Spoke tension, how tight?


During my last couple of muni rides I noticed that my spokes were creaking occasionally. I knew it was the spokes because I could pinch them where they cross and duplicate the sound exactly. A couple of them were fairly loose too. I think some of the noise is caused by the black coating on the spokes wearing off from friction where they cross.

I tightened them yesterday by giving them all a quarter to one half turn with my trusty spoke wrench. I alternated around the wheel in a similar fashion as one does to tune the lugs on a musical drum. The wheel seems to be fairly true so I guess that works.

My qestion is; how tight should they be? I compared the tightness to my old Kovachi built 24" wheel and the tension on those spokes seems tighter. I think both wheels have 14g spokes but the ones on my Kovachi seem thicker and more solid than on my KH24 sig. wheel? As I recall there is a concern about ‘over tightening’ the spokes and causing a nipple to poke through puncturing the tube. Is that correct?

How tight should they be? What should I watch out for?


Sorry for that!

Sorry everyone. Don’t reply to this post. I don’t know how I missed XWonka’s post and all the replies on the same subject, but I’m quietly pulling my head of my backside while typing this… ahh that feels better!


My answer is “good and tight!”. Let me explain. Years ago I got a job at a bicycle shop as the tire change boy, and I was riding a tenspeed back and forth. The shop owner put that bike on his stand, tightened all the spokes two turns and trued it perfectly. I rode it all summer, and occasionly for the next ten years, it never got more than 1/8 inch out of true (total) despite hitting lots of potholes and occasional gravel roads.
Truing a wheel is a skill requiring patience. I have had the pleasure of watching master mechanics lace wheels, and they told me how they learned, by truing up junk wheels from the scrap-pile. An amateur will give a single spoke three quick twists, a professional will give five spokes a quarter turn. carjug