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

09/05 Rear Axle - tough pedaling

I removed my rear wheels on my single drive ancient Miami Sun trike, right rear bolts to bearing, left wheel has a nut on end of shaft ... I had the wheels trued, and tubes and tires replaced ... tires are .25 wider than original. Now when I try to ride it is quite a bit harder to pedal. Is there a proper tightness for the rear wheel axle nut ? or is the wider tire the culprit ? I just assume I did something slightly wrong ... Thanks... Read more >>

09/01 Replace or repair wheel?

Hello All,

I need some advice on whether to repair or replace my rear wheel. I have a decent single speed road bike that a friend built together for me. I let another friend borrow it, and he decided it was a good idea to ride 6 miles on a flat (lessen learned not to let people borrow your stuff). So in doing so, he busted a spoke, and bent the rim. I removed the busted spoke and got a new tube. Its rideable but the wheel wobbles a bit, not terrible but enough to be annoying. Im not an experienced mechanic so I was wondering if this is something that is worth taking to a bike shop... Read more >>

08/12 Fitting tubeless tyres on a rim?

Hi guys

Question for you cycle experts. Would tubeless tyres fit on a magnesium alloy wheel? Please see link below of 26" magnesium alloy wheels that i am interested in.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MAGNESIUM-ALLOY-WHEELS-FRONT-AND-REAR-MTB-MOUNTAIN-BIKE-WITH-CASSETTE-NEW-26INCH-/221522845583?var=&hash=item3393ca5f8f

Thank you... Read more >>

08/11 Remove Hub End Caps

How can I remove the hub end caps from my front wheel? The wheel is a 2014 TBC Revolution Trail 27.5 with 32 spokes. I tried pulling them off by hand and with a pair of pliers but was unsuccessful.

The reason I'm doing this is because I noticed movement when I grip the wheel and move it side to side. I suspect the hub bearings and would like to remove the caps to have closer look and possible replace the bearings.

Here are some pictures of the wheel and hub:

[Image: 2nvs56h.jpg]
Read more >>

07/30 What freehub do I have?

Hello to everyone,
I'm new to the forum and I want to congratulate with all of you for your excellent work! Now we can go to the serious stuff:

I'm not an expert of bikes and I'm trying to fix my old TREK. The freehub is broken so I decided to replace it. It was not easy but, finally, I removed it from the bike. Now I have two questions:

1) I'm not sure I removed it correctly because the back of the freehub is different from what I can see online
2) if I removed it correctly, can someone tell me what kind of freehub is this? I want to buy the replacement <... Read more >>

07/27 Replace Cassette with Freewheel

I have a road bike with a Shimano Tiagra, 12-25T cassette.  I have a freewheel that should provide higher power on top gears.  How would I go about removing the cassette and hub and installing the freewheel?
What exactly is needed?  Is it possible

Will swapping the cassette... Read more >>

07/23 Started my 10 speed to 3 speed hub conversion from 27" to 26" wheels.

The rear wheels seems to fit fine. The spacing was perfect. Both wheels are off of  different Raleighs. The  rear brakes need changing. The bent 27" forks are being replaced with 26" forks. I serviced the bottom bracket and put a single chain drive and new peddles on as well. I think it will work but until it's finished, you never know for sure. There will be 4 or 5 pics. Will change the drop bars to flat bars, put a comfort seat on and see where it goes from there. If anyone has any advice I am interested in hearing it.
Read more >>

07/20 Swapping 27" wheels for 26" wheels.

I have a fairly nice Raleigh with a bad 27" front wheel. Too far gone for truing. I have a nice spare 26" wheel set.
Can I replace the 27"wheels with 26" wheels. I'm thinking the brakes pads would need to be move 1/2 inch and as the replacement rear 26" wheel is a 3 speed Shimano hub, their would be no dersillers to set up. Am I missing anything that would derail my plan?... Read more >>

07/20 Shimano 600 freewheel question.

I picked up Nishiki Custom Sport with what I think is a Shimano 600 freewheel. Odd set up. The freewheel has the axel bearings were the freewheel removal tool would normally go. the only adjustment on the free wheel side is a single nut which goes up against the bearing seal. I wondering if I am missing a part or is that the way it is supposed to be? anyone familiar with this setup?... Read more >>

07/13 Fitting Wrench on Nipple

Recently the front wheel on my 2012 Specialized Sirrus Sport became wobbly. I'm the kind of guy who would normally just take this to the shop to get trued by a professional, but I'm planning a long bike trip this Fall and decided I need to learn how to keep my wheels true myself. I went down to the bicycle dealer and bought two things: a triangle-shaped spoke wrench that fits three size nipples (0, 1, 2), and a $100 truing stand. I wanted to do this right.

I was not expecting the problem I ran into: I could fit the wrench (size 2) onto about 2/3rds of the spoke nipples, bu... Read more >>

06/30 How to choose the correct rim tape for my wheel?

Hi guys

Can anyone tell me how to choose the correct rim tape width for my wheel/rim? My wheel has an inside rim width of approx. 19mm. Would an 18mm wide rim tape thus be the ideal size for my wheel?

Thank you... Read more >>

06/20 Will this work on 20" rim?



Untitled

I want to buy a electric conversion kit for my bike but the smallest rear wheel that they supply is a 26"
rim. I asked if they can supply a 20" rim with spokes and the fella said he just sells them he dose not know if that is possible. If I do buy the 26" rear wheel can I change the rim and spokes for a 20" one?
and what size spokes would I need?
... Read more >>

04/14 Replacement axle for Ritchey V4 or V5 hub

I need to replace the axle on Ritchey hub that is part of a set of Pro DS wheels. Based on the hub ID document http://ritcheylogic.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Ritchey-HUB-ID-Sheet-20140121.pdf, I believe that it is V4 or V5 hub. It doesn't precisely match any of the pictures. It has a Shimano-compatible freehub.

Would this axle kit work? http://www.amazon.com/Ritchey-WCS-Roa... Read more >>

04/14 40 hole hub into a 36 hole rim?

G'day all,
Probably a dumb question but here goes anyway
I have a rear wheel from a 1940's bike I'm rebuilding that has a 40 hole coaster brake hub, but the rim is rusted out. I want to know if it is possible to re-fit this hub into a 36 hole rim (I guess leaving 2 holes empty on each side). I would like to re-use this hub if possible but have no 40 hole rims. Any advice/opinions would be great! (I'll probably try it anyway just to see what happens...!!)

Cheers!... Read more >>

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

Free Email Updates: