Re-tensioning wheels?

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  • Re-tensioning wheels?
  • MarkyG82

    Done this a few times. I’m by no means a pro wheel builder but have worked in a coule of shops where I built up a few and trued a few more.

    Get comfortable with a beer and a spoke key, start with the loose spokes and go maybe a 1/4 turn on each Repeat untill they are at a happy place.

    The main thing as you have guessed is constant checking of the trueness (sp?) as you go.

    It could be a couple of heavy hits have stretched the spokes and/or seated them more firmly.

    shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

    Good luck


    Sounds fairly simple then, i’ve already checked the ‘trueness’ and it’s fine, my main concern is messing that up by not really understanding what i’m doing.

    By what you have said it would seem if I slowly bring the offending spokes back up to tension I shouldn’t do anything silly.

    Maybe i’m being tight but it seems silly to drop it into the bike shop for something like this if I can sort it myself in front of the telly one evening.

    I’ll get started tomorrow night!

    Premier Icon DezB

    it seems silly to drop it into the bike shop for something like this

    It really does doesn’t it. But it’s the only job I won’t trust myself to do! Damn annoying.

    Youtube vids might help?


    Try it – if you screw it up you’ll only have to spend a little more.

    If its true now with loose spokes, it means:

    a) there are other spokes that are taking too much strain
    b) when you pull the loose spokes tight to an acceptable tension, the wheel is likely to go out of true.

    After every pass, pre-tension the wheel and true again. As a rough guide, I’ve found you’re pretty close when the wheel stops making creaks and pings when pre-tensioning.


    Doonhall type rims are so much stronger than a road or XC rim that a couple of loose spokes will not be a problem to the true-ness… as you have found out. As suggested above; carefully wind them back up to similar tension to the other spokes around and you’ll probably not notice any difference again. Don’t tighten them all in one go – build it up and keep checking the true-ness. A good idea is to mark the loose ones with a little tape so you can see which ones were loose when you’ve tightened them a little and it all gets confusing.


    a) there are other spokes that are taking too much strain

    This is a very good point. Keep an eye on the tight ones (ooer) they be the enemy. With any luck they will be relieved as you go.


    So, in the aftermath of the Mega, i’m getting round to giving the bikes a good once over.

    It’s come to light that my wheels (let alone my body) couldn’t cope with some of the shocking line choices I exhibited and I have a rear wheel which appears to be true (both side to side and up & down) but has a few loose spokes in it.

    I’ve tried a nosey at the Sheldon Brown site, and my Google Fu appears to be lacking today as I can’t find much about re-truing wheels.

    As the wheel is effectively still true, it is just a case of bringing the loose spokes back up to tension? (albeit slowly) Being a luddite and having never tried to built a wheel, I obviously don’t want to pull it out of true by doing something stupid…

    or they’ll let you know which ones they are with a BANG! 😆

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