There is nothing we fear for as cyclists like a bent wheel. It’s not only challenging to ride on it but unsafe too. But what should you do in such a case? Can a bicycle wheel be straightened?
Yes, a bent bicycle wheel can be straightened or trued if it’s not severe, and there are several ways to do it. If the bend is minimal, you can stomp on it or apply knee pressure. But if it is slightly big, then you should use a spoke wrench or a truing stand or both to tighten the spokes.
I’ll explain all four methods to help you pick the most ideal, depending on your circumstance. I’ll also share with you signs to watch out for before truing your bike wheel.
So, Can A Bicycle Wheel Be Straightened? How Can You Do It?
It’s worth noting that not all bends are straighten-able. If the bend is extreme, the chances are that you may not straighten it, and thus you’ll need to replace the wheel.
But if the bend is minimal or slightly big, you can straighten it using any of these techniques:
- Stomp Technique
- Knee Press
- Spoke Tightening
- Truing Stand Technique
In most cases, the stomp technique and knee press are effective against minor bends as they are tool-free. In contrast, spoke tightening and the truing stand techniques are effective against minimal and slightly bigger curves.
But before we can look at the four techniques on how to true a bicycle wheel, you should confirm that your bike wheel is actually bent. Let’s look at the signs of a bent bike wheel below.
What Are The Signs of A Bent Bike Wheel
Watch out for any of the signs below before trying to straighten your bike wheel:
- Loose spokes
- Deformed wheel
- A shaky or unusually vibrating wheel
- Repeat flat tires or blow out
- Poor brake responsiveness
- Unresponsive handlebar
Techniques To Use To Straighten A Bent Bike Wheel
Here are the four techniques:
1. Stomp Technique
The stomp technique is one of the most effective tool-free ways of straightening a bent bike wheel and a wobbling one.
Here are the steps for executing the stomp technique:
- Find a place with a hole – It could be a hole on the ground, a table with a middle hole, or a giant garbage can. If you cannot find any, make one on plywood.
- Now place the bent wheel on the hole and stomp on it.
- Ensure you keep the rim flat when stomping on it.
- Ensure you exert extra weight on the bent area.
- Then spin the rim to check for straightness.
- If there is still some bend, mark the point with a pencil or chalk before redoing the process.
If the bend is not severe, the rim will straighten almost immediately after following the above steps.
2. Knee Press
If you cannot find a place with a hole and do not have any truing tool, you can try out the knee press technique. It’s as tool-free as the stomp technique.
Here are the steps for wheel truing using the knee press.
- Take out the bent wheel from the bike and expose the rim.
- Mark the bent area on the rim.
- Hold the points nearest to the bend and place one knee on the bent area.
- Now exert some pressure with your knee and try to straighten the bent point.
Remember, while this method is quick and tool-free, you have to be very strong to straighten your wheel. The other essential thing worth noting is that the knee press works on less severe bends, just like the stomp technique.
3. Spoke Tightening Technique
Whether the bend is minimal or significant, you can always try the spoke tightening technique. This method, however, is not tool-free like the above two.
You’ll need one primary tool that we call a spoke wrench. If you have none, get the Park Tool Bicycle Spoke Wrench Set, which features four popular nickel-plated precision-sized wrenches. The wrenches include:
- SW-0 for 0.127-inch spoke nipples
- SW-1 for 0.130-inch spoke nipples
- SW-2 for 0.136-inch spoke nipples
- SW-3 for 0.156-inch spoke nipples
Here are the steps on how to straighten a bent bicycle rim using spoke wrenches:
- Take out the bent wheel from your bicycle
- Mark the bent area with chalk, pencil, or masking tape
- Identify the spokes around the marked area and tighten them with a spoke wrench
- Ensure you only tighten the spokes on one side of the bike wheel and loosen the other
- When done, spin the rim to check for straightness
If the bike wheel still rubs against the brake pad after following the above steps, it means it’s not correctly straight, and so you’ve to repeat the process to make it true.
You can even take the bike for a short ride to confirm if the wheel is true.
Remember, you can always use pliers in the absence of the spoke wrench, though it’ll be slightly more challenging.
4. The Truing Stand Technique
If the wheel of your bicycle is wobbling sideways, you’ll have to true it, which means keeping it straight and perfectly round.
But before anything, note that you’ll need a professional wheel truing stand to unbend your bike wheel properly.
I recommend the BIKEHAND Bike Wheel Truing Stand (View on Amazon) for that. It’s compatible with wheel sizes 16-27.5 inches and comes with spoke wrenches, which means you won’t have to buy them separately.
Once you have a truing stand, here is a guide on how to true a bicycle wheel:
- Turn the cycle upside down and put the bent wheel on the truing stand.
- If the damage is severe, take out the tire to only work on the bent rim.
- Spin the bicycle to identify the bend. It’s usually where the rim touches the brake pad or comes close to it.
- Mark the bend using chalk, pencil, or masking tape.
- Now use a spoke wrench to tighten the loose spokes along the marked area.
- Continue tightening the loose spokes as you spin the bike until the wheel looks straight
Can A Bicycle Wheel Be Straightened FAQs
1. How Can You Straighten A Badly Bent Bike Wheel?
It’s worth noting that a badly bent bike wheel is very fragile. You could easily break the rim by slightly tapping it. If that happens, then you’ll have to replace the entire bike wheel.
Overall, you can straighten a badly bent rim using these steps:
- Turn the cycle upside down
- Use a hammer to tap the bend gently
- Then use a spoke wrench to tighten the loose spokes until the rim straightens
If the above steps don’t work, take your bike wheel to the nearest repair shop.
2. How Much Does It Cost To Straighten A Bike Wheel?
If you take your bent bike wheel to the nearest bike repair shop, it’ll cost you $10-$30 to straighten the wheel.
But if you do it yourself, all you’ll need is a truing stand and spoke wrenches or pliers.
3. Can You Fix A Buckled Bicycle Wheel?
Yes, you can fix a buckled bicycle wheel. We call truing, and it’s something you can do with or without a truing stand.
Here’s how to straighten a buckled bicycle wheel:
- Turn the cycle upside down and rest it on its handlebars and seat
- Alternatively, put the buckled wheel on a truing stand if you have one
- Gently spin the buckled wheel to identify the area that rubs against the brake blocks
- Mark the area with chalk, pencil, or masking tape
- Now use a spoke wrench or pliers to tighten the loose spokes along the buckled area
- Continue spinning and tightening until the wheel is straight
4. Can You Fix A Wrapped Wheel?
Yes, you can fix a wrapped wheel, and it’s usually a DIY project.
You’ll need to:
- Turn your bike upside down, and then gently spin the wrapped wheel to identify the exact affected points.
- You’ll need to mark the points with a pencil, chalk, or masking tape
- Then tighten the loose spokes on the marked points.
- Continue tightening the spokes until the rim is straight and perfectly round
5. Is It Hard To True A Bike Wheel?
Truing a bike wheel is not hard when you have a truing stand and spoke wrenches or pliers.
You only need to turn your bike upside down and place the untrue wheel on the truing stand. Then you’ll need to identify the loose spokes and tighten them properly using spoke wrenches or pliers.
It’s that simple. But if you don’t have a truing stand, you can always take the untrue wheel to the local bike repair shop.
Closing Thoughts On Straightening A Bicycle Wheel:
So, can a bicycle wheel be straightened? Of course, yes, if the bend is not extreme.
As seen, you can stomp on it or press the bend with your knee when you have no tool. Alternatively, you can use a truing stand and spoke wrench.