The wheels of a bike are a major component that have a say in how efficient, smooth and fast your bike riding experience is going to be. Often, people focus on getting better tires, better groupsets, and strong frames, while completely ignoring the unmistakable signs that their wheels need truing. If truing is not done, it can turn the whole bike riding from the smooth experience it is into quite a nasty affair. However, it can be easily avoided by recognizing when your bike needs truing and getting it trued to perfection regularly. This can be done at the shop or at home with a truing stand if you have one or with a few tools depending on how bad the bend is. Here are some easy to notice signs that should draw your attention to the wheels that need truing.
We say that the wheels on a bike are not laterally true, when they are out of shape sideways. The characteristic effect the wheels produce when this happens is the “dub, dub, dub” sound during operation. Of course, the first thing most people do when this happens is blame it on the brakes, and stretch them away from the rim. While this is not a solution, but it surely ends up compromising the ability of the brakes to, well, brake.
It is important to notice what really is happening. The wheels are prone to getting out of shape, some more than others. A minor accident or a large pot hole can easily bend the wheels sideways. Then, the wheel starts to wobble. Sure, the wheel is creating that sound by hitting the brakes. But, as you can see, it is because of no fault of the brakes at all. So, the next time you hear that sound, check out if your wheels are wobbling, while in operation.
This is the most common form of out-of-true wheels you will come across. This is pretty easy to notice. In fact, it is impossible to not notice vertically untrued wheels. In this case, the wheels are not perfectly round. As a result, the bike rider will notice a regular bump in the operation of the wheels, with every rotation. If the bump is minor but noticeable, there is a better technique to confirm whether the wheel needs truing. Simply flip the bike upside down, and set it firmly on its seat and handlebar. Now, give the wheels a good spin. You will notice if the wheels are not rotating perfectly. One more thing, this type of issue is common among low quality wheels made of weak materials. So, it is always recommended to purchase wheels made from strong and durable materials.
Your entire bike should be fitted such that there is no room for fixed parts and joints to move against each other. While some manufacturers ship the product in to-be-assembled form, others ship them in the assembled state. Generally, the pre-assembled bikes are fitted nicely, but not always. Whether it comes in a completely assembled state or not, it is always a good practice to get it fitted to your needs from a local bike shop, who knows what they are doing.
Even when the bike is fitted properly, the parts do become loose with time and use. They begin to produce a kind of rattling noise. Notice when the rattling is produced. Repeat such situations if possible and zero in on the source of the noise. It could be a loose screw here, or a bolt there. However, quite often, it could be the loosely attached spoke nipples. Such spokes are practically of no use to the wheel. They do not hold the rim perfectly and compromise the roundness of the wheel. They need to be tightened properly to ensure that they do not produce any rattling noise.
These are simple to detect. A quick look at the wheel will tell you whether a spoke is loose or not. Remember, it is not okay if one or two spokes are loose. This is particularly true if you have less number of spokes in your wheel. A loose spoke provides no strength to that part of the rim, where it should have fitted. That section of wheel rim cannot bear much weight, as it now relies more on the neighboring spokes for strength. Consequently, it is only a matter of time before the rim section deforms. So, when the first signs of a loose spoke start showing, it is best to get it fitted right away.