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Tension gauge for truing wheels - Yes or No?(13 posts)

Tension gauge for truing wheels - Yes or No?GeoCyclist
Oct 21, 2003 4:24 AM
My Shimano 7701 wheel truing project is still on going. Many thanks to "IronButt" for insight on spoke tension. I have looked at previous posts regarding the use of spoke tension gauges, and there seems to be a mixed opinion on the necessity of using a gauge. My thought is, if the wheel is true side to side, and up and down (i.e. the rim is round instead of oval), shouldn't the spoke tension be good?

I have never seen a spoke tension gauge and was wondering how one measures spoke tension? Do they bend the spoke to measure deflection pressure? Also, will a tension gauge work on any type of spoke; i.e. round or blade? What is the best type of spoke tension gauge to buy?

There are a lot of questions in this post!
It depends...........Len J
Oct 21, 2003 4:47 AM
on several things:

1.) Your experience
2.) Your ear (ability to detect tensions differences by sound)
3.) How anal you are.

I have built about 30 or so sets of wheels. I use a tension guage on all of them. Why? First of all, the most important thing to keeping a wheel true and round is equal spoke tension, the next most important is proper tension & the third is stress releiving properly. I don't trust my ear to guage proper tension so I use an easy tool to determine it. Why take a chance?

I use the Wheelsmith tensionometer, Park has one that is about half the cost (Around $50.00) & has gotten good reviews.

Just because it's true & round doesn't mean it has proper tension. Too much tension is as bad as not enough. I can get a wheel true & round with both too little tension & too much. If you want it to stay true & round you need tension within a certain range.

A Tensionometer grasps the spoke in a way (slight bending) that (because the spring in the meter exerts an opposite equal tension) allows it to tell how much tension exists in the spoke.

They work on most types of spokes.

Two of the most popular tensionometers:

Good Luck.

re: Tension gauge for truing wheels - YesChen2
Oct 21, 2003 1:28 PM
I got the new Park tension gauge (tensiometer) and think it's well worth the money. Without a meter it is possible to build a wheel that is true laterally and radially and still not have enough tension. Low tension leads to broken spokes. I've never had a problem with too much tension, but I'm sure it can happen. Even tension(per side in the rear) is very important. The Park tool comes with a chart showing a range of acceptable tension based on the size and type of spoke.
I've found that the tone and tensiometer don't correspond...TFerguson
Oct 21, 2003 1:57 PM
I use the Wheelsmith instrument. If I plink 3 spokes and the tone goes down and back up, I expect to find the center spoke has less tension. The tensiometer is just as likely to show the opposite. I'm talking near the end of the build when the applicable spokes are within 5 – 10 Kg, not when things a grossly out. I have not done this comparison on a radial laced wheel. Anybody experiencing this?

Thanks to all for the info / suggestions! (nm)GeoCyclist
Oct 21, 2003 2:34 PM
re: Tension gauge for truing wheels - Yes or No?Ironbutt
Oct 21, 2003 2:58 PM
I've been building and trueing my own wheels for about 30 years, and I just got a Park tension gauge recently. I built all of my wheels by "feel" and found that some of the wheels would stay in true a lot longer than others. The reason was that despite my tone memory and finger memory, nothing is as accurate in getting the spoke tension even as a good meter. It removes the "opinion" and replaces it with "fact." When I got the gauge, I went through all the wheels in my household and found that while they were laterally and radially true, the spoke tension varied considerably. I went through each one, relieving the tension and then retrueing the wheel and bringing the tension up to the recommended tension. Since then, I haven't had to true any of mine or my wife's wheels. I think that the tension gauge is a good investment for me. Your opinion may differ, and that's OK, but you ride your wheels and I ride mine.
You don't need a tensiometerpmf1
Oct 22, 2003 6:54 AM
Especially if you're just occassionally truing some wheels. They cost around $100 (Park would be the one to get) and aren't really necessary, even to build wheels. Some people will swear up and down that they are, but I'd disagree. I've built several sets of wheels without a tensiometer and they all turned out great. I've seen lots of bike store mechanics build wheels without them either. Yeah, a tensiometer is a cool gizmo and works well to get even tension, but its not necessary.

Buy a good workstand and truing stand instead.
Tensiometer DelemaGeoCyclist
Oct 22, 2003 4:57 PM
This still appears to be a controversial topic. I own a Park workstand and wheel truing stand already; all I need now is a larger workspace than my apartment kitchen! I trued up my Shimano Wheels the other day. I went out for 70 kms and 1500 metres of climing yesterday and the wheels are still true. The only problem now is, after reading all the replys to my post, I'm worried about my wheel folding up due to incorrect spoke tension. During yesterdays ride I was choking back the speed on the decents, as I am a bit concerned about the integrity of my wheel. I get my new wheels this weekend, and the Shimano wheels are comming off the bike. I just bought a Wheelsmith tensiometer online today (yeah, $99.95), and I should get have it in hand in another week to 10 days. I figured the Tensiometer was cheaper than sending my wheels to Shimano for truing, and it's a one time expenditure. It should be interesting to see how close I manage to get the spoke tension without using a Tensiometer. Anyway, thanks for all the advice!!!

Ride On!
You're being analpmf1
Oct 23, 2003 9:00 AM
If you have trued your wheels, they are not going to suddenly explode because a few spokes have the "incorrect" tension. If you true them and they repeatedly go out of true after a ride or two, then you have a problem. Doesn't sound like this is the case. Why did you consider sending them to Shimano for truing?

Sounds to me like you're just looking for an excuse to buy a tensiometer. Whatever the case, now you can enjoy the new toy. Think of this as an excuse to build your own set of wheels. Its kinda fun, you should try it.
Wheel Building Winter ProjectGeoCyclist
Oct 23, 2003 3:04 PM
Funny you should mention building my own wheels; as this is just what I have in mind for a winter project. I've now got enough money invested in my truing stand and tension meter that I could have bought a set of training wheels. I guess the next toy will be a dishing tool! Any thoughts on the necessity of a dishing tool for building wheels?

I'm just getting ready to head out the door for another great ride this morning. Fall in Japan is the best time of year for cycling!!!

Ride On!
Wheel Building Winter Projectpmf1
Oct 24, 2003 5:41 AM
I have never used a dishing tool, or a tensiometer for either building or truing wheels. I didn't even use a nipple driver, just a screw driver and spoke wrench. If you take your time and slowely increase the spoke tension in small incremental amounts, moving around the wheel and relieve tension from time to time, there shouldn't be a problem. In fact, most of the time, my wheels were true and round after I got done and little or no final adjustments were required.

Some type of goop applied to the spoke threads is a good idea. Spoke prep works pretty well.

As far as dishing tools go, they're just something tjhat hangs on a truing stand -- I'd expect they're all the same, but I don't know because I've never used one.

Building wheels can be fun, but frankly its not worth your time unless you enjoy it. I can buy a set of built wheels from Colorado Cyclist or Excel cheaper than I can buy the individual parts and build them myself. And they do a better build than I could ever do.

I suppose every cycling pervert should at least attempt building a set of wheels.
Wheel Building Winter ProjectChen2
Oct 24, 2003 10:07 AM
Instead of using a dishing tool, to confirm rim centering I just reverse the wheel on the stand several times while tensioning and truing. The caliper arm on the TS2 stand can be adjusted laterally if needed.
Wheel Building TipsGeoCyclist
Oct 24, 2003 7:36 PM
Thanks for the wheel building tips. Yeah, I'm only going to build one set of wheels as a rainy day project. I do shift work (one month on / one month off), so I'm always looking for rainy day projects as I don't like cycling in the rain.

I had a kick racing today on the Shimano 7701 wheel I trued!

Ride On!