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Fixing A Tacoed Wheel: How To Straighten a Bent Bicycle Wheel

September 04, 2019
Fixing A Tacoed Wheel: How To Straighten a Bent Bicycle Wheel
Fixing A Tacoed Wheel: How To Straighten a Bent Bicycle Wheel

Try as you do to ride safely, sometimes you end up with major damage to your bike. Potholes, rocks, and other unexpected obstacles can do a number on your wheels. Before you know it, you’re on the side of the trail trying to do a repair on the fly. If you end up with a severely bent bike wheel or bent bike rim, here are some tips to straighten it back out:

What is a Tacoed Tire?

When a tire gets bent nearly in half, it’s considered “tacoed.” A tacoed wheel often happens when you hit something on the road that causes your wheel to turn completely to the side while the bike is still moving forward.

Named for the shape (a taco shell), this type of damage can’t be totally undone – but you can often straighten the wheel enough to get back home or to your car safely. 

Steps to Fix the Wheel

First things first: always move to the side of the road or trail and make sure you’re safe before attempting any repairs. If you experienced a spill off your bike when the wheel became bent, address your own injuries before you try to mend your wheel! Then, to fix bent bike wheel and get it straight enough to get back home:

  1. Remove the Tire from Your Bike

This will probably be more difficult than usual. Once it’s off, you should remove the tire if it’s possible. While you can straighten the wheel with the tire attached, you could damage the tire in the process. If it’s possible to separate the two – do it. 

  1. Loosen the Spokes

Next, loosen the spokes by two turns. This makes the wheel a little bit more malleable and could make the next few steps a lot easier. 

  1. Leverage the Tire Against Something

Find a rock, open dirt patch, or another hard surface. Lay the tire with the bend facing upward. If you have a second person with you, having them step on one side to hold the wheel in place may be helpful. 

  1. Apply Pressure to Flatten the Wheel

Getting the tacoed wheel anywhere back to its original shape could require standing on it, jumping on it, or leaning on it with your arms. Be prepared to use your body weight to force the wheel back into a straight position. 

Once you’re safely back home, you may want to just replace the wheel. Even if the tacoed wheel looks good as new, it will always be predisposed to pop back into the taco position. 

While you can’t always avoid damage to your bike wheels, you can be prepared. In addition to knowing how to fix bent bike wheel and straighten it out, travel with the necessary tools for removing a tire. You should also have extra tubes on hand, so if you pop your tube straightening out the wheel you can replace it. 

Ready to take your new wheel out for a spin? Join our Journey Club to uncover biking locations around the world and connect with other cyclists.

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