untrued wheels can be quite problematic they can potentially mess with your brakes and can even affect the tire badly and reduce its life span.
I came across this problem quite recently as well, well I was riding quite aggressive trails and the next thing I noticed the next day the wheel was all over the place, and I had a problem even controlling the bike so I did some digging into the problem and turned out it just has loosened spokes and I decided to write on it as well since a lot of you guys might be having same kind of problems as well
What’s an untrue wheel :
An untrue wheel exactly means that a few spokes of the bike wheel are tight as compared to the other spokes and tight spokes are creating more tension than the un-tight spokes and tension within the spokes affects the balance of the wheel and makes the wheel imbalance, as a result, the wheel becomes untrue.
Loose tensioned spokes when compares with the tensioned spokes, the wheel loses the center of gravity and balance and as a result, loose tensioned spokes move the rim on one side and tension spokes rotate the rim on the other side, loses tensioned spokes are totally responsible for untrue of wheel and rim.
Signs that your wheel might be untrued :
Untrued wheel moves left and right from its accurate rotating direction which surely rubs on anything which is present on both sides of the wheels, like bike brakes which are touched with wheel, untrue wheels constantly start rubbing with bike brakes.
Causes big trouble in handling bikes on rough terrains, especially for mountain biking, because the wheel is bubbling and distracting the bike from its way.
Untrue wheel means there is a problem in the spokes which needs to be checked thoroughly, spoke issue is basically a complicated problem and cannot be ignored, because spokes are bent and broken, sometimes spoke nipples are loose or sometimes even one or two spokes are not present on their places which causes a negative effect, because when riders weight and bike weight adds up on trails, wheels do not bear this weight and suddenly rim stops working.
Untrued wheel starts floating right and left due to which axles and hub wheel start losing and it is riskier on aggressive trails.
The tire starts rubbing with the frame tube and makes an irritating sound due to the untrue wheel which affects bike speed.
Even a little bit of untrue wheel has a negative effect on pro riders and matters much more especially on downhill trails where the speed of the bike goes on high level.
Risks of untrued wheels :
Untrue wheel decreases the lifespan of the wheel and its components which include spokes, and threads, and causes damage to the entire rim and tire.
Untrue wheel causes damage to the bearings of the wheel, these will immediately come out of the hub because of the wrong rotation of the wheel.
The untrue wheel basically affects rim brakes which are attached nearly to the wheel or the disc brakes as well,
High-quality and decent bike frames have more than 3mm of space between the frame tube and the wheel, for these bikes, 2mm of the untrue wheel is not risky but for the moment if you have that much degree of wheels throbbing around its high time you get them fixed right away.
Less than 1mm untrue wheel is not so bad, especially for mountain bikers, gravel bikes, and BMX riders but matters for road bikers.
The untrue wheel also rubs with brake pads of wheel brakes, more rubbing would affect your pads and they will not last long you may need them to change more often which will just add to one more expense.
Lower quality wheels need to be truing even after a single hard terrain ride, if you are constantly having problems like wheels becoming untrued you might have saved up on wheels for some reason but it will just cost you more in the long run.
If you are regularly riding on jumpy trails and terrain contains higher drops as compared to the normal trails, then after every whip through these jumps wheel spokes start becoming weak and spoke nipple starts to lose, these terrains will cause trouble to your wheel and chances of breaking spokes become more than riding on normal trails.
Untrue of wheel basically occurs by misfunctioning of the spokes and they lose all of their tension because of that rider’s weight is fully dependent on the rim center rotating line, as a result, all spokes are affected due to the weight pull from upside to the downward direction.
How often you should do a check on spokes :
Check your spokes as often as you can because even if you may think that the problem is small it will keep growing regularly and at a very rapid rate so make sure you check on them as often as you can.
To be exact make sure you check your wheels after very 2-300 miles on your new wheels, check their truing, some wheels need trueing more often than other so if you notice something just give it a quick check.
There’s also the tire’s life span which will greatly reduce for an untrued wheel, a normal tire lasts more than 5 years and an untrued wheel would give out much more earlier.
What to do in case the wheels become untrued on the trail :
If you have got an emergency of the untrue wheel on trails, too far from the mechanic shop and the wheel is constantly hitting with the rim brakes or the disc brakes pads then the safe method is to unscrew the brakes and make them stay a little bit far at a distance of 1 to 2mm from the wheel to avoid rubbing of the wheel with the brakes.
Do New Wheels Need To Be Trued?
Yes, sometimes wheels are not fully inspected and there are these cases and new with a new bike you should always check the tension in spokes and check the truing of the wheel by just spinning the wheels before you ride them if they are wobbling then you might need to tighten the spokes and if that doesn’t solve the problem then have it quickly checked by a mechanic.
Sometimes when new bikes are shipped wheels are damaged in that case you can ask the shipping company to send you a better piece, while it is a long and exhausting method but its well worth it especially if you are new to the sport.
New wheels sometimes come with loose spoke nipples, in the beginning, it’s hard to recognize this fault after some rider you will hear irritating noise coming down from the wheel, after that check your wheel truing thoroughly with tools or by hand.
How to check if the wheel is trued or not :
A quick way to check if your wheels are untrued would be to.
Turn your bike upside down and hold a tool or a ruler near the side wall of the bike and spin your wheel if there are spaces coming in between the tool and the wheel while it’s spinning then there could be a problem. do this on both wheels and you will know exactly how much they are wobbling.
Cheap quality wheels can handle as much as 200lbs of weight and if you are wheels start wobbling after 2 to 3 days of riding well you know what the cause.
Sometimes there is a defect in a few spokes of wheels which can easily be checked and maintained before riding.
Mountain bike wheels are more likely to need to be re-trued after riding on aggressive trails as compared to road bikes.
If you are a beginner and a new bike rider then never do it by yourself because it sometimes it can be difficult to do it on your own or there could be other problems with the rim so make sure you try a mechanic first.
Wheels come with a warranty of months and also money is refunded in a limited time, you can check the truing of the wheel with your fingers by placing it on the side of the rim, if the wheel is much more outside from its normal position then you can do it by yourself but if it has a big problem rather than that then you can send it again to the company and receive a new wheel.
Pro tip : if you got your wheels truing done by a mechanic make sure you check them right there befor bringing the bike home hopefull you have been reading the artcile and know how to check it yourself.
How likely is it your wheel can be untrued :
Well, there are many cases and many scenarios here are some of them in which most wheels are untrued.
- If you bought a cheap bike
- if you ordered your bike online then during shipping it can have problems
- if you are an aggressive rider
- if you bought new wheels.
- If you were in accident (right after or after some times you may notice your wheels wobbling)
well here are all the ifs that can give you a pretty good idea in which cases your wheels can turn out to be untrued.
How much it costs to get the wheel trued by a mechanic :
It could cost you around 20-30$ for getting a wheel trued and in other if you were in a recent accident it may cost more since there can be other problems more than trueing a wheel that could cost you more.