Spoke tightening frequency

The wheel on my muni was completely rebuilt and tensioned in mid January when I replaced the hub. Back then the spokes were creaking somewhat; that stopped after the wheel was tensioned.

However now it’s doing it again. It’s definitely the spokes, I’ve checked the rest of it. Many of the spokes bend fairly easily, and so creak where they cross. One spoke is actually slightly kinked where it crosses the other, which is quite strange.

How often do wheels usually require retensioning? I don’t think I can really do much more than a quick whip round with a spoke key, but I don’t want to have to take it to the bike shop again, as this will require taking the tyre off - I fought long enough only last week to put the blummin’ thing back on!

The wheel hasn’t been subjected to much abuse; this one is used for rolling rather than bouncing on the whole.


Re: Spoke tightening frequency

phil wrote:

> However now it’s doing it again. It’s definitely the spokes, I’ve
> checked the rest of it.


If creaking is your issue, you can use some grease between the spokes
where they cross to eliminate the squeak, squeak and creak, creak. I
have found that temperature and humidity changes spontaneously bring on
and eliminate creaking spokes. The grease has worked fro me.

Someone else gave me this tip, and they were wise. :wink:



Often spokes loosen because they were not tensioned enough to start with, and/or because the spoke line was not corrected properly when the wheel was built. The forces of riding cause the slackening spokes to slacken sufficiently to begin to unscrew, and then the problem just gets worse.

The spokes should not be moving enough to creak or pop or click.

What size is your wheel? If it is 24"+, you can get a tensiometer on it and make sure the absolute tension is correct.

Given the history, do this:

– flatten the kink with a pair of smooth-jaw pliers cushioned with cloth so that you do not damage the spoke surface.
– oil the spoke-nipple interface and wait a day.
– ensure the spoke line has been corrected properly at the spoke head, the major spoke crossing, and the spoke-nipple interface.
– tension and true the wheel to the highest tension possible.
– treat the spoke-nipple interface with Spoke Freeze by DT.

You do not have to take off the tire, just depressurize it.

My two ha-pennies.

I tried a dab of grease on the spokes last time it happened. It didn’t really make much difference; where the spokes have rubbed against each other is rougher, so the grease doesn’t do much.

When the wheel was built it seemed perfectly tight, the spokes were pretty solid and took a lot of force to make them slide against each other. I’ve just had a quick whiz round with a spoke key attacking the looser ones; I have to go to campus in a bit so I’ll see what difference that makes.

What’s the “spoke line”? I’m assuming it’s ensuring the spoke enters the rim or nipple at the right angle. It was me who laced the wheel and hub, and the bike shop who tensioned it… at what point should this be finally adjusted?



Spoke line is the path the spoke takes from hub to rim. Correcting the spoke line is manually bending a spoke so that as much tension perpendicular to the spoke is removed as possible. In other words, the spoke will “settle” into a line after a while, but as a result will slacken a bit, thus compromising tension and trueness. A good wheelbuilder makes the spoke take that shape before the wheel hits the road, so that the wheel doesn’t change with riding.

A wheel can have inadequate and poorly-balanced tension long before any of the spokes become obviously loose or even less-tight.

Two references I highly recommend if you are building your own wheels: Gerd Schraner and Jobst Brandt. They will tell you these things more completely with diagrams.

Wheelbuilding may seem simple on the surface, but actually is quite demanding if you are looking for a quality product. Quite often the LBS doesn’t take the time to address all these issues.

I’ve just got back from campus and my little adjustments evidently didn’t help. It only creaks when putting effort into the backpedal; down some hills it was quite disturbing.

I’m going back to Lincoln in a week and a bit so I may take it to a different LBS for retensioning.

I can lace a wheel right and get all the spokes in the right place, but tensioning a wheel is far beyond me… :slight_smile:


If you get into it more seriously, you’ll find it’s challenging and quite fun.

Maybe the Legomen will build us a wheel someday…

Re: Spoke tightening frequency

A well-built wheel should never need retensioning in normal use, but since the spokes will settle in over the first bit of riding they do sometimes need a one-time tweak. The wheel builder should be willing to do it for free; in fact IMHO it should be part of the service.

The last time I had a MTB wheel built the tech asked me to bring it in for some love after a couple of good rides - I did, and it’s been true ever since.


my 29er did this after I built the wheel, but then I rode it on a good long ride and then tightened up every spoke that didn’t seem really quite tight already and it was fine again. I’m still not sure quite what I did though, I don’t know that much about wheel building.



It’s quite common for spokes to loosen a bit in a new wheel. It should stop doing this pretty soon. You can ever get away with truing a wheel with the tyre fully pumped up. It doesn’t work as well but it still works.

Good luck,