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  1. #1
    Arrgghh me hearties! damian_'s Avatar
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    Can under-tensioned spokes cause wheel clicking?

    Hi everyone,

    I have an annoying wheel problem. The wheel tends to click (a dull click - sort of a quiet tok, tok, tok noise) at each revolution. This only happens when the bike is loaded (i.e. not when I'm free-spinning the wheels), and only at slow or moderate speeds - not once I'm travelling over 25kmph (15 mph).

    I've been looking at everything to work out what the problem is. The wheels are relatively new (only a thousand or so kilometers on them) and it has only been happening the last couple of hundred kilometers.

    The wheels are hand-built, deore hubs, 36 dt spokes and sun cr18 rims.

    Feeling the spoke tension by hand, they seem slightly looser than on my other wheels, but not too much so.

    The only other thing I can think of is one of those little rubber bits poking out of the tyres hitting the fenders at each revolution. I have removed the wheels and put the bike inside a car a few times, so the fenders aren't quite true.

    Would tensioning the spokes and retruing the wheel fix this problem, or is there something else obvious I am missing?

    Thanks in advance!

    Damian

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Yes, loose spokes often click. Loose spokes are more likely to break, due to flex.

    Al

  3. #3
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    I would recommend pulling the cassette, cleaning the freehub body all surfaces of the cogs with a solvent-dampened rag. Wipe with clean rags until all the grit is off. Then lightly grease the freehub body splines, and reassemble. I'll bet that fixes your click...

    It's true that loose spokes can click, but they have to be pretty lose. The tourque you put out increases tension by such a small amount that it's unlikely to cause enough of a difference in a wheel that's close to normal tension. On the other hand, if you can easily feel the lower tension by hand, that usually amounts to a significantly lower measured tension. It's worth looking into regardless of the clicking.

  4. #4
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Are you sure it isn't the reed switch in your computer's sensor? It's much more audible at low speeds because there's less wind blowing around.

    Does the noise stop when the wheel is spun off the bike?

  5. #5
    cs1
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    Senior Member cs1's Avatar
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    I had a similar problem with a Campy wheel. We swapped the old 8 speed cassette body for a 9/10 and redished the wheel. It worked well for about 1 season. Then I could hear a lot of pinging like you mentioned. I took it to the shop and the drive side spokes were all loose and the cassette hub body needed to be readjusted. Now, it runs perfectly.

    A long answer for your question but yes the spoke tension can make it sound that way. Good luck

    Tim
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  6. #6
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    If you have presta tire valves, check to see if the retaining nut is loose. Sometimes it will click against the threads once per rev. Can drive you nuts till you find it.

  7. #7
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx
    If you have presta tire valves, check to see if the retaining nut is loose. Sometimes it will click against the threads once per rev. Can drive you nuts till you find it.
    Ack! Retaining nut? I suppose this is one of those religious issues, but I haven't had a retaining nut or cap on a valve in the 15 years I've been riding. I've also never had inflation issues or flats caused by the lack of a retaining nut...

  8. #8
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damian_
    Hi everyone,

    I have an annoying wheel problem. The wheel tends to click (a dull click - sort of a quiet tok, tok, tok noise) at each revolution. This only happens when the bike is loaded (i.e. not when I'm free-spinning the wheels), and only at slow or moderate speeds - not once I'm travelling over 25kmph (15 mph).

    I've been looking at everything to work out what the problem is. The wheels are relatively new (only a thousand or so kilometers on them) and it has only been happening the last couple of hundred kilometers.

    The wheels are hand-built, deore hubs, 36 dt spokes and sun cr18 rims.

    Feeling the spoke tension by hand, they seem slightly looser than on my other wheels, but not too much so.

    The only other thing I can think of is one of those little rubber bits poking out of the tyres hitting the fenders at each revolution. I have removed the wheels and put the bike inside a car a few times, so the fenders aren't quite true.

    Would tensioning the spokes and retruing the wheel fix this problem, or is there something else obvious I am missing?

    Thanks in advance!

    Damian
    Sure can. On my touring trip in 2005 I had a problem spoke that kept coming loose. Along the Columbia River where there wasn't much traffic I could here a faint click that drove me crazy until I got found the loose spoke. The reason for it is that the spoke doesn't "fill" the spoke hole at the rim. The holes at the rim are 2.3mm and the spoke is 2.0 mm. If the spoke is loose, it can move in the hole. Eventually this will cause fatique of the spoke and failure. It's the main reason I use DT Alpine spokes. They are 2.3mm at the head and fill the hole at the hub. No room for movement and less likelyhood of spoke failure, especially for wheels that have to carry heavy loads.

    As for the presta retaining nut, I've tried going without them but I just can't. Everytime the wheel goes around, I think of that presta valve just waiting to pop out and fly up and poke my eye out and I have to stop and put the nut back on! My inner mother feels safer then
    Stuart Black
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Scorer75's Avatar
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    OK, how do you find THE ONE LOOSE SPOKE?????

    This is driving me slightly mad?

    Maybe they are all to lose?

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scorer75
    OK, how do you find THE ONE LOOSE SPOKE?????

    This is driving me slightly mad?

    Maybe they are all to lose?
    Mine was pretty obvious because it was really loose. Other ways of finding it would be a tensiometer, 'pinging' the spoke and listening for one that is flat or squeezing the spokes in pairs and finding one that feels loose comparied to others.
    Stuart Black
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    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scorer75
    OK, how do you find THE ONE LOOSE SPOKE?????

    This is driving me slightly mad?

    Maybe they are all to lose?
    Could be they're all too lose. Is the wheel fairly true and straight?

    Squeeze parallel spokes together with your hands. Work your way around and squeeze all the pairs. At some point, you'll find the loose spoke.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Scorer75's Avatar
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    The wheel is true and straight.

    I will try the ping test and squeeze test when I get her on the stand tonight. I won't be making adjustments because I'm a firm believer in not messing with things the day or two before a century ride. I will try to correct this on my own after the century.

    The spokes have never been checked and the original owner was 260lb. and I'm 230lb. that seems like a lot of stress on the wheels.

    Here is what I'm working on:

    2004 Cannondale cyclocross disc
    Rims Mavic Open Pro, 32 hole
    Hubs Cannondale Omega disc, 32 hole
    Spokes DT Competition

    Any input is apreciated.

  13. #13
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scorer75
    The wheel is true and straight.

    I will try the ping test and squeeze test when I get her on the stand tonight. I won't be making adjustments because I'm a firm believer in not messing with things the day or two before a century ride. I will try to correct this on my own after the century.

    The spokes have never been checked and the original owner was 260lb. and I'm 230lb. that seems like a lot of stress on the wheels.

    Here is what I'm working on:

    2004 Cannondale cyclocross disc
    Rims Mavic Open Pro, 32 hole
    Hubs Cannondale Omega disc, 32 hole
    Spokes DT Competition

    Any input is apreciated.
    Did you clean the freehub body as I suggested? I rebuilt the drive-side of a rear wheel (new spokes and nipples) to eliminate a click only to have it come back on the first ride. Then I cleaned the freehub body, and guess what? Quiet for the next 5000 miles.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    open pros have a rep for making noise. it's quite possible a drop of lube on each eyelet might do the trick.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Scorer75's Avatar
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    ok, first of all, thanks for the input, this forum is great.

    I found the culprit. The loose (very loose) spoke was the spoke that had the magnet mounted on it for the speed sensor. Maybe that's why it's not a great idea to have a speed sensor on the rear wheel.

    I moved the magnet to a different spoke and tightened the loose spoke. It "looked" a little too tight so I backed it off one turn and tightened the opposite spoke to even them out.

    The click is now gone. The wheel is not 100% true, but pretty close and certainly not off enough to justify playing with it 48 hours before I leave for my first century of the year.

    Will I ever get these wheels 100% trued? Do I need to? Unless you look closely, very closely, it's hard to see that it's not true. What is the disadvantage of running a not perfectly true wheel?

  16. #16
    Senior Member Scorer75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waterrockets
    Did you clean the freehub body as I suggested? I rebuilt the drive-side of a rear wheel (new spokes and nipples) to eliminate a click only to have it come back on the first ride. Then I cleaned the freehub body, and guess what? Quiet for the next 5000 miles.
    And I will clean the freehub.

  17. #17
    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scorer75
    Will I ever get these wheels 100% trued? Do I need to? Unless you look closely, very closely, it's hard to see that it's not true. What is the disadvantage of running a not perfectly true wheel?
    It's a matter of degree. The Park Tool "Big Blue Book" says 1mm laterally and 1mm radially is acceptable, while Barnett's Manual says 0.5mm laterally and 0.5mm radially. As long as "it's hard to see that it's not true" you're fine.
    - Stan

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper
    It's a matter of degree. The Park Tool "Big Blue Book" says 1mm laterally and 1mm radially is acceptable, while Barnett's Manual says 0.5mm laterally and 0.5mm radially. As long as "it's hard to see that it's not true" you're fine.
    With appologies to Tom Cutberson, make the wheels as round and straight as you feel like. Even the world isn't perfectly round.
    Stuart Black
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  19. #19
    Making a kilometer blurry waterrockets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    With appologies to Tom Cutberson, make the wheels as round and straight as you feel like. Even the world isn't perfectly round.
    Yeah, even tension is much more important than true when it come to durability. Pluck adjacent spokes and check for the same tone. If it's way off, you ought to get that looked at after your century.

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