Why cold spread (steel frame)?

Hi why do people cold spread there frame to fit a 130 in a 126 steel frame?

I have ordered a Wahoo Core 130 and own a 126 Steelbike but I would rather just force it on the trainer :thinking:

edit: And should i order new 130 wheels. I am wondering if I switch from 130 to 126 a lot if this breaks my frame?


When it comes to making old bikes do new things, RJ is the man.

If you use his method, you would evenly spread the rear triangle. If you force it on the trainer, it may not be even. Then, when you slap a 130 wheel set on there you may have alignment issues.

Why is that? RJ is doing the same as the trainer would, don’t he :thinking: he is only using higher distance. Also I would prefer to use my old 126 and in the Video with 145 spread the frame always jumps back to 130. So I shouldn’t get any problems by forcing on the trainer and using my 126 wheels?

I cold set my 1980s steel Centurion so that it could use 130mm wheels and modern groupsets with handlebar shifters. Sheldon Brown has a diffferent technique for cold setting; see the pictures beyond halfway down the page. The same page also gives tips for checking alignment. Steel can handle bending like that, but I wouldn’t do this with an aluminum bike.


Thanks for your reply I saw that article.

I just put my Bike on the Trainer and I do not need to force it hard - it’s really easy so I will leave it this way and switch between trainer and 126 wheel with cold spread

You don’t really need to cold spread the frame since the movement (2mm per side) will be will well within the limits of elastic deformation of the steel. I ran 120mm singlespeed wheels on a 130mm rear end for years with no ill effects.

The only thing that could really be of concern is the miss-alignment of the rear mech hanger but if it works I wouldn’t bother doing anything.


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generally spreading from 126 to 130 is no problem. I have seen reports of brake bridges breaking loose, but that means they were ready to go. On one frame, I just put it on the carpeted floor and yanked on it. I have an alignment table now, so I would do it that way. I built frames back in the 120mm days, and it was pretty typical to bend the rear triangle into position. Can’t do that as readily on modern steels, but in the '70s and '80s most steels could readily be cold set

Someone must have spread the Centurion I have on the trainer, but I should check the alignment. I would worry about the dropout alignment as well as the hanger alignment.

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I spread a 126mm to 130 with no problem but when I tried to go to 135 to fit some wheels I had I ran into alignment and shifting issues. I could probably have sorted it out but just went back to the 130’s

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Thanks so much for your input :slight_smile:

I hope it is in the range. I try to do nothing :smiley: an hope for the best that there are no longterm issues from switching between the two sizes.


If you do spread your frame to 130, you can add spacers to the left side of your rear axle, underneath the locknut, evening out the amount of axle overhanging the locknuts on each side, and reduce even further the dish of your rear wheel. This will make it laterally stronger and more likely to withstand side loads when riding outdoors. There is something nice, too, about the wheel fitting into the frame as if it is supposed to, rather than watching your dropouts deflect in angle as you’re closing your skewer. You’re giving up something that is nice about having a steel bike over a mass market carbon bike. If the advantage you enjoy is just the ability to be sloppy with mechanical details and not be concerned with the equipment since it’s nearly worthless, I understand that. In that case, remain unconcerned and carry on. It’s just that you asked why make it right if there’s no risk in causing imminent failure, so I thought I’d point out some reasons.

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Using a 130 wheel in a 126 spaced frame is fine with steel - you can just spring the frame and jam the wheel in. However, if you are only going to have 130mm wheels, I would expect you to get more consistent alignment and shifting by setting the frame to 130mm. This is because each time you bend it to force the wheel in, you are likely to get slightly different tension on each side, and also the mech hanger might end up at slightly different angles. It’s not a big deal, but it makes life a bit easier (and also it makes for easier wheel changes).
If you are going the other way (eg a 120 track wheel in a 126 frame), then I would definitely advise a set - fixed is very chainline sensitive, and relying on the frame springiness to achieve the same chainline each time is not ideal. You can also ensure that the dropouts are parallel and level, which helps (and is also useful on singlespeed, even if it’s more tolerant of chainline issues). :wink:

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