Ma roue est voilée !

Author: fraise

Tuesday 1 October 2013, in Cycling

Achter im Fahrrad

[Not my wheel – public domain photo by Immanuel Giel]

On my last ride home, I noticed the sounds characteristic of wheels going out of true: my V-brakes started going “shwish – shwish – shwish” on the front wheel, and when nearly home, a more alarming “scraaatch – scraaatch” on the rear wheel. I stopped using the rear brake – it’s better to use your front brake primarily anyhow – since I was afraid abrasive gravel or dust had gotten on my brake pads, which could damage the rim.

Once home, I cleaned my brake pads. Still the same gritty scraping noise. Ran my fingers across my rims, didn’t feel anything out of order, cleaned them anyhow. I have plenty of cotton scraps thanks to sewing, they work great for that sort of thing. Tried the rear brake again, and it still scratched a bit, but less than before. Holding the brake lightly, I finally noticed: it was scratching a very slow wobble, and when I tested more carefully, it was definitely once each full turn. I flipped my bike upside down and spun the rear wheel, standing still to watch for wobble. Sure enough, the wheel was slightly out of true.

I shuttered plans to commute the next morning. While I probably wouldn’t be in immediate danger from a brand-new wheel a few millimeters out of true, it is nonetheless one of those things that’s best repaired, since continuing to ride could stress the wheel inordinately at certain points, which could eventually lead to a nasty rim failure or spoke breakage down the road.

Naturally, then, the next item of order was to phone the local bike shop to let them know my wheels were out of true, and ask when I could take in my bike for truing. You can learn to true wheels yourself, but an LBS, as “local bike shops” are called for short in the cycling world, only charges 10-30 dollars/euros to true a wheel or two. It’s a quick job for someone experienced, and a good shop does it well. Then I realized… I have no idea how to say “out of true” in French. Google searches didn’t help much, so here is a mini-glossary! Sheldon Brown’s site has an otherwise excellent English-French cycling glossary.

wheel out of true = roue voilée
out of true (noun) = un voile (masculin, voile avec un e)
true a wheel = dévoiler une roue
damaged rim = jante endommagée

My rims aren’t damaged; I’ve been treating my bike very well. Thought I’d throw it in, though, since it does often go hand-in-hand with a wheel being out of true! For useful sentences:

My wheel is out of true = Ma roue est voilée
… by a few millimetres = … de quelques millimètres
The rim is damaged = La jante est endommagée
It’s very out of true = Le voile est prononcé
Truing the wheel will take a bit of time = Le dévoilage prendra un peu de temps

You may have noticed that le voile is a noun whereas our English “out of true” is used as an adjective. The closest translation to a similar noun in English would be “wobble”, though un voile is a technical term, not colloquial. As such, my phrase le voile est prononcé would rather literally be “the wobble is pronounced”, or turned in more natural English, “it has a pronounced wobble”.

It’s normal for brand-new wheels to go a bit out of true after several hours of riding. All will be repaired this Thursday, and I’ll be back in the saddle.

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