I noticed today that my wheel is not true. It wavers about 1 cm (sorry I dont know all the technical terms). I have a tool for tightening and loosening the spokes, but no idea how to go about truing the wheel. Should I just take it in to the store, or are they not going to know how to true a unicycle? I would assume its the same as a bike. How much do they generally charge for this?
Or, should I attempt to do it myself using tips from the friendly folks at RSU? I did a quick search but couldn’t find any threads on how to true a wheel…I’m sure there are some out there, but I couldn’t find any.
Wheel building and wheel truing can be considered fine arts and I won’t go into much detail, however these basics should get even a raw beginner through making rough adjustments in an emergency. If you’re looking to true your wheel more precisely either take it in to the local bike shop or learn how by visiting http://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html .
Basically, the wheel consists of spokes either side of centre connecting the rim to the hub. If the rim is bent to the right in a certain spot, then at that spot you need to find the spokes connecting to the left of the hub and tighten them. Use your thumb (resting on the legs of the frame) as a marker to see which spots are out of true.
When you find the spot, tighten the appropriate spokes. If you’ve got these spokes facing down, you’ll need to turn the nipples (the bits on the rim end of the spokes) anti-clockwise to tighten them. They generally won’t need to be turned very far. Try turning them about 1/4 of a revolution for rough adjustments. Don’t just tighten one spoke…you’ll usually have to tighten at least one more either side (to a lesser extent).
Generally speaking you should avoid loosening spokes. Spokes can come loose after a while of riding but very rarely automatically tighten.
It’s a good idea to take a spoke spanner with you on most rides, particularly muni rides. They are only small and are a really useful addition to your tool kit. Knowing how to true a wheel can save you a lot of trouble when you’re out on the trail.
No, when truing a side to side wobble you need to tighten the spoke(s) on one side and loosen the spoke(s) on the other side. You do have to loosen spokes when truing a wheel. Otherwise the wobbly part isn’t going to move over.
Here’s the relevant part from the Sheldon Brown web site:
Truing wheels is tricky. There is as much art as science. I can do emergency repairs if I have to on the trail (I have never had to yet). When it’s time to really get the wheel fixed I take it to my local wheel builder. He does a really really good job of building wheels. I am really bad at truing wheels. It’s much better for me to take it to a professional. To do a good job of truing wheels takes practice and time learning the fine details of the art. I have never taken the time so I’m really bad at it.
You can true the wheel yourself following the advice like that on
Sheldon Brown’ web site or Jobst Brandt’s “The Bicycle Wheel”. I
think it is worth learning how to do this yourself, but a bicycle shop
should be able to help if you don’t want to, or if you get stuck.
The bad news is that it is harder to true a messed up wheel than a new
(or well-built) wheel. I strongly recommend changing only one
parameter at a time. For example, if you want to change the lateral
(side-to-side) trueness, then make equal turns clockwise and
counterclockwise across two or more spokes so you don’t change the
roundness of the wheel.
Here’s the sequence I would try to follow, but remeber that truing is
an art and you’ll have to adapt to the condition of the wheel. First,
work on lateral trueness. Unfortunately, you’re likely to have uneven
tension in the spokes that will prevent you from getting the wheel
properly true and tensioned. So your next step will be equalizing
tension - do this by plucking the spokes and listening for even tone.
The goal now is to get the wheel true and have even tension. Once you
get there, it is time to tension the spokes. I like higher tension
than KH wheels are built with. Just go around the wheel and turn each
spoke a quarter or half turn, and repeat until the tension is right
(compare to a well built wheel in a bike shop, or borrow a
tensiometer). After tensioning, stress relieve and true the wheel one
final time. The resulting wheel should stay true from a long time.
I don’t follow Andrew Carter’s advice to avoid loosening spokes. That
might make sense for quick field repairs, but it is not the way I get
a high quality job that will last for a long time.