Any bicycle enthusiast or regular rider will have had to deal with a bent rim on some occasion. But can you ride a bike with a bent rim?
If you enjoy cycling, a bent rim can be a giant nuisance. Bent rims are common and they happen to every rider. Cyclists often wonder if they can ride a bike with a bent rim, and the answer is yes.
Not every bent rim is a serious problem and slightly bent rims can still be ridden upon. You just need to know what can make the situation worse, and what you can do to fix a bent rim.
Cyclists can come across a bent rim often, but the good news is, the rim is not entirely useless. There are things you can do to prevent the bent rim from getting worse.
I have even found ways to fix the rim so you can continue using it. Using this guide, I will help you prevent serious damage to your bent bicycle rim, so it won’t slow you down.
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Table of Contents
Riding On A Bent Rim
A bent rim can be mild or severe. In most cases, you can go a long time without even noticing a slightly bent rim. You may notice the bent rim after hearing odd noises from the rim as you ride along.
When only slightly bent, the rim will still be functional, but it can slow you down a little. So long as there are no cracks or broken spokes, a slightly bent rim will not stop you from cycling.
The downside to riding on a bent rim is that you run the risk of further damage to the rim and wheel. A bent rim can get worse after hitting potholes or sidewalks. It can also cause cracks in the rim.
Bent rims can also interfere with spoke tension which can loosen or break spokes. This is a more serious situation that will need repair. As long as there is no crack, broken spokes, and the tire holds air, you can ride for a limited time.
Whether you should ride on a bike with a bent rim also depends on the type of bike you have. BMX and mountain bikes have thicker tires as well as wider rims. They are designed to give the best tire traction for better gripping.
This is ideal for rough terrain and performing stunts. The thicker rims are more difficult to dent.
However, they are more likely to get bent because of the bike performance. Regularly hitting tricks or ramps are top causes of bent rims.
Road bicycles will have thinner tires and rims. This puts them at a disadvantage for becoming bent. They are not often at risk for getting bent unless you hit a pothole or curb.
These wheels are also lighter in weight so when bent, they can continue to be used. The same also applies for touring bikes.
The difference is that if touring bikes are loaded up, the weight is heavier, and this can further damage a bent rim.
As a cyclist, I have had my fair share of bent rims and in most cases, you can continue riding. The bike may feel wobbly or shaky, especially on the wheel that has the bent rim.
The severity of the bent rim will influence just how shaky you feel. If there is too much shaking it can be uncomfortable to ride.
It also requires more control over the steering so as not to let the wobbling wheel veer the bike off track.
How Will The Bike Ride If It Has A Bent Rim
A mildly bent rim can go unnoticed for some time. Continuing to ride on a bent rim will increase the risk of further damage and will also make the bent rim become more obvious.
You will notice shaking and vibrations from the wheel with a bent rim. This is especially obvious when cycling at higher speeds.
You may also hear strange sounds coming from the rim, each time the bent portion touches the ground.
A severely dented rim may also cause crakes and loosened spokes. These will be obvious and will impact the steering of the bike.
It can also cause the tire to deflate, and a flatter tire is definitely noticeable when cycling along.
If the tire loses air after being filled, a bent rim could be to blame. The bent rim will also slow you down, as the aerodynamics of the wheels is changed.
Is It Dangerous
Riding with a slightly bent rim is not dangerous. I, myself, have ridden on a slightly bent rim for months. Eventually it will get worse, especially if you ride your bicycle frequently.
The bend will be a weak spot on the wheel so any jumps or potholes will make it worse. It may not be dangerous, but you still want to get a bent rim fixed as soon as possible.
The only time it will become dangerous to ride is if the rim is also cracked. Having a bent rim can increase the risk of getting a crack, so you need to regularly check the rim before riding.
A bent rim can crack if ridden for months or in very cold weather. Once cracked, the bike should not be used, and you will need to get the rim replaced.
Will The Rim Bend More
Continuing to ride on a bent rim can cause the rim to bend even more. It also increases the risk of getting a crack in the rim.
Hitting potholes, sidewalks, or performing any tricks with a dent rim will also make the damage worse. If you have to ride around with a bent rim, then you need to be careful.
Avoid potholes and do not perform any jumps or wheelies. You can ride on a bent rim for a while until you can get it fixed.
You will be able to tell if the bent rim is getting worse. You will feel more vibrations, especially at higher speeds.
Once you notice the rim getting worse, it is time to get it fixed. Not doing so can lead to a cracked rim which is dangerous.
Do You Have To Replace Rim If It’s Bent
Just because you can still ride on a bent rim does not mean you shouldn’t repair or replace it. Severely bent rims should be replaced as soon as possible.
A severely bent rim will affect the roll of a tire so chances are you will not be riding it anyway. When the rim is only slightly bent, you can repair or replace it. A slightly bent rim can be straightened out.
You will want to do this because otherwise the bent rim will slow you down. Riding will not be as smooth or efficient. Even if repaired, a bent rim will be weaker and over time will require replacement.
Once weakened you can get cracks or broken spokes. So, you do not have to replace a bent rim, but it is recommended. Especially, if you use your bike all the time.
You will know when it is time to replace it if:
- Cracks appear in the rim
- Spokes become loose or break
- The wheels shake more obviously
- The wheels no longer rotate properly
Can A Bent Rim Be Fixed
When a bicycle rim is only slightly bent, you still have the option to fix it. A pothole or twisting the wheel out of a bike rack can easily bend a bicycle rim.
When this happens, it helps to fix the rim so you don’t have to replace it. You can do this relatively easy with a spoke wrench (a tool that every bicycle kit should have).
You can also take the bike to a bike repair shop, but with this tool you can easily true the bike rim yourself.
- To fix the rim, flip the bike over to lighten the load on the tires. Check the tire alignment by rotating the wheel. A bent rim will cause differences in the size of the gap between the brake pads and the wheel.
- Rotate the wheel to the area where you noticed the difference in gap. This will be where the rim is bent.
- Tighten the spoke that is opposite this portion of rim. This will pull the rim. If the dent in the rim is long, you will need to tighten several spokes to pull it straight.
- In between each spoke, check the alignment again by rotating the wheel to inspect the gaps with the brake pads.
This process does not fully fix a bent rim, but it will straighten the rim enough to prevent it from interfering with your ride.
Helpful Tips To Know If You Can You Ride A Bike With A Bent Rim
It is possible to ride a bike with a bent rim. While you should look to get it repaired as soon as you can, you can safely ride in the meantime. Some helpful tips to keep in mind when dealing with a bent rim are:
- Regularly check the spokes before you ride on a bent rim
- Make sure tire pressure remains steady
- Avoid potholes and bumpy terrain as well as tricks or stunts when the rim is bent
Whether you use a bike for commuting, or you are a cycling enthusiast, chances are you have had a run in with a bent rim. It is the nature of riding a bike.
While certain activities can increase the chance of getting a bent rim, they can occur at any time. Anywhere. This leaves you wondering if you can ride a bike with a bent rim. The answer is yes.
Most bent rims are mild, and you can still ridge. You don’t want to ride on it for long, to prevent further and more serious damage.
If, like me, you don’t want a bent rim to slow you down, you now know what you can and cannot do.