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How to Repair a Bike Rim: Step by Step Guide

If you’re struggling with a bent or dented bike rim, don’t panic. While sometimes a significant dent or bend might require a new wheel, it can be fixed right from home most of the time.

A bike rim can be repaired by carefully prying the rim back into place using a wrench or similar tool, and then adjusting the spokes until the wheel is properly aligned again.

This article will give you a clear step by step break down of how to fix your bike rim depending on the specific type of damages that have been done. But first you should check if it does indeed need to fixing…

Signs your Bike Rim Needs Fixing

It’s actually not always that easy to tell if your rim is damaged or not. It can either be bent, or dented. A bent rim is a lot easier to notice than a dented rim. Here’s a break down of some signs to look for in order to know how to go about fixing your bike rim…

Signs Your Bike Rim is Bent

It’s fairly easy to tell when your bike rim is bent. The most notable feature of a bent bike rim is that the tire feels wobbly. This will make your ride feel awkward and will likely impact how you steer, ride, and brake.

If you suspect that there may be a bend in your bike rim, remove it immediately, and perform a visual inspection.

Signs Your Bike Rim is Dented

Not sure if your bike rim is dented? It can be tricky to know when it needs fixing or not. A slight ding in the rim likely will not have an impact on your ride. However, some dents can lead to flat tires, in which case you will know for sure that there is a problem with the rim.

However, a flat isn’t the only sign that your bike rim is dented. It can sometimes have an impact on your braking. If there is a dent, then there will be a pulsation or bump when the brake pads hit the dented area

If you notice your brakes feel a little off, check for dents in the rim. The last thing you want to do is to end up with a flat tire. 

Here are some instructions on what to do to fix either a dented, or bent rim…

How to Fix a Bent Rim on your Bike Wheel

A bent rim is a fairly common problem among riders. After all, your bike wheels come in contact with a wide range of things, from rocks to cracks in the road and everything in between. Fixing a bend is just as easy as making one. Here’s how.

  1. Start by locating the bend in the rim – Start by turning the bike upside down and spinning the wheel slowly. Watch around the brake areas to see where the bend is, and mark the spot. 
  2. Determine whether it’s bent left or right – This is necessary to perform step 3. 
  3. Tighten spokes found on the opposite end of the bend – Spin the wheel so that you are on the opposite end of the curve. If you have a right curve, then tighten the spokes on the left side nearest the bend. A left angle will require you to tighten on the right side. Turn in a counterclockwise motion slowly to tighten.
  4. Loosen spokes on the same side – Spokes located on the same side as the bend will need to be loosened up. Use your spoke wrench to turn 1 to 2 nearby spokes in a clockwise motion. 
  5. Check your work – Try spinning the wheel. If the bend is gone, then you are successful. If you still notice a slight bend, then continue tightening and loosening the respective spokes until you are successful. Keep in mind that significant bends will need to be replaced.

Still need help? Here is a great video that will provide visual instructions for how to true your bicycle – which essentially means fixing a bent rim.

QUICK TIP: It’s always a good idea to be prepared for anything when it comes to bike maintenance. Check out my article “21 Bike Repair Tools: The Only Ones You’ll Ever Need”.

Fixing a bent rim only requires a few materials that are far cheaper than a new wheel. After all, wheels can be upwards of $80 to $100. If you can avoid spending this money, then do so by fixing a bend yourself!

When you’re done fixing a bend, don’t hesitate to double-check with a bike shop to make sure you got the job done right. This will provide you with more confidence in riding your bike, especially if it’s your first time. 

How to Fix a Dented Rim on your Bike Wheel

A cracked rim should be replaced rather than fixed to prevent further damage to your bike.

Another common occurrence is a dented bike rim. Luckily, a small dent doesn’t require too much effort in order to fix it.

As long as you have some type of wrenches, such as a cone wrench, or vice grips (both Amazon links), then you will have no problem fixing a dent big or small. Here’s how:

  1. Start by removing the damaged wheel and locating the dent – Remove the wheel from the bike. Then, remove the tire and tube. This will allow you better access to finding and fixing the dented area. Sometimes, there may be dents in more places than one. Inspect the rim carefully to locate all dents.
  2. Place a wrench lengthwise on the concave side of the dent – Typically, bike rim dents are located on the outside of the rim. You can also opt to use vise grips as opposed to wrenches if you have one available. 
  3. Pry the rim toward the wrench to move the rim back to its original position – Remember to work in small increments. Trying to bend the bike rim too quickly or eagerly can result in more damage. 
  4. Check your work and adjust the spokes, if necessary – Check to make sure that the dent is straightened as much as possible. It likely won’t be perfect, but it is enough to get the bike working again. Spokes may sometimes need to be adjusted at this point. If so, true the spokes as mentioned in the previous section.
  5. Inspect the bike rim for cracks. Sometimes, a rim sidewall will blow out and end up with a crack. If not located before riding, it can lead to disaster. Double-check the rim for any cracks. If there is a crack, then the rim will need to be replaced.

As you can see, fixing a dent in the tire is fairly simple and only requires a wrench. If you need a helpful visual, take a look at this handy video talking you through the steps above:

It is important to note that bike rims severely dented or cracked should be replaced. Unless you are a welding magician, there isn’t much that can be done for a severely damaged and dented bike rim.

Why Do Bike Rims Bend and Dent?

If you notice a bend or dent in your bike rim, don’t panic. Bends and dents are incredibly common in all styles of bikes. But why?

There are many culprits. A bend can occur when you:

  • ride over a major pothole
  • try and pry your bike out of a bike rack
  • when you ride over a large rock or crack in the road
  • if you jump off a curb while riding

The good news is, most dents and bends can be fixed from home. If you prefer to have your bike professionally altered, most bike shops won’t charge more than $30 or $40 for truing the rim or removing a small dent. 

Bends and dents come part and parcel with owning a bicycle, no matter what type of bike you have. They can almost always be fixed from home with only a few materials, such as a wrench or vise grips.

The biggest thing to remember is that you should take your time and be careful while repairing to ensure no further damage. 

Servicing your bike regularly will ensure that any damage is kept at bay. Check out my article here to learn about how often to service your bike.

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