So it came to be that the handle of a sledge hammer had fallen onto the spokes of my rear wheel and left it all wobbly and out of true.

Now, ordinarily, you can go to the bike shop and have them fix it for $15, you you can buy a truing stand for about $100. Alternatively, you can make your own truing stand out of an old bicycle fork.

However, you can also just fix it yourself in about 10 minutes for free.

You need

  • A sharpee or similar (something that will paint a mark on metal)
  • A spoke wrench (an adjustable wrench will do in a pinch)

Put the bicycle upside down and spin the wheel. Move the sharpee closer and closer until it starts hitting the wobbly parts of the rim as it spins. Do this on both sides.

If you did it correctly you will eventually have drawn a line on parts of one side and the exact negative image on the other side. If not, you went too close with the sharpee. Most likely one line will span only a few spokes. This is the part of the rim which extends too far out. To move this part in, you have to tighten the spokes, which are over the line, on the other side by doing a quarter turn counter-clockwise so they pull the rim towards them. Similarly, you must loosen the spokes on this side by a quarter turn clockwise. If you tighten both of them, you will make the wheel less round. If that is you problem and your wheel is out of round, this method will not work – in this case, you need to take the tube and the tire off and use the sharpee on the top edge of the rim and either tighten or loosen both sides where applicable.

Try to see if it worked by holding you nail (don’t worry, you have twenty of them) closer and closer to the rim to see if that straightened the wheel. If not, do another quarter turn and so on.

Originally posted 2009-04-26 04:27:29.