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I have a wheel with about 0.5-1 cm of buckle in it. Is it repairable if I get my LBS to true it?

It’s a DT Swiss EX 1700 wheel, so it is a sturdy material, no cracks, one tiny flat spot, barely noticeable though, and it still holds air and sealant.

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    Pictures would help here. I’ve fixed a lot of dents in a lot of rims. Some can’t be fixed though. In any your LBS will be the best judge of whether your LBS can/is willing to fix it.
    – Paul H
    Commented May 19 at 13:42
  • Quick googling shows that the rim costs as much as a supermarket bicycle. Commented May 20 at 6:58
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica what ideas and information should we take away from that statement?
    – Paul H
    Commented May 20 at 20:14
  • @PaulH That the OP has a strong motivation to not simply buy a replacement rim/wheel. It is a valuable part. (I mentioned the googling only to hedge any mistakes, like mistaking the rim.) Commented May 20 at 21:00
  • Oh I see. It never occurred to me to think of replacing the rims (without seeing the dent). But I’ve been riding nearly exclusively DT Swiss rims like the EX1700 on my mountain bikes for some years now.
    – Paul H
    Commented May 21 at 3:06

2 Answers 2

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It's somewhat unclear to me what kind of failure you exactly have (a picture would help). Is it deformed laterally or radially? 0.5-1cm, does this mean this is the maximum deflection from what it would be if the rim was undamaged, or does this mean that a 0.5 - 1 cm size coin can fully cover the damage you have?

There are two kinds of failures that can be repaired.

One is "soft wheel failure", described in "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt. It means a lateral smooth and continuous bend. It is repaired by loosening all nipples two turns, laying the wheel so that the wave is towards the floor and pressing hard on the rim on both sides of the wave. This is repeated as long as all waves are gone, as well as you can make them gone. Then the spokes are tensioned and the wheel is trued. However, you'll probably end up with a wheel that has nonuniform spoke tension, so it's possible the wheel doesn't stay true, especially if you ride hard on high pressure narrow tires and/or are overweight and/or carry lots of cargo on your bike.

Another is a dented rim. In this case, the rim has a small dent, much smaller than in "soft wheel failure". You repair it with a hammer and a block of wood after loosening all nipples and maybe removing one spoke if the spoke is exactly at the location of a radial dent. The dent may be lateral or radial. If a sidewall is bent, you use a large adjustable wrench to straighten it. Then you tension all spokes and true the wheel.

I suspect a lot of the repairs are such that a shop could be unwilling to do them (they would replace the entire rim, very often being unwilling to even reuse spokes if you happen to find a rim with equal ERD), but you could do them yourself. The reason being that a shop probably wants to guarantee the result of their work, and a dented rim may not always be repairable to be as good as new, and the wheel may not stay true if the retensioned wheel has unequal spoke tensions. But if you learn to repair wheels yourself, you can do it.

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I am assuming that you mean that there is a big dent in the rim sidewall.

If the rim were made of steel, then you could bend it back. So long as it hadn’t fractured in the first place, you could even bend it back repeatedly. The same is true of derailleur hangers.

Due to material properties, aluminum will crack if you bend it back enough. A slight dent would be ok to bend back, although on a rim, a slight dent might be immaterial.

If the rim were not holding air, then you’d have nothing to lose. It is holding air. Therefore, if it were my rim, I would probably leave it for now. You can and should take it to your bike store to get a second opinion. They might not be willing to bend it back due to liability or perceptions of liability. If you were doing this on your own, I think I would just take a crescent wrench and try slowly.

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    Hangers. Attaching a hangar to your bicycle doesn't seem very practical.
    – Dan Mašek
    Commented May 20 at 12:49
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    @DanMašek True, this is kind of like the brake vs break spelling issue you often see on forums. I must correct this.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented May 21 at 20:32
  • No worries, English spelling is tricky. I've seen it few times before, and couldn't resit anymore -- can't really make single character edits, so I pointed it out. :)
    – Dan Mašek
    Commented May 21 at 20:37

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