How to Fix A Bent Bike Rim

Written By, Perry Knight
Last Updated:

One of the most frustrating things that happens to a cyclist is having a bent rim. I know, we’ve tried to ride our bikes carefully and treated them with the most care, and yet things like this still happen.

Of course seeing the rim of your beloved bike would really frighten you because it looks so damaged. But worry not, it’s not unfixable.

Here, in this article you will learn how to fix your bent bike rim yourself, which I believe, will make you feel relieved.

What Do You Need to Get It Done?

Before we get down to business, let’s talk about the tools and materials that you will need to assist you on this task.

  • A Spoke Wrench

This specific tool is something that you will need to true your rim, so it won’t wobble later after you fix the bend. Like the name suggests, it’s designed to go on your spokes to tighten and loosen them.

  • Spokes

Well, this depends. If your rim is seriously bent, you will need a few spare spokes to replace the old spokes that got out of shape. And it’s always nice to have some spares.

  • Rubber Mallet

Are you wondering why this tool is here? Well, because you will need to flatten your rim, and you don’t want to damage it. So, a rubber mallet would be a safe option to pound your rim to shape.

  • A Strap

For this tool, you can use anything that can hold the brakes, be it a proper strap, a duct tape, or rubber band. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Fix Your Bent Rim

Now that you already got everything ready to get the job done, let’s get down to the real reason ‌you are here.

But before you get started, be sure ‌you are in a safe environment. If you are reading this when you just got your rim bent on a ride, go somewhere else, or even better go home, to park and away from traffic.

Now let’s break it down to some steps.

1. Remove The Bike Tire

This sounds like a simple task, but since the rim is now bent, you’d find it a little more difficult to get it done properly. 

For the note, you actually can straighten the rim with the tire still attached to it, but you would damage the tire. So pull out your wheel carefully and separate the tire from the rim.

2. Loosen The Spokes

Now, when you’ve got your rim naked, time to loosen the spokes. You need to do this to make the wheel more malleable.

So, loosen the spokes by about 2 turns to reduce the tension.

3. Leverage The Rim Against Something and Apply Pressure to It

After you got all the preparations done, you can now straighten the rim.

First thing you need to do is to find a hard and straight surface. You will need to lay your bent rim on top of the surface with the bend facing upward.

Now it’s time to press the bend with something heavy. You can use your body weight for this, so just step on it or lean on it with your arms. If you are with someone else, you can ask them to hold the other side of the wheel to make it stay in place while you are trying to straighten it.

If you still feel like it’s still bent but you are afraid that your body weight would be too much, it’s time to use the rubber mallet. Now pound the spots as gentle as possible to shape it back.

Your tire now would be pretty much straight. Time to true it on the bike.

4. Check the Rim and Spokes

Look at your wheel again, hold it with your hand or put it parallel to a flat surface and see if it’s already looking like a straight horizontal line.

The next thing you need to do is to check all the spokes. If there are some of them that break, replace them with the new ones.

5. Attach the Wheel to The Bike

Now time to flip your bike upside down as you lay it on its saddle. With this, you can easily attach the wheel with the straightened rim to your bike and it can spin more freely.

You need to do this to see if the wheel is well-fitted and well-adjusted. Also, while you are at it, check if the axle is a perfect fit on the slot. Now give it a spin!

As you let the wheel spin, look at the gap between the brake pads. See if the gaps are closing on some points. In a perfectly true wheel the gap on the both sides would be all even. But it will not be the case here.

6. Finding The Problem Spots

Watch as the wheel spins slowly, mark it down where it hits the brake pads. Look at which direction your rim bends to.

After you’ve identified the problem spots, it’s time to tighten the spokes at the opposite directions of the marks you’ve put on to the rim. That will pull the rim to the opposite side of the bend. 

7. Tightening The Spokes

To tighten a spoke, you need to place the spoke nipple into the notch in your spoke wrench. Make sure ‌you got the right size of the wrench.

Here’s the rule: Turn COUNTERCLOCKWISE to TIGHTEN

If you’re ever in doubt about how tight it is, try to pull the spoke like a guitar string to make a sound. Tighten it with one full turn and pull it again. If the pitch is higher, you are tightening the spoke; but if it’s lower, that means it loosened.

By tightening the spokes, you will draw the rim to the hub flange side where it connects, so it would help to straighten the wheel.

8. Now, True the Bike Wheel

You need to note that the bend on your rim might be a few inches long. Thus, you need to start by evenly tightening the two spokes on the opposite of the bend by a half turn.

After that, you need to recheck the gap. 

Repeat this process for several times as you keep closing the gap by tightening the strap on your brake lever. Keep doing it ‌until the gap is even on both sides.

9. Check and Recheck to Finish

Now that you’ve finished truing the wheel, time to put on the tire again and attach it back to the bike properly.

Give it a spin and see if the wheel is already straightened or still wobbly. If everything is good, you can take it for a ride and then check it again to make sure that the adjustment is all okay and your bike is ready to hit the road again. 

If you still find some issue keep repeating the same process as before until you find no more problems.

Why Do Bike Rims Get Bent?

As we all understand that bent rims aren’t not good news for us cyclists, nor how it happened.

Your rims can get bent from some causes. Bent rims can be resulted from hitting too many potholes, hitting a curb in the street, speeding up on the speed bumps, accidentally getting it twisted when trying to get a bike in or out of a bike rack, or a spoke break.

  • Can It Be Fixed?

If you’ve read the article up to this point, you should’ve already known that you can fix this kind of issue. However, it is not guaranteed that your rims would go back to its 100% condition before it got bent.

  • Severe Bent Bike Rim

Although you can fix a mildly bent rim, there are some conditions that won’t allow you to make your rim fixed, no matter how hard you try.

That is when your rim is severely bent to the point it leaves cracks on it. If you ever encountered something like this, I have no other thing to suggest but look for a new one.

Why Fix It Yourself?

Now let’s talk about the benefits of doing all this hard work yourself.

  • It Saves You Money

This one goes without saying. If you do all the repair yourself, you’d save the money you’d pay for the bike mechanics to fix your rims or for even buying a new one.

  • It Deepens Your Understanding of Your Bike 

By doing maintenance and repair like this, you’ll also learn more about your bike, how it works and how much it matters to you. This would make you appreciate your ride better which will make the rides more fun.

  • It’s Fun

This depends on your personality, but getting yourself all dirty while learning something new, not to mention that you can finish it, would really give a feeling of satisfaction for you.

Caring For Your Bike Is Easy

To conclude this article, I would like to encourage us all to take care of our bicycles more. Even though it might not sound easy at first, as time goes you’ll get used to it and you’ll be able to do it effortlessly.

Doing small repairs like this and a little maintenance to your bike would help prolong its lifetime to carry you on your journey.

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Author
Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.

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