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I have a set of Gipiemme Parade Wheels that look like this:

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The other day I was getting my bike out of the garage, and I lightly bumped my rear wheel with my foot. The wheel made a strange rattling noise, as if a nipple or some other metallic item was running around in the wheel. My front wheel doesn't do this, and I haven't noticed it before. Should I be worried, and what's making that sound?

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  • Can you make the noise appear again ? – Criggie Jul 12 '16 at 20:46
  • Yeah, I can repeat the noise. – lulubelle Jul 12 '16 at 21:00
  • First check that all your spokes are tight. – Daniel R Hicks Jul 12 '16 at 23:02
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It could well be a nipple. Or some other bit of metal junk. Removing it is a good idea, just because you never want your bike to make metallic rattling noises as part of normal operation. Over a long time, and lots of wheeling your bike, the repeated banging of that object against the rim will damage it somewhat, but I expect you'd have to wheel it thousands of kilometres to cause any real problems.

Getting it out is straightforward, but annoying. Take the tyre and tube off the wheel, remove the rim tape or plugs, rotate the wheel until the object falls out. You may need a bit of shaking and wiggling, and it pays to work out where the loose thing is, hold the wheel up and look into the spoke holes to find the object. Spoke nipples will almost always sit on the hole, they rarely fall through it without you poking them.

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    Quite possible that is the small metal tab that aligns the rim ends while it is welded. It is normally spot welded on to one side. I have a wheel that has been like this for 2 years. Very annoying but not a reliability problem. – mikes Jul 13 '16 at 1:45
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If the problem happened to me and the noise sounded like it came from the hub, then I would start dismantling the hub to find out what's rattling. Hopefully just removing the quick-release skewer would reveal the problem, if the problem is in the hub.

If the sound appeared to come from the rim, then I'd take the tire off and remove the inner tube (assuming that it's a clincher tire). The offending object should either fall out of the tire, or you should hear it rattling around inside the inner tube, or the rattling should be coming from the rim itself. If the object were inside the inner tube, I'd replace the inner tube and cut the old one open to find out what caused all the trouble.

It couldn't hurt to check all the spokes; sometimes a broken spoke rattles. With only sixteen spokes, you wouldn't want to ride with one broken or loose.

Good luck.

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