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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I lost my footing while hauling the bike up to my 3rd floor apartment with a load of groceries and took tumble back down the stairs. Luckily no injuries but a big bruise on my butt.

I did land on the back wheel and now it's all wobbly. Does anyone know a simple method for re-balancing it without a full-fledged workbench and shop/tools? I used a Sharpie up against the frame while free-wheeling it and have it marked. Pretty sure I can tighten a few spokes to pull it back in the other direction but not real sure.

All advice is welcome. Thanks in advance!
 

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pretty much that

tune the spokes in small increments

lookup online any of a number of resources on how to true a bike wheel properly

here is one
https://www.evanscycles.com/coffeestop/advice/how-to-true-a-bicycle-wheel

if you get to the point where the spokes need to be overtightened or over loosened to get it true then it might make sense to take to a bike shop or wheelbuilder who can relax all the spokes and retension them all properly and also check rim true w/o spoke load. [sometimes the rim is so dinged it's no good to try to true it with spokes.]

any way you can post a pic or video of just how wobbly it is ?
 

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I still ride it...
Mmm, na I don't think I'd ride that. Take your time and it should be fixable. You'll need to check the dishing as you go, it's going to be out. Don't loosen any spokes, only tighten. The problem you might have is that it might be necessary to do up some spokes crazy tight to pull it straight.
 

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the most critical thing about fixing this as home is don't use crappy tools on the spoke nipples. you can easily round them off and make them useless with something like a small crescent wrench.

the good thing is, it is almost guaranteed that with tire and tube off, the spoke nipples have flat blade screwdriver slots for turning them. I'd use those if I didn't have a proper spoke wrench. also...if you do take off tire...they are likely covered with some rim tape or protector, so being able to reinstall that rim tape or protector is important
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mmm, na I don't think I'd ride that. Take your time and it should be fixable. You'll need to check the dishing as you go, it's going to be out. Don't loosen any spokes, only tighten. The problem you might have is that it might be necessary to do up some spokes crazy tight to pull it straight.
Well, it's primary transportation, not leisure.

My thinking is about like you described - go slow, make incremental adjustments, and only tighten to pull back to true. I'm no bike expert, but I am an old school mechanic fix-it guy. I can usually figure it out with a little help. I appreciate your advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Shop labor on wheel truing is usually pretty cheap unless you're taking this opportunity to learn how to true a wheel.
I have another vintage bike that needs a complete rear axle rebuild. Then, I have two more spare front and rear wheels that need servicing. The shop will get some business one way or the other. I'd just like to keep it to a minimum, as I'm on a budget. If you know what I mean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
the most critical thing about fixing this as home is don't use crappy tools on the spoke nipples. you can easily round them off and make them useless with something like a small crescent wrench.

the good thing is, it is almost guaranteed that with tire and tube off, the spoke nipples have flat blade screwdriver slots for turning them. I'd use those if I didn't have a proper spoke wrench. also...if you do take off tire...they are likely covered with some rim tape or protector, so being able to reinstall that rim tape or protector is important
Thank you! I was thinking about trying to use a little crescent wrench for the job and was concerned about rounding off the spoke bolts. I have had the tires and tubes off several times and know there are slotted ends under the rim/tube protector strip.

I appreciate that advice. The temptation to attempt the 'quick & easy' fix is always difficult to resist.
 

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A spoke wrench is less than $10.

If any of the spokes are under considerably more tension than the spokes next to them on the same side, the rim is probably more than a little warped; it's bent. Those spokes ARE going to snap at some point. The wheel is on borrowed time in that case. Check the tension of the spokes on each side of the wheel, it should be about uniform for each side. All of the spokes on one side might be a little tighter.

Surprisingly, you can get a lot more miles out of it by "bending it back" with some brute force. It's tricky but it came be done. You can stand on the wheel and use your feet to balance it out or brace it between two close-spaced handrail uprights and give it a few careful heaves. I would not do this on a fancy nice wheel, but if the wheel is seen a lot of miles and might be dead anyway, it's worth a try.
 

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You aren’t going to get a lot of torque out of the screwdriver before it strips the heads. This is NOT a good method to true a wheel that is significantly out of true and at tension.
 

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A spoke wrench is good to own, and probably costs about 1/2 the cost to fix your rim. Maybe. If it's really bad it may cost more.

I've taken the bike in the shop to fix a broken spoke and spend $10.

The of a spoke, and 'shop labor' to true the wheel. Obviously a lot cheaper than a badly damaged wheel.

I wonder though, if in your case, shop would need to spend an hour or 1.5 hours to more or less start over and remove tension to first get the rim out of tension.

I can't remember the last time I used my spoke wrench because I'm really good at making a wheel more crooked than it was. haha
 

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You aren't going to get a lot of torque out of the screwdriver before it strips the heads. This is NOT a good method to true a wheel that is significantly out of true and at tension.
yes right... the slots are for speed building the wheel with a special nipple driver that has a centering nub for fast initial tightening of nipples, and the spoke flats are for final tuning with spoke wrench, but if nipple is stripped sometimes the slot is the only option other than mini vice grips

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
yes right... the slots are for speed building the wheel with a special nipple driver that has a centering nub for fast initial tightening of nipples, and the spoke flats are for final tuning with spoke wrench, but if nipple is stripped sometimes the slot is the only option other than mini vice grips

A spoke wrench is good to own, and probably costs about 1/2 the cost to fix your rim. Maybe. If it's really bad it may cost more.

I've taken the bike in the shop to fix a broken spoke and spend $10.

The of a spoke, and 'shop labor' to true the wheel. Obviously a lot cheaper than a badly damaged wheel.

I wonder though, if in your case, shop would need to spend an hour or 1.5 hours to more or less start over and remove tension to first get the rim out of tension.

I can't remember the last time I used my spoke wrench because I'm really good at making a wheel more crooked than it was. haha
I was a kid the last time I tried it, and yes I made it worse too. So I will take it to the shop then. Thanks guys for all your help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
If you are mechanically minded you can do all of this yourself quite easily. None of it is harder than truing a wheel.
Months ago I hit a pot hole really hard and put a serious flat spot in the front wheel. I completely loosened like five spokes, took a 2x4 block of wood and hammer and slowly knocked the lump out. It's not 100% perfect, still can feel a very minor bump when I ride on it. But, it's a good backup I can switch out really quick in the event of a flat or other problem.

As I said, I need at least one good working bike, as it's my primary mode of transportation. I try to keep backup parts and new tubes ready to go so I don't have a lot of down time. After riding the bike everywhere everyday, walking seems so...wrong.

So yea, I'm not afraid to work on it. I am a little concerned I might screw it up and be left with no working bike at all. And I didn't have a really good experience the last time I went to the only bike shop around here. They over-complicate things and try to sell me stuff I don't need. I'd rather just buy the parts online if I can't do a home repair.
 

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If your bike is your transport you really need to learn how to fix everything yourself. Even building wheels, which is one of the hardest things you do, is not that hard once you know how. I'd advise getting a second bike so that you are not stuck for transport.
 
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