How to true a bike wheel at home or on the trail


Bikewagon - BWCC

Do you feel a bit of wobbling in your bike, do your brakes rub at one spot on your wheel, or are you having trouble tracking straight while you ride? Your wheel may be out of true. This tutorial will explain the basic procedure to true a wheel yourself using a minimum of tools.


What's required:

  • Spoked wheel
  • Spoke wrench to match your spokes
  • Your bike
  • Rag to clean wheel

spoke wrench

Step 1: Flip your bike upside down, and balance it on its handlebars and seat (use a soft surface like grass or carpet to avoid damaging your bike). This will give you easy access to the wheels. Give your wheel a quick wipe down with a damp rag to remove grease and dirt.

Step 2: Sight along the wheel so you only see a thin slice of it. Begin to spin the wheel gently with your hand, and observe the wheel. Watch for side-to-side wobbling. If you see none, switch to the other wheel and repeat.

Step 3: Make sure that the wheel is well-seated in the fork dropouts. This could be the cause of any wobbling, so release your quick releases or unscrew any bolts that hold your wheels in place. Make sure they are seated correctly, and re-tighten them.

Step 4: Re-check for wobbling. If there is none, congratulations; your wheels are fine. If you still see wobbling, move to step 5.

Step 5: Continue to rotate the wheel while sighting down the wheel. Using the brakes or the fork as a guide, locate the points on the wheel where the wobble is most pronounced -- the areas where the wheel moves most out of the centered alignment.

Step 6: Using your spoke wrench, tighten 2-4 spokes on the opposite side of the wheel as the wobble. Turn each spoke to the right approximately 180 degrees (1/2 turn). This should begin to correct the bulge.

Step 7: Repeat steps 5 to 6 for each bulge in the wheel. Re-check the overall wobble of the wheel, and continue as needed.

Step 8: Check for any loose spokes. Squeeze pairs of spokes gently between your fingers. If they move significantly, tighten them slightly with your spoke wrench. Do not over tighten; one to two turns should be sufficient.

Step 9: Repeat this process for the other wheel.