How to Balance a Bicycle Wheel

Woman fixing bicycle

Unbalanced bicycle wheels are a common problem for many cyclists. Wheels become unbalanced for a host of reasons, including riding over rough terrain, experiencing bumps or falling. Riders don't need to rush straight to the repair shop if a wheel becomes unbalanced, however. Often a bicycle can be conveniently fixed at home or on the road without the need for expensive professional repair, getting you back on your bicycle quickly.

Turn the bicycle over and rest it on its saddle and handlebars to provide a stable surface on which to work on the wheel. Gently spin the unbalanced wheel, and watch it closely as it passes the brake pads. The bend is situated on the area of the rim that catches on one of the pads.

Mark the bent section of the rim with chalk or a marker pen. Spin the wheel a little more, so that the bent section moves into an open area that will be easy to work on.

Identify three or four spokes on either side of the bend. These will be the spokes you need to adjust to correct the balance of the wheel. Turn the spokes on the bent side of the rim one quarter of a turn anticlockwise with a pliers or a spoke wrench. This will loosen these spokes.

Turn the spokes on the opposite side of the bend one quarter of a turn clockwise, pulling the wheel toward this side. Spin the wheel to see if it is balanced. If the wheel still catches on the same brake pad, continue to tighten the spokes on the opposite side of the bend. If it now rubs against the opposite pad, reverse the process using smaller spoke adjustments until the wheel is balanced.

Return the bicycle to its upright position. Take a test ride to ensure that the wheel that you have worked on performs correctly.