Regular Spoke Tightening

Hi, my spokes seem to come loose every so often, and I tighten them up. Once I tighten them they are good again. If I tighten them about a quarter turn every month, will I run into problems? Will they run out of threads quickly? If so how soon?

if they keep coming loose then you will never run out of thread.

Also a quarter turn is hardly anything and thats why your spokes keep coming loose. I sometimes when i true my wheel up after a ride ill turn my spoke wrench a whole 2 or 3 times.

You got a trials wheelset that takes a lot of abuse itll withstand you tightening your spokes more than a 1/4 turn:D

I just tight my spokes everytime I hear them or I feel like my wheel is going to explode! Which is probably not enough. Logicaly you should just check them when you want, if they are loose tight them until they are tight enough. Be sure you can’t un-tight them with your fingers, then you really need to tight it.

As a long time cyclist, I went had spokes break on me a six times so I am recognise the need to have them about right.

However, spokes are not somehting you need to, or even should, service on a regualr basis. Sure, occasionally true your wheel, at which time youwill need to adjust them.

Further, on a uni the wheels slipping out of true does not carry with it the urgency to fix tehm as it does on a bike. Reasons: Most uni wheels are chunkier than racing bikes, and are likely also to be smaller diameter. And teh kicker is, you don’t have caliper brakes. Nor are you likely to suffer as badly if they did catastrophically fail anyway. And you will not be loading them up on fast tight corners.

Leave them largely alone. If you keep adjusting them you may give yourself the sorts of problems you think you are addressing. If you do just largely leave them be and you still get problems (unlikely) then assuem that you have some real cheap spokes are a bad batch and replace them, And wehn you do, for good measure, up the lacing pattern from two to three, or if on three, then to four. (Minimal extra weight.)

Disclaimer: I can’t speak with experience for free riding / extreme riding /off road muni where the loads can be great, and the injury risk is there when things go pear shaped. I offer my advice only in the context of less extreme riding (commuting, etc).

Loose spokes cause creaking sounds when riding and provide less strength. Don’t attempt to true your wheel unless you know what you are doing (it is learnable but at least read a little).

If you suspect loose spokes go around the wheel squeezing pairs of spokes checking for tension. You can also pluck them and compare the pitch. The pitch shouldn’t be the same from spoke to spoke but if a spoke is too tight or loose it will stand out.

It is better to make small changes and check it after several rides than to make abrupt changes in the wheel.

Further reading…

They aren’t like stretching or anything, they’re just untwisting from the nipple a little bit. So you’ll never run out of threads. And you’ll probably break a couple no matter what, pretty much everyone does.

A properly built wheel with good components should not need much maintenance. A poorly built wheel with shoddy components on the other hand can be a lot of work to keep round and true.

Most unicycle wheels I have gotten were really poor builds and needed to be brought up to tension. Generally hand built wheels should be much better than machine built ones but the hand built 36" wheel I got from UDC a few years ago was the worst built wheel I have ever seen.

Wheel truing is a very good skill to have but can be very frustrating for beginners especially if you start out with a poor wheel that is way out.

I would bring it to a bike shop and ask them to true and tension the wheel. ask to watch and the mechanic might show you how to do it. The spokes should never be loose enough for the nipples to unwind by themselves.

Since your spokes are coming loose so often, and since you are only turning them 1/4 turn, my guess is that you aren’t actually tightening them. It’s common for the first quarter turn to just twist the spoke without moving the thread against the nipple. So you are probably just twisting the spokes. As the pressure on the rim changes, they will gradually untwist and straighten. Next time you try, keep one hand on the spoke to see if you feel it twisting. You could also tighten the spokes a full turn, then back them out a quarter turn. This breaks the thread contact so the nipple actually turns relative to the spoke.

put a couple drops of linseed oil into each nipple and it should help them from loosening up.

Fair inference and likely correct. Alternatively, they could be stretching.

Spokes should be highly tensile so that normal use will not push them beyond their elastic limit. And if they are pushed beyond their limit, breakage should occur, not stretching. If they are loosening in such short time due to stretch, then they are made of a metal not fit to be spokes and should be replaced now - it won’t be long before he does run out of thread anyway.

Thanks for all the advice. I think I know better how to tighten my spokes now.