Wobbly rear wheel

byunbee

Well-Known Member
I noticed on my ride today, that my rear wheel started to wobble. I went for a 15 mile ride and on the way back, it was wobbling enough where my butt was moving side to side.

My guess is that the wheel needs truing. I haven't taken a close look, because it's been a long day, so I'll probably do that over the next couple of days.

Question for the experienced bike handymen on this forum is whether I should get a truing stand and try to do it myself, or is it not worth the trouble so just take it to a bike shop. My LBS looks to be backed up quite a bit since there's always a line with a wait of 30 mins for each person to go in to the shop.

I've never attempted truing a wheel and if I were to undertake the effort, I would need to watch some YouTube videos. The thing I'm most concerned with is wasting money on a stand and possibly causing more damage and requiring me to replace the wheel due to my screw up.

Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. :)
 

Browneye

Well-Known Member
Trueing can be done on the bike. Tape a pencil on the chain stay or fork leg to gauge alignment.
Actually getting it true is another matter.
Seems like you have a hub-drive, and they are well known to wear in and for spokes to come loose, so I would start there.
I use the spoke sounding tuning method by tapping the spokes with a small wrench, but pros use a tensionometer like Park Tools offers. They also have a YouTube vid on spoke tensioning.
You need a spoke nipple wrench that fits your bike - some of them are odd sizing.
If your spokes get too loose you will get broken spokes.
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
You do not need to buy a stand. You can use the brake pads as a guide, or if your bike has disc brakes, you can use a zip tie wrapped around one the frame tubes with the end cut to act as a gauge. Some find it helpful to also use a Sharpie to mark the rim where it deviates.

That said, if your wheel wobbles so much that you can feel it, your wheel is likely severely de-tensioned. That is a bit more involved than a mere truing, because it involves adjusting for tension and lateral and medial (roundness) deviation. You could do it by ear, or use a tensiometer. Sounding a bit complicated? It kinda is.
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
Trueing can be done on the bike. Tape a pencil on the chain stay or fork leg to gauge alignment.
Actually getting it true is another matter.
Seems like you have a hub-drive, and they are well known to wear in and for spokes to come loose, so I would start there.
I use the spoke sounding tuning method by tapping the spokes with a small wrench, but pros use a tensionometer like Park Tools offers. They also have a YouTube vid on spoke tensioning.
You need a spoke nipple wrench that fits your bike - some of them are odd sizing.
If your spokes get too loose you will get broken spokes.
I have a 2016 Haibike Xduro Urban with Bosch motor. So, based on what you are describing, it sounds like it may be better to leave it to the LBS to fix since I don't have any specialized tools.
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
Before truing the wheel I'd suggestion a brief inspection. Grab the top of the wheel and push back and forth. If it moves it could be a hub issue. If not, spin the wheel and look at it along the long axis of the bike. If you see any wobble then it's a spoke issue.

If it's spokes, then I agree with @Nova Haibike , by the time you feel the wobble it's time for more than home shop skills to true the wheel. But if you do decide to 'give it a go' I always deflate the tire first to relieve the stress on the rim.
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
Before truing the wheel I'd suggestion a brief inspection. Grab the top of the wheel and push back and forth. If it moves it could be a hub issue. If not, spin the wheel and look at it along the long axis of the bike. If you see any wobble then it's a spoke issue.

If it's spokes, then I agree with @Nova Haibike , by the time you feel the wobble it's time for more than home shop skills to true the wheel. But if you do decide to 'give it a go' I always deflate the tire first to relieve the stress on the rim.
It's not the hub, it's definitely spokes. I just checked the spokes (not all) and found a few that flex back and forth with the spoke bolt(?) loose since I can turn it continually and it keeps going into the rim.
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
I would take it into the LBS as others have suggested... unless you want a new hobby learning how to tune wheels. ;)
 
Last edited:

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
It's not the hub, it's definitely spokes. I just checked the spokes (not all) and found a few that flex back and forth with the spoke bolt(?) loose since I can turn it continually and it keeps going into the rim.
Spokes are an easier fix!...😉 Righty-tighty for the spoke nipples. They tighten as they thread onto the spoke. They move into the rim as they loosen.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Check the lead time at your local bike shop. At the shop by my home, the owner used to have 50 or more bikes in his showroom, but they're all sold out and he has pile of (expensive) bikes waiting to be serviced and a wait list to just get them inside. I heard it was 5 weeks.

I've built a half dozen wheels. With bare rims, a piece of cardboard placed across the frame works well, I can get the wheel round and wobble down to 1 mm. With tires on, I tape two pieces of cardboard to the frame on either side of the rim. It's surprising how far a 1/2 turn of a few spokes can move a wheel. You don't need a stand, but you do need a spoke wrench. Hope you can get into your LBS to buy one, but Walmart sometimes has them.
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
Speaking of spoke wrenches I recommend you get a good one rather than a cheap one. Nipples will strip easily especially if they are older. The Park Tools ones are ok but I prefer the DT Spokeys as they grip all four facets and the flat paddles are easier on the fingers.

Take note that not all nipples are the same size. The most popular sizes are 3.2 and 3.5.
 

Sierratim

Well-Known Member
As always, Park Tool has a video on this topic!


It focuses on using a truing stand, but as others have noted you can do basic adjustments on the bike frame. Lacking a spoke tension meter getting the spoke tension correct is a bit of an art. I more or less use this technique, https://www.sheldonbrown.com/spoke-pitch.html . There's also an app for that;
. Who knew...
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
Check the lead time at your local bike shop. At the shop by my home, the owner used to have 50 or more bikes in his showroom, but they're all sold out and he has pile of (expensive) bikes waiting to be serviced and a wait list to just get them inside. I heard it was 5 weeks.

I've built a half dozen wheels. With bare rims, a piece of cardboard placed across the frame works well, I can get the wheel round and wobble down to 1 mm. With tires on, I tape two pieces of cardboard to the frame on either side of the rim. It's surprising how far a 1/2 turn of a few spokes can move a wheel. You don't need a stand, but you do need a spoke wrench. Hope you can get into your LBS to buy one, but Walmart sometimes has them.
They don't even answer their phones because they're so busy. Trust me, I've tried several days multiple times during the day. Everytime I pass by, there is a line with maybe 10-15 people with each person being allowed in every 30 minutes or so. If I were to take it to the LBS, I'm expecting couple of weeks wait.
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
Speaking of spoke wrenches I recommend you get a good one rather than a cheap one. Nipples will strip easily especially if they are older. The Park Tools ones are ok but I prefer the DT Spokeys as they grip all four facets and the flat paddles are easier on the fingers.

Take note that not all nipples are the same size. The most popular sizes are 3.2 and 3.5.
Is this what you are referring to? Does this work with all nipples or is it specific to a certain size?
1593551763751.png
 

byunbee

Well-Known Member
Spokes are an easier fix!...😉 Righty-tighty for the spoke nipples. They tighten as they thread onto the spoke. They move into the rim as they loosen.
I'll try just doing it manually after I watch some videos. At least I'll learn whether I should always take it to the LBS if I fail. 🤣
 

tomdav

Well-Known Member
Check your local velofix dealer for their next availability. Mine had quick appointments (next morning) for minor service. Minimum charge is $99 but they can tune other things and answer any questions while they work on your bike. I had a very good experience and will not hesitate to use Velofix in the future vs. lugging my bike to LBS and taking a back seat to the customers that butter their bread paying a premium for bikes. The nice thing about velofix is you are their bread and butter. My velofix dealer gave me his email and is happy to answer questions at no charge.
 
Last edited: