important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

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.

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“.

Related Links

Related Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

Trek Antelope 820

Lastest post 7 hours ago

Hello all, I have a old Antelope 820 in nice condition that has a broken (right) shiftier (Shimano 200GS SIS 7 S). It appears that these old parts are not readily (or cheaply) available. Has anyone swapped out these shifters with a more current model without changing the derailer(s)? I don't want to spend alot as the bike isn't worth much I just have a hard time trashing it since is a nice bike ...

Read more

  p6i6rfpm1ip41 (1).jpg (Size: 82.1 KB / Downloads: 9) Is there a way to get rid of that rust or do I need to replace certain components? More pics...

Read more

Hey everyone! This is my first time repairing this bike. I’ve done basic maintenance (new tape, tubes, tires)... but then the wheels were stolen! I really enjoy the aesthetic of this bike and I’m hoping the repairs will be possible. I’ll definitely need some direction on what parts to look for and how to approach this. Here is what I’m working with. Nishiki Performance Equipe Sport See...

Read more

Regreasimg

Lastest post 1 day ago

So i just bought a new 2019 bmx ive had it for a little over three months. Should I regrease the bike so it can feel fresh or should I leave the old grease? it's dumb but I'm still new to working on my bike. I have most necessary tools to work on my bike. Any other type of advice for the future or something like that would be immensely appreciated. Thank you ...

Read more

Hi all, New member here . I just bough a new bike and yesterday was my first ride. I noticed a sound when in my 3th or 4th gear (3rd and 4th largest sprocket) . Today I tried to determine the noise and it seems to be because the chain does not seem to fit perfectly on sprockets (if inspected, you can see small gap between chain and sprocket, causing a "click" when pedalling). I checked the usual...

Read more

Megarange Freewheel

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

A recent purchase of an Elektra 7-speed cruiser came with a Megarange freewheel. I didn't like it, so today I swapped it for a regular 14-28T freewheel. The second lowest geared cog has 24 teeth. The lowest had 34 teeth. That's a huge jump from one cog to another. I found that in a headwind, when I dropped to the lowest, I had to pedal like crazy just to get up to walking pace. And because of thi...

Read more

700x Hutchinson tire too old?

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

Took an old 28" front rim from a friend who would otherwise throw it in the garbage. THe rim came with 700 Hutchinson tire and I had to change its inner tube, before putting it on my old road bike. Then came the evening nightmare .. tire was SUPER tight and did not want to come off. I have changed many tubes, but this was so far the toughest tube swap mission. Fingertips hurt and Hutchinson did no...

Read more

Tektro Auriga Comp Brake Questions

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

Hi I'm building up a mountain bike ready for when the summer gets here in the UK, I got given a pair of Marzochhi Bomber 55 front forks that came with a Tektro Auriga Comp hydraulic brake. Wanting to keep the brakes matching I bought a secondhand new old stock rear Tektro Auriga Comp brake, when it arrived it looked in good condition, I had to order a bracket for the frame to allow the caliper t...

Read more

Removing Crank and Fork

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I purchased this bike for $75 and it wasn't riding well so I decided to take it all apart and make it new again. I am having the most difficult time removing the fork and pedal cranks (I think that's what they are called). The top of the fork has a black circular piece that I am sure needs to be unscrewed but it won't budge. I have tried using a pipe strap but it just slips. Using a set of pl...

Read more

Upgrading an old road bike

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I own an old road bike from the 80’s I quite like. To this day, all the original parts are still on the bike, except the last mudguard that broke this year. The wear and tear is getting more noticeable lately, especially the wheels and the breaks. Shifting is not as smooth as it used to be, but it’s not a major concern. The wheels are probably the biggest problem since the wheel ring is not to...

Read more

New chain / old freewheel?

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I recently rebuilt my old 86 Schwinn and replaced the chain at the same time. On the small cogs, when under pressure, the chain seems like it's too short to reach the next cog. I used a 6/7/8 speed chain, but have a 5 speed freewheel. Is my freewheel worn, or am I using the wrong chain? Or, something else?...

Read more

Break lever stuck

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

Hello My rear break lever is stuck open on my Specialized XC ,also the break pads are in the breaking position on the disc even though the lever is open. Please help...

Read more

Temporary Bike shop

Lastest post 4 weeks ago

Oh well, another move of the seemingly and endlessly mobile "skunk works". I had to move in short order due to a friend wanting to make the house into an "air b&b"; good luck with that! Never thought that the garage would be a big rental concern; but I am concerned about my stuff getting damaged or lost, so in a rental space while I reorganize my house for the new/old projects. Managed to fit ...

Read more

It's late. I'll do it tomorrow.

Lastest post 4 weeks ago

I suppose I should wait until daylight to do the job. My new lever shifter came a couple of days ago and tonight the handlebars arrived. Maybe I'll just remove the brake levers, twist shifter, grips, computer and light and then get some sleep. Well, it's stripped down. Maybe I'll just put the bars on and then get to bed. Yes, they look good but they'd look better if I just put the new lever shift...

Read more

Mushroomed brake boss

Lastest post 1 month ago

I'm dealing with a V-brake boss that has been slightly mushroomed. Does anyone make a tool to machine it down to spec, or do I just need to go at it with a file? Please disregard, I just realized the post is replaceable. Duh....

Read more