are also tensioned. You can measure it with a tool known as a tensiometer (spoke tension meter) that flexes the spoke using a calibrated spring.

The tool gives an accurate reading of the deflection of the spoke. Broadly, spokes should be between 80 kilograms force to 230 kilograms force.

However, you must practice the process on an old bike to avoid any risks and causing more damage.

Final Words,

You should pay close attention to even the slightest changes in the components of your bike. Ignoring signs by mistaking it for a minor issue can ruin the bike completely. Take the matters of fixing the problem in your hands only if you have proper practice. It is always a good idea to let the professional mechanics solve the issue.

Above of all, we recommend you restore your bicycle by taking care of it from the very beginning.