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?
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.
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.