What should I do if my back bike wheel wobbles?

What should I do if my back bike wheel wobbles?

You're riding your bike and you feel a bump at the rear with each turn of the wheel, a lateral or vertical shake, which is not only unpleasant but can also, in some cases, destabilise the bike and even lead to a fall. It is therefore important to deal with the problem as quickly as possible to enjoy a better cycling experience.  

So what should you do if your back bike wheel wobbles? Find the answers in our article. 


As we shall see, there are in fact two phenomena that can generate constant jerks when you ride your bike. The first is what is commonly known as a wobble. 

Wobble manifests itself as left-right shakes. If you feel that your back bike wheel wobbles (or even your front wheel), there's usually a problem with the wheel. 

In this video, you can see exactly what it looks like: 

The tire wobble

Wheel hops 

The second type of phenomenon is a wheel hop sensation. In this case, you feel more of a vertical bump, as if the wheel were rising and falling with each rotation. 

This event, which is rarer than the back bike wheel wobble, is just as unpleasant and is enough to spoil your enjoyment of the ride. 

How to identify the reasons for a back bike wheel wobble or hop? 

Whether it's a back bike wheel wobble or a hop, in the vast majority of cases the problem is caused by the wheel. In a very few cases, it may be the tyre. The first step is therefore to establish whether the problem comes from one or the other. 

To find out, check these points in the order given to eliminate the causes one by one:

1 - Check that the tyre is fitted correctly 

Some flaws such as those described above may simply be the result of incorrect mounting of the tyre on the wheel seat. This can happen in particular with a tubeless-ready tyre (sometimes also with a tubetype, but it depends on the wheel). 

If the tyre is not fully clipped in, the tyre will not be evenly positioned around the wheel, resulting in a bike wheel wobble. 

When fitting the tyre, you need to have heard the snap sound when the tyre clicks into place. If this has not happened, there is a good chance that the mounting has not been completed correctly. 

To solve this problem, it's very simple: add pressure and the tyre will settle itself. ATTENTION: It is mandatory not to exceed the maximum pressure recommended by the tyre and rim manufacturers. Both are marked on the tyres and rims. 

2 - Check the wheel 

If it's not an assembly fault, the wobble or hop may come from the wheel or the tyre. As in most cases it is the wheel, we will first look at the steps to follow to confirm this. 

Remove the tyre and put the wheel back on the axle (on the chainstay if it's a rear wheel or on the fork if it's a front wheel).

Removing the tyre before putting the wheel back on the axle

Spin the wheel and observe it. If the problem is with the wheel, you'll see it go up and down with each rotation or spin strangely left and right. 

A rarer case: if the wheel turns normally on its axle, there may be a slight intrinsic defect in the tyre, which occurred during assembly. No manufacturer is immune to a slight imperfection. That's why Michelin tyres are systematically quality-controlled to detect any anomalies. If your tyre generates wobbling, it is impossible to correct the fault and we recommend that you contact your dealer. 

Why does the wheel deform? 

We will explain below the reasons for this type of deformation in the various scenarios. 

In the case of a back bike wheel wobble: 

There are two possible reasons why the wheel became deformed: 

1 - Uneven left/right spoke tension 

As a reminder, a back bike wheel wobble manifests itself as a left/right lateral movement. The spokes and their tension can be the cause if they are tighter on one side of the wheel than the other. 

2 - The wheel may have taken an impact 

If the wheel has taken a shock, it may have undergone a deformation that the spokes cannot compensate for.  

In the case of a wheel hop: 

There are also two possible reasons for wheel deformation manifested by a vertical hop on each rotation: 

1 - Uneven top/bottom spoke tension  

When you look at the wheel in profile from one side, you see spokes that go all the way around the circumference. If the spokes running from the centre to one end are tighter than those running in the opposite direction, this creates what is known as a "false round", which causes the wheel to jump on each rotation. This may be due to a welding defect. 

2 - The wheel may have taken an impact 

If you hit a stone or a root too hard while riding, this can create a flat spot on the wheel. As it is no longer perfectly round, this generates a jump each time the wheel rotates. 

What can be done when the wheel is deformed? 

When the problem is linked to a spoke tension anomaly, for example if the spokes on side A of the wheel are too tight, a specialist mechanic or DIY cyclist can tighten the spokes on side B to compensate. A spoke tension measurement tool is useful for making spoke tensions equal, although it can be dispensed with for a 'judgement' adjustment. 

In the case of deformation caused by impact, there is no solution. We recommend that you contact your dealer to change the wheel. 

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