Why Does My Rear Bike Wheel Wobble [Reasons & Solution]

Bike wheel wobbling is not a problem limited to the wheel. When the rear wheel starts wobbling, the whole bike loses its balance. Inefficient paddling and rubbing brake pads come next. Besides, shifting gets slow, and stoppage gets difficult for a wobbling rear bike wheel.

In short, the whole riding experience becomes bad after the rear bike wheel starts wobbling. Moreover, the risk of accidents increases significantly after it. So, the problem should be fixed immediately after you identify it.

Anyways, before solving the problem, you must know its reasons. So, here is why does your rear bike wheel wobble.

5 Reasons Rear Bike Wheel Wobble

Why Does My Rear Bike Wheel Wobble

A rear bike wheel wobbles primarily when the rim is bent. Besides, it occurs when there are problems in the hub. It can be a damaged bearing or a broken axle. It can also happen for a misplaced tire.

Anyways, let’s break it down into a few points. Know how all these problems arise so that it becomes easy to get a solution.

  1. Bent rim: The rim usually gets bent after a crash. It also occurs when you frequently ride on uneven terrain. Thus, the spoke tension around the wheel becomes non-uniform. As a result, the rear wheel starts wobbling.
  1. Bent axle nut: An axle nut connects and holds the wheel with the bike frame. So, it goes through a significant amount of stress-strain. As a result, it can’t remain straight and gets bent after a time. Thus, the rear bike wheel can also wobble.
  1. Damaged bearing: Bearings inside the hub allow the wheel to spin freely. But like any other component, it also gets damaged or displaced due to stress. When the bearing is not placed correctly, the wheel starts wobbling.
  1. Hub problem: Another reason your rear bike wheel wobbles is the hub itself. Sometimes it fails to hold the spokes tight. Thus, the spoke tension can’t remain uniform all around the rim. As a result, the rim gets bent, and the wheel starts wobbling.
  1. Misplaced tire: Sometimes, the rear bike wheel seems to be wobbled when the tire is not placed correctly. The tire can get misplaced over time, or you can put it wrong while installing.

A quick fix to a wobbling rear bike wheel

After identifying a wobbling rear, you must repair it. But it’s not always possible to repair the wheel. Especially when you face a crash in the middle of a ride and there is no bike shop around. That’s why I am bringing a quick fix that can be done without any heavy tools. Let’s check it out.

  1. Truing wheel by hand: If your bike wheel is damaged severely, you can’t ride too far. So, the bent must be fixed to some extent. However, 70 to 80% of rim bent can be fixed using hand pressure. So, loosen the quick release and do it. Firstly, take the wheel out of the bike and identify the bending area. Now, lay down the wheel on a plain hard surface like a wooden table or log. Lastly, use hand pressure to fix the bent.
  1. Realigning the tire: Most of the time, the tire gets misaligned when the ribbon around the rim gets displaced or damaged. So, you must put the ribbon correctly. Then realign the inner tube and close the tire with a Tire Lever. Lastly, pump the tire up to an optimal pressure level. To do it correctly, learn How to inflate bike tires.

How to repair wobbling rear bike wheel

How to repair wobbling rear bike wheel

After a quick fix, the wheel should be okay to go. But it won’t be a permanent solution. For advanced troubleshooting, you will need some tools and setup. However, there is an affordable alternative way too.

But it’s not the best way to follow. If you are still interested in knowing about it, read the post until the end. Anyways here are the tools and essentials to repair the rear bike wheel.

  1. Wheel repair stand
  2. Spoke wrench
  3. Lubricant
  4. Spare spokes (if necessary)
  5. Rear hub (if required)

After getting the tools ready, go step by step to repair the bent on the rear bike wheel.

Step-1: Prepare the wheel for truing

First of all, you have to remove the wheel from the bike. Then, prepare it for identifying the bent and truing it. Let’s go step by step to do it.

  1. Firstly, remove the rear wheel from the bike. For that, shift the chain to the lowest gear and bring it out of the derailleur. Then, loosen the quick-release lever and get the wheel out of the bike. If the bike doesn’t have a quick release, loosen the axle with a Wrench or Hex Key. While taking out the wheel off the bike, be careful. Otherwise, you can damage the disc brake.
  1. Secondly, remove the cassettes. Use a compatible Freewheel Removal Tool and loosen the freewheel with a Large Adjustable Wrench. The cassettes will be loosened after this.
  1. Thirdly, remove the tire and inner tube. Flate the tire first. Them, use a Tire Lever to separate the tire from the rim. Finally, bring the inner tube out of the rim. Also, remove the protection ribbon around the rim.
  1. Lastly, set the wheel up on a wheel repair stand. Adjust the indicator by rotating the dial. Keep it close to the rim, and you are ready to go.

Step-2: Side-by-side wheel truing

After preparing the wheel, you are ready to true the wheel. In this stage, you have to decide if there are any spoke(s) to be replaced. Also, observe the hub and whether you can go with it or you need to swap it too. However, follow the below steps for side-by-side wheel truing.

  1. Firstly, set the indicator correctly. Rotate the wheel and observe which side of the indicator the rim is about to touch. Bring this side of the indicator closer to the rim. Do it until the rim touches the indicator head.
  1. Secondly, identify the bending area. Rotate the wheel slowly and observe which area of the rim is touching the indicator. Mark that area and identify the spoke(s) positioning in the middle of that area.
  1. Thirdly, tighten the marked spoke(s). Another way you can determine which spoke to tight is by squeezing. Assume your wheel has bent on the left side. If the rim moves to the right side after squeezing the spokes, tighten the right-sided spokes. Oppositely tighten the left side spokes if the wheel has bent in on the right and the rim moves toward the left after squeezing.
  1. Lastly, repeat the above process until the gap between rim and indicator is under 1 mm. After making the adjustment on one side, do it on the other side similarly.

Step-3: Radial wheel truing

After truing the wheel side by side, you have to true it radially. Radial adjustment means giving the wheel an acceptable round shape. However, follow the below steps to get around the rear wheel.

  1. Firstly, set the indicator correctly. You don’t need to consider the right side or left side. Work with a side you wish. Also, use a single indicator head for reference. It’s better to keep another out. Lock the free indicator with a hex key.
  1. Secondly, identify the high spot (s) and rectify them. High spots are the zone where the rim tends to shrink outward. In this case, tighten the spokes positioning on the high spot zone. Thus the rim will move inward, and high spots will eliminate. However, repeat the process until the gap between rim and indictor is less than 0.5 mm.
  1. Thirdly, identify the low spot (s) and rectify them. Low spots are the zone where the rim tends to shrink inward. In this case, loosen the spokes positioning on the low spot zone. Thus, the rim will move outward, and the low spots will eliminate. However, repeat the process until the gap between rim and indictor is under 0.5 mm.
  1. Lastly, perform the side-by-side truing again. After truing the wheel radially, a slight lateral bent appears. So, you must look for lateral deviation and rectify it. However, after you are done truing, reinstall everything, inflate the tire, and go out for a ride. It’s essential for the distress of the spokes.
Freaky Tip: This process can seem complicated and time-consuming. In this case, pursue help from a professional bike mechanic. He can help you choose the right hub, identify the loose spokes, etc.

Frequently asked questions about rear bike wheel

Is there a difference between front and rear bike wheels?

Of course. There are differences between the front and rear bike wheels. Alongside some apparent differences(long axle/derailleur mount), there are other differences too. The rear hubs are pretty different from the front hubs. The spoke count is higher in a rear-wheel (20-28). Front-wheel is lighter and has a lower spoke count (18-24).

Are the front and rear bike wheels interchangeable?

To some extent, front and rear bike wheels are interchangeable. But I won’t recommend it to do. As I said, there are differences between the front and rear bike wheels. A rear wheel can tolerate higher stress or pressure with a higher spoke count. Other hand, a front wheel can’t hold that much weight. So, it’s better not to interchange them.

What are quick-release wheels?

Quick-release wheels are a type of wheel that can be removed by using a built-in cam lever. You don’t need any tools to remove a quick-release wheel from the bike. So, repairing or maintenance gets easy with this kind of bike wheel.

Conclusion

Most people think a bent rim is the only reason for a wobbling rear bike wheel. But there are other reasons too. Here, I have explained all the possible reasons why the rear bike wheel wobble. I have described their solutions too. Follow them if you want to get rid of the wobbling wheel.

However, repairing a bent wheel can seem expensive to you. But, if you are a bicycle freak, it’s worth it. If it still seems expensive, learn How to true a bike wheel without a spoke wrench. It’s the most affordable way to fix a bent wheel. You won’t need any special tools or supplies to do the job. So?

Fix your wheel and enjoy your rides without worries.

Cheers!

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