58. How to Tension Wheel Spokes

Learn how to properly tension the spokes in a wheel.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Tension Wheel Spokes

In this video, we'll learn how to properly tension the spokes in a wheel. Spoke tension is important to ensure your wheels are strong, reliable and long lasting.

Spokes that are too loose will continue to loosen and require constant wheel truing. Spokes that are too tight will cause damage to the rim, spoke nipples and hub flanges. All of the spokes in the wheel should have approximately the same average tension.

What You'll Need

For this job you'll need a wheel truing stand, an appropriately sized spoke wrench and a spoke tension meter. Park Tool makes a simple and affordable tension meter called the TM-1. Check the links beside this video for places you can order this tool online.

Measure Spoke Diameter

To find out what tension your spokes require, you'll first need to measure the diameter of your spokes. The Park TM-1 tension meter comes with a handy spoke diameter gauge. Use this gauge to find the smallest slot your spokes fit into. If your spokes are butted and have multiple diameters, measure the smallest diameter on the length of the spoke.

Find Required Spoke Tension

Using the tension meter's included conversion chart, find your spoke diameter and then locate the tension you want to use. Spoke tension requirements will vary depending on the type of rim you have. Lighter rims require less tension, while heavier rims can handle more tension. If you're unsure, check with the manufacturer of your rim. For this exercise we'll be tensioning our spokes to 107 kilograms force (kgf), which equals 24 on the spoke tension meter.

Measure Current Spoke Tension

Holding the tension meter horizontally, squeeze the handle and place the spoke between the posts as shown. Then release the handles. Now check the reading on the meter's scale. You can cross reference this number with the conversion chart to see how many kilograms force your spoke has. As you can see, the tension on our spoke is far too low. Now measure all of the spokes on your wheel, one side at a time. They should all have approximately the same average tension. Due to imperfections in the hub and rim, the tension will rarely be exactly the same for all spokes. A difference of 20% between spokes is acceptable.

Spoke Tension - Front and Rear Wheels

On front wheels the tension should be equal on both sides. On rear wheels the tension will be higher on the right side, or drive side of the wheel. Therefore proper spoke tension should be measured on both sides, but set to the right side spokes of rear wheels.

Increasing Tension

To increase the tension, turn all of the spokes around the entire wheel 1/4 counter clockwise and then measure again. Repeat this step until your spoke tension is within range all the way around. Then true your wheel as explained in the video titled "How to True a Wheel".

Tags

Discuss this topic in the Wheel Forums

03/23 Corrosion on rims... Repair?

Hey guys,
Have a set of MTB wheels that the rims(aluminum) have some corrosion around where the spokes fasten(nipples). It has a chalky white residue that seems to creep under the existing paint and makes the paint peel off.
What is the best way to clean them up and get them ready for a couple coats of paint?
Thanks !!! ... Read more >>

03/06 Park wheel truing add on is pretty slick.

I put my Park wheel truing adapter onto my Park repair stand and have now had some experience with it. It is pretty neat, very happy with it, and it works well for truing Mountain bike wheels etc. (Not a jig for wheel building of course as other items come into play that this stand cannot cope with)  One wheel was so bad I had to loosen all the spokes and snug them all up evenly to get the wheel into a shape I could start from. Another bike the tire was out of round while the wheel was bang on. The more I use it the better I get. So every bike I work on now I can easily check the wheels in mi... Read more >>

03/04 This question again?

so my new bike will be here soon and I want to swap out my 15mm nuts up front for a quick release. not sure which yet..... might go for XT as I hear good things about them. i'll be getting a redline monocog, 29er SS. i'm an able tinkerer but just getting a bike tool kit together to take on more of my own repairs. pictures are encouraged as i'm new to all this. thanks all.


also, how do I change things in my .... uuummmmmm........ I don't know what you call it. I want to put up a picture of myself and stuff....

ok, figured out the second half. now, back to the first hal... Read more >>

02/28 Old Normandy Hubs

I don't believe I've posted this before....
By dating parts, I know the approximate age of Peugeot... 
Front Normandy Hub made in 50th week of 1979, and rear Hub made in first week of 1980.

Trying same on Gitane Mixte that we believe is 1970-ish, with same Normandy Hubs and I hit a brick wall...
Stamped Normady, but that's it...

Searching on Internet for Normandy hubs I see only date code info as what I find on Peugeot.

Anybody hear of any other Date Codes on  Normady hubs?

Every now and then I try (again) to date code th... Read more >>

02/28 Replace rims?

Hi
have just watched the video on replacing rims.  Just wondering what the indicators would be that you needed new rims.  The video gave no info on this.  Just curious.
Thanks
Colleen... Read more >>

02/27 Hub question from complete novice

I'll preface this by saying I know very little about bike maintenance.

I recently bought a new bike, Vilano's generic, entry level 21 speed. I'd hoped to find a good deal on a used bike on Craigslist, but quickly realized I didn't have the bike knowledge to do that. The Vilano had good reviews for my price range, but I realize that, to an extent, you get what you pay for, too.

I got the bike yesterday and started to do some prep maintenance. I know I could've had a bike shop do everything for a reasonable price, but I like figuring stuff out and doing my own maintenan... Read more >>

01/22 Wheel Dishing

Is the rear wheel on a bike properly dished if the rim is equally distant from the frame? I trued my rear wheel a little today, and I'm wondering if I need to go any further to check if it's centered than measuring the distance between the rim and the frame on either side of the wheel.... Read more >>

01/21 Wheel not turning when I pedal

Hi. Riding in sub zero temps here and my rear brake has seized for the last three days heading to work but today I started off pedalling but after about 100m my pedals no longer moved the rear wheel. I had a major service a few months back where all cranks, chains etc were replaced. Could it just be the cold that is preventing me moving and if so what can I do to cure it.

Sitting sadly on the bus commute as I type.... Read more >>

01/19 Spoke protectors?

I need a couple spoke protectors for a 70+ mm hub. I see some listed on e-bay, but they are the smaller hub spoke protectors.
Can anyone tell me where to find the bigger hub spoke protectors ??... and how do they measure for them ??
Thanks... Read more >>

01/18 Help overhauling hub

Hi I need help. I'm rebuilding my bike ready for spring and noticed my rear wheel bearings needed changing so took cones off removed. Axel and the non driver side bearing and cassette and I'm struggling to get the other side bearing out I have tried Everything possible they are sealed bearings any help would be great I can post pictures if needed.... Read more >>

01/14 Remove brake drum from chariot trailer axle

I need to replace the suspension plate on a chariot trailer. The plates slide onto the axle, and therefore I need to remove at least one brake drum from the axle.

This is what it looks like.

[attachment=5677]
However I subsequently found this parts diagram, which suggests what I've labelled as "final part of axle" and "collar" are actually a single part which fits inside the axle (ringed in red)

[attachment=5676]

I can think of several ways of getting this out - unscrew it (seems unlikely), heat the axle with a blow torch, or hit it out... Read more >>

01/11 What bearing Quality used for MFG in past years?

Question: Say you have a bike that was built in every 10 year increment since 1920 or so...
1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, etc...

What grade of Bearing 100, 50 25, etc would have been used for Mfg, and I realize this might be MFG specific too... ??

What I'm trying to determine (And this could be another of those 'unknown' things about 1970--1980 French bikes...)

If you rebuild an old bike, based upon year, what grade of bearing do you think you're replacing?

I would assume there would be a diminishing returns issue....

Jus... Read more >>

01/10 Motobecane wheel replacement

hello all!

i have an old motobecane roadbike, and have been learning that nothing on it is standard sized (relative to american road bikes), which has posed some difficulty when making repairs and replacements.

id like to replace my back wheel- can i use any wheel or do i need to find a french/motobecane manufactured one?

thank you very much for the advice!... Read more >>

12/31 Hubs for a 1973 Schwinn Continental (fixie)?

hey I'm trying to build a bike for the first time and I would like to build one in its entirety (including putting together the wheels). I am fairly smart, and am confident that I will be ok assembling everything, but I just need help finding what parts I need.

so, I have a 1973 Schwinn Continental frame and fork, and I am currently working on comverting it to a fixie. As I dont have any wheels as a reference (I only have the frame and fork that I bought off of eBay), I was wondering what hubs I should choose for this bike.

thanks for any help!

-cvs1998... Read more >>

12/21 Bearing replacement Mavic TS2 Freehub

Morning All,

One of my bearings collapsed in the free hub so I decided to see if I could fix it. After cleaning all the gunk out I was able to see the circlip on the threaded side of the hub.

[Image: hj1ae8Ql.jpg]

I then removed circlip thinking it should be just a case of knocking the old ones out and replacing however there doesn't appear to be anyway to knock these little buggers out.

Here is a pic of the other side

Read more >>

New Thread
How to Tension Wheel Spokes
Repair Guide / Help Forums

Free Email Updates: