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Learn more about your spokes and how to adjust them to get your wheels running true from these eight steps
Spokes and nipples
Spokes join the hub to the rim. At the rim end the spoke is machined with a fine-pitch rolled thread for strength. The nipple passes through the rim and screws onto the spoke thread. Spoke tension affects the wheel’s trueness
Non-driveside rear spokes
The longer non-driveside spokes are generally less tensioned than the driveside spokes, thanks to the way the drive and non-driveside spokes triangulate asymmetrically from the hub to the rim.
Driveside spokes carry a lot of drive forces and are often where breakages occur. It can be tricky to finely adjust them, as the tension loads are so great that nipples, particularly when old, can become seized.
Flip the bike upside down and sit at the rear wheel looking towards the front of the bike. Make adjustments where the rim is nearest the ground and turn spokes clockwise to loosen them and counter-clockwise to tighten.
Spokes on the driveside pull to the driveside and vice versa. When the pull forces are evenly balanced, the rim is true. Adjusting spoke tension will alter the lateral position of the rim. Make quarter turn adjustments as necessary.
Pairs not singles
Adjustments to re-true a rim are best made to pairs or even triplets of spokes on the same side. This distributes the correction over a wider area of the rim and means less tension is required in a single spoke, which can cause problems.
Zip tie guides
Attach a zip tie to each of the seatstays (or fork legs if truing the front wheel) so the ends run in the direction of wheel rotation and are a millimetre or so from the rim edge. Use as visual guides to check you’re making progress.
Less is often more
If you’ve spent 10 minutes fixing your buckle but are still not making any progress, then it might be time to call in the professionals before irreversible damage occurs.