Road Bike rear wheel dish question.


Jun 2, 2011
Hello Fellow Cyclists.

I have a wheel dishing question for all the wheel guys and girls out there.

I ride my road bike about 7,000 miles per year. I was taking my wheels to my LBS to have them trued as part of my regular maintenance schedule. That was starting to get expensive, so I decided to try to learn do this myself. I purchased a Park Tool TS-2 2.2 truing stand and a WAG-3 wheel dishing tool. I got the concept of side to side and round, but I need to clarify a dish problem. So, here’s my question.

I lay my rim on the bench with the rear chain rings (Drive side up). I take my WAG-3 dishing tool and lay it on the rim. I adjust the pointer to just touch the axle end. Both arms flat on the rim and the pointer just touching.

OK, I flip the rim over (Non drive side) and lay the dishing tool on the rim to check. Both arms are flat on the rim, but there is about 1/8 inch gap from the pointer to the axle end. This means the dish is off a little.

Question: what side do I tighten the spokes on to close this gap? Is it tightening the spokes on the side the gap is on? Or is it reversed? (Tighten the drive side to move the hub over to the non drive side.

First, don't lay the pointer on the axle end, lay it on the edge of the locknut. You want to center the rim between the dropouts, and the dropouts don't really connect to the axle ends. The amount of axle protruding beyond the lock nuts can be inconsistent.

You tighten on the side opposite the gap. Tightening pulls the rim closer, which increases the gap. And, depending on the tightness of the wheel, you may need to loosen the gap-side spokes a bit first.
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First, how do you know that you should tighten the spokes? Having the RIGHT spoke tension is good, but having MORE than required spoke tension may just as well lead to the rim cracking.

Doing wheelwork may as well require slacking spokes as well as tightening spokes. If you're set on doing a good job, get yourself a spoke tensiometer as well.

Now, assuming your wheel is in a range where it can take more tension, then you should tension the spokes OPPOSITE the gap to even out the dish.

But if it was me, I'd check the wheel for fit in the bike BEFORE resetting the dish.
Perfect dish is good for a perfect frame, but otherwise the way the parts go together is more important than how they match the ideal.
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Hey thanks guys. That helped me out allot. I meant the locknut in my post not the axle end, but I just couldn't think of the name of it when I was typing it. Oh, and thanks dabac, I am planning to purchase a spoke tension meter right after Christmas. The wheel does set a little off in the frame, and the spokes seem to be a little on the slack side. I just purchased the bike and had my LBS check it all out for me. It hasn't been crashed, the frame is all straight. It looks like the rim came from the factory that way. It's a 2007 Trek SL1000. I know the person who had it. Him and his wife just had a baby and he only rode the bike a little over 200 miles since he purchased it brand new in 2009 from the LBS clearance sale. I don't know if the Bike shop he got it from done any tweaking on the rims when they put it together or not. The bike still looks brand new.

Best $250.00 I spent on a bike.

Thanks again guys for the advice. Stay safe when you ride.
hi hey if you need to keep redishing your wheels then whoever built them needs shooting unless they are factory wheels im 225lbs and ride handbuilt wheels one set ive had for 5 years and ive ridden them to oblivion theyve never needed truing either unless you bump kerbs or the like or your an atb rider but even then factory wheels are crud and are really only for lightweight riders