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Squishy wheel feel - spoke tensioning advice....(8 posts)

Squishy wheel feel - spoke tensioning advice....UncleMoe
Aug 12, 2002 9:13 AM
The last few rides, every know and then I'll get a squishy wheel feel from by bike, like it slightly flexing up and down as I pedal. I've had it for over a year, put about 4000 miles on it, maybe more, and I've never had the wheels trued.

They appear fine in both roundness and side to side true (if those are the proper terms), so I'm now wondering about spoke tension.

If I were to try to tension the spokes on my own, for the first time, (I have the Zinn bok), would you recomment I:

1. Use a tensionometer?
2. Juet pluck them and be very careful and just tension them 1/4 turns or less, with less probably being the best.
3. Take it in and have a shop do it, cause wheels are easy to screw up.

Thanks. Just felling a little nervous cause I don't want to mess up the wheels, but I'd also like to do more maintenance on my own and this seems like a good opportunity.

Also, if I do it on my own, would you recommend a truing stand? I can get the Spin Doctor Truing Stand II from my LBS for $39 right now, and the reviews on it seem pretty good. I would hazard a guess that the truing stand makes it all easier vs. on the bike.
Me tooMonkeytown USA
Aug 12, 2002 9:25 AM
I have that feeling too. Mine just started recently. Does it need to be fixed?
re: Squishy wheel feel - spoke tensioning advice....Jekyll
Aug 12, 2002 9:37 AM
Its a little more involved than just tensioning a spoke or two. If you add tension to a spoke you will start to pull the rim in that direction and in toward the hub. You will have to compensate with other spokes, etc. You can add tension to all of the spokes but if it is a rear wheel the amount of tension you add will differ on the drive and non-drive sides - you could easily pull the wheel out of dish.
If your wheel has stayed true for 4000 miles chances are very good that it was well built. Trying to add tension will probably do more to screw up the wheel than help.
You may just a have a wheel that does not suit your riding style or weight. Light weight wheels can feel a little squishy, etc under powerful or heavy riders. You may want to look into a more robustly built wheel.
So far as equipment goes, I like having a truing stand - just much easier to work with than doing it in the frame. I have a tensionometer and it makes me feel better when I build - you could probably live without it. You don't need one to true wheels, but I think it benefits new wheel builders when building from scratch. A good spoke wrench is a must (like Park). Also you may want to read either Brandt's or Schraner's book on wheel building to get a good overview of the technology, tools and concepts involved.
Aug 12, 2002 9:57 AM
I agree that wheels that have been true for 4000 miles are probably tensioned pretty well. You may have a slightly defective or unevenly seated tire causing the problem. I also agree that this is an area where you don't want to fix what ain't broke. In addition to potential problems others have mentioned you may be half way around the wheel before you discover one or more frozen nipples.

Learning to build and true wheels is worth while. Unless you plan on doing lots of them a home quality truing stand will work fine. A Dishing tool makes it a little easier. I pluck the spokes and compare each spoke to the first one of its kind to estimate the tension.
The spokes could be loose after 4,000 milesKillerQuads
Aug 12, 2002 11:43 AM
After that many miles, the spokes have probably stretched and the nipples have settled. If It was me, I would tighten each spoke 1/4 turn, check the dish with my wheel dishing tool, then put the wheel in my Spin Doctor truing stand for truing. I would then stress the wheel by pushing on it or riding it, and then true it again.

If you have never used a spoke wrench before it might be easier just to take the wheel to a shop. I like having the dishing tool and truing stand since I have 5 bikes. It may not be worth it if you just have one bike to maintain. But sometimes after a major adjustment, you need to true the wheel again as the spokes resettle.

It is not as accurate to true using the brake pads. You cannot check dish and the pads on dual pivot brakes are not as easy to shift to one side as old side pull brakes.

The Spin Doctor truing stand and the Park Tool truing stand are self centering and you can get a rough idea of the dish by flipping the wheel over, but a dishing tool is more accurate. Make sure the center part of the dishing tool touches the nut surface that contacts the inside of the drop out and not the end of the axle.

If you take it to a shop, there is always one guy at the LBS who is the "truing expert". Ask for that person.
this is a long shot, but recently happened to memaximum15
Aug 12, 2002 1:52 PM
Found a used bike for sale that seemed interesting and took it for a ride. Seemed to be flexing up and down, like the front wheel was out of true. Stopped and took a close look and then found that the headset was way loose. That and sloppy pedaling technique was causing it on that bike.
Unlikely to have loose spokes and round wheel.Kerry
Aug 12, 2002 5:55 PM
I'd be thinking about the tires/tire pressure, about the headset (as mentioned in another post), or about the fact that it's Hot 'N Nasty and you're feeling groggy. You can pretty reasonably check spoke tension by squeezing a few spokes on your wheel and on a wheel you know to be good. It's pretty rare that a wheel can stay round and true if it loses spoke tension.
Thanks EveryoneUncleMoe
Aug 12, 2002 7:00 PM
Considering I get this sensation only on my return trip home from work on the commute, and it infrequent, maybe it is just my imagination. I'll double check the headset and the spoke tension. If all appears OK, I'll chalk it up to the mothman.