I bought a spoke wrench and tried to true up a wheel (for a heavier rider 220+ lbs.)

However, as soon as they got on, there was a chinking noise, and the brake rub I had just fixed resumed (albeit slightly.)

I used the motion of the brake pad (I had one pad rubbing on the rim) as the stand. There was still a slight hop in it. I wasn't systematic, but, whenever there was too much deviation in one spot I would tighten or loosen the spokes a few times until it was fairly straight.

Does anyone know the most likely error in my process? Thanks.

3 Answers 3


Wheel truing is an iterative process. The "chinking" noise is where the spokes cross and they are moving relative to the other one.

I'm guessing you trued the wheel but the spoke tension had not been relieved - and when it did relax, the rim went a little more out of true.

The fix is to stress the wheel sideways somewhat, by:

  • Gently laying it on the ground and press opposite sides of the rim
  • Ride it a little
  • Grab pairs of spokes in your hands and give them a solid squeeze.

...and then to continue with the truing. You also want to check wobble, vertical displacement, and spoke tension. Alternate around, working on the worst thing to make it better but not perfect. There's little point in fixing one area of the rim perfect, then adjusting another bit which puts the first bit out of whack.

Another gotcha with using the brake pads as a truing reference is that the rim may not be consistent width. A rim that has taken an impact may be bulging or widened, which can put your measurements off.

Truing with the tyre on can also make it harder to get that very last bit out. For a quick improvement its fine, but to do a really nice wheel you want the tyre/tube off. Some people will even remove the rim tape.


Mainly it's a process, not an action. You need to slowly true the wheel, finding the high/low spot and tightening the appropriate spoke about a half turn at a time, then checking again. Normally you will just tighten, not loosen, and usually, for a reasonably severe warp, you'll want to tighten several spokes, not just one.


If I understand correctly - once you mounted the wheels and started riding, there was noise? That means either spoke twist unwinding (ping sounds), or loose spokes moving and rubbing each other (more of a creaking sound).

Wheel building (and truing) is a simple, straight forward process, but it needs to be done step by step, with incremental adjustments. Being an experienced mechanic, I still have problems when trying to "just touch up" a wheel that has spoke tension highly off ballance on several spokes - it's often quicker to loosen them all and "start from the top". Your current wheel(s) might be such a case as well.

Best answer I can think of is recommending this book. It's relatively cheap. Easy to read, short. Has all the DIY advice (building your truing stand, nipple driver etc - anything but a spoke key is explained how to make on a cheap). It's among the best books that explain the topic - so you know what you're doing and it's really easy after that. Not selling the book, nor getting any commision from the sales.

I also made a video explaining the process, in detail (not the best sound - synced to Tarzan English :) - but it's free ).

  • Please try and make your answer self contained - the last two paragraphs are basically "link-only"
    – Criggie
    Dec 25, 2018 at 13:37
  • In my opinion, a shorter answer (suitable for this platform) would be misleading, or oversimplifying. It's not rocket science, but there are several things to consider. I'd be happy to be proven wrong and hope we'll get an answer that explains the topic (to what I suppose is a novice when it comes to wheel building) properly. Moderators can feel free to delete the answer as far as I'm concerned - no hard feelings - no problem. Dec 25, 2018 at 16:40
  • 1
    Concur - there's a whole heap of details and gotchas in wheel truing. However "go watch this video/read this book" are supporting info and aren't contributing to the self-contained nature of a Q&A answer. SE answers can be up to 30,000 characters long so plenty of room for detail.
    – Criggie
    Dec 25, 2018 at 21:53
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    I understand. I had learned "the hard way", wish I had had the linked book at hand some 20 years ago. That is - 20 year younger me would most probably have found my current answer quite helpful. If it's against the rules - feel free to edit/delete. I'd try not to do it again - though for me at least it would probably mean not answering a question at times. Rules are rules, probably with a good reason. It is what it is - no problems. Dec 26, 2018 at 7:33

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