Imagine picking up your bike to start a ride, only to discover that the rear tire is wobbling. I get it, it’s not a pleasant experience—as your bike becomes really uncomfortable to ride—but it’s not the end of the world either.
Every bicycle owner has had a few cases of wobbling tires over the years. It can happen to any tire, but mostly the rear wheel because it carries more load.
Most times, you’ll need to get professional help when your tire starts wobbling, but there can be easy fixes sometimes too. Let’s look at everything you need to know to identify and fix a wobbling back tire.
What We Will Cover
What’s The Problem If Your Back Bike Tire Is Wobbling?
A wobbling tire isn’t something you can ignore. If you leave it that way too long, it’ll make the bicycle rim weaker and it’ll be difficult for you to steer your bike at high speed (leading to the very dangerous speed wobbles).
If your rear bike tire starting wobbling in the middle of a long ride, try as much as possible to reduce the pressure on the tire.
Don’t use the rear brake unless it’s an emergency and try to ride out of the saddle for the rest of the journey until you can get your bike fixed.
If you continue to ride at high speeds, you’ll be doing more damage, and over time, it may become irreparable.
The Symptoms Of A Wobbling Rear Wheel
The most obvious symptom is the wobbly appearance of your rear bicycle rim. However, sometimes your tire may not look bent, but you’ll still feel the rear wheel speed wobbles when you ride. Below are some signs that tell you when your wheel is going to wobble.
Bulging Tire Sidewalls
If your tire is wobbling but your rim doesn’t appear to be damaged, check the tire sidewalls. If your tire is bulging out of your rim, it’s the uneven inflation that’s making your bike wobble.
Luckily, this can be fixed easily by trying to push the protruded part of the tire back to the center of the rim and inflate it.
In some cases, your rim may actually not be able to contain that part of the tire due to damage. You’ll need to take your bike to a technician to fix it in this case.
If you ride your bike and the tire moves from side to side in the hub or you shake the hub and it makes strange noises, then you may have a problem with your wheel bearings.
The wheel bearings are small components between the axle and hub of your bicycle. They help reduce friction and you can’t steer or pedal without bearings.
When you shake your hub and start hearing strange noises, your bearings are loose and it’s a sign you need to take a closer look at your tire.
What Causes Bike Wheels To Wobble?
Several things can cause your rear tire to wobble, below are some of them.
1. Uneven Tire Pressure
This is mostly due to misaligned spokes. Your spokes are the thin metal rods that connect the rim to the hub. Their web-like structure is because they support your weight when you ride your bike. If some of your spokes are faulty, your bike would lose its rigidity and may start wobbling.
2. Incorrect Tube Size
To enjoy a smooth ride, your rear tire tube needs to fit perfectly. Using the wrong tube size leads to punctures, and wobbling.
If you’re in an emergency, then any tube that can fit your wheel rim will suffice until you get to the nearest repair shop. However, you need to get a tube that’s right for the tire. Too small or big will fail.
3. Worn Out Bearings
Worn-out bearings have lost their sturdiness and can’t hold your wheel firmly in place. Worn-out bearings are usually accompanied by strange sounds so they’re easy to spot and fix. Other signs of worn-out bearings include:
- Rough and dry texture
- Signs of uneven wear on the tire
- You may feel certain vibrations in the handlebar, etc.
In this case, you can get new bearings online or in a bike shop. The front wheel typically uses 3/16 bearings while the rear wheel uses 1/4. If you’re not sure, check your bike manual for more information.
4. Bent Wheel
It’s common for bikers to get their rear tires bent from accidents, hitting pot holes or bumps too aggressively, or improper handling. If you’re riding full speed and you hold onto the rear brake when you encounter a sudden obstacle, the force from the sudden brake can twist the rim of your tire.
It’s almost impossible to bend your rim back to normal yourself unless you have super strength. You’ll need tools like a spoke wrench and truing stand. Take it to a professional to save you the stress.
What To Do if Your Rear Bike Wheel Is Wobbling
Here are some quick and not-so-quick fixes if your rear bike wheel is wobbling.
Tighten Your Bearings
If your cup-and-cone bearings are loose, your bicycle will wobble when you ride it. Take your wheel, and shake it by the axle a few times, there should be no movement except the normal spinning.
If there is, use the appropriate tool to tighten your bearings and your wheel is as good as new.
Seek Professional Help
If your wheel has more than loose bearings, like the rim gets bent, head to your local bike shop and have a professional true your bike wheel.
Why Is My Back Bike Tire Rubbing?
Your back bike tire is rubbing against the bicycle frame because the wheel isn’t properly inserted into the dropouts so it tilts to one side.
You can fix it yourself by loosening the nuts that hold the wheel in its frame with an adjustable wrench and pushing the wheel back into the dropouts. Gently spin the wheel before fully tightening the nuts again to make sure it spins smoothly without hitting the bike frame. If this is too complex, have someone do it for you.
How To Remove a Wobble From a Bicycle Wheel
If you raise your bike and your wheel moves side to side in the hub, it’s a problem with your bearings. You can easily fix this yourself. However, if your wheel wobbles side-to-side as you ride or spin it, it’s out-of-true and you need to get technical help.
What Can You Do To Avoid Back Wheel Wobbles?
Regular maintenance is really the main thing. If you regularly check your bicycle and maintain it properly, you’ll lessen your chances of getting back wheel wobbles. There’s always a chance it can happen suddenly if you hit something on the road or slam on your rear brakes, but at least you have the info in this article to potentially help you navigate these scenarios in the future.
If your back bike tire starts wobbling, no need to freak out. Check if it’s your bearings and fix it if you can. If it’s your spokes, tube or bent tire, get help at your friendly local bike shop.