If you notice your rim doesn’t look as straight as it’s supposed to be, you don’t have to panic. A bent bike rim doesn’t mean that you can no longer ride your bike, as you can figure out a way to straighten it in time for your next ride.
You can quickly identify that your bike rim is bent when you hear an annoying sound as you ride. It also makes you slower when riding, but we will teach you how to true your bike rim in this guide.
What Can Cause a Bike Rim to Bend?
Different things can bend your bike rim, but the leading cause is when you hit a pothole while riding your bike. The impact can cause it to bend out of shape. It can also become twisted when your bike gets stuck in a wedge, you’re trying to pull it out, or if the spoke breaks.
If the bend in your rim is too significant, it will contact your brake pad each time the wheel completes a revolution. This causes weird sounds and makes you slower when riding.
What You Need
You don’t need a lot of tools to straighten a bent rim, as the spoke wrench is the most important. There are different kinds of wrenches for the other spokes on your bike.
Although you can straighten your bike without putting it on a stand, your work would be more accessible if you had a truing stand.
Step-by-Step to Straightening a Bent Rim
1. Inspect the Rim and Spokes
Your bike is easier to work with when it’s upside down or on a truing stand, as it allows you to easily access the parts of the rim that you’re trying to straighten. You can also spin your bike wheel easily.
In this stage, you need to check the spokes to ensure they aren’t broken. If it is, you can use this chance also to replace the broken spokes. If the spokes are broken, you need to lighten the load pressing on your bicycle and ensure the axle is resting on the dropouts.
2. Assess the Alignment of the Bicycle
Now, you can turn the wheels slowly to check the proper alignment of your bike. Inspect the space between your brake disc and wheel as you turn the wheel. Some parts are too close or far away from the pad, which indicates that the rim is bent.
Just because there are different spaces doesn’t mean you can’t still straighten your bike rim.
3. Point Out the Bent Areas
Before making the bike rim accurate, you need to check the rim area where it meets the brake pad to figure out which parts are bent. It also shows if the rim is bent towards the left or right.
If it’s bent towards the left, you will tighten the spokes towards the right and vice versa. After doing this, your bike rim would be moved to the opposite direction of where it is bending. You can tug your bike to the left if the rim is bent to the right.
4. Make the Spokes Tighter
First, check whether your wrench comes in the size that you need. To tighten the bicycle spokes, you need to put the notch on your wrench to the nipple. Turn the wrench towards the counter-clockwise to tighten the spoke.
After this, you should cross-check that the spoke is tight enough by plucking it. Turn the wrench once and recheck it. If you hear a low pitch, the spoke is loose, but a higher pitch shows that the spoke is tighter.
5.Straighten the Rim
Now, you can straighten the rim after tightening the spoke. Assess the ding on the rim, which is usually about a couple of inches long. Tighten the two spokes close to the ding the same way by turning it only halfway with the wrench. Check the gap after doing that.
Continue to repeat this process until you see that the ding is significantly not as bent as it used to be. If your bike has more dings than usual, maybe because it’s a giant wheel, you will have to tighten up to four spokes facing the opposite direction.
If the spoke nipples are rusty, make them easier to rotate by applying lubricant.
6. Even Out the Stresses
Once the wheel has been fixed, and the gaps are evened, your rim would be mostly straight. You can then press the spokes in your bike rim to make it completely straightforward.
Tips for Straightening a Bent Rim
- When fixing a bent rim, start with the largest ding before going to the smaller ones.
- Carefully pluck the spokes when checking whether it is appropriately tight or stiff after using a wrench to tighten it.
- Always loosen the spoke at the other side of the spoke you are tightening.
- If your bike rim is too far away from the hub, tighten the spokes that are far away from the hub.
- If your bike wheel is still not straightening after all the tightening, this is a sign that you need a new one.
- If you’re having trouble keeping your bike in place, you can use masking tape instead.
- You should cinch your brake to stop the rim from rubbing on one part of the bike.
Can You Ride with a Bent Bike Rim?
Although you can ride your bike even when the rim is bent, it would slow you down significantly. It’s not recommended to ride your bike either way because you risk damaging the rim and wheel. As you hit sidewalks or potholes, the bending parts can cause cracks in the rim. You should also avoid riding when the spokes are broken.
If the rims are bent, it can also affect the spoke tension, which can cause the spokes to become broken or loosen up. This would need serious repair. But if there are no faults asides from the bent rim, you can ride your bike for a short time.
When riding a bike with a bent rim, you will notice vibrations and shaking from the wheel. This will become more prominent when you’re riding at a higher speed. You will also see a strange sound every time the bent part of the rim reaches the ground.
If you decide to ride with a bent rim, you should avoid bumpy roads and potholes, jumps, stunts, and tricks. Check the spokes before you ride, and ensure the tire pressure is steady enough.
When Do You Have to Replace a Bent Rim?
You don’t have to replace a bent rim; you only have to straighten it up. But if the rim is severely bent, there is a low chance of being able to repair it, so you have to replace it instead. A badly bent rim would affect the tire from rolling correctly, so you won’t be able to fix it.
But a slightly bent rim can be easily straightened out and slow you down. So, it would be best if you straightened it immediately. When you assess the bent rim, you will know whether you should replace it or true it instead.
The signs that you should repair include cracks in the rim, looseor broken spokes, and unbalanced wheels.
Is it dangerous to ride with a bent rim?
No, it isn’t. It isn’t dangerous to ride with a bent rim, but it would eventually get worse and more difficult if you keep on riding it. The only time you should avoid riding is with a cracked rim because it can cause an accident. A rim can become cracked if the weather is cold or severely bent.
How much does it cost to fix a bent bike rim?
If you take your bike to the bike shop, you will have to spend $20 and $30 to fix it professionally. A bike shop would use professional equipment too, which might be rounder than what you might get.
Should I get a truing stand?
It’s advisable to get a truing stand, but it’s not compulsory. A truing stand would keep your bike upside down and in place for you to gain access to the wheel and rim. You can quickly turn the wheels and straighten the rim with the stand.
Can I use a hammer to fix a bent rim?
Yes, you can. You can use a dead blow hammer to fix your bent rim, but you need a bent torch and woodblock.
What if the rim is made of aluminum?
If your rim is made with aluminum, it’s advisable to go to a bike repair shop; instead of doing it yourself.
Now that you have all you need to know about straightening a bike rim, you can avoid panicking when the rim is bent. Remember that you might have to give up on it if it’s extremely bent out of shape. But in most cases, you can quickly straighten it and get back on the road.