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I just got a truing stand but the manufacturer seems to do a good job of advertising every other accessory under the sun to go with it. What are the essentials? A wheel dishing tool? Tension meter etc...?

I'm looking to just true wheels.

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    Are you planning on building a wheel? Or just using it for truing wheels? – Batman May 11 '17 at 14:22
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    Just for truing. – Mindcontrol May 11 '17 at 14:24
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    I just use an old fork clamped into a vise, with some cable ties wrapped around the legs and adjusted to show the rises and falls. Next plan is to get a second front fork and cold-set it for wider back wheels. – Criggie May 12 '17 at 0:02
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If you're just truing a wheel, all you need is the appropriate spoke wrench (which depends on what wheel you have, obviously).

There are four aspects to truing a wheel (quoted from Park Tool, which I suggest you read):

LATERAL TRUE: this true is also called “rim run-out”, and is the side-to-side wobble of the rim as the wheel spins. This aspect is the most critical to brake caliper settings.

RADIAL TRUE: this is the amount of up and down wobble. If the wheel becomes out-of-round, it wobbles up and down with each revolution. In severe cases this will affect brake pad placement and can be felt by the rider as a bump every wheel revolution.

RIM CENTERING or “DISH”: this refers to the rim being centered in the frame. If the rim is offset in the frame to either side it may be difficult to adjust the brakes. Severe cases of poor centering can also cause handling problems, because the rear wheel will not track behind the front wheel.

TENSION: this is simply the tightness of the spokes. Spokes are tensioned just like other fasteners. Spoke tension is best measured using a tool called a spoke tension meter (tensiometer) such as the Park Tool TM-1, which flexes the spoke using a calibrated spring.

You probably won't need to handle dishing a wheel at home. As for the tensiometer, it can be nice to have (esp if you're replacing spokes or whatever; large deviations from normal spoke tension) or if you get into building a wheel, but a lot of people go by feel (squeezing spokes or whatever) and it is adequate.

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  • I think we were typing at the same time – CardMechanic May 11 '17 at 14:48
  • Seems so. It happens. – Batman May 11 '17 at 14:49
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Spoke wrenches, spoke holder if you have aero spokes, wheel extensions if you have a huge wheel, the dishing tool and tension meter are only important if you build wheels, there are also dials you can get for extremely close measurements on your wheel truing, and they also make one for disc rotors. I have never had use of either, but it just depends on how close tolerances you want to get to.

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Spoke wrenches are the essential one in the sense of being needed for every job, and all you need to many jobs reasonably well. A bladed spoke spoke holder is also essential if you're working on bladed spokes, although they're somewhat able to be improvised if that's going to be a rarity. (I wouldn't want to not have a real one handy though.)

You need to be able to get whatever wheels you'll be working on with whatever tires they may have mounted into the stand. (Removing the tire in a pinch being a poor option if you're tubeless.) Newer stands tend to able to do what you need in terms of clearance without add-on extenders or oversize calipers, but older ones can need them. A long 8 or 10mm allen wrench makes a good generic thru axle adapter. Proper ones are nice too but I often just grab a wrench. A Lefty adapter is pretty essential to work on Lefty wheels.

Some way of checking dish is essential if you want to do a good job. Especially if you're still learning how to work on wheels, you won't have the technique dialed to keep wheels from drifting to one side or the other as you work on them. In any case that's something that should always be checked for when doing any major work on the stand, as opposed to quick spot truing that won't really affect the dish either way. Flipping the wheel in the stand is reasonable for occasional use. It has to be done carefully but is accurate. Having a dishing tool makes the process faster and more confident, but they can be foregone if you're looking at more occasional use, especially major use.

A tensiometer should be considered essential for carbon and other very stiff and/or light wheels. The manufacturer recommended tension specs for carbon wheels are very meaningful numbers, and many rims today are stiff enough that spoke tension disparities can be hidden in a true-looking rim even though they're bad news for the wheel. Beyond that, tension balance and proper tension levels are important on all wheels if you want to do a good job. I like being able to take a wheel, whether a new machine-built one or a used one with some issues, and make it about as good as possible, and a tensiometer is essential in that. Tensiometers also let you know quickly and confidently if you're working on a beyond repair rim. Again, if the use is going to be limited to occasional spot truing, it can more or less be foregone.

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