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Spoke tension meter recommedations

Old 09-09-19, 05:42 AM
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le mans
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Spoke tension meter recommedations

I went and bought myself a spoke tension meter to take the guess work out, but i'm at a loss at what the tensions should be front and rear, drive side or non drive side of the rear
I mainly build aluminum 700c double walled or 27.1/4" alloy standard wheels.. 36 hole.. 2.0mm stainless steel spokes

The meter i got is a Deckas 0-50

Thanks

Last edited by le mans; 09-09-19 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 09-09-19, 06:15 AM
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Google your rims, find out the maximum tension, use that for everything except the NDS, that'll be determined by the amount of dish.
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Old 09-09-19, 06:30 AM
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I'm talking good second hand wheels or rims that are unmarked, Trev.
I got given a Novotec front wheel - that's marked on the hub! (double walled, 36 round stainless spokes)
trued it up and now with the meter tool it reads anywhere from 20-25, thinking i may have tightened it a bit much, dunno
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Old 09-09-19, 06:58 AM
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That Decka gauge looks to be a knockoff of the Park. Can't bank on the numbering system being the same since we don't know the spring tension or what have you. Not sure what to suggest other than to use the gauge to judge consistency of tension around the wheel instead of absolute tension numbers. That's where a tension gauge really comes in handy anyway.
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Old 09-09-19, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
I'm talking good second hand wheels or rims that are unmarked, Trev.
I got given a Novotec front wheel - that's marked on the hub! (double walled, 36 round stainless spokes)
trued it up and now with the meter tool it reads anywhere from 20-25, thinking i may have tightened it a bit much, dunno
One prevailing paradigm is that you tighten till the rim just starts to taco, then you back off. I suspect that this gets you into a problem zone in that the rim may not be able to take that level of spoke tension. I just redid some 40 year old wheels (Schwinn Superior) . Weinmann solid (e.g. not boxed) welded rims. I think that they were probably around 70-80 kgf when I got em and IMHO were pretty (too) loose. They're now at about 105 front and 120/85kgf rear. Will that work? Is that optimal? Am I gonna pull spokes through the rim? I don't know. I suspect that, given that we see pictures of spokes pulling out of rims a lot here on BF, that the "tighten to taco, then back off" paradigm leads to overtight spokes.

I should point out that some rim mfrs recommend pretty low high limits on spoke tension (these ZTR rims state a 95kgf maximum). If your Deckas chart is like my Park chart, that 25 reading is more like 120kgf for 2mm spokes, right?

Here's a proposed paradigm for re-doing wheels where you don't have rim max spoke tension data. See if you can find similar designs in current offerings, look for the distribution of spoke tension limits on those designs (easier said than found for some rims) and perhaps back off a bit from the mean of those values (or use the minimum value). Then build the rim and tighten and true to that value (letting the NDS float to whatever value you need to get dish). Of course if the rim tacos at that level, back off. Other's may have experience enough to state tension targets. In any case, I'm going to rebuild my Paramount wheels (I sold the frame - I guess I need to find a frame for those wheels!) using new rims so I'll hopefully have the max tension spec to start out with.

I realize that this is squishy and non-specific, but you have to make a choice based upon something and if you don't have any data (say, for old rims) using other designs as a guideline gives you some info. Criticism from the experts welcome.

Last edited by WizardOfBoz; 09-09-19 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 09-09-19, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Nessism View Post
That Decka gauge looks to be a knockoff of the Park. Can't bank on the numbering system being the same since we don't know the spring tension or what have you. Not sure what to suggest other than to use the gauge to judge consistency of tension around the wheel instead of absolute tension numbers. That's where a tension gauge really comes in handy anyway.
Yep, an el cheapo that i'm guessing is the same tension as the park tool. I like to think i got it down pat or off by heart - reasonably had that wheel pretty much there i believe..but i adjusted the tension to 86kgf which would be a 22 reading on the tool to each spoke, now it's out of true Lol
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Old 09-09-19, 08:02 AM
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Wiz, I'll post a pic of the Conventible table i received with it, probably a typo "Convertible". Can't make head or tail out of it.
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Old 09-09-19, 08:02 AM
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This is a good thread as I run more than a few older wheels and lately I've had spokes break on 2 different wheels. I've used the tighten until they taco and then back off idea for building new wheels (I think Jobst Brandt used that in his book on wheel building) but I'm hesitant to do that on old wheels. I think (and maybe I'm wrong) that old wheels tend to lose some tension over time so I nearly always tighten them up a bit before riding. I guess I need to break down and buy a spoke tension meter. It will take some of the guess work out of fixing up old wheelsets and obviously help in building new ones.
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Old 09-09-19, 08:06 AM
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Old 09-09-19, 08:09 AM
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Am I reading that right? Is a "25" on the meter 49kgf for a 2.0mm spoke? That would be pretty low.
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Old 09-09-19, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Am I reading that right? Is a "25" on the meter 49kgf for a 2.0mm spoke? That would be pretty low.
That's how i read it initially. Can't be right.. most of my spokes were reading 25 at first which i thought were pretty tight
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Old 09-09-19, 09:10 AM
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On the Park meter, a 25 for a 2mm spoke is the value I quoted: 120kgf. Which seems to be a LOT higher than most wheel builds from back in the day. Possibly too high for older rims.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
Wiz, I'll post a pic of the Conventible table i received with it, probably a typo "Convertible". Can't make head or tail out of it.
No, no, the table was tabulated by diligent nuns at the convent. Hence "Conventible". The Radoneuring Nuns of the Order of St. Gino*

*I am using hyperbole that I hope will amuse, and not offend anyone. By "St. Gino", I am refering to Gino Bartali, a Tour and Giro winner who during WWII smuggled forged documents past the Nazis in Italy in the seat tube of his bike. The documents allowed Jews to escape the death camps. He was a devout Roman Catholic. I hold him in the highest regard.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:29 AM
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I'm not a big fan of increasing spoke tension till "the wheel starts to taco" then backing off.

think about plastic vs. elastic deformation.

my opinion, for most conventional, tangentially spoked, 32 or 36 spoke wheels with double butted spokes, an average of 75-80 kgf on the drive side is fine. Off side and front will be a little less. The wheel will be long lived and resilient.

remember that clincher tires, when fully inflated, will decrease the spoke tension "a little bit"

how that number converts to your tension guage, and / or if it is accurately calibrated, is a question that we cannot answer here.

Mark Petry
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Old 09-09-19, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
On the Park meter, a 25 for a 2mm spoke is the value I quoted: 120kgf. Which seems to be a LOT higher than most wheel builds from back in the day. Possibly too high for older rims.

Yep, i believe so. bringing them all down to 22 & re-truing i feel more comfortable with the wheel now (& thanks for your figures). so i think this meter tool wasn't a wasted 39 aussie dollars after all.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:44 AM
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So you went to town on a wheel before bothering to read any of the documentation. Great thinking...
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Old 09-09-19, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
bringing them all down to 22 & re-truing i feel more comfortable with the wheel now (& thanks for your figures). so i think this meter tool wasn't a wasted 39 aussie dollars after all.
This is exactly what I did with the 1978 Weinmann rims, to the same number (22). I agree, getting the fairly accurate number is reassuring. Good luck in riding. Happy to share numbers - numbers are kind of my job.
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Old 09-09-19, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
So you went to town on a wheel before bothering to read any of the documentation. Great thinking...
**Erm, No i trued this wheel weeks ago, before i decided the get a meter tool. i posted the documentation that came with it.. maybe you can decipher it for us, smart ass?
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Old 09-09-19, 10:44 AM
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You can calculate the note the spoke should be making at a given tension, measure the note with a guitar tuning app or something on your phone, and compare it to the value from your meter.
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Old 09-09-19, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
**Erm, No i trued this wheel weeks ago, before i decided the get a meter tool. i posted the documentation that came with it.. maybe you can decipher it for us, smart ass?
Ah, that order of events wasn't clear before.

Anyways, don't look at a Park TM-1 table while using your tool. The scales are way different.

With 2.0mm straight gauge spokes, I'd be shooting for 26-27 (56-63 kgf) on the left side of the rear wheel, 31-32 (100-120 kgf) on the right. 30 (90 kgf) in front. Assuming the table is correct and the tool is accurate, that's the tensions I shoot for in a wheel.
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Old 09-09-19, 12:40 PM
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Yeah.. I'm starting to think that chart reads true, 2.0 spokes - 49kgf =25 for this tool
My first attempt must have been too loose, it was very loose to start with.

Thanks for your recommendations, Scott, these figures helps heaps.
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Old 09-09-19, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by le mans View Post
Yeah.. I'm starting to think that chart reads true, 2.0 spokes - 49kgf =25 for this tool
My first attempt must have been too loose, it was very loose to start with.

Thanks for your recommendations, Scott, these figures helps heaps.
Properly-tensioned wheels can feel pretty tight if your experience is with loosey-goosey wheels. Good luck.
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Old 09-09-19, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
This is a good thread as I run more than a few older wheels and lately I've had spokes break on 2 different wheels. I've used the tighten until they taco and then back off idea for building new wheels (I think Jobst Brandt used that in his book on wheel building) but I'm hesitant to do that on old wheels. I think (and maybe I'm wrong) that old wheels tend to lose some tension over time so I nearly always tighten them up a bit before riding. I guess I need to break down and buy a spoke tension meter. It will take some of the guess work out of fixing up old wheelsets and obviously help in building new ones.
Brandt does NOT tell you tighten to the taco state and then back off. He speaks of taco'ing by lateral forces if the wheel is not tensioned properly. Read the book. Don't just look at the pictures and assume what's being said.
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Old 09-09-19, 01:44 PM
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On my Wheelsmith 50 on the scale equals 49Kg. I don't think you can compare different meter manufacturers for the tension. If you can find other new wheels to try you can get an idea of weather or not your meter is close.

I tend go for 100 Kg front and drive side. I let the NDS fall where it may.
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Old 09-09-19, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon T View Post
Brandt does NOT tell you tighten to the taco state and then back off. He speaks of taco'ing by lateral forces if the wheel is not tensioned properly. Read the book. Don't just look at the pictures and assume what's being said.
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I have read the book. You may use that word differently than I do but he said to tension it hard so that that it is overtensioned (it won't remain true) and then back off. So maybe taco isn't the right word but I know what he said as I have read it and used the book to build more than a few wheels.

I'm curious, do you specialize in being a jerk? You're doing a fine job so far. There are a lot of ways you could have made your point without stating that I looked at the pictures rather than read the book . . . .

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