Instructables

Bicycle Wheel Truing - on the bike, with a marker pen.

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Picture of Bicycle Wheel Truing - on the bike, with a marker pen.
002 Line WheelInst UL.JPG
004 Low SpotsInst UL.JPG
This is a really easy technique of truing bicycle wheels, in the frame, using only a white board marker pen, a Chinagraph (black wax glass cutters / art pencil) or a black wax crayon, or a permanent marker etc.

The best marker needs to be DARK and reasonably opaque - and easy to remove. Black white board markers are best, black wax crayons, chinagraph pencils and indelible markers running a close second.

(see my next Instructable on resurecting white boarrd markers)

It works like this:

The rim is rubbed with a dish washing abrasive pad and some kind of solvent such as kerosine, turpentine, acetone, dish washing soapy water etc... making it more or less oil free and clean.

An ink ring is applied to the side of the rim, by placing the marker on the side of the rim, and rotating the wheel slowly.

Then the wheel is roatated really fast, some kind of friction material - usually wood, is slowly brought towards the rim, until the high spots JUST start to rub against the wood, and rub the ink off.

Bingo! There are all your high spots where the ink is rubbed off, and the low spots are where the ink still remains.


The beauty of this system lies in it's absolute simplicity, and the combination of 4 feed back systems.

You can VISUALLY see the high and low spots RECORDED, where they occur, on the rim.

You can FEEL the high and low spots, as the dowel runs over them.

You can see the GAP between the dowel and the rim.

You can hear the rubbing of the dowel on the rims high spots.


And as you dial the wheel in - by very fine adjustments of the spoke tension - tightening some spokes, and loosening others - in 1/8th, 1/4 to 1/3rd turn increments - you can dial the wheel in absolutely true - to easily within about 0.2mm or 0.3mm - because this is incredibly tactile, and you can SEE and FEEL and HEAR the dowel and the WAY it rubs on the rim.

When the rim is out of true, the dowel rubs against the rim, with a "silence" where it runs above the low area, and a "ssssttttt" where it rubs on the high spot. So as the wheel spins it makes a "silence" - "ssssttttt" - "silence" - "ssssttttt" -"silence" - "ssssttttt" -"silence" - "ssssttttt".

And when the rim is running perfectly true, the noise of the dragging dowel is "Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss" with no real variation in tone or breaks in the tone.

And you can FEEL it - the tactile feed back. And you can SEE how the rim runs closer / far away / closer / far away - from the dowel or if it runs parallel.



This is so fiendlishly simple and brilliant to use.


Step 1. Push the marker pen against the rim and rotate the wheel slowly.

One pen width and one revolution seems enough.

 
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Elsinore1 year ago
I have been using a variation of this for years and can attest to its viability. The difference is I don't mark the entire rim - I spin the wheels and just steady a marker or usually just a piece of chalk on the chain stay, moving it in until it marks the high spots on the rim sidewall. It has worked for me for years and seems much simpler than marking the entire rim and then removing all the 'normal' surface.
For radial truing I do the same thing but remove the tire to mark the top of the rim at the high spots.
The results are surprisingly good, often as good as what most bike shops without a dedicated wheel builder can do. One tip - don't forget to relieve any wind up up on the adjusted spokes by lightly tapping them with a rubber mallet or grabbing a set of them and squeezing. This relieves any twisting caused by tensioning the spokes. You will likely hear popping or creaking as they 'unwind'. Check your truing again - it may well be out. I also found you can check overall spke tension pretty well by listening to the spokes when you spin the wheel and use a pencil. pen body or any piece of wood or light plastic to lightly contact them as they spin, making them 'ping'. You want the pinging to be of realtively the same pitch. I never expect to get them all pitch perfect, but you can quickly weed out anything loose or overly tensioned.
estructor1 year ago
Good trick. This is great encouragement for folks to do wheel truing in an informal way. Great to know on rides where rim gets knocked out enough to rub brake pads too much to get home, or to do interim truing at home bench.
As a shop mechanic, we still see good reasons to actually take a wheel out of the bike:
-to check for a loose or broken axle, often a culprit in wheel wobble.
-on every wheel true job, tire comes off to inspect for bad rim strip, spoke protrusions. (The successive tensioning of spokes over time often brings risk of ends emerging toward tube, though quality wheels shouldn't have original spoke lengths this long.)
-to remedy a flat spot or dent in the rim. If a flat spot exists, usually you can't tighten a co-existing runout into compliance, the nipple bottoms out on spoke before it can pull rim over sufficiently.
As "'ibles folks," we are true DIY, but when skipping visits to bike shop, I'd just say don't skip taking the wheel out, if you have time.

rimar20001 year ago
This is a good instructable, very useful.

But I have a suggestion, based on my own experience: BEFORE begin to truing the wheel, check the balls and cones of the axis. Otherwise you could be working hours without result.
Wroger-Wroger (author)  rimar20001 year ago
A loose wheel is a loose wheel.

A rim that is not running true, is a rim that is not running true.

This is what this tutorial is about.

I also do not use cone, cup and ball bearings in this wheel.

I machined the hub to accept 3 sealed SKF ball bearings. It runs on a hollow compound axle. All of my own design.

The axle cannot be bent. The bearings never go loose.

Thanks for sharing.
Good idea machining the hub for industrial bearings. You should write an instructable on that.
I'll use your method for wheels with coaster brakes. With rim brakes I approach one of the pads to the rim and turn the wheel. Then I tight the spokes where the wheel tends to stop.
Quadranut1 year ago
sooooooo..........

that you machined the hubs yourself and do not use "cone cup and ball bearing " axles

In its simplicity I can see the usefulness but as stated above from rimar2000

check the axle first and then if
" Dat don't work " grab a marker

Good Ible Wroger keep up with the simple stuff. It is what keeps us up and running no matter how many chips, heat sinks, and what not are inside
nick2221 year ago
Simplicity makes it brilliant, got my vote!
foobear1 year ago
very smart, thank you!