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Can I make my wheel stiffer?(4 posts)

Can I make my wheel stiffer?Qubeley
Feb 26, 2003 3:26 PM
I have a Ritchey WCS front wheel, 16 aero spoke.
When I sprint, I am able to notice the flex coming from the front end. The spokes seem to have a very low tension. (I am positive it's not from the handlebar or fork)
I am just wondering if I can make the wheel stiffer by tightening the spokes a bit more, even though the wheel is factory built.
Do you think it will work?
Feb 26, 2003 4:40 PM
If the spokes truly are "very low tension" then the wheel will be laterally stiffer when brought up to the correct tension. OTOH, a 16 spoke wheel must have a very deep section and stiff rim in order to be laterally stiff. Plus, with only 16 spokes, the average spoke tension will need to be very high - roughly 2X that of a 32 spoke wheel of comparable stiffness.
Feb 26, 2003 5:44 PM
That's why I asked.
When comparing this wheel to my other wheels with higher spoke counts(Helium or open pro-dura ace 3x), the spokes on this wheel have A LOT more flex when I press them with my finger, even though it's fewer in numbers.
The rim of the wheel isn't that deep, only 28mm.
I'll bring it to LBS this week, let's see..
re: Can I make my wheel stiffer?DaveLobster
Feb 27, 2003 5:49 AM
The scientific answer is:

"Wheel stiffness does not vary significantly with spoke tension unless a spoke becomes totally slack."-Damon Rinard. Check it out (with graphs and everything)at:

However, if you believe the wheel is under-tensioned, you should definitely have a competent wheelbuilder take a look at it. As the previous poster mentioned, low-spoke wheels rely upon high tension for their structural stability much more so than traditional wheels.