How to Tension Wheel Spokes
Learn how to properly tension the spokes in a wheel.
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.
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“.
Discuss this topic in the Wheel Forums
How can I tell whether my rims are worn to the extent that they're liable to split from tyre pressure? They've had about 7000 miles of travel but the wear depth is probably 1/4 mm. It could be more, but since the pads have worn all over the width of the rim, there's no unworn section to compare it to. I could measure the thickness with a micrometer....Read more
Am thinking of buying a new bike and was wondering if anyone could tell me if the wheel,that I use on my trainer would fit on the new bike. The wheel in question is an XRIMS y2000 622x20 6061-T6. It has a Shimano CS H631-8 Cassette on it. I use it on an 08 Trek 7200. I am thinking about buying a Fuji Absolute 1.9 and am wondering if this wheel will fit as is....Read more
Hey everyone, new here, and also new to riding bikes. After 29 years, I finally learned to ride and after a month of riding, this morning my tire messed up. I'm still not sure what happened (and forgive me for not knowing the proper names of specific parts) Here's a picture of the damage, hopefully someone can explain to me what happened and how it can be fixed? Much appreciation. If this is s...Read more
Hi there, I have an old Shimano FH-1055 hub which I have dismounted it and now I cannot figure out the order of reassembly for the spacers/cones/washers (I know, stupid me that I have not take care in the first place) The biggest issue is on the cassette side where I have 4 or 5 separate pieces. Not sure if relevant but note that the cassete is 7 speed and has no dirt seal (like I saw on other ...Read more
Hi everyone, Recently I had some trouble with my freehub. As my local bikes shops are reluctant to fix my bike, because of being a b'twin (it's my work bike), I tried fixing the problem myself. Now, servicing my freehub and bearings wasn't much of a problem. En passent I also installed a fresh cassette and chain. Plenty of information on that online. The problems are now in trying to reinstall ...Read more
I have 2 fairly new, mid-range folders which ride quite well d seem like good bikes for the cost. 8 sp. Shimano components. I have a 7 second video of this. When I was recently cleaning-lubing the drivetrain, one of them was wheels-up and I did the customary pedal-spin the rear wheel and when it the wheel slows down to a near stop, it reverses direction for a small fraction of a rotation, then s...Read more
I have an unusual question I'm hoping to get answered on this forum. I've got a fixed gear bike that I want to convert to a horse training device. How do I get the rear wheel to become free wheeling, so I can turn it backwards as well as forwards? It has a bendix brake on it. Do I need to remove that, and if so, is there a special way to tighten the chain and hub? I'm kind of grasping here, s...Read more
I own a Trek District SSB, which uses Trek's proprietary belt drive system. I'd wanted a bike with an internal gear hub, but they only offered a 3-speed version as an upgrade, so I decided to buy the SSB and upgrade it myself to something a little beefier. The SSB has the same frame as the IGH 3, so it already has the cable guides for the hub. I'm going to take my bike to a local community shop t...Read more
I bought an old bicycle and see an unusual metal part attached on rear axle. Derailleur side. Starting from end I see a closed (no hole) bolt, two washers, then this "handle", a washer, then a deep nut, then a washer, then the derailleur, and then the bike frame. "Handle" is about one inch across and three inches deep, quite thick metal...flat but one edge has a perpendicular flange about 3/8 i...Read more
I think the rearing bearings are 13mm ID and 30mm OD. Are these measurements correct? Please help. Thanks....Read more
I have a 10 year old Trek 7200 Hybrid. I am thinking of replacing the wheels in a while and was wondering what you guys could recommend. It came with Matrix 750's but they are no longer available. I tip the scales around 230lbs. and am looking to spend around $300. any suggestions....Read more
I won a Specialized Daily in a contest. It is a pretty sweet bike. But it has an internal gearhub on the rear wheel. I have never had this type of gear setup before. I am afraid to mess with it to get the wheel off. How the heck do I remove this wheel to change my flat tube? Thank you in advance for any assistance. ...Read more
Hi. I have a fairly cheepish bike, Appolo Evade Mountain Bike. (The reason for it having a freewheel was probably due to price not age). Anyways. So, there is a tiny bit of freewheel wobble which I have come across on a lot of freewheel bikes so I never considered this a problem. Freewheels just tend to get a little bent right? Despite this, shifting is just fine and smooth and the whole drive ...Read more
replaced the rear wheel with new one the axle is slightly longer approx 4mm had to use washers as a temporary measure. i was wondering can you get knurled washers that will do the job better thanks chris...Read more
Hi! I wanted to replace the rim on my roadbike and heard from a friend that I should do it spoke by spoke, that way I don't have to be careful where to put which spoke. I tried that and now the new rim has kinda an egg shape and I can't fit any more spokes (I got stuck after switching 18 of the 32). (both rims are 622x15c) Should I: 1. Buy an already built new wheel and be done with it? 2. Star...Read more