Wheel balancing

Does anyone have any discreet products they recommend to balance wheels? I see lots of videos saying folks should balance their wheels, but not a lot of products or people showing balancing wheels. Strips of lead on the outside of carbon wheels won’t do, so just curious if anyone has any secrets to share. It seems like balancing on the inside would be the most discreet, but I’m sure adding a tire and sealant could have some effect on the balance, so not sure if that is good enough.

Haven’t done it but inside the is the way to go if you want discreet. Since this is a static (up down) balance not dynamic (side to side) you can figure out what weights you need with the tires on by sticking temporary weight to the brake track/outside most part of the wheel. Once you establish the placement that way you can pull the tire and transfer the weights to the inside of the wheel to be hidden by the tire.

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The secret is that you don’t need to waste your time on trying to balance bike wheels/tires. Maybe that is why there are no products or no recommendations from wheel and tire makers on balancing?

It’s one of those things that sounds logical because it works so well on cars but it’s unnecessary and doesn’t even provide a 1% marginal gain.

But if you insist on the project, try golf club head weights.


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Hmm, this doesn’t really align with what I’ve watched from Hambini and others. They might say half the road feel you feel in your body comes from the wheels being unbalanced and this could be something that could add comfort to the ride, save watts, and potentially save you from a death wobble. If you subscribe to the idea that low pressures eliminate vibrations and vibrations are one of the main cause of efficiency loss in the tire/road interface (vs. rolling resistance), then seems like wheel balancing could be impactful. You’d never drive a car without balancing the wheels or even a dirt bike for that matter. I’d be curious where you get your information relative to 1% gain? Hambini quoted 12 watts at a certain speed, which is arguably a marginal gain, but that, plus comfort, plus safety, plus the simplicity of it, seems like a missed opportunity for most.

I’m sorry but 12 watts saved is utterly BS. 12 watts is a huge number especially considering how many variables that are involved. I can imagine a benefit to smoothness although in real world application a very out of balance wheel/tire vs. a very well balanced one is not really detectable ( I have experienced this).

Hambini is one of the biggest bullshit artists in the bike industry. He faked his famous wheel test. He doesn’t work at an aerospace company and didn’t have access to their billion dollar wind tunnel. Hambini has also been known to stalk female journalists on the web and dox their personal information.

At best he’s a good machinist that makes super expensive bottom brackets and at worst, he’s just a creep that will do/say anything for clicks.

I pulled 1% out of the air as an example of a marginal gain worth chasing at maybe the pro level. Show me anyone who has done a test proving 12 watts and I’ll balance my wheels. If there were watts on the table, there would be test after test out there showing us that this needs to be done. People like Josh at Silca would be all over this with $100 balance kits.

Car wheels/tires operate under a different dynamic.

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Silca actually used to sell a kit that included a fairing for the valve stem and fairing/weight older for opposite side of the wheel. Don’t recall seeing why it was discontinued.

Flo, the only one I know off the top of my head, has information on doing it (similar to what I described above). Not sure if any other companies do or have put something out about it.

Park has a video basically saying don’t do it for a mtb, but could be something that causes an issue on road bikes. But then only proceeds to test on a mtb wheel.

GPlama has a video as well but haven’t watched it (about to), so maybe his conclusion was not worth it, not sure yet.

Some deep section wheels with long valve stems can really get a hop to them, and that can be felt in some conditions on the road. I’d never consider it for watt savings but have thought about it due to hops in deep section wheels. Comments section of park video is full of people saying that they got rid of this hop condition by balancing their wheels.

Without going too deep into car wheel balance, many car wheels are still simply static balanced just like you would with a bike wheel.

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Personally, I’ve never had a wheel where I could feel a hop or oscillation while riding. I don’t think that holding a wheel in your hand or in a flexible truing stand and spinning it is representative of the wheel held in a frame under hundreds of pounds of body weight with the tire deforming to the road surface.

But, if one wants to do it, there is obviously no harm. If you have a grossly out of balance wheel you can feel while riding then maybe it’s a great thing to do. But nobody is going to find 12 watts.

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My truing stand is stiffer than my bikes, and possibly heavier… But in reality the flex in the frame is what would possibly be absorbing the imbalance and the stiff truing stand would exaggerate it.

My tri race wheels have a hop at speed, but I never bothered to address it since they aren’t used much and its not a constant issue during any races. That bike clamped in a stand bolted to my work bench will vibrate things off the work bench if I spin the back wheel up. Back in the day working at a bike shop we had those double sided park stands with massive steel pates for bases, some imbalanced wheels would walk them around the shop. This is very much a thing even if you have not experienced it.

The hop I experience with my tri wheels is the same one that GPLama demonstrated in his video, with the wheel in the bike not just a (in his case) flimsy wheel stand or in his hands.

It is a problem that exists, and a problem that has solutions. I think everyone is on the same page that this isn’t a problem that is going to free up watts.

oops for got video:

An unbalanced wheel can be the tire. I have had tires that are what you would call lopsided or out of round. Rotate them 90* and they will rotate to the heavier side. This is a known problem with car tires. A bad shop will put tons of weight on the rim when they should not sell that tire.

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I guess I just don’t understand this assumption. Every action has an opposite reaction. It may not be as much as the 12 watts at 38km/h Hambini quoted, but physics shows that oscillations are inefficient and the amount of power lost is directly correlated to how big the oscillations are. Obviously we don’t see riders bouncing down the road, so something absorbs it. Absorbing it is the key word. Absorbing that energy is losing watts because otherwise that energy would be going into moving the bike forward. Instead it’s going into the frame and if your bike is stiff it’s going into you, which you can feel. I get that this has been a problem forever and folks haven’t chosen to address it. I’m not sure exactly why, but I suspect this will be an area of interest soon as the marginal gains crew move from aero to vibration loss. Wheel manufacturers are going to lengths to make “balanced” wheels. If you can feel it, I’m thinking it’s significant and adds up over a 3 hour ride.

It’s a completely different set of parameters. Smaller diameter means higher rotation speed (half the diameter = twice the rotation speed = 4x the imbalance forces), higher vehicle speeds (again 2x means 4x forces), much heavier wheels, and wider wheels requiring “dynamic” balancing (a confusing term to say you have to balance laterally as well as axially).