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How to Balance a Bike Tire

How to Balance a Bike Tire

Effect of Unbalanced Bike Tires

Have you ever felt your bike shaking when riding at high a high speed? Does it make a wobbly, unsteady movement? Try holding either wheel in the air and spin it, does it seem to move up and down while rotating? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions -or all three of them-, you may be facing an unbalanced tire.

When we say a tire is unbalanced, we are referring to its weight. If it is equally distributed along the whole circumference, the wheels roll smoothly and with no alterations or negative effects. However, misuse, patches, or riding on rough grounds may change this weight distribution, and lead to unbalance.

Having a bike tire unbalanced has more or less the same effects as on a car. While shaking may be felt, it will not be the only negative effect. Our bodies are like the bicycle’s engine, so we will feel that we need to put more physical effort in moving forward. Other parts of the bike, such as the wheel hub, may also feel the extra strain from the lack of balance.

Is It Worthwhile Balancing Your Tires?

There’s a slight chance that, after reading all of the above, you may have rushed to your bike and tested the tires, just to make sure a disaster won’t happen. Perhaps you did notice a slight abnormal movement in it, thought it was a huge problem, and that you were doomed never to ride again. Keep calm. It’s not that serious.

It’s quite normal for bike tires to get unbalanced. We tend to change them, ride on rough roads, and give different uses to the same gear over and over again. It’s no secret, then, that they may get a little unbalanced over time.

Whether we should do something or not, there are different opinions. While some people believe that performance is affected, others tend to believe that once the bike is bearing your own body weight, the differences in distribution become less important, and that no effect is felt.

Generally speaking, most bikers would only consider balancing the tires if they are obsessed with reducing and controlling weight.  This applies especially to road bikers, who need to optimize for performance.

On the other hand, if speed is not your primary concern, it may not be worthwhile to balance your tires.

How to Balance a Bike Tire

In order to balance your bike tire, you need to compensate the wrong distribution of weight in it. There are several homemade ways of doing this.

One way of balancing your bike tires is by adjusting the spokes that are located opposite the bend, that is, the place where you identified the weight as unequal. You will need a spoke wrench to do this.

This video from RJ The Bike Guy shows you how to tighten your spokes to correct the wheel’s balance.

If you don’t feel adjusting the spokes solved your problem, you can always add weights to find balance. Check this video to see how even the tiniest lead tape strips, which are typically used to add weight to golf clubs or tennis rackets, will do the trick.

Video Credits: Shane Miller – GPLama

As usual, if you are not confident in balancing the bike tire on your own, you should get a professional or someone with experience to assist you. Enjoy your ride!