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
]Hello.. First post ! In trouble already.. It's years since I last did bike maintenance and then it all seemed to easy.. I've just bought an old Dawes Shuniah mountain bike (£5) that's been very neglected. The rear hub bearing are dry and I need to repack with grease. Looks like the axle is slightly bent as well. First hurdle is the cassette removal (without special tools ) The lock nut is diff...Read more
Hey guys so I have ~50 years old Cosmos SuperCorsa and the only problem with it is that the rims are bent to the center. I want to replace them but I can't find the exact same brand at a good price. The wheels are from Campagnolo. The bike is 700c with 36 holes. The inner width is 13,5mm and the rim height is 18mm. Are the last 2 measurements not required or it should be exactly as the ones I have...Read more
IMG_0838_resized.jpg (Size: 195.96 KB / Downloads: 15) Howdy folks! Was hoping you all can help me out. I am going to send bicycle parts and tools to help people in Malawi. Was sent this image and told this type of bike is the "work horse" of transportation. From what I can tell they seem to be 1 speed with narrow tires, maybe 26 inch? Obviously pedals might be good too. Any thou...Read more
Could someone help me out? I recently purchased a new single speed bike sprocket. I put it on my bike and I had to make the chain smaller. Anyways I got everything put together and its as if the bike doesn't have enough tension when you pedal. like when you pedal it feels like the chain isn't even on. the cranks spin almost to freely....Read more
So I have a couple of questions that I hope someone in this group might know about or have experience with. This is for my Schwinn Meridian 7-speed trike. 1. Are the derailleur chain and the drive chain the same type? Obviously they're different lengths; and I assume the derailleur chain is a typical 7-speed chain. But what about the main drive chain? Same thing? Or is it a standard single speed ...Read more
I have these Chinese freewheels. On the inside are ridges which are supposed to be there so you can use the tool to remove it. With these freewheels, the ridges are very low. I have a tool, also made in China, and the ridges on the tool are also very low. So when trying to use the tool to remove the freewheel, it does not grip properly, and it can't be used to remove the freewheel. The metal on ...Read more
Hello everyone and thank you so much for having me! I have an older Columbia 3 wheeler adult tricycle and she has a differential, somewhat like a car. I wanted to open up the differential for cleaning and oiling but cannot find any info on her, as to how much oil to add, and where the oil fill point is. Can anyone help me in this endeavor? I'd really love to get her going but don't want to ris...Read more
does this noise mean anything? The bike was not used and left outside for a long time. The freewheel sprocket spun free in both directions. After removing it and dripping oil thru it in both directions it appeared to work fine. Once reinstalled it still works fine, but does make this noise when I stop peddling. With bike upside down and rear wheel spinning freely i can also fell the noise as a vi...Read more
Schwinn Boundary bottom bracket bearing let go. I would like to upgrade them to sealed bearings. Threaded frame bottom tube 35 mm nut thread od. x 73 mm wide....Read more
Hello all. My name is Andrew, and I reside in sunny Bognor Regis, UK. I have been an avid BMX rider my entire life, but my body has taken a battering and I now have arthritis creeping in and if I am really lucky* I will also inherit my mother's osteoporosis. *yeah was being sarcastic. No other form of comedy funnier etc lol. Any way, when my body started to fall to bits and I had a bad BMX wreck...Read more
I have a 1975 Hutchins road bike and want to, if possible, fit a modern crank set, say a Campy Centaur Compact, to the bike. Can this be done and would the existing 1975 front Campy derailleur work? Thanks, Dorsey...Read more
I'm trying to find a 3 spoke or 5 spoke wheel for my virtue hybrid bike. All I can find is for road and fixie bike only. Screenshot_20220522_213714_com.android.chrome.jpg (Size: 30.77 KB / Downloads: 10) ...Read more
I just installed a new set of brakes on a bike at a hostel I've been staying at and I can't get them to work right. First, the front brake lever has a ton of lateral play and they don't have much power when applied. Second, the rear brake arms won't release. It doesn't seem to be an issue of the brake nut being too tight, I can loosen it to the point where I can easily move the caliper by hand a...Read more
Just wanted to drop some positive encouragement for taking your spindle crank out and getting some fresh grease in the cups and on the axle regularly. This will dramatically improve the performance of your drivetrain. For example on how often, I had fully overhauled my bike back in March, when I converted it back to urban street from the snow conversion. It's only May, not even 300 miles on it sin...Read more
First, I'm new here and also Thanks in advance for reading and helping me out. I'm a casual bike rider who lives in a large city and enjoys getting out for a ride in the summer to enjoy the beautiful weather. I don't have a very fancy bike (Trek) but it get's me around just fine. My Problem: I don't know if this is normal on all bike's but I have to put air in my tires every 2 weeks. I've replaced...Read more