3

I have a wheel set with bladed spokes and they regularly become twisted such that the spokes are no longer lined up with their thin side to the wind, as indented. They twist so that the broad side of the spoke is breaking the wind instead.

This has to be a pretty common problem and I was wondering if there is a good way to straighten the blades so that they are aligned properly? I usually go at it in a pretty crude manner, taking a leatherman or some other multitool and carefully grabbing and turning them straight. The problem is that the tool is usually too big to fit properly in between the spokes and there isn't enough room to twist the spoke back completely straight. It's especially difficult when there is a lot of tension on the spoke.

Are there any methods or makeshift tools that one can use to straighten bladed spokes without the risk of damaging them?

6

I had the same issue and ended up taking a piece of very hardened plastic and melting a thin channel out of it the same width as the thin side of the spokes. In this manner, I could hold the blade in place while I was truing the wheel. I never had problems with them twisting when I wasn't cranking on the nipples, however.

To be clear, I heated and melted the channel in the plastic with an unused spoke (extra from building the wheel) and then threw that spoke away. I would never recommend heating a spoke currently in, or intended to eventually be used in a wheel.

  • A slash with a thin saw in a piece of hard wood, plastic or metal would make a decent tool for the purpose. Although you can buy one as well, like from MAVIC. Some multi-tools also feature a spoke holder. – Carel Jul 26 '16 at 14:12
  • That sounds like it might work, did you use the spoke itself to melt the ridge in the plastic? i.e. heating up the spoke with a torch and using it to melt the channel? I'm worried that if I do it this way I might not be able to get the spoke out of the plastic, but I'd like to use it so I can get the size right. – ebrohman Jul 26 '16 at 14:56
  • 1
    @ebrohman I wouldn't try that unless with an old/broken spoke. I'd be wary of the effect of heat on the spoke even if you took it out of the wheel. – Chris H Jul 26 '16 at 15:35
  • In my case I had built the wheel myself, so I had several extra spokes. I used an extra to make the "holder", then discarded it since it had been heated white hot for the procedure. – Deleted User Jul 26 '16 at 15:38
2

You may have damaged your spokes.

To be sure... you'd need to know how the wheel was built, but I'd bet dimes to dollars that the spoke was not properly supported while the nipple was adjusted and that is where your twist came from (e.g. they are damaged).

Were the spokes held to keep them from turning/twisting while the nipples were being tightened? If not, they may have been cold formed to have a twist in them. if they are anything other than steel replace them, one at a time and re-true the wheel. This happens on standard spokes, but as they are round, you don't notice it... bladed spokes force you to build your wheel properly. (as long as you don't have to re-drill or file hubs...)

If they are steel, you may be able to 'save them', but do so at your own risk. I'd have never damaged them, but if I did, I'd replace them. However, if they don't shorten/lengthen too much during the process (e.g. the wheel will still go into 'true' before a nipple bottoms out), they'll probably be fine, although you may have asymmetrical tensions in the spokes which may cause the wheel to need continual truing... If the wheel starts to be a problem child... I'd replace all the spokes:

To 'save them', you will need to slack the problem spoke(s), e.g. nipple so loose that it will wiggle in the rim--a lot. Remove the twist by twisting in the opposite direction and retention the nipple and true the wheel once all the spokes are 'fixed'. And hold the spoke so it doesn't wind-up or twist during the truing operation.

After you are done, they shouldn't twist again. I like bladed spokes on my custom wheels as they look nice and seem to ride smoother than their plan butted bretherin. But, it may all be in my head.

  • It's a Mavic wheel and I believe the spokes are aluminum. There is definitely asymmetric tension. I believe this is due to there being a hop in the wheel hoop. – ebrohman Jul 27 '16 at 17:36
  • If your Mavic wheel is of the kind that requires the special tool for the nipples said tool has a spoke holder at the other end. So you need two of those tools for your purpose. – Carel Jul 29 '16 at 8:48
  • I would strongly urge replacement of the 'twisted' spokes with new. Those twisted spokes would really need to be straightened and then re-heat treated (just the electricity for the heat treatment would cost more than replacement spokes, not counting the re-anodize process and chemicals!) If the rim is crippled by not being mostly true to begin with... I would question using it and strongly consider rim replacement. A badly crooked rim can be used, but may be impossible to get perfectly true... just 'true enough' to clear pads may be the best that wheel can do w/o frequent attention. – david1024 Jul 29 '16 at 19:39
0

It's important to avoid twisting bladed spokes as much as possible, as twisting them ruins their integrity. Try using a spoke holder, which you can buy. Either that or you can easily make your own with plastic or wood.

  • Aero spokes are almost always straight pull. That's why they are all twisted in weird directions. There is no torsion built up in them to to truing. J bend can only twist a bit as the bend itself prevents twisting. – user26705 Jul 27 '16 at 7:57
0

If the wheel is ruined, as some are stating, then it can't hurt to try to fix it. Go get a spoke wrench and a crescent (adjustable) wrench. If there is a spoke that needs adjusting (out of true, or out of direction which may be do to trying to true without holding spoke in place) take the crescent wrench and adjust it down so it gently grips the flat park of the spoke. Then do what you need to do (twist the nipple or orient the spoke). Repeat until you're all aero. You aren't going to hurt the spoke as they are amazingly strong. You're not placing much force at all on it. Don't go heat a wheel component with a torch. That piece of information kind of makes me guess that the non-aero positioning of the blades is due to truing. Everyone has to learn. Go for it and don't do anything without thinking it through.

  • The wheel isn't ruined, it's fine. I ride it regularly. However, if I start loosening all the spokes to straighten them, it will be ruined in the sense that it will be untrue as I don't have a truing stand or much experience truing wheels. And it's not a practice/junker wheel either. At that point I might as well take it to the shop and have them true the wheel which will include straightening the spokes. I will avoid the torch though. – ebrohman Jul 27 '16 at 17:31
  • If you have not touched the wheel (spoke wrench or torch :) and they have shifted that much it needs to go to the shop. Truing a wheel is considered the last education imparted in the dark art of bicycle repair. It's fiddly and the lower spoke count wheels are more sensitive to less experienced riders. If this is truly a good wheel, then take it to the LBS. Truing is a combination of tightening and judicious loosening of spokes. It takes experience and patience. Otherwise, good luck on that. – user26705 Jul 27 '16 at 19:52
  • You won't hurt the spokes with a crescent wrench, but you may scratch them. This can be a concern if they are painted and you want to keep your wheel looking nice. Additionally, while any wrench/pliers may work, they can be difficult to maneuver between spokes and such. A smaller holder is fairly easy to make and likely to save some frustration. – Deleted User Jul 28 '16 at 19:22
  • Spokes should be colored with anodized aluminum. If they are painted they are way cheap. It takes some effort to mar anodized metals. While I do agree the tool it a small investment, it still must be purchased. If the OP is concerned about scratches, which in light of his enthusiasm for blow torches I doubt, he could always wraps some electrical tape around the wrench "jaws" and save $20 or so bucks. – user26705 Jul 28 '16 at 20:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.