How to Fix Bent Bicycle Rim

Damaged Bicycle Rim and Wheel

Bent bike rims are a common occurrence. After all, even the best bikes and most experienced riders cannot entirely avoid all potholes, curb hits and other road hazards that bend and damage their rims.

But this does not mean you have to worry when you spot a nick or a bend. A bent rim is easy to fix as long as you know how to do it and are equipped with the right tools.

This guide will walk you through how to fix bent bicycle rim so you can enjoy a smooth and safe ride each time.

Guide on How to Fix Bent Bicycle Rim

Guide on how to fix bent bicycle rim

Tools and Equipment

  • Spoke wrench
  • Oil

Step-By-Step Guide

Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how to fix bent bicycle rim without even removing your bike wheel:

Step 1. Inspect the Rim and Spokes

Inspecting spokes and rim on wheel

Flip your bike over so you can easily rotate the wheel. Inspect the wheel for any broken spokes. If you find any, you can try the method outlined below to straighten a bike rim. However, it is best to replace broken spokes.

If you have to ride a long distance with a broken spoke, lighten the load on your bike as much as possible. Next, ensure that the axle is seated completely in the dropouts. If you have a quick-release wheel, it may not be snug.

If you find that only the axle is not sitting straight, there is no need to fix the bike rim.

Make sure your brakes are not bent to the side and that the brake cable is not stuck on anything.

Step 2. Check the Alignment

Once you’ve finished your preliminary inspection, spin the wheel slowly and check the size of the gap between it and the brake pad.

As the wheel rotates, you’ll find that some sections are closer to the pad and other sections are a little further away. A perfectly straight wheel has an even gap all around.

Step 3. Identify the Problem Areas

Rotate the wheel to the area of the rim touching the brake pad. If the rim is bent to one side, you need to tighten the spoke opposite the bend to fix it.

Step 4. Tighten the Spokes

tightening spokes

You can begin tightening the spokes of the bent rim. To do this, put the nipple of the spoke into the notch in the spoke wrench—make sure your tool is the correct size. Turn it counterclockwise to tighten the spoke.

If you spot several bends in different directions, it’s best to start with the largest ding.

You can loosen the spokes on the other end of the ones that you’re tightening. This is especially useful if you need to tighten a spoke by many turns in one spot.

Pluck the spokes to inspect their relative tightness. This will help you avoid over-tightening the spokes and damaging them.

Step 5. True the Rim

Truing a rim

If the distortion in your bike rim is a few inches long, evenly tighten the two spokes on the other end of the bend by a half-turn of the wrench. Inspect the gap repeatedly and continue tightening until you mostly straighten out the large bend.

If the distorted area in the rim is larger, you may need to tighten three or four spokes on the opposite side. If the spoke nipples are corroded, grease them with a bit of oil to help them turn easily.

Step 6. Recheck Your Truing

Once the wheel starts to freely rotate and the gap looks close to even all around the rim, squeeze all the pairs of spokes to even out the tension. Finally, recheck your truing, and you’re done!

Can You Ride a Bike With Bent Rim?

check rim and spokes

Riding a few miles with a bent rim is perfectly doable, and you and your bike will likely be fine.

But it’s best to avoid going out with a bent rim if you are carrying a heavy load or riding long distances. This can make a minor distortion significantly worse, to the point that it can no longer be fixed.

Regularly inspect your bike before each ride. When you spot a marginal bend in the rim, it’s best to fix it immediately. Riding with a bent rim can increase the risk of cracks or permanent damage. This can be incredibly dangerous if you happen to be riding long distances or on uneven trails, dirt roads, mountains, and other rugged surfaces when the rim can crack unexpectedly.

Don’t ride over potholes or do bike stunts such as jumps and wheelies when you have a bent rim. Moreover, if you notice vibrations when riding, you should fix the rim immediately.

Major Causes for Bent Bicycle Rim

The most common causes of bent bike rims are:

1. Rim Design

Rim material and design

The bike rim’s design is one of the major factors that determine how prone it is to bends and distortions. For example, BMX and mountain bikes have wider tires and rims for enhanced traction and grip, so their rims stay true or straight without bending for a long time.

In contrast, standard road bikes have thinner tires and rims, so they can easily bend with regular use.

2. Riding Conditions

Usually, a bike ride across a smooth, flat surface won’t result in bends. However, hitting a pothole, curb, rock, or tree stump, doing bike stunts, or breaking a spoke can cause bends in the rim.

Those who ride on rugged terrains are more likely to experience bent rims than road cyclists.

3. Rim Condition

Rusty bicycle wheel

If the bike rim is very old or worn out, it is more susceptible to getting bent and damaged. Also, if your bike rim already had a minor bend or two that you left alone for a long time, it can become permanent and cause more damage as you continue to ride.

Conclusion

We hope our guide on how to fix a bent bicycle rim will help you straighten out your distorted rim before you go on your next ride.

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Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Editor

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