View Single Post
Old 07-31-2006, 07:46 PM   #2
Still alive...
creeper's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Puget Sound
Oddometer: 10,718
Originally Posted by 309
So I've got a loose spoke on the front wheel, which reminded me that I need to learn about spoke maintenance. Coming from street bikes, I never gave this much thought.

If I remember right, I'm supposed to be tightening the spokes on one side of the hub uniformly, then doing the other side. That's about all I remember...

Anybody care to give a lesson?
Assuming your wheel is true, and this isn't going to become a "how to true a wheel" lesson... you begin by putting one drop of light penetrating oil at each spoke/nipple junction. Then you wait a few hours. Have a beer... or, maybe not.

Why oil? Because I don't know how corroded and/or old your wheels are, and a drop of oil goes a long way towards making the nipple easier to turn and the torque a little easier to feel.
  • Get the wheel off the ground and locate the valve stem… the valve stem is your “pass point”
  • Place a good fitting spoke wrench on either spoke nipple nearest the valve stem and tighten it no more than 1/8th of a turn. How did it feel?
Typical spoke torque is around 45 to 60 inch pounds, or about 4-5 ft. lbs. In other words, not much.
  • Now... assuming you have a conventional wheel with 36 spokes, count the first spoke you touched as number 1.
  • Now bypass two spokes in which ever direction you’d like to rotate the wheel, and lay the wrench on the 4th spoke... apply pressure to that nipple using the one prior as a point of reference.
  • Then bypass the next two spokes and repeat the process.
The idea here is to go around the wheel 3 times, giving 12 spokes per turn a “snuggie”.
Or, you can go around 4 times giving 9 spokes a little push. When you've gone around enough times; you've laid a wrench on all the spokes... the wheel should still be true and all the spokes fairly evenly tightened.

If you want to, use a felt pen to mark each spoke as you do it... they all kinda look the same and it's easy to loose track of where you've already been.

At each spoke, when you lay the wrench on it you will feel a degree of resistance. The idea is that all the spokes should have the same feel of resistance when done. When you run into the "loose spoke" bring the tension up on it so that it is similar to the others you've done.

Think in terms of an average tension rather than a high or low tension.
Better to sneak up on a spoke than to arbitrarily turn it... even 1/2 turn, unless you actually know what your doing.
If you encounter a spoke that seems unusually tight, back it off a ¼ turn and re-tighten it… again, trying to duplicate the average torque previously encountered.

Wheel service for someone who's never done it before can be very ah... stressful. You think you're going to screw something up.
If you don't over-torque anything, and you only tighten spokes based on what you feel instead of the fractions of turns, you'll be fine.
Remember, if your not sure, less is better than too much.

This is why there's a good market in spoke torque wrenches. Not for the guy that knows how to lace and true his own wheels, but for the guy that doesn't.
A pro wheel guy probably owns a torque spoke wrench… and very seldom uses it. He (or she) has developed a feel that is, in most cases, a better gauge of torque than the wrench.
Corrosion can give the misleading impression that your spokes are tight when they are not… only a trained hand can “feel” that.

Bla bla bla.

Best ‘O luck,
So... how's tricks?

creeper screwed with this post 07-31-2006 at 08:11 PM Reason: There was the sentence I didn't like much. What do you want for a 5 minute write-up... Shakespeare?
creeper is offline   Reply With Quote