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I left my bike in a shed, probably someone hit it, it fell and now the front wheel is bent. Not too bent, but when riding it oscillates with about 1 cm. Of course, this is messing with the brakes, but this can be avoided by making the space near the wheel larger.

We're talking about a pretty cheap bike, that is an important asset for me, and I want to find a cheap way to fix it. So, my options would be to adjust the breaks and use it like this (the cheapest, but i don't know if it is risky), to go to a repair shop and get the wheel straightened (I don't know if it's possible or if it's worth it) and change the wheel (cleanest way, but a little bit expensive).

  • getting it repaired - may or may not be possible, may or may not be cost effective. If it's a cheap bike, I'd be tempted just to look on eBay to get an idea of how much a new wheel will cost. Would you know what you're looking for? – PeteH Sep 24 '14 at 10:37
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    I think I'd count 1cm as very bent and probably beyond truing using spoke tensioning (as is usually used). I'd agree with @PeteH that a new one might be the way forward. – Holloway Sep 24 '14 at 10:40
  • Well the first thing to do would be to check that nothing else is bent out of line. If it really is bent by 1 cm, you have to un-bend the rim and then re-tension the spokes. If the bike is cheap, finding a cheap wheel of the same size is probably cheaper than the labor at a bike shop if you don't know how to true a wheel. Seems somewhat odd that a simple fall would bend a wheel. – Batman Sep 24 '14 at 11:29
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    I've straightened up worse, just by adjusting the spokes, and had a fairly good outcome. Or you can sometimes buy a complete new wheel for pretty cheap. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 24 '14 at 12:05
  • If it is a cheap steel rim, 1cm is esily trued just by adjusting spokes. Cheap Singlewall Steel rims are very flexible, it does not take a lot of force to bend or unben them, so the spokes wont suffer. – Jahaziel Sep 26 '14 at 23:27
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A wobble like that, particularly if it wasn't caused by some severe damage, can usually be fixed by truing the wheel. You will need a spoke wrench of the right size to fit the spoke nipples, but you can get by without a truing stand and just use the brakes.

The Park Tools site has a pretty good guide to wheel truing, as does the Sheldon Brown site.

As an overview, you will want to do the following:

  1. Check each spoke to see if one is broken. A wobble the size you are talking about is frequently caused by a broken spoke. If one is broken and you are a novice a bike repair this is probably the point at which you take the wheel to the shop.
  2. I use a dry erase marker to put a tick mark on the rim above any spoke that is significantly loose compared to it's neighbors. It's likely that in the area of the wobble you will find one or more loose spokes.
  3. Following the repair guides linked above, adjust the spokes in the area of the wobble until it no longer brushes the brakes.
  4. No Truing Stand Trick: Now take a velcro strap or piece of twine and use that to hold the brakes slightly tighter. Repeat Step 3.

Be patient and use small (1/4 or 1/8) turns of the spoke wrench, and you will have a wheel that is straight and true before you know it.

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    In fact, the "damage" may have occurred without anything hitting the bike, when a spoke, out of the blue, just "decided" to break. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 24 '14 at 18:29
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    +1 for "before you know it" you must be a patient man or forgot about the first time you did it :) – mattnz Sep 24 '14 at 20:32
  • It's a "Zen" thing - I completely lose track of time. – Gary.Ray Sep 25 '14 at 12:47
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If the rim has been bent significantly for a long-ish period I would advise getting a new rim and spokes. An Al rim should not be too expensive, and you should be able to re-use some of the spokes. As @Gary-Ray mentioned - you are probably better off taking it to a bike shop, esp if spokes are rusted, bent and/or broken.

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