How to Adjust Bike Spokes


Every cyclist should understand how their bike operates and how to fix it. These skills will save you lots of time and money. Adjusting your spokes will ensure that your ride is smooth and safe. The process will only take a few extra minutes. Ignoring the problem could damage your wheel and cause it to have to be rebuilt or replaced.

Things You'll Need

  • Truing stand
  • Spoke wrench
  • Turn the bike upside down, resting it on the seat and handlebars. If you have a wheel truing stand, use that to get at the wheels. Either way, make sure the bike is stable before you begin to work on it.

  • Spin the wheel, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Use the brake pads as a reference point. Watch the rim of the bike to find if the wheel does not move in a perfect circle. Where the wheel comes close to the brakes is where you'll need to adjust the spokes.

  • Take note which side the wheel comes closest to the brake. This is the side you'll want to adjust the spokes. (Notice that there are two sides of spokes on a bike wheel.)

  • Use a spoke wrench to tighten the spoke by placing it on the nipple. Start with a quarter turn and then go back and evaluate how the wheel spins. If it still needs additional adjustment, do another quarter turn.

  • Make sure that when you finish adjusting the spokes, the rim spins in the center and no side of the wheel moves closer to the brake pads.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have to completely removed the spoke, use thread-locking compound, which can be found at bike stores, to secure the spoke to the nipple.
  • If you are constantly having to tighten your spokes, it could be a sign that your rim is bent and your wheel needs to be rebuilt.
  • Be careful not to overtighten the spokes.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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