I was building up a rear wheel with brand new spokes and nipples. I used linseed oil on the threads so that when it dries it hardens. When I stress the wheel/spokes the threads slip, causing the spoke to come out of the nipple, but it's can still thread the spoke into the nipple. Could this be because I didn't give the linseed oil a chance to dry a little bit. Or should I just use grease. These are just standard spokes you can get at the bike shop for a buck. Thanks.

  • 3
    Are you sure that the spokes ever reached the thread in the nipples? The point is, in order for the spoke to come free, the nipple would need to turn in the the rim's hole. And I can't see how that should be possible with any amount of lube. It can happen while riding due to undertensioned spokes (they become slack as the wheel roles and the nipples can turn freely a bit), but not with properly tensioned spokes because the friction between nipple and rim is way too high. Sep 19, 2020 at 5:42
  • Thank you for the response, it's one of those things that are best shown in person to understand right away. The spoke had quite a bit of tension, bit not overtightened, and when I stressed the whole wheel, the threads of the spoke made a crack noise, and the thread of the spoke came out of the nipple.
    – John Smith
    Sep 19, 2020 at 6:30
  • Did you use brass or aluminium nipples, or something exotic(ie expensive) ?? Were the nipples what came with the spokes or something you already had? Are the nipples new or used ?
    – Criggie
    Sep 19, 2020 at 6:57
  • 2
    It is normal that spokes make a bit of a creaking noise when the wheel is loaded for the first time. However, it is definitely not normal for spokes to fall out of their nipples. If they do, that indicates that the spokes never really engaged with the thread in the nipples, either by not going far enough into the nipples (there is quite a bit unthreaded length in the nipples) or by the thread of the nipples being too wide or torn out. Sep 19, 2020 at 7:10
  • The spokes fully engaged with the threads of the nipples, they're at least a full 3 turns past the point where you start to not see the spoke threads
    – John Smith
    Sep 19, 2020 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


There is one major cause of this problem and it is putting a 1.8mm aka 15ga spoke in a 2.0mm/14ga nipple.

This mismatch will screw together and hold under some tension, but then slip.

It is easy to test. Obtain a known 15ga nipple. If it can screw on to your spokes at all, it confirms the problem.

The same thing could happen with a 2mm spoke in a 2.3mm nipple presumably. Those are visually chunky though, whereas 1.8 and 2.0mm nipples look identical except for the hole.

I can imagine a fringe outlier situation where poor part quality alone causes this, but it seems really unlikely.

If the spokes were way too short, like with a bunch of thread showing, that may be able to cause it too, but you'd probably notice that.

Your prep choice is not the issue here. Linseed oil does take a while to fully set up, but it's not what's mechanically holding the wheel together. Ideally you complete the wheel before it sets up and gets gummy because it's easier to make small adjustments then.

  • Thank you for that, I will bring them to my local bike shop to confirm.
    – John Smith
    Sep 19, 2020 at 17:09

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