How to Fix a Warped Bicycle Wheel

Fixing a warped bicycle wheel can seem like a daunting task for many cyclists. However, with a small time commitment and a little concentration, fixing a warped bicycle wheel can be a simple task which can be carried out at as soon as the wheel becomes damaged, without the need for any expensive professional assistance.

A man is repairing his bicycle. (Image: Szepy/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Turn the bicycle over and rest it upside down on its saddle and handlebars to give easy access to the damaged wheel. Gently spin the wheel, watching carefully to identify the damaged area of the wheel. You will notice this by watching the brake blocks; the damaged section will rub against one of the blocks and prevent the natural spin of the wheel.

Step 2

Mark the damaged area with a pencil or some chalk. Identify three spokes on either side of the mark which will make up the area that you will be working on. Work out which way the wheel is bent. If it is rubbing on the right brake block it will be bent to the right and vice versa.

Step 3

Tighten the spokes on one side of the wheel and loosen those on the other using your spoke wrench or pliers. With a wheel bent to the right you will need to tighten the spokes on the left, pulling the wheel back to the left, and loosen those on the right to allow the wheel to keep its shape. Turn the spokes a quarter turn each, clockwise on the side that needs tightening and counterclockwise on the opposite side.

Step 4

Spin the wheel to assess whether your adjustments have been effective. If the wheel still rubs on the original brake pad, continue with another series of quarter turns until the wheel is balanced. If the wheel now rubs on the left brake block you have over-tightened the spokes. Reverse the process slightly until the wheel moves freely.

Step 5

Take a test cycle to ensure that the wheel is performing correctly.

Tip

For severely warped wheels, work on a greater number of spokes on either side of the damage.

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