Dirt Rider - - Route Sheet - Story By Al­lan Brown • Photos By Sean Klinger

So you have a newer bike and your wheel hit some­thing that caused a big dent on one side of the rim. You don’t want to buy a new rim, but you are not sure if you can fix the one you have. This re­pair will re­quire an in­ter­me­di­ate me­chan­i­cal skill level. A few items you will need that not ev­ery­one has are a hy­draulic press (a small one will work fine), a propane torch, and a wheel stand. The most im­por­tant of th­ese would be the hy­draulic press—i would not sug­gest at­tempt­ing this re­pair without one. Here are a few photos and tips of how you can make that rim look re­ally good and save a few bucks at the same time.

1. De­ter­mine if the rim is dam­aged on one or both sides. Re­move the tire and clean the rim thor­oughly. If the rim ap­pears to be dam­aged on both sides and you try to re­pair it, you will be left with a se­vere flat spot. If that is the case, it is a bet­ter idea to re­place the rim.

Make sure the rim is not cracked. We would not sug­gest weld­ing a rim and then try­ing to straighten it. If the rim is dam­aged to the point that it cracked, just go ahead and re­place it. In this photo you can see this dent is quite big. I would say this is very close to the limit of what can be re­paired. 2. Loosen the spokes in the area of the dam­age to re­duce the ten­sion. Typ­i­cally you will need to loosen at least the three clos­est spokes. You may have to go up to five; how­ever, if the ef­fected area cov­ers more than five spokes, you should con­sider re­plac­ing the rim. Be sure to loosen each spoke slowly no more than a quar­ter turn be­fore mov­ing to the next spoke.

3. Us­ing a hy­draulic press, align the rim so you can press on the area that is dam­aged. Sup­port the op­po­site side of the rim with some­thing like a piece of wood to min­i­mize scratches. This dent was large enough that I would not at­tempt the re­pair without a press. A smaller dent you might be able to re­pair in a heavy-duty vise, but it’s go­ing to be hard. Be care­ful when us­ing a vise, as it will be much harder to con­trol the wheel, and you don’t want to scratch or dam­age the rim. It would cer­tainly be help­ful to have a friend help you hold the wheel if you work with a vise.

4. You can heat the rim with a propane torch a lit­tle in the area you are try­ing to bend. They are avail­able at most hard­ware stores start­ing at $20. This will help the rim re­turn to its orig­i­nal shape and help pre­vent crack­ing. Be care­ful not to heat the rim too much. Do not point the torch to­ward the spokes, as you could eas­ily dam­age them. This is also a step that will re­quire rea­son­able judg­ment. If you find your­self heat­ing it too much or it re­quires too much heat, you should con­sider re­plac­ing the rim.

5. Be­gin to ap­ply pres­sure to the dam­aged area slowly. As you ap­ply more pres­sure you can con­tinue to ap­ply some heat. Go slowly—this is very stress­ful on the rim and there is no need to rush. Lift the press and check to see how much far­ther you need to go. You will most likely need to re­peat this sev­eral times.


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