I've got a nice used rear wheel that's slightly out of true. Simple fix is true it up.

But the nipples are stuck to the spokes and won't turn freely. I managed to get one spoke to do two full twists and still it wouldn't release.

The spokes are round profile, so there's no good way to hold them firmly while turning.

Without replacing all the spokes, what are my options to release the nipples?

  • 2
    @mattnz - Penetrating oil should be a last resort, since it is almost certain to soak through the rim joint and degrade the rim strip and tube. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 4 '20 at 2:43
  • 1
    A pair of small "Vice Grip" clamping pliers is a feasible way to hold a spoke and keep it from twisting. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 4 '20 at 2:44
  • 2
    @DanielRHicks It would be trivial to remove the rim strip and tube beforehand. – MaplePanda Oct 4 '20 at 3:27
  • 1
    Another thought is inflate the tire to maximum PSI (or more) - this will easy spoke tension compared to uninflated tires and might make the difference. – mattnz Oct 4 '20 at 7:36
  • 2
    Kudos for making it into the «HOT» Network Questions shortlist. This certainly lured some lurkers with bras on their mind to the Bicycles SE — myself included… – Serge Stroobandt Oct 4 '20 at 18:22

I agree with Daniel’s comment, I’ve had success with using vice grips to hold spikes myself. Be careful not to use excessive force to prevent crushing the spoke. It may help to add a small “flag” made of tape to each spoke to help visualize spoke vs nipple rotation.

Matt’s suggestion of using penetrating oil and heat is a good idea, provided you removed the tube/tire and rim strip first like Daniel suggested. Brass does in fact expand more than steel when heated.

Of course, be sure to use a high quality spoke wrench to prevent rounding the nipples.

  • 1
    If the wheel builder has used thread locker it may be near impossible to unscrew the nipples. – Carel Oct 4 '20 at 11:36
  • 1
    @Carel At that point, heat will be required to release the threadlocker. – MaplePanda Oct 4 '20 at 18:09
  • @Carel good point - I didn't build the wheel originally, so don't know what was used. Personally I use copper clay as a thread prep – Criggie Oct 4 '20 at 21:21

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.