Wheel Truing

My uni is still clicking. I got a spoke wrench and tried tightening the affected area, but I’m not sure that I’m not doing more harm than good.

Should I just take it to a professional and get it assessed properly?

What should a wheel truing cost?


Look at the mechanics of how the spokes pull the rim. Understand how tightening will effect tru. If you are starting with a tru rim, it sure is easier. I like to start at the valve stem and work all the way around one side, then the other, turning the nipple 1/4 turn each spoke, each side of rim twice. (L all the way around, R all the way around, L all the way around, R all the way around). I then like to take a wrench and tap the spokes individually to hear the tension (Ting, ting, ting, DUNK) DUNK is loose. I add a half turn or so to each DUNK. If its not tru to beging with, I will find the side-to-side “untruness” and will tighten the spokes on the concave side 1/4 turn each and retest. Beware this can also affect up and down truness. Try You tube, Im sure they have great vids. Hope this helped a little!

Thanks! It’s more than I knew and a good start. I wasn’t sure if tightening all around would fix the creaking area or not. Good to know about tapping the spokes for tension comparison. I was just pinching pairs of spokes for relative ease of movement.

Be sure to only make small changes at a time. Watch out for twisting the spokes. Sometimes the threads stick, so when you turn the nipple, the spoke twists. So you tighten it and it twists back, maybe only after you start riding. A good way to avoid this is to tighten the spoke 1/4 turn then loosen it 1/8 turn. Just be patient and only make small changes. Don’t forget to take the tire off before truing. It doesn’t hurt to check for cracks either.

As long as the spoke tension is fairly even, and not super tight, you probably aren’t hurting your wheel. You’ll probably get it a little closer than it was, then have to go back a few times…

I’ve been truing wheels for a while, so I don’t know current prices, but wheel truing used to run about $10 to $20 depending on the condition of the wheel.

And of course, read Sheldon Brown and Jobst Brandt

Sometimes clicking is cranks. A couple of weeks ago on my 29" I thought I heard some clicking. The next day I heard it on each revolution and it seemed like my pedals. So stopped and checked my pedals. They were screwed in and seemed to be smooth on their bearing. So I check the bearing holders. All fine. Saddle bolts. All fine. Finally I got out the big hex and tightened up the cranks and they only moved a little bit but that took care of the click.

But truing is a good skill to know. Figure out one way that makes sense to you (spoke at bottom, Spoke at top, thing about screwdriver on spoke nipple) and stick with that one way. Others wise you will get confused on which way is tight and which way is loose.

But check other things before starting on tightening up a wheel. Beside spokes more typically make a ‘ting’ sound. Grab pairs and squeeze to free up where they cross and have made little indentations.

Grabbing pairs to find looseness or plucking for pitch will both tell you which spokes are loose. It is worth saying that you shouldn’t try to true the rim by matching the pitch from spoke to spoke but it can tell you when one is substantially tighter or looser.

If you have a double walled rim you can probably get away with truing it with the tire on. If you have a single wall rim the nipple end can rub and tear the tube so remove it. Either way I would at least bring the pressure down.

Adjust a little at a time particularly if you are in experienced. Be careful not to over-tighten any one spoke. If there is a dip in a section you may need to adjust several spokes in the area.

Here is a link to a more thorough article on the subject. This page is about wheel building but 3/4 down there is a section on truing. Hope it helps.

Thanks for all the great info and links! I took the wheel and tube off and went around both sides twice, increasing by 1/3 and back down to 1/4 each trip around. It was never very far out of true as far as I could tell, just lower tension. I’ll put it through it’s paces tonight when things cool down. If it’s sounds worse, I’ll just pay the LBS $15 to do a proper job checking it over and tightening things up to the same tensions.

Does $15 sound about right? That’s what they quoted me, $15-$20 depending on how bent the rim is.

So, I went back to my uni to get ready for my evening ride to test out the new spoke tension and the tire is flat. I’ve got a tiny hole in the tube, which I think must be from a tiny shaving from the holes in the rim that I must have missed.

Anything wrong with patching the old tube or should I buy a new one?

Does it matter what tube I get?

I say patch but a new tube is not very expensive. No real way to go wrong with either choice.

If you can patch it, patch it. I’m kinda paranoid about my road bike because I go on long rides away from help, but since I’m in walking distance for my uni or commuting bike, they can have many patches. The metal shaving could be related to the clicking. Clicks and creaks are are often fixed by taking things apart and cleaning them, even when they don’t look dirty.

Any normal tube should be fine. Don’t waste money on the expensive light weight ones though.

Another thought… my unicycle was creaking the past few rides, I thought it was the seat or wheel. I’m pretty sure I solved it by adjusting frame (bearing) brackets.