Rear wheel flex

Hornetto Posts: 141
edited October 2008 in Road beginners
I got my Spesh Allez Sport in July (from online retailer) and have noticed the rear wheel doing odd things.

After a short while of having the bike I noticed some pinging noises from the rear wheel spokes when I was out of the saddle which I was told was probably poor spoke tensioning from cheap wheels, although the wheels were perfectly true so it probably wasn't an issue that I needed to worry about. I have since noticed that the wheels don't seem to 'ping' any more but the wheel rim now rubs against the brake pads when I am out of the saddle. From looking at the rear wheel it seems that the rim can be moved from side to side by hand so that it hits either side of the brake blocks. However it is still true when spinning and not loaded.

Being quite new to road biking, I'm not sure whether this is something that just happens with all wheels occasionally or is it just because the standard wheels on the bike aren't very good (called Jalco or something), or whether it is something actually wrong with the wheels/spokes. I see spoke tension keys in bike shops and wonder if I should just try and tighten the spokes (assuming the pinging and flexing relate to spoke tension), but then I'm worried that I'll mess up the tensioning altogether and put the wheel out of true when that might not be the problem!

And if I spend £20-30 getting a bike shop to look at it, are they likely to be able to do anything to fix it or just say there's no problem???

Sorry for the ramble. As you can probably tell I'm a bit confused! Any help or advice appreciated.
Never argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience


  • When the wheel flexes, is the hub staying stationary? Is it the wheel flexing, or slipping in the dropouts?
    Boardman Road Comp '08
    Spesh FSR XC Expert '08
  • Mister W
    Mister W Posts: 791
    It sounds like the wheel is moving in the dropouts. Check that the QR is tight enough.
  • Hub needs tightening maybe?
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    When you move the rim by hand does it feel 'springy' or just slack. If slack it is probably hub bearings or less likely the quick release loose. If springy it will be the spokes. All wheels flex to some extent. Try flicking the spokes or tap them with a screwdriver or something similar. They should give a ping sound. If they sound flat they may be too loose. If in doubt get your LBS to check them. Doing it yourself is fairly easy but can lead to tears so be careful.
    These sites will help.
  • gkerr4
    gkerr4 Posts: 3,408
    they are just cheap flexible wheels in my opinion.

    not unusual on a bike like the allez (not unusual on much more expensive bikes either!) - the Bontrager SSR aero wheels on my old trek pilot 1.2 used to do the same on "out of saddle efforts" too.

    I doubt there is much you can do to be honest - except perhaps adjust the brakes so that the brake blocks are further away from the wheel rim - the wheel will still flex but at least it won't rub and slow you down as much

    there is a reason why people say that the wheels should be your first upgrade!
  • Hornetto
    Hornetto Posts: 141
    Thanks for the replies. To answer some of the questions:

    littleandy0410 and Mister W:
    The wheel is fully in the dropouts and the QR is sufficiently tightened. The hub stays still, but the rim can move. There is no movement of the wheel in the dropouts, it is definitely flex rather than just movement of the whole wheel.

    The rim feels springy to move - you apply a lateral force to it and it moves so that it touches the brake block, then you release it and it goes back to the original position.
    I've had a bit of a flick of the spokes - some ping with a high note and some ping with a lower note. A couple of the lower noted spokes even sounded a bit rattly when flicked.
    Re: tensioning the spokes myself, my main concern is that I'll put the wheel out of true. I had a look at the links but I'm not sure that I can do that myself. I'm tempted to get my LBS to look at it and retension it - how much do you think this is likely to cost?

    I think that this is my main concern, the wheels just aren't that stiff and there's nothing I can do about it without upgrading. I don't know what difference upgrading would make and so am reluctant to spend even £100 when I don't know whether I (as a casual rider) would really notice any difference, or even if the wheel flex will happen with them too!

    Thanks again for your advice.
    Never argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience
  • gkerr4
    gkerr4 Posts: 3,408
    wel - I replaced the bontragers with a set of shimano R561's which were £130 at the time and they made a massive difference.

    they were lighter, had better bearings, looked better and most importantly - didn't flex into the brake blocks - so yes an upgrade to something like that or mavic aksiums is worthwhile.

    you have to remember that on a 500/600(ish) pound bike - the std fit wheels probably have a value of about £40 so a £100 wheelset is a fair upgrade.
  • ride_whenever
    ride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    I'd get them at least re-tensioned at your lbs, even high tension does wonders for the wheel. It'll cost about £20 for both wheels and will mean they will last much longer.

    I'd also check the hubs for play, take them out and check that the axle can't move in the hub, i've seen a couple of these wheelsets where they've done this and written themselves off.
  • Hornetto
    Hornetto Posts: 141
    Thanks for your help everyone. I think my first step will be to get both the wheels retensioned at my LBS if it is around £20 as a short-term fix, and then save up for a set of Mavic Aksiums or similar as an upgrade next year.

    Never argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience
  • rally200
    rally200 Posts: 646
    Hornetto - let us know how you get on with this