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I own a 27.5" mountain bike and its front wheel is a little bent. Not too badly, but it is noticeable when riding or spinning the wheel. It probably wobbles about 1/4" or so. I have disc brakes, so it doesn't affect the braking. I don't want to take it into the repair shop, but I'm not sure how big of a deal it really is. Are there any performance/safety issues with a minorly bent front wheel?

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    It really depends on how out of true it is, and if it is just out of true laterally, or radially as well. Can you add an estimation of the deviation or 'wobble'? – Argenti Apparatus Aug 2 '18 at 21:02
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    If you don't feel it making the bike unstable then it's probably not an (immediate) problem. But note that whatever caused it to go wompus may add extra stress to the spokes or other components and lead to a more significant failure. I wouldn't go taking any transcontinental tours before you get the wheel tended to. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 2 '18 at 22:17
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    Check you don't have a spoke broken down by the hub at the right angle bend. They are not always visibly obvious - pinch pairs of spokes together near the hub – Henry Crun Aug 2 '18 at 23:16
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    Photos and/or a decently clear video would help. There's a very good chance you can improve the wheel to better than where it is now. – Criggie Aug 3 '18 at 1:09
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Usually when a wheel is out of true it means that a spoke has broken or come loose. However, it could also be a bent rim wall or a crack in the rim or hub. If that’s the case you should stop riding immediately.

Make sure you are actually looking at the rim and not at the tire. Tires often have a slight wobble because they are manufactured imperfectly. However, if the tire is bulging you should also stop riding immediately.

If it’s really only the wheel which is out of true because a spoke has come loose it’s not too bad but can cause a spoke to break sooner or later. If your wheel has ~24 spokes or more a single broken spoke usually won’t cause immediate failure of the wheel. You can continue to ride carefully with a broken spoke but should fix it as soon as possible because a second or third spoke is likely to follow which will cause the wheel to fail catastrophically.

You should check that all spokes are evenly tensioned. This is best done with a spoke tensiometer but you can also do it by feeling or sound. Spoke wrenches are cheap and allow you to adjust the spoke tension until the spokes are properly tensioned and the wheel is true again.

To give some numbers regarding the wobble: A properly built wheel should have less than 0.5mm lateral and radial movement. With a broken spoke you are likely to have 5mm or more of lateral movement.

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If you have spare time on your hand, what I would do (What I actually did, when I got to this point of my first wobbly wheel):

  • Buy yourself a spoke wrench (~ 10$/€)
  • Watch one of hundreds tutorial videos on how to straighten a wheel e.g.
  • Give yourself a try and understand a bit better on how you bike works and how easy it is to fix certain stuff.

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