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

04/19 Changing Wheelset

Hi I have a mountain bike Trek mamba 29er and I want to change the wheels and my brake rotors have center lock. When I change the wheels I have to change the brake rotors too or I can use it. Please help me I'm a little lost... Read more >>

03/23 New mavic wheel problem

Hi guys- I don't know if anyone will be able to help me but here goes...

I have an old (2006) road bike which had mavic ksyrium equipe wheels on it. the width of the dropouts on the back is 130mm.

anyway, my rim brake surface got a kink in it so i got some "new" old wheels off ebay which are a slightly better model, ksyrium SL ssc.

only problem is that when i went to install the rear wheel i noticed it wasn't sitting right in the frame. on investigation i found that the axle width of this wheel appears to be 135mm. (the one on the old wheel is definitel... Read more >>

03/21 Weirdest hub sound

I've got a very strange sound/problem on my Mtn bike, hoping someone can help. Local shop has no idea without tearing apart my hub as a guess. Other threads have been useless.

The bike is a Specialized S-works Stumpjumper, 2008. Mavic CrossMax hubs and rims.

When descending/cruising, at quick speed, ONLY while either coasting or backpedaling, I get a very loud scream/rub kind of sound. It sounds a bit like something rubbing against the tire treads, except a more internal-type sound, if that makes any sense. The sound does not ALWAYs occur. And when it does, it immed... Read more >>

03/21 What is this hub?

This hub came with my Bianchi Dama Bianca Alu 7000 She 9speed (2010). It says Novatec on it but no model number.

[attachment=4964]

I want to change the cones but I don't know which ones to get. Anyone got any ideas?

Here are some more pictures:

[attachment=4965]

[attachment=4966]

[attachment=4967]

Thanks!... Read more >>

03/20 Hub gear change ghost

I have a dutch bike that I bought in Copenhagen. It is back breaking and has a hub gear. It keeps changing gears randomly either when I try to go up into the highest gear (there are 3 gears) it will go into that gear for a minute and then when i least expect it and am pedalling hard to get past a truck it will slit into a lower gear. It is like the pedals give way. It does not go out of gear, it just slips into another gear. I have little control over what gear I am in. Today I did my whole 20 minute cycle to work with out touching the gear change on the handle and it went down form 3 t... Read more >>

03/18 Specialized Epic 29er rear wheel broken spoke

I have a epic 29er, I need to replace a broken spoke on the rear wheel. I really want to do it myself(local shop is 2hours away) and want to invest in the proper tools to do so. So my question to is how do I replace the broken spoke(steps) and what speciality tools do I need?... Read more >>

03/16 Mt. Fury Roadmaster 15 Speed Index Shifting Rear Wheel Problem

Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum and new to the bike community in general so i apologize for anything i may do or say that may seem naive.

My sister got into an accident on her brand new bike so it needed to be repaired by a mechanic. long story short instead of being repaired, it sat in storage for over a year so I decided to take it out and repair it myself. So far I spent about 9 hours fixing things like the rear breaks, tires, gears, bolts, chain, seat, and various other things. Everything seems to be working except the rear wheel. It keeps coming out of place which cause... Read more >>

03/06 Trike Rear Axle Removal Problem

Hi Everyone. I usually can figure things out but this one has me stumped. I am refurbishing a Hedstrom Trike from the 1970's or 80's and I can't for the life of me get the rear axle/differential out of the frame. I have taken a lot of pictures and I hope someone on here has an idea of how to move forward. The bike has a 3-speed internal shift hub sistered to a chain drive differential of some sort. The rear axle is definitely two separate pieces but neither will come out of the frame. I managed to get the right side wheel off but the left remains a problem. It doesn't seem to thread off or sli... Read more >>

03/05 Old freewheel replacement

Hello everyone,

I'm trying to recondition an old Mongoose mountain bike as cheaply as possible for a friend who would like a bike just for getting around. It is an early 90s Mongoose Maneuver with a solid Cro-Mo frame that is in fine shape. It does have a couple of problems after sitting around for so long, however, and I need a bit of advice.

The main problem is that, if I pedal and then stop, the chain sags (on top) and bunches up; it seems that the freewheel is not so "free" anymore, and the sprockets themselves are pretty rusty.

The other problem is... Read more >>

03/03 What size rims?

i have a schwinn passage 21 speed bicycle it has a 700c rear rim and a 27 inch frount what should be on it... Read more >>

02/26 New Rear Wheel For Specialized Epic Comp 2012

Heyo, I need to get a new rear wheel for my Specialized Epic Comp 2012. Something preferably under $200, which I know isnt a lot, but its what I got. I have been looking at the Mavic Crossride 29er, but I don't know if that is compatible for my bike. Any help would be appriciated, thanks!... Read more >>

02/19 Hub skewers

Just bought a set of fancy anodized skewers, didn't cross my mind that the rear one would be for 10 and 11 speed. I need to shorten it to fit my 7 speed hub and there is not enough spare thread. Does anyone know the standard thread for a 3/16" dia skewer rod? I could go to the hardware store and start trying nuts, but I thought I'd ask first.... Read more >>

02/17 Cassette is stuck on hub

Today I was changing out the cassette on my fairly new mountain bike, no problem with the existing cassette, just changing the gearing. I removed the retainer screw, but I could only remove the first three rings, the rest of the cassette was stuck on. Here is a picture, please tell me what you think. Thanks, Dan... Read more >>

01/21 Left side spokes breaking Alfine 8

Alfine 8 speed with disc brakes
32 db spokes
velocity Blunt SL 29in rim.

I use this combination on a city bike. Bike is heavy and I carry alot but only for city transportation. I blew the first spoke at the nipple/thread edge. The second two have been at the head.

Trying to decide what to do.

Bike shop manager thinks upgrade the spokes to Alpine III's.

But it is odd as the wheel is almost symmetrical. It is a strong rim.

I would say I am near 800-1000 miles on the wheel set.

Bike is a Raleigh alley wa... Read more >>

01/15 5-speed campy hub internal rings?

I was feeling some grinding on my 1980-ish novo record group, so opened it up and discovered some parts I don't understand, so I'll try to be as clear as I can:
- take off the outer most ring (has the pinholes for the v-shaped tool, I used a pin punch)
- lift off the gear cluster with outer set of bearings
- at the base of the threaded shaft the outer lock ring was on, about level with the outer bearing race, are three hair- to paper-thin metal rings, stacked on top of each other; the lowest has tabs facing inward that sit in grooves along the inner shaft; one of these rings... Read more >>

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

Free Email Updates: