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
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“.
- Park Tool TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter
- Park Tool SBC-1 Spoke, Bearing, and Cotter Gauge
- Park Tool TS-8 Home Truing Stand
- Park Tool TS-2.2 Home Truing Stand
- Park Tool SW Spoke Wrenches
- Park Tool SW-7 Triple Spoke Wrench
Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum
Went to fix the slow leak on my gravel bike's rear tyre. Found the culprit: a small cut near the middle of the tyre. The good news is it gave me an excuse to order a pair of Panaracer 43c semi-slick GravelKings (most of my local rides are more road-focused) to try out. Meanwhile, I was considering ye olde vulcanised patch repair to the inside of the tyre and superglue to the outside, but I'm thi...Read more
My hydraulic brake failed, and I replaced it with a cable brake. The brake is internally routed through the frame. The challenge is, how to get the new brake cable in through the frame, and out the other end. Here is what I did. 1. I pushed the internal brake cable through the hydraulic brake hose, while it was still in the frame. 2. I slid the hydraulic brake hose out, leaving the internal br...Read more
Any updates on the recall? The last I saw was this from CPSR. https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2023/Shimano-Recalls-Cranksets-for-Bicycles-Due-to-Crash-Hazard...Read more
Hi, So I bought a used Schwinn Meridian sight unseen online auction for $59 & drove 8 hours round trip to get it. It appears to be brand new actually. When I got it home, the next day I checked out my score. When I sat on it and pressed on the pedals, they moved but the bike did not. I inspected the bike and realized that whoever put this trike together, forgot to put what appears to be ...Read more
I spotted this great mod on YouTube yesterday. In nutshell: " XT cage installed on a GRX 812 11-speed derailleur lets you shift through an 11-51T cassette" I quickly priced it up in the UK. Via shrewd online shopping, you could do this with new parts for around £80. Less, obviously, if you have the 812 already on the shelf/buried in a box of crap. Seems like an excellent, easy upgrade to me. T...Read more
Hi, I search posts but no luck. I just got my wife a used LIV tempt MTB. We want to make it more of a comfort bike. Looking to Handlebar upgrade recommendations. Thanks in advance....Read more
Hi I have a trek domane 2.3, and I have changed the rear tyre to 28 (it was 25 originally) The tyre rubs with the brake arm (v brake), I fear it doesn’t seem to be compatible Is there any way to adjust the position of the brake arm? I just need it to ne around 2mm higher Thanks...Read more
good afternoon, i have spent the last week cleaning and changing parts on my old 2009 Schwinn Meridian Trike . The rear axle is in need of lubrication. Where is this done? do I just remove the axle retention nuts on each side and lube the bearings? What is a good brand of bearing grease available at Oreilleys? Thank you...Read more
What causes the brakes to lock-up i have only rear foot brake on my cruiser im sure it has to do with the hub but was wondering if its an ez fix or major overhaul?...Read more
Can I replace the MF-TZ500-7 SHIMANO on the rear wheel (Formula DC-31 hub, alloy, 6-bolt, 6/7/8-speed freewheel) with this FALCON FW-842 8 Speed 13-42T Freewheel for my Trek Marlin 4?...Read more
Hi everyone. A bit repetitive from my intro in GF, but this is the correct section for this post. I’m new to vintage bikes, but I’ve been eyeing a vintage Colnago to restore for a long time. Finally found one and the timing was right to pull the trigger. I’m still trying to identify the exact year, but from my research it’s 1991-1993 Colnago Super PiU. Mostly original, I think, apart from ...Read more
I thought I would do a thread about how to do a quality refurbish on a bicycle that will be a good user trouble free for quite a while. The scope of this refurb will not contain content about dealing with battle scars it may have endured in its lifetime, primarily because the bicycle is merely an example of a solid platform to build from (vintage lugged frame circa 1990). Purchased for $15us ...Read more
Hello, I have some stock wheels that came with my bike (Spesh DT swiss ones), they have Thru-Axles; is it possible to convert to QR for a different bike? I have the kit for another set of Prime wheels, currently used as QR but allowing it to be TA - can you swap between wheel types?...Read more
I am a little taller than the average cyclist, and a little fatter. Which makes me heavier than a lot of cyclists. I ride longer distances than many cyclists, and a lot of my riding is on rough tracks. When I started riding fat bikes, I would bend or break the axles in the back wheels. The hubs had cup and cone bearings, with freewheels. I am not really that heavy. Many people are heavier than me...Read more
I've been having fun shopping on AliExpress lately and came across a ton of TPU tube with lots of positive ratings. So, I'm planning to try them out. I love the idea of being able to pack a spare tube or two in a fraction of the space taken up by a butyl tube. There's also the chance to save a lot of weight, especially at the wheels. Current tubes: Continental. Weight 105g each. 2x in the wheels...Read more