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I just recently (within the past 6 months) got into road cycling and would like to start truing my own wheels. After doing some research on the net, I've basically found people who say they've had success with every type of truing possible - truing by eye/brake pads, using a cheap stand or jury-rigging one to suit their needs, and then, of course, everyone and their brother seems to use the Park TS-2. I found the TS-2 at Tree Fort Bikes for $161 shipped.

So I wanted to get some input on what everyone thinks about wheel truing stands. Is the TS2 worth it? And do you need to buy extras for it (i.e. mounting hardware, spoke tensionmeter, dishing tool, etc.)?
 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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yep, if you're going to true your own wheels, it only makes sense to have a dishing tool and a tension meter to make sure you're doing the right thing, especially if you're a beginner.
 

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What's the most dangerous thing...

...that a novice biker can pick up? Answer: A spoke wrench. If you want to invest in a truing stand, go right ahead, but IMHO, that's not the critical item. I true my wheels on the bike, using just the brake blocks as a reference. It probably isn't as precise as using a truing stand, but it's close enough for me.

The crucial thing is, how do you actually true wheels? First, don't let them get out of true. I've found that the newer wheels...here, I'm thinking about the Easton Circuit wheels I have on my two Titus Oseos...don't get out of true all that much if I don't do stupid things like ride off curbs or through potholes. I think that's because better wheels are not only lighter and better performing than low end wheels, high end wheels also have better components that tend not to do things like have the spoke nipples spontaneously unwind. But I also believe that if you don't think of your wheels as indestructable, they'll last a lot longer and require less truing, regardless of how much you paid for them.

But we all have to do some truing sooner or later. So here's my method:

- First, don't wait until the wheel looks like yesterday's taco. You'll know if it's getting out of true because you'll probably hear the rim rubbing against the brake pad...unless, of course, you never adjust your brake pads as they wear. "True often and lightly" is my mantra.

- Second, before you start actually truing the wheel, feel all the spokes and see if you have any unusually tight or loose ones. If you have a spoke tension meter, all the better. Start by trying to get the tension even (noting, however the wheel manufacturer's recommendations, as in, you may have a different tension range for the drive side and non-drive side spokes on the rear wheel). Often you'll find that if you get the spoke tension consistent and to specs on each spoke, the problem will go away, or almost so.

- Third, either on the frame itself, using the brake blocks, or on a truing stand, spin the wheel and assess the situation. If you're lucky, all you'll have left is one wow, or maybe two, where the rim moves out toward one side. If you have lots of big wows, now you have a judgement call...which way to pull the rim? I suppose there's a scientific way to do this, but in this situation, I just try to move the rim in a way that'll keep it centered on the hub.

- Okay, let's pretend we have one wow only, and looking down at the rim, it goes out to the right about 1/8". Now what? First, make sure you have the right spoke wrench for the job, meaning that not all spoke nipples have the same shape and size. I use one of the round spoke wrenches that has multiple sizes. Second, do two things:

- (1) Always loosen slightly some spokes opposite the direction you want to move, and tighten slightly some spokes on the side with the direction you want to move toward. Slightly means no more than a quarter turn at a time.

- (2) As above, always tighten/loosen 3 to 5 spokes, starting with the spoke at the center of the wow and moving out in both directions.

Okay, been there, done that? Fine, check the rim again for true. Got it wired? Ping all the spokes again, and see if the tension is consistent. If not, fix that, and look at the rim trueness again. Repeat, above, (1) and )2) as needed...stepwise, continuous refinement is the key here...
 

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What a comprehensive answer Ski Racer55!

My only question which direction of rotation is tightening and loosening?
 

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-you don't need a tension meter for truing (as opposed to building) wheels.

-a stand is useful, and makes it quicker and simpler, but you don't need the expensive stand. The Minoura/SpinDoctor stand is a little less rigid than the Park, but works fine if you're careful.

-Optomrider, they're normal right-hand threads. You'll have to figure it out from there.
 

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Get the truing stand and tensiometer once you have done some wheels. You don't need them to start. It's a good idea to learn how to true wheels with nothing more than the wheel in the frame and a spoke wrench, so you can true a wheel in the field when a spoke breaks. It's not hard to do.
 

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I've used a Park stand since 1974 and it still works great. Even though it has a self centering feature you need a dishing gauge to be super accurate, I like Campy for this. A nice trick to test for unified tension on a non radial wheel is to check where the spokes cross as you spin the wheel in the stand. I use my thumb as a feeler gauge, if a spoke pair tension is not even the cross over point will move in or out in relation to the other spoke pairs. You want each spoke in a pair to do even work. You want those crossovers to be as true as the rim.
 

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jsedlak said:
What if the wheel sits and spins ok until a load is put on it? My rear wheel shifts way left (toward NDS) when I get on the bike... :S
Check your spoke tension. Sounds scary - I wouldn't ride on that wheel until I figured out what was wrong. It's definitely not normal.
 

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Believe it or not...

Optomrider said:
What a comprehensive answer Ski Racer55!

My only question which direction of rotation is tightening and loosening?
...I don't remember. I'm not near enough to one of my bikes to figure it out, but I'm thinking it's clockwise tighten/counter clockwise loosen like most nuts...anybody else want to comment?
 

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'brifter' is f'ing stupid
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ericm979 said:
Get the truing stand and tensiometer once you have done some wheels. You don't need them to start. It's a good idea to learn how to true wheels with nothing more than the wheel in the frame and a spoke wrench, so you can true a wheel in the field when a spoke breaks. It's not hard to do.
if you don't have the proper tools, how will you learn how to do the job correctly? lots of guys true wheels w/o checking tension, and they usually go right back out of true. obviously have someone w/ major experience showing you how to do it is a very important part of this, but having the proper tools is pretty big.
 

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Optomrider said:
My only question which direction of rotation is tightening and loosening?
The nipple is the nut. The spoke is the bolt. The threads are standard (i.e., lefty-loosey, righty-tighty). It's easier to envision if you put your head so that you are looking directly onto the part of the tire that touches the road (i.e., from the outside of the wheel looking towards the hub). From that perspective, if you turn the closest nipple clockwise, you are increasing the tension on the spoke, just like any other nut and bolt.
 

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John Nelson said:
The nipple is the nut. The spoke is the bolt. The threads are standard (i.e., lefty-loosey, righty-tighty). It's easier to envision if you put your head so that you are looking directly onto the part of the tire that touches the road (i.e., from the outside of the wheel looking towards the hub). From that perspective, if you turn the closest nipple clockwise, you are increasing the tension on the spoke, just like any other nut and bolt.
Hi John

Thanks, I've never had it explained as well as this before. It's amazing that several bike maintenance books I've read don't clarify this very important point as well as you have.
Thanks once again
 

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.02 cent's.
Even if you are a competent mechanic and are comfortable with tools. Truing wheels is an art form...

With the questions I'm seeing you ask...
I would suggest, rather than spend a couple hundred on tools. And perhaps ruin a good set of wheels. And perhaps risk your safety. Take your wheels once a year to your LBS and get them trued up. It's usually the rear wheel, in my case. That's about 35.00 - 40.00 a year.

So 5 years to pay back for the tools seems a bit much.

If you plan on learning to build wheels, then have some one show you, perhaps down at your LBS. Most shops have a mechanic that's willing to share their knowledge.


BTW- Here's some good info on the process:
http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=81
 

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Old school approach

cxwrench said:
if you don't have the proper tools, how will you learn how to do the job correctly? lots of guys true wheels w/o checking tension, and they usually go right back out of true. obviously have someone w/ major experience showing you how to do it is a very important part of this, but having the proper tools is pretty big.
I learned to get proper spoke tension by checking a "reference set" of good wheels that I knew were well-built. From the very beginning, I didn't have trouble with wheels going out of true. That was a long time ago, and I've built well over 100 wheel sets, and have not used a tensiometer to this day. I also built the first couple dozen wheels without a wheel jig, just using the frame. Likewise have never had need of a dishing guage. YMMV.
 

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your text here
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John Nelson said:
It's easier to envision if you put your head so that you are looking directly onto the part of the tire that touches the road (i.e., from the outside of the wheel looking towards the hub).
+eleventy
 
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