True a wheel can be time-consuming especially if it’s your first time trueing it and in my opinion that is a very good thing to do because if you can put in the effort today it will save you a lot of money and time tomorrow.
I will break this down into cases and solutions so you can easily identify and read through them
CASE #1 Decision making (DIY or send the wheel back if it has 7 days of warranty time left) :
Trueing your wheel would take you 30 minutes of your time if you are focused and willing but if you don’t want to true your bike wheel yourself and from any mechanic, and you want to return it back under warranty time then the company would take 1 week for complete processing and truing the wheel and ship it back to you.
Solution #1 How Learning to True a wheel today can benefit you long-term :
When biking season starts mechanics and your local bike shops will be busy the whole day, they might give you time and do not true your wheel in a given time frame and that can be quite frustrating.
So you would end up being totally reliant on the mechanics or shops but if you want to get rid of this situation then it would be good for you to learn the complete process of truing of wheel at your home with tools, Which can save you lot of money, time and frustrating situations.
Case #2 If it’s your first time getting the wheel trued your bike might end up in the wrong hands :
More often there are also beginner mechanics which do not completely know about the truing of the wheel and take much more time also there are chances they will cause another problem of loosening any parts or components of the bike which you may not notice at first glance but it will become quite painfully visible on trails.
Solutions #2 Here’s what to do if you are still not confident in yourself :
The best option is when all the local bike shops and mechanics in your area are busy or if you are not too sure if the person is right for the job then it would be best that
you call the helpline center of the bike company or wheel company and ask about truing of your bike wheel, they will respond to you very soon and issue you a ticket or a number or give you a specific time to call back today or tomorrow
you can follow their instructions and give them your wheel, sometimes they will true wheel within minutes while sometimes you have to wait for few days they will give you time.
Remember another important thing, be thorough when you are giving them details, and explain them in clear manners what you think is wrong with the tire that way it would be easier for them to understand your problem so they can deal with it their way and true it completely.
Case #3 There can be other problems That you might not know
Sometimes The wheel is not true because of other reasons like problems with hubs,uneven tension between spokes and threads which can cost you more, So try to give it some time and learn thoroughly about the truing of wheel and other simple jobs as uninstalling the wheel lubing spokes and nipples and tensioning them properly.
Truing tool costs only 6 to 7 bucks but mechanic costs 40 to 50 bucks and those are just for the truing and with other little things like spoke tensioning and lubing a mechanic might charge you 70-100 $
Can you true a wheel with the tire on (explained) :
Yes, you can do it with the tire on and off the rim, and even if it’s inflated or deflated only if the wheel is a little bit out of true, but if the wheel is more than 2mm untrue then, the safe way would be to get the tire off of the rim and proceed from there.
Usually, the rims are untrue because of uneven tension of the spokes they are not tensioned and stretched tightly including spoke nipples, then you can just tension them with the tire on but if there is a defect in the truing of the rim then it is important to take off the tire from the rim and true wheel with good measurement.
For a better understanding of the truing of the wheel remove the tire from the rim to measure the trueness of the wheel.
Fix the wheel in the truing machine with the tire inflated and mounted and tight all the spokes with the spoke key without removing the tire from the rim, repeat the same process after every ride or when you feel like the wheels have become untrue, the wheel should remain smooth for the next ride on aggressive trails.
If the spokes are a little bit loose and you are confused about how to check the tension of the spokes then remove the tire from the wheel and tighten them with the wheel tool.
Why spokes tensions get affected :
The increasing/decreasing pressure of the tire and the width of the tire pushes the pressure down to the rim and this process mostly affects the tensioning in the spokes.
If the spokes have loose tension then Apply some lube and grease on the sides of the spoke nipples and tight them with the spoke key and you can easily do it with the tire mounted on the rim and inflating.
In case you crashed on trails and the wheel and the rim are badly affected then for this major problem remove the tire from the wheel and set the rim on the wheel machine.
Why a wheel goes out of true (Causes) :
Crashing or hitting the front or rear wheel is the main cause of wheels going untrue. if you find yourself in that kind of situation don’t ride the bike that’s the best you can do for now.
Tire Pressure Affects Wheel Truing:
The internal tire pressure also affects the working capacity of the spokes and decreases the stretching ability of the spokes, the reason is that if you are riding daily or after 2 to 3 days then most people ignore what tire pressure they are running and would ride even if its a little low which can have bad effects on the spokes, Either way increasing and decreasing the tire pressure effects the spokes and nipples.
Low psi pressure of the tire is also responsible for the untrue of wheel and rim, especially on the droppy and jumpy trails where your bike goes in the air and again lands on the surface, wheels will hit on the trail with more power which directly hits on the spokes and spoke nipples of the threads, if you belong from aggressive trails then before going on a ride, increase psi pressure of both front and rear tires because high psi pressure acts as a barrier against bumps and jumps.
hitting on the sidewalls and rim surface of the wheel with any random stuff on the trails would affect the functioning of the wheel.
Wheels Go Out Of True Over Time:
Spokes are manufactured with a lifetime warranty, over time their ability to work and provide tension to the wheel decreases and these will not provide better rolling to the wheel, this is also responsible for untrue of the wheel.
Spokes of the wheel are very sensitive threads which usually rotate thousand times in a single ride and they works more than any other component of the bike,
with passage of time they will weaken and stretch and if you are using spokes that are made of aluminum or other mellow material it can happen pretty fast and usually the spokes wear out faster just because people tend not to pay much attention to them and if the main component of the wheel gets weaker you can be sure that the wheel will suffer as well, in this case it will suddenly go untrue.
Over Weight Causes Untruing Of Wheel:
If you are putting too much weight on your bike, wheel spokes and rim become bent and deformed, it is the main factor that the lining of the threads affect too much, if you have a good quality rim weight factor does not matter but if you have a cheap rim, it will cause damage and create trouble at unexpected moments, especially on the rough terrains.
Spoke Tensioning Fault From The Manufacturers:
Some times the fault doesn’t lies with the rider but the wheel manufacturer.
Untrue of a wheel also depends on the wheel building, when the wheel is built for the first time all of its spokes and spoke nipples are screwed within the rim and these are tightened to shape a wheel and create tension in the spokes,
this method is known as wheel building. if your wheel is built by a beginner-level builder then obviously your wheel and rim do not stay long in the working position. wheels need to be built in a proper way and it requires time and builders’ attention, especially for those wheels which are going to ride on hard and aggressive terrains. the wrong-built wheel is totally responsible for the untrue of the wheel.
Number Of Spokes Are Also Responsible For Wheel Untruing:
Some bike wheels have fewer spokes than usual which also affects the performance of the rim after a few rides, it is examined that 32 spokes are the best wheel for riding smoothly and it is long-lasting than the 36-wheel spokes.
The number of spokes in the wheel is inversely proportional to the bike weight and weight of the rider and the stuff which you are carrying on your bike on trails, it shows that if the rider has more weight and the spokes count is less in the wheel, it will cause damage to your wheel and is responsible for untrue of the wheel after riding in this situation.
Untrue of wheel totally depends on the spokes and spoke nipples of the wheel because these components of the wheel do not tolerate much more stretching and give more tension than that of the normal level, and if you cross the limited level of stretching of spokes, these will come out of their place of mounting because spokes are not made of rubber, these are made of other hard and stiff materials which do not allow them to create more tension.
Check the spoke nipples thoroughly and screw them tight with the spoke key before going on a ride, otherwise, a single loose spoke nipple will affect all the rotation of the rim and causes elasticity within the wheel, due to this effect all the other spokes start to become loose and the rim distracts from its way which is dangerous, as a result, some spokes are stretched while some are loose which makes the wheel out of true.