Bicycle Mechanics - Spoke Tension Meter?
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Has anyone used a spoke tension meter for truing wheels? I was thinking of getting one and I'd like some opinions on their usefulness. I'm not a high end performance rider but I like to do all my own maintenance. I've built a couple of wheels and appreciate the advantage of a truing stand. So if anyone has an opinion on this tool I'd love to hear it. Thank you.
07-22-08, 07:19 PM
I have built a wheel; rebuilt a wheel; replaced all the nipples on a week; and trued various wheels numerous times, but I would consider myself a beginner in the category of wheel truing still. Our coop's tensiometer has been a saving grace for me, and helped me learn to be much more proficient in my abilities much quicker. That being said -- it does feel like a bit of a crutch at times. But I would be sad without it.
07-22-08, 07:31 PM
I find it very useful for both building and truing wheels. On truing for instance -"going by the book"
you would normally work on a span of maybe five spokes to move the rim in one direction, tightening or loosing the spokes closest to the center of the "bend" the most, and adjusting them less as you go out. With a tensionmeter I find that a bend is sometimes largely caused by a single spoke significanly out of tension. By bringing that spoke within the proper range first, I have very little further adjustment to do.
Also since I am not a very experienced wheel builder, I find a tensionmeter absolutlly essential for building wheels. It is amazing how little truing you have to do if you start with the same amount of thread showing on all spokes and then make sure to keep the tensions equal as you tighten them.
In general if something is out of kilter radially or laterally I find that taking the tension of some spokes in the problem area frequently points to the problem. Without it I know I would just further screw up the wheel.
07-22-08, 08:27 PM
You can certainly true a wheel without one but especially for a beginner, the tension meter is a big help. The single most important factor in longevity of the new wheel assembly is adequate balanced tension and even the Park model gets you close. I highly recommend one. I have used mine many times and can now true consistently balanced wheel with only an occasional check on the tension to confirm that I'm on track.
I use a Park spoke tension tool for building wheels. I prefer my home grown wheels to anything on the mass market. Once a wheel is properly built and tensioned and had the spokes "strain relieved", any subsequent minor truing can be easily done in a truing stand. The park tension tool comes with a nice chart to calculate your spoke tension based on the thickness and type of spokes you are installing. Always check with the rim manufacturer and find out what is the maximum tension they recommend for front and rear spokes on the exact rim you have. I use Velocity rims for all my builds, and a quick email to their general question inbox got me an answer the next day. This is important info to prevent over tensioning a wheel and getting cracks around the spoke hole. After I over tensioned one nice rim, that was enough for me to get a Park spoke tension tool. Now I use the spoke tension tool several times during the wheel building to get even tension all around the rim before the spokes get too tight. It also helps me keep the wheel nice and round cause flat spots are the most time consuming problem to correct. It's money well spent.
07-23-08, 12:27 AM
I build with one but dont necessarily true with one.
07-23-08, 07:39 AM
The TM-1 is only good for the casual home mechanic or for wheels that aren't very high end to begin with. Otherwise take a look at how much difference there is tension wise between say 24 and 25 in terms on newtons on the park scale.
Then look at how much that is on say something like the dt swiss tensionmeter.
Thank you all for your input. I looked at the swiss tensionmeter and it's a little out of my league. I'm more in the amateur home mechanic park tool conference. So it looks like I'll be getting a spoke tension meter.
I have the Park Tool tensionmeter -and I found it handy as more of an affirmation type of tool. Since I was never musically inclined I can't say I'd ever try "twanging" a spoke -I'm too tone deaf to use that method! Further feeling the spokes was just too vague, and I ended up getting the Park one; the thought of seeing a measuring scale with my eyes was very appealing.
However, after a while I found that my wheel building confidence improved, and the last couple of sets of wheels I built I didn't even bother with the tensionmeter. If I lost it today, I wouldn't be disappointed -I think it just takes practice to feel that right tension -but it was worth it to get to that point. I agree with everyone else -it's helpful at first.
At $55 - $60 the Park tension meter is a good investment. Release it onto the spoke gradually for accurate measurements. A quick release will result in an elastic rebound and inconsistent measurements.
07-24-08, 11:55 AM
I have found the tension meter to be very handy for truing and for building wheels. There have been several times when the tension meter quickly showed me the "odd" spoke in a set and allowed me to make a good judgment about how to proceed. I find that the less expensive Park tension meter works great for my relatively modest home needs.
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