If you have been riding BMX for more than a few days, there’s a good chance you have had your wheel knocked out of true. Whether it be side to side or a hop which is up and down, it happens. BMX is aggressive and it can put some serious abuse on those 20″ wheels of yours. When that happens you’re usually left with only a few options; take it to a shop and have a trained professional do it (recommended), buy or borrow a truing stand and fix it yourself (which we only recommend if you know what you’re doing) or try and eye ball it, which can work in some cases. Today, our friend and FBM and Madera team rider, Mike Hinkens posted a photo on Facebook giving us a look at a a method he uses to true his wheels that is quite a bit more cost effective than buying an actual truing stand. We we’re pretty stoked on the idea, so we decided to give it a go to see if it works and figured it would be cool to show you how to get it done yourself if you’re in a pinch!
Above is the original photo Mike posted on Facebook and below is a slightly zoomed in version to give you a better look. The concept is pretty straight forward. Two oversized clips that hold two paper clips in place that act as the arms that adjust in and out on a normal truing stand would. You adjust the clips in (or out) as you get your wheel straight.
We gathered the short supply list for this — Two clips, two paper clips and a spoke wrench. We didn’t have any oversized binder clips like Mike did, but we discovered that traditional clips used for bags of chips can be a good substitute. The ones we happened to have even had rubber seams which is even more beneficial because it grips the frame better and it won’t scuff or scratch the paint.
Above are two examples of other styles of clips you can use. These two were actually too small and wouldn’t actually hold the paper clip in place, so make sure you have something big enough to get over your chain stays.
Once you have the materials needed, the next step is to flip that bike of yours over and get the back wheel elevated so it can spin. To ensure your wheel is centered in the dropouts, slam the wheel all the way until the axle is tight up against the dropouts and lock it in place by tightening your wheel down all the way. If you look at Mike’s photo, he didn’t have a tire on his rim, which will give you more clearance. You might be able to get away with not removing the tire if your frame has enough clearance. It’s important you get your wheel slammed because you will want the wheel as centered as possible to get your wheel straight.
After the wheel is centered, you will want to mount your clips and get them in enough so they aren’t rubbing, but will catch where the wheel is out of true. Once you have done that, you’re ready to start making adjustments and get your wheel back in-line. This is where we will leave it just because we suggest that you already know how to properly true a wheel in a stand before you actually give this a whirl. If you’re new to truing wheels, give good old Google a search. There’s literally hundreds of great tutorials on how to get it done.
Once you have your wheel straight with both clips on the sides even without much, if any, space between the paper clips and the rim, then you should be good to go. Since this is more designed to be a quick or cost effective fix versus a perfect true, you may still have some imperfections, but you can get your wheel pretty close this way.
This method could be used to fix hops as well by simply moving the clips up above the rim and adjusting in until you get a consistent roll. Once again, you will want to be familiar with how to properly true a rim before you do that. It’s very easy to make your wheel worse if you’re not making the right adjustments.
So, that’s a pretty smart way to whip up a quick truing stand so that you can true a BMX wheel (or really any bicycle wheel) without having an actual truing stand. Shout out to Mike Hinkens for the great idea. Once again, we only recommend this if you don’t have access to a truing stand or shop, and you know how to true a wheel.
UPDATE: Brant Moore hit us with a link to a video on how to true a wheel with a zip tie! View the video here: How To True a Wheel with a Zip Tie!
Do you have any other ways to true a wheel when you’re in a pinch? What about other ways to fix your bike when you don’t have access to tools? Let us know in the comments!