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After truing my front wheel, it seems that it is laterally true. However, the spoke tension seem very uneven, with a few spokes that are very taut next to other spokes which are more loose. If it was a small difference, I wouldn't be too concern, but it seems a bit too big of a difference in tension that has me worried.

I have access to a tension meter and a pro-grade truing stand.

How should I fix this?

Should I loosen all the spokes and start from scratch or fine tune the existing setup?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

For reference, I used to work for Velomax Wheels, and Easton Wheels.

You may want to back all of the spokes off an equal amount, say 5 or 10 turns. This will give you a little bit of room for adjustment, without having to completely detention the entire wheel.

There is a book called "the Bicycle Wheel", by Jobst Brandt, that does a great job of walking you through the process of truing.

Another way to tell if the spokes are of equal tension is to pluck them like guitar strings. Since they are all of the same length and same thickness, equal tone means equal tension. (We used to attach an electronic "pick up" to our truing stands, and wear headphones so we could better hear the differences when we plucked the spokes. This shouldn't be necessary say, in your garage where there is a lot less ambient noise.)

A couple tips for truing (though you may know these already): - Be sure to back off any adjustment that you make on a singular nipple. This will eliminate any possible spoke 'wind-up" caused by the twisting of the nipple. (example - if you want to make a 1/4 turn adjustment, turn the nipple a 1/2 turn and then back off 1/4.) - Be sure to give adjacent spokes a soft squeeze to help the spokes and nipples settle. - check for cracked nipples and cracks at or near holes in rims.

Once it is true, then you can bring all spokes back up to tension (the 5 or 10 turns that you originally made.)

Truing stands are very helpful in holding the wheel in the right position to make your adjustments. (Rather than trying to do it in your hands or in the bicycle frame/fork.) they also typically have a measurement pin or finger that helps show where (and to what degree) the wheel is out of true.

Tensiometers are okay devices. Here are a couple of their downfalls: 1-no two are the same and they come out of calibration quite easily. 2-several factors, such as how you hold the tensio on the spoke and where you place the tensio on the spoke, influence the gauge reading.

Hope this helps.

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FWIW: I do have a copy of the bicycle wheel. I think it's a great reference. Still working on getting a better "feel" for the process and handling those situations for which I have to read between the lines. –  Benzo Aug 9 '12 at 18:59
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If the adjacent spokes with different tension are on the same side of the wheel, then you could, to a certain amount, release the tension from the tight one and tighten the loose one.

If they are each on one side of the wheel, you could not even the tesion without untruing the wheel, and that means your rim is not intrinsically true.

If the rim is not intrinsically true (that is, it would not look true if the spokes are removed), you could try to "bend" the rim in place this way:

  1. Make spoke tension be equal on every spoke;
  2. With an inflated tire, hit the out-of center parts or the TIRE against, say, a tree, while grabbing THE TIRE with your hands.

Although it seems too violent, it has worked as magic with my acquaintances (who sometimes bend their wheels falling during rides). Hopefully, though, the problem is just uneven tension in spokes on the same side of the wheel, so this beating would not be necessary.

Hope this helps!

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