To the experienced builders. What are the absolutely neccessary tools to build a reliable trued wheel? The wheel will be a 700c wheel for a standard road bike.

  • Definitely you need a book (or maybe printout of a web page somewhere). After you've built maybe 20 wheel you might get the patterns memorized, but not the first few times. Apr 12, 2012 at 3:25

2 Answers 2


There are definitely more sophisticated tools for this but in my mind the essential kit includes (1) the right-sized spoke wrench, (2) a flathead screwdriver, (3) grease for spoke threads, (4) the front dropouts on an upside-down bicycle with brake pads for truing, and (5) lots of patience if you haven't done it before.

All of this assumes you have a rim and hub with the same hole count, along with correctly-sized spokes and enough spoke nipples.

  • 2
    I've done it with exactely the same kit and strategy, but without the grease. I haven't had problems, but I think a light lubrication on the threads is a good thing. And I recommend very very much the method of bending the spokes one against another, like shown in this image: sheldonbrown.com/images/stress_crank.gif . And, of course, the rear wheels should be trued while attached to the REAR of the upside-down-bike ;oP Apr 12, 2012 at 2:14
  • @heltonbiker Good call on the rear wheel strategy. As for the bending, I've read that but didn't do it on my last wheel; just depended on tension to create the bends. What's the main benefit of bending the spokes that way?
    – fideli
    Apr 12, 2012 at 2:53
  • I can see that bending like that would "encourage" the "settling" of the spokes, so that the wheel could be trued with fewer passes. Without doing that you really need to build the wheel, ride it for a hundred miles or so, and then re-true. Apr 12, 2012 at 3:28
  • I would probably argue that a skilled builder could manage a decent wheel with a kit like this, if that is what he had available. But for a first wheel build, using tools and stands that are jury-rigged will only make it harder to learn, and harder to get a good end product.
    – zenbike
    Apr 12, 2012 at 4:10
  • 1
    @fideli Bending that way assures that the spokes will run straight between nipple and crossing, and between crossing and elbow. The "tension-only" approach always yelds a slightly curved, "bowed" spoke, that will flex a bit under load, being more like a spring than like a solid element, in a way. Apr 12, 2012 at 17:09

To properly true and tension a wheel:

  1. Spoke wrench
  2. Nipple driver
  3. Truing stand
  4. Tensiometer
  5. Spoke prep or Linseed oil
  6. The Bicycle Wheel by Jobst Brandt

You can, of course, jury rig a Truing stand as others have mentioned, and you can build without a way to measure the tension on the spokes. Without a lot of practice and skill, though, your wheels will be less than perfectly strong and straight.

You should use a thread locker on the spoke nipples. Ideally, Spoke Prep from DT Swiss, or Linseed Oil, which acts as a lubricant until it dries, but acts as a thread lock once it's dry.

The book at the end of the list will teach you the theory behind how a wheel is built and why, and the lacing patterns, and what works best, and why.

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