Spoke tightening..

How do you check if a spoke is tight enough, and how do you tighten spokes without ruining the trueness of the wheel, I only have the spoke wrench that comes with the bike. Which way is tighten or loosen? Im very new to this and have been riding in alot of rock gardens lately, I want to make sure I dont bend my nice shiney excels! :-)

The easiest way to tell if a spoke is loose is to go around the wheel and hit the spokes with a spoke wrench. Most of the spokes should make a nice high note. If one is loose, it will make a lower note. If you should find one that is loose, tighten it till it makes the same note as all the other spokes.

If you position the wheel so that the spoke you are going to tighten is at the top of the wheel, the spoke will tighten if you turn it clockways.

As for bending up the wheel, I don't think that would happen if you only tighten the loose ones. If you over tightened them all, you could, but if you over tighten one spoke, the spoke usually just snaps in half.

[ July 22, 2002: Message edited by: mxrider426 ]


I used to build wheels for my road bicycle and tension the spokes all the time. Road bicycle rims are VERY finicky and 1/4 turn could bend your rim out of balance.

The problem with my motorcycle wheels is that I can not feel the tension of the spokes like I can on a bicycle wheel. My sense is that pinging the spokes with a wrench to hear the tone is about the best you can do to check the tension. Also, the rim is VERY strong so you should not worry about distorting it with a few turns...unless you break the golden rule of wheel building.

If you remember only one thing, remember to ALWAYS have EVEN tension on the spokes. If you don't, you will break spokes and nipples and even worse...pull the nipple through the rim!

I folded 4 rear wheels one season on my bicycle...then I finally learned how to keep even tension on the spokes. Now my rims last thousands of miles.

As for which way to turn the spokes...clockwise to tighten...counter clock to loosen. If you notice that your spokes keep getting loose, that means that your tension is not even and is causing to much flex in the wheel. This flex is what causes spokes to loosen excessively.

Click this link that explains how to tension spokes by sound. It is for bicycle wheels...but you should get the point.Spoke tension by sound

good luck!

A good way to tighten them and not pull the wheel out of round or true is to start at the rimlock and tighten every fourth spoke. That way you are never tightening two on the same side of the wheel in a row. Due to the number of spokes, when you get back to start, just move one down the line and do the same thing. It should take four times to get them all.

My technique is similar to bambislayer, but I tighten every 3rd spoke and it takes three times around to complete. I start at the valve stem for reference. I try to turn each nipple the same number of turns to start out, then I feel for the flex in the spokes to know how tight they are. Also, if your spokes are loose to begin with, you may have to hold the spoke with a pair of vice grips. Otherwise, the spokes will turn with the nipples and you don't get anywhere.

[ July 23, 2002: Message edited by: Rich in Orlando ]


Well, as with CJ, I have built many wheels for many applications.

It's tough to know when is too much or not enough.

Sooner or later, you just get the feel for it.

It also helps to know what a spoke sounds and feels like when the max torque is reached. Someday when you have the tire off, torque a spoke to spec, then move a spoke-wrench on it to get a feel for it.

But, for most of these bikes, just keeping the spoke nipple "snug" is all they need.


If the spokes start to sound like a melody, you're on the money! :)

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