How to Tension a Bicycle Wheel

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Fine Tuning a Bicycle Wheel....5

Tensioning a bicycle wheel to a working tension is done using a spoke driver. Learn how to tension a bicycle wheel in this free video on bicycle wheel building.

Part of the Video Series: Bicycle Wheel Building
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Video Transcript

I would call this part of the process the secondary tensioning, we're bringing the wheel up to a working tension, and we'll make our final tension adjustments from there. Again using the spoke driver, we're going to start at the valve hole, it's easy to find, because we've got our labels all lined up, and we're going to advance that nipple all the way until the last of the threads disappears underneath the top of it. That's a reference point; we want to make our way all the way around, advancing just to that point so we have our initial tension in place. As you make your way around the wheel, tensioning just to that initial tension, you'll notice the wheel start to snug up just a bit, all the slacks coming out of those spokes, and the wheel's starting to take shape a bit. Starting to feel a little firmer, and more rigid. And we're trying to be as symmetrical as possible, and even all the way around, so, as we advance these spokes up let's be real conscious of getting right to the top of the thread there on each of them. Now I've made my way all the way around from valve hole, full circle to valve hole, and I've got a reasonably straight start. The spokes are still a little bit loose obviously, but we're starting to get tension into the wheel. Now we're going to make our way around with a spoke wrench, again starting at the valve hole. In this case, we've still got quite a bit of slack, so we're going to do two full turns, one, two, on each of these spokes. Don't lose count here, we're going to make sure that the wheel is evenly tensioned as we advanced the overall tension of the wheel. In this case two turns, you can start with one turn, if the wheel already starts to feel a little snug, maybe it takes three turns, just to speed the process along. Okay, our secondary tensioning is complete, all the way around. Now we're starting to get a wheel that's close to ridable tension, starting to feel a little tension in those spokes. There's nothing sloppy, none of the spokes are loose and we can begin to finalize the true on the wheel, and the round of the wheel, and the dish of the wheel.

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