Spoked Wheel Maintenance

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by 309, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. 309

    309 Special Purpose

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    So I've got a loose spoke on the front wheel, which reminded me that I need to learn about spoke maintenance. Coming from street bikes, I never gave this much thought.

    If I remember right, I'm supposed to be tightening the spokes on one side of the hub uniformly, then doing the other side. That's about all I remember...

    Anybody care to give a lesson?
    #1
  2. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

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    Assuming your wheel is true, and this isn't going to become a "how to true a wheel" lesson... you begin by putting one drop of light penetrating oil at each spoke/nipple junction. Then you wait a few hours. Have a beer... or, maybe not. :evil

    Why oil? Because I don't know how corroded and/or old your wheels are, and a drop of oil goes a long way towards making the nipple easier to turn and the torque a little easier to feel.

    • Get the wheel off the ground and locate the valve stem… the valve stem is your “pass point”
    • Place a good fitting spoke wrench on either spoke nipple nearest the valve stem and tighten it no more than 1/8th of a turn. How did it feel?
    Typical spoke torque is around 45 to 60 inch pounds, or about 4-5 ft. lbs. In other words, not much.

    • Now... assuming you have a conventional wheel with 36 spokes, count the first spoke you touched as number 1.
    • Now bypass two spokes in which ever direction you’d like to rotate the wheel, and lay the wrench on the 4th spoke... apply pressure to that nipple using the one prior as a point of reference.
    • Then bypass the next two spokes and repeat the process.
    The idea here is to go around the wheel 3 times, giving 12 spokes per turn a “snuggie”.
    Or, you can go around 4 times giving 9 spokes a little push. When you've gone around enough times; you've laid a wrench on all the spokes... the wheel should still be true and all the spokes fairly evenly tightened.

    If you want to, use a felt pen to mark each spoke as you do it... they all kinda look the same and it's easy to loose track of where you've already been.

    At each spoke, when you lay the wrench on it you will feel a degree of resistance. The idea is that all the spokes should have the same feel of resistance when done. When you run into the "loose spoke" bring the tension up on it so that it is similar to the others you've done.

    Think in terms of an average tension rather than a high or low tension.
    Better to sneak up on a spoke than to arbitrarily turn it... even 1/2 turn, unless you actually know what your doing.
    If you encounter a spoke that seems unusually tight, back it off a ¼ turn and re-tighten it… again, trying to duplicate the average torque previously encountered.

    Wheel service for someone who's never done it before can be very ah... stressful. You think you're going to screw something up.
    If you don't over-torque anything, and you only tighten spokes based on what you feel instead of the fractions of turns, you'll be fine.
    Remember, if your not sure, less is better than too much.

    This is why there's a good market in spoke torque wrenches. Not for the guy that knows how to lace and true his own wheels, but for the guy that doesn't.
    A pro wheel guy probably owns a torque spoke wrench… and very seldom uses it. He (or she) has developed a feel that is, in most cases, a better gauge of torque than the wrench.
    Corrosion can give the misleading impression that your spokes are tight when they are not… only a trained hand can “feel” that.

    Bla bla bla.

    Best ‘O luck,
    C
    #2
  3. Django Loco

    Django Loco Banned

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    Wow Creep, you musta worked in a bicycle shop at some point, no?

    I use mostly SOUND and FEEL to adjust my spokes.

    Take your spoke wrench or "other" device and go round the wheel
    and tap each spoke. They should play like a Zylophone if all adusted
    correctly. The "tone" should be close but will not really change because
    the spoke length is always the same. But a "tone" means your in the ball
    park. A rattle or thud means that spoke is loose. feel it. Its loose, right?
    Tighten until you've got a tone...no more.

    Tighten it up, but not too much. You don't want to throw the wheel out
    of line. Hard ridden dirt bikes will develop loose spokes from time to time.
    No big deal. Most Japanese wheels require very minimal and infrequent
    adjustment in my experience. I like Creepers oil idea. Keep it off the disc
    and pads though. Could oiled spokes slip more with use?:eek1
    #3
  4. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

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    I hesitate using the "tone" method with a wheel service "virgin" for a few reasons.

    • One, they may be tone deaf. :lol3
    • Two, if the hub is conical, or otherwise has multiple lengths of spokes, the tone will not be the same from spoke to spoke.
    • Three, virgins will start to "chase" the tone and loose track of what's been tightened and what hasn't. If they aren't careful, they can "chase" a wheel right out of true. :eek1
    • Four... I can't remember. I'm old, what can I say. :gerg
    Loco my man... Think in terms of a first timer. Uncomplicated and, more importantly, systematic is a good thing when you're already a little apprehensive about the job in the first place.

    Laters,
    C
    #4
  5. 309

    309 Special Purpose

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    Thanks fellas, that's just what I was after. :thumb
    #5
  6. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Nice post (it's already in the index :nod),

    Considering the above Caste, what do you think of spoke torque wrenches? Meaning besides the expense, what do you think of their up and downsides? Seems like they would be a good idea, but my reading of wheel tuner-speak leads me to believe there is an art to it - and science can interfere with artistry. :ear

    Here are some that came up in a quickie search:
    http://www.ftmbiz.com/mx_excel_spoke_wrench.html
    Fasstco
    RK
    #6
  7. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

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    Hey Meat,

    I think they are fine to use, as long as the user realizes that the cleaner and better lubed the spoke/nipple threads are, the more accurate the wrench will be.
    56 in.lbs. can be 56 in.lbs. of actual torque value applied spoke tension... or it can be 18 in.lbs. of torque and 38 in.lbs. of corrosion, or thread damage induced resistance.
    This is why professional wheel builders will use oil, grease or "spoke thread lube" when they build a wheel... to get a smooth, true feel.

    On an assembled wheel, for the home maintenance guy who wants to really do it right but doesn't have years of wheel truing experience under his belt, a dab of penetrating oil, maybe turning the nipples in and out a bit to get the oil into the threads... then use the wrench... that would be the most accurate use of a spoke torque wrench I think.
    Even better if you do your own tire changes... 'cause then you can get really sloppy with the spoke lube and not worry about the excess getting into the wheel, tire and tube "sealed area".

    C
    #7
  8. woody's wheel works

    woody's wheel works Built to Last

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    great info Creeper and Django loco,,,,,

    1,,,when it comes to tone,,every 4th spoke ie all the spokes going in the same rotation should definitely sound the same

    2,,,if ya hear a change in pitch,,make sure the spokes aren't touching each other,,which they often do

    3,,,no mention was made of using an indicator of sorts,,,ie a means of referencing your latitudinal and longtitudinal run-out and hence knowing if you are actually truing your wheel ,,,,getting closer or further away from your detination,,,,otherwise IMHO you are just blindly tightening spokes:wink:
    #8
  9. Odysseus

    Odysseus Stoic Philosopher

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    Is this a great resource or what? 309 asks a question about spoked wheel maintenance and gets three GREAT responses!

    BTW from what I have been told, IF you are going to get a spoke torque wrench, the one from Fasstco is one to have.
    #9
  10. bmwktmbill

    bmwktmbill Traveler

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    Creeper,
    Nice post. I have never really had a good idea of how to deal with a wheel tune up. I appreciate your explaination for the technique.
    Bill in Tomahawk, WI.
    #10
  11. DirtRiderwjc2000

    DirtRiderwjc2000 Been here awhile

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    +1 for the fasstco wrench, pricey but worth it. I bought for my Honda CRF 450, I got the entire kit, so I have the correct size for all my bikes. Best tool I have ever bought.
    #11
  12. Tseta

    Tseta Lost

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    Hello,

    Once again, sorry for digging up an ancient thread, but...

    I've been reading up on KTM spoked wheels and the horror stories associated with them. In anticipation of spoke failure, I've been planning to zip-tie the spokes together and keep a close eye on them. I've also been considering carrying some spare spokes with me on longer trips.

    How should I interpret the KTM parts fiche listing for the front and rear wheel spokes for my 2003 640 Adventure? The fiche lists the rear wheel spokes as:

    546.10.471.000 SPEICHE M5X223-10G 18“ SPOKE M5X223-10G 18“
    and
    503.10.071.197 SPEICHE M5X197-10G 18“ DDE SPOKE M5X197-10G 18“ DDE

    The spoke nipples as:

    583.09.072.000 SPEICHENNIPPEL M5-TA (8X21MM) SPOKE NIPPLE M5-TA (8X21MM)

    For the front:

    503.09.071.230 SPEICHE M4,5X230-15G 21“ DDE SPOKE M4,5X230-15G 21“ DDE

    And the nipples:

    503.09.072.000 SPEICHENNIPPEL M4,5X0,75 8X21 SPOKE NIPPLE M4,5X0,75 8X21

    The reason I am asking is because the cost for these parts is stupidly expensive from my local dealer. There is a custom wheel manufacturer who could make me some spokes for much less, but he would need some more information about the spokes before making them. I don't trust my ability to measure the assembled spokes and I really don't wish to dissassemble the wheel and send some some spokes as samples.

    I've figured out so far that the part descriptions highlighted in orange have probably something to do with the diameter and the (total) length of the spoke. At least one additional dimension, mainly the angle of the bend is required. My gut feeling says that the part highlighted in red could be something to do with that angle (as G could be short for Grad - angle in german...).

    So, anybody have any insight into the aforementioned issue? :ear

    Cheers,

    Tseta
    #12
  13. MaverickAus

    MaverickAus Been here awhile

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    I am no expert, I think the M5 and M4 bit is to do with the thread, the 223, 197 and 230 is the length of the spoke in mm and the 10G and 15G is the gauge of the wire.
    I may be wrong
    #13
  14. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Tseta,

    if you don't get a good answer in the thread send the same question to "Woody's Wheel Works" (who posted earlier in the thread). He builds KTM wheels and will know the specs you need for your local builder. :beer
    #14
  15. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    and if you want to drop it off at the pro
    http://www.woodyswheelworks.com/

    pit posse has the best deal for the home user:
    http://www.pitposse.com/potowrkit.html

    i would also buy this as your initial spoke thread prepping tool.
    http://www.pitposse.com/moprospwr.html
    can't imagine using a torque wrench to lossen and tighten the nipple to prepare the thread is good for the tool.
    i like the slip over the nipple box design because all 4 corners are used. this is important when your intially cracking corroded nipples so you don't strip anything.
    #15
  16. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    i think this is your best home method. you would still follow the skip so many spokes method and then using this extended method w/ a torque wrench would yield a properly torqued wheel.
    #16
  17. Tseta

    Tseta Lost

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    MaverickAus:

    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge, 10 gauge would be approximately 2.588mm diameter wire, and as M5 (male) threads need to be cut on 5mm diameter pieces, I don't think the G refers to the gauge of the wire. :dunno

    Meat:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I will try that next.

    Eakins:

    Woody's Wheel Works is not so conveniently located from my point of view. Shipping across the pond is a pain. (Edit: As the OP was 3 years ago...)


    Cheers,

    Tseta
    #17
  18. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    that recomendation was meant for the OP as he's on colorado.
    i'd get yourself some tools and go it at on your own.
    #18
  19. 1stworks

    1stworks dude

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    thanks for the info!!!:D
    I need to do some work to my rear wheel...:cry

    firstworks
    #19
  20. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    how about spoke prep with tires still on the wheel?
    is this possible. can i lift the bike, deflate the tubes and then do the work: pentrate, lossen, torque? will the spoke nipples cut into the rim strips???
    thanks
    #20