I have 6 stripped spoke nipples on my rear wheel. Last night I took the tire off, took the, for lack of a better word, rim strip off, and started to try to unscrew the nipple from the rim. Before I knew it I did more damage then good. Is there a special tool to remove spoke nipples that I am not seeing? What is the best tool for removing it if I can't get a screwdriver to work? I tried dropping some grease inside to help me take it out, but that did little if anything.

  • Are you certain that it is the nipples and not the spokes that are stripped?
    – DC_CARR
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 18:01
  • Yes I am certain. Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 20:32
  • Do you mean stripped in the sense that the outside of the nipple has been rounded off and can't be engaged with a spoke tool? Or that the internal threading no longer engages with the threading on the spoke? The former is common, the latter is extremely rare. Also, "rim strip" is actually the correct terminology.
    – lantius
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


You need a spoke key of the correct size. See Which size spoke tool. Currently size 14 for some discussion - the short version is either visit your LBS and buy the size that fits your spokes, or just buy the three most common sizes.

spoke key

Using a screwdriver is unlikely to work - wheelbuilders use them in the very early stages when the spokes are very loose, but as soon as a little tension goes onto the spoke the nipples are impossible to turn that way.

Edit: a couple of links on how to true wheels. If you're willing to spend money The Bicycle Wheel is pretty definitive and it's quite a short book. It's hugely better than anything I've seen on the internet.

And your LBS should have a pile of spare nipples for their wheelbuilder(s) to use. They're only a few cents each, but buying retail like this probably 10c-20c is more likely.

  • Also, once the spoke is threaded into the nipple, the end of the spoke protrudes into the slot for a screwdriver: is.gd/xw9OQP
    – lantius
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 23:21
  • Also with this tool you don't need to remove the tyre, tube and rim tape. @moz, do you want to provide a bit more detail about how the tool is used, specifically using the shape of the spoke nipple that is protruding from the rim?
    – Mac
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 23:50
  • @Mac: added some links, it's not easy to describe usefully. But once you have the tool in your hand it's IME pretty obvious
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 0:03
  • @moz I definitely agree that it's not easy to describe, as you'll note with my terrible attempt to describe it in my last comment :) Good work with the links though, that first one has a good picture showing how to adjust. I think it was worth adding, especially since the OP was assuming that it's best to adjust it from the tyre side, rather than the hub side.
    – Mac
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 1:35
  • @Mac: yeah, the pretty pictures are helpful even though many of the details are wrong. Ken's descriptions are better in that regard. Added link to THE BOOK.
    – Мסž
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 1:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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