I just took apart my old wheelset which let some delightful snaps out as I loosened the nipples that were seized to the rims. I'm wondering what the benefits would be of a small amount of anti-seize or lithium/dry graphite lubricant on the outside of the nipples where they contact the eyelets of the rims. I realize I wouldn't want it on the spoke threads, because I don't want them to come loose, so I'll be using Wheelsmith spoke prep which acts as loctite on the spoke threads.

So, would it be of any consequence to have some anti-seize / lubricant around the nipples? It would prevent any corrosion between the metals, and also allow easier truing, and the nipples can slide past the eyelets better before the loctite sets.

It could be that the added friction between the nipple and eyelets is beneficial, though, and this might help the nipples loosen even with the spoke prep / loctite solution. Anyone tried it, or have some wisdom???

2 Answers 2


Lubricating the eyelet with oil, and the spoke threads with Spoke prep or linseed oil is recommended.

Anti seize is not lubricant. It should not be used in this capacity.

  • Any specific type of oil for the eyelet? The reason I ask specifically about anti-seize or lithium/dry graphite lubricant is that they have a chance of sticking around for a decent amount of time (perhaps even until the next disassebly), where your average household oil / WD-40 doesn't. I realize it's not 'technically' a lubricant, and it's not advisable in roller bearings, but it is lubricative.
    – Ehryk
    Apr 15, 2012 at 9:11
  • No, it isn't "lubricative". It is an anti-corrosive agent. Generally designed to neither add or detract from friction resistance, and entirely designed for longevity. As for the type of oil, on the threads, use either spoke prep, or linseed oil, as previously mentioned. If it is on the nipple seat, any light, evaporitive oil (like 3 in 1 or sewing machine oil) will do.
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 10:34
  • Take a bit of copper paste (or nickel paste), and rub it between your fingers for 30 seconds. It will very rapidly start resisting movement with friction. If you do the same thing with grease, it will reduce friction for a much longer time, and only quit reducing friction when the grease wears away. (Which will happen much faster on skin than on a metal bearing race.)
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 12:09
  • It is lubricative, if less so than straight grease - it's standard ingredients are metal and grease. If I use evaporative/light oil, it will be gone shortly, where anti-seize would not. More generally: would it be detrimental to use some oil/grease/lubricant that would NOT go away on the nipple seats (for hopefully the life of the rim)?
    – Ehryk
    Apr 15, 2012 at 18:20
  • If you can find a lubricant that doesn't wear away, no it wouldn't be. Using metal paste will wear away at the nipple seat, because the metal powder acts as an abrasive (not a lubricant) under moving parts. And the spokes of a wheel are under constant tension and release.
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 18:36

Threads are a locking mechanism. The issue is simply the threads are easily damaged and do not properly tighten. They can distort from over tightening, crack ect. To say anti seize does not lubricate is nonsense, that's exactly what it does. It allows the threads slip, tightening properly. The pops you hear removing the nipples are the threads gripping each other and your torque is wasted twisting the spoke instead of loosening the threads. This happens when tightening them as well to a lesser degree as they have not had time to corrode together. The nipple is hard to turn but part of the force is wasted on friction and not all the torque is spent on tightening the spoke. To over come you need to waste a lot of energy and again, risk damaging the threads. Not every lubricant is gooey or slippery in your fingers. Ever heard of brass?

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