If you have never experienced a bicycle wheel being out of true you are most fortunate. Actually it is fairly common for wheels to get out of true. Here is a video showing a brand new wheel which is badly out of true.
I will state upfront if you are not mechanically inclined and savvy don’t attempt to true a wheel yourself as you can make it much worse than it already is. That being said it really is not complicated if you understand the basics involved. A wheel can run out of true in roundness and/or in side to side movement. Although ideally it is best to use a truing stand and remove a wheel from a bike/trike and remove the tire and inner tube so that all you have is the wheel itself the procedure can be done with everything intact on the bike/trike.
This video below does a pretty good job explaining and illustrating it.
I don’t own a truing stand although I have always thought it would be nice to have one. I have made temporary ones in times past which worked sufficiently. However, I almost always true wheels on the bike/trike. One can either find something on the bike/trike to use to “gauge” the trueness or make something to use to gauge the trueness. I oftentimes have simply used my finger or thumb alongside the rim. One must be careful not to overtighten spokes attempting to pull the rim over to one side as you might end up pulling it out of round. If the rim needs to move very far one should always be sure to loosen the spokes on the opposite side and not just tighten the spokes pulling the rim over. That will help eliminate pulling the rim out of round.
In order to tighten (or loosen) a spoke you will need a spoke wrench. There are lots of different types. Most are just one size, but some have multiple sizes in one wrench. Unless you work on wheels that have different size spokes I would suggest using a spoke wrench which is just one size. Be sure to get the size that fits your spokes. I use one like this and really like it.
As I said, there are lots of different types. Here are just a few of the ones available:
As to truing stands one can buy one for less than $50
Or pay more than $500 for one:
Or anywhere in between. You can even get very precision using dial indicators:
Some folks seem to get quite confused with the direction threaded parts need to turn to tighten or loosen. Spokes are always standard … righty tighty and lefty loosey. You just have to remember which way to view the spoke and spoke nut (called nipples). That is not difficult. The nipple simply screws down onto the spoke so you view it accordingly. To tighten the nipple it turns clockwise down onto the spoke. To loosen it turns counterclockwise. Although it is certainly nice to have a wheel turn perfectly true most of us don’t really need such precision.
Lastly this video although a bit lengthy brings out some good helpful information and tips:
Keeping your wheels properly aligned will help you to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’