Bladed spokes like the Sapim CX-Ray require a special tool to hold them in place while turning the nipple, to prevent them from twisting.

Say I break a spoke while on the road and need to make adjustments to neighbouring spokes to compensate. I'm unlikely to have such a spoke holder on me. Are there any clever techniques I can use here, or do I need to add a spoke holder to my repair kit?

  • 1
    A bladed spoke will work as a spoke even in completely the wrong position. It will just be less aerodynamic,and possibly louder. Do you need anything other than the nipple driver tool ?
    – Criggie
    May 31 at 19:41
  • 1
    @Criggie I've had a bladed spoke permanently deform through twisting when trying to adjust the tension, due to a stiff nipple. I'd like to avoid this. May 31 at 19:54

3 Answers 3


I've built wheels with bladed spokes, and never had to use any tool to prevent spoke windup like that.

Simply turn the nipple past the point where the tension would be correct, then turn it back to where you want it, so that the spoke isn't twisted. You'll probably need to perform a few trial-and-error attempts to get how far past the target you'll have to go correct, but it's not hard.

And this is a roadside repair - if the spoke winds up twisted a bit, so what? You can fix it when you get back.

FWIW, bladed spokes aren't all the much more aerodynamic: "... at 30mph the difference between the two wheels is 1.8 watts ..."

  • Later comments by Josh Poertner on his podcast make it sound like the delta is bigger. This was likely based on wind tunnel testing for teams or wheel manufacturers, but unfortunately he didn’t show data.
    – Weiwen Ng
    May 31 at 12:49
  • Bladed spokes also have the benefit of being stronger than butted spokes.
    – airace3
    May 31 at 13:05
  • 2
    I’ve twisted several bladed spokes before I got a proper spoke holder. It’s even worse when you don’t grease the nipples.
    – Michael
    May 31 at 13:17
  • 2
    @AndrewHenle Non-bladed spokes are much more resistant to wind-up. For example, a Sapim CX-Ray spoke should twist about twice as much as a circular one of the same cross-sectional area, and about 4 times as much as a regular 1.8 mm double-butted spoke (working from the torsion constant definitions in Wikipedia). May 31 at 14:19
  • 4
    I'd be tempted to try filing a slot in a tyre lever, to one side near the end that doesn't contact the bead. I've made a spanner that way (I needed 11mm) in a metal tyre lever that already had a spoke notch, but this should work in a good solid plastic one. I don't have bladed spokes to test, or I'd make this an answer
    – Chris H
    May 31 at 15:57

On longer trips I carry this IceToolz Bladed Spoke holder with me (along with a spoke wrench and spare spokes and nipples):

enter image description here

It has two gaps of different width. I only need the narrower one for my spokes so I’ve cut the tool in half to reduce weight and size. I can’t recall the weight of the tool but I think it’s like 10g or so.


Buy a small crescent wrench to apply torque to the blade in the opposite direction while adjusting the nipple.

Note: I use this on steel spokes and can’t speak to how it might damage carbon spokes.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Do you suggest carrying such a tool at all times? They're not light, even the small ones
    – Chris H
    May 31 at 15:53
  • I do but I ride with a backpack. The one in the picture is about 46g. That might be an subjective issue for a road rider. May 31 at 18:25
  • To be fair, that tiny one isn't much heavier than the stamped multi spanner I carry - but with less leverage for other stuff, and slightly harder to pack in my tool case.
    – Chris H
    May 31 at 21:12
  • 2
    @ChrisH sounds like a good excuse to buy a titanium one !
    – Criggie
    May 31 at 22:07

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