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Wheel Building

(24) How to build wheels better and faster for less than $30 - YouTube


How to tension a bicycle wheel

This is a companion to my YouTube video on the same subject.  While the video is good and comprehensive, this is a step by step procedure you can use while tensioning a wheel.

Step 1:  Thread the nipples on the spokes an equal amount.  If you have a drill with the special boss for the nipple that is the best and easiest way.  If not thread the nipples on to the end of the threads.  Do the drive side first and then the non drive.

Step 2:  Adjust the lateral run out so it’s roughly less than 1/8” out of true.

Step 3:  Adjust the radial run out, preferably with a dial indicator, so it’s as close as you can get it to be true.  With a dial indicator this will be about 5 thousandths of an inch.  The radial run out is more critical than the lateral because it dictates spoke tension.  Once you get it as good as you can you won’t touch it again.

Step 4:  Tension the drive side spokes up to final tension.  If you have a tensiometer, I shoot for about 150 KGF which is very high.  The purpose of the high tension is mostly to get the non drive side tension up.  If you have a low drive side tension the non drive side spokes are going to be almost loose.  Once you adjust the drive side spokes to the correct tension, don’t touch them.

Step 5:  Adjust the non drive spoke to bring the rim to the center. All final truing is done with the non drive side spokes.

Step 6:  Stress relieve the spokes by grabbing and squeezing them.  If the drive side spokes are at a high tension the spoke tension will not go down and the rim may come out of true.  True it again and stress relieve it again.  Do this until there is no change in the tension or trueness of the wheel.