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How to True a Bike Wheel Without a Spoke Wrench? – 2 Ways

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

How to True a Bike Wheel Without a Spoke Wrench

When your bike wheel is misaligned, this can cause a whole lot of problems, and that’s hell for a every biker! The worst part is when you don’t even have the proper tools to get it back in place.

Luckily, there are alternatives to use instead of a wrench! Even better, these are things that you can usually find at home.

So if you need to fix bike wheel but you’re slumped without tools, skip all the hassle of figuring it all out because this article will teach you how to true a bike wheel without a spoke wrench.

Zip Tie & Pliers Method

Step 1: Put on the Zip Tie


Grab your zip tie and tie it around the front fork of your bike. This should be the fork that holds the front wheel. Make sure that the barrel of the zip tie is facing inward.

Tighten the zip tie, and using your pliers, cut off the excess length. That’s your a spoke wrench alternative.

About an inch in length should be just right. The zip lock should almost touch the wheel but not completely.

Repeat the process on the opposite side fork.

Step 2: Test to Find Out the Bowing Spot


Now, spin your wheel. You should hear a rubbing noise against the two zip ties. The purpose of the zip ties is to act as a point of reference that tells which side is bowing more, which then causes the irregularities.

So basically, the zip ties are an alternative to a bike wheel true stand.

Step 3: Adjust the Spokes With Pliers


Continue spinning and observe where the rub noises start and where they end. Make sure to find the accurate spot where it starts. Once done, look for the spokes nearest to that specific area.

Begin to adjust bike spokes by first loosening it using your pliers. Loosen the two spokes in the middle of the area that rubs against the zip tie.

Step 4: Double-Check

Spin the wheel again and observe if there’s still any rubbing noise. If there still is, continue to adjust.

Simply loosen first, then tighten bike spokes just until the rubbing noises completely disappear when you spin.

Check again by spinning the wheel, and if it spins smoothly without rubbing the zip tie, then that’s your sign that it’s good to go!

Using Fingers Method

Step 1: Identify the Spot


If you notice that your wheel is out of true on one side, focus on the opposite side to fix it. For instance, if the tire is rubbing against the left side frame, fix it by focusing on the right spokes.

Do this by strongly pulling the wheel and chainstay towards the right side. Proceed by squeezing them together. Squeeze until it looks a little irregular or lopsided.

Step 2: Spin and Tighten the Spokes


Then, tighten the spoke nipples by just using your hands. This might be a bit of a struggle, but just tighten them as long as you’re able to.

Spin the wheel, and if it still looks problematic, adjust again by pulling the front and the behind area of the same spot you’re working on. Continue by tightening more spokes as needed.

Be cautious in using your hands to avoid destroying your wheel. Spin the wheel again, and if it finally works and looks the way it should, then you’re done.


How to true a bike wheel without a spoke wrench? It takes two tools!

Not many people expect a zip tie to do the trick in bike wheel truing, but it really is a hack that can surprise you! All you need are pliers as your homemade spoke wrench! Yup, it’s as easy as that.

The next step? Remember the steps above, get your alternative tools, apply what you’ve learned, and get your hands ready to straighten a bike wheel.

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