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  1. #1
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    Noise from spokes

    On my last several rides I've noticed a noise that has become progressively more pronounced. It sounds like a "ping" sound from the wheels. My first thought was that it was coming from the front wheel, however when I put my bike in the stand after a ride to check things out I noticed an excessively loose spoke on the rear wheel. I tightened this up and hoped that would solve the problem. No dice, over the next two rides the sound continued. I checked again for any noticeably loose spokes and didn't really find any.

    After reading the relevant section in my Bicycling Magazine's guide to bicycle maintenance, I found a description of a sound that seemed similar to mine that originates from where two spokes crossover. I went back to the bike and started squeezing spokes near where they cross and sure enough I was able to reproduce the sound I was hearing.

    Now to my questions (sorry for the long lead-up). The book says you can just oil those crossovers and wipe off the excess. My questions are:

    1) What type of oil should I use for this? The only things I have in my tool box right now are chain lube, citrus degreaser, grease and WD-40.

    2) Is this more of an annoyance that can be alleviated with some oil, or could it be a symptom of a larger problem? The bike is pretty new with only around 300 miles on it (I had my warranty tune-up not long ago). Also I noticed the rear wheel is a little wobbly and is probably out of true - but it's not rubbing the brake pads and since I'm still a newbie to all this, I'm somewhat reluctant to start trying to true the wheel myself.

  2. #2
    B-b-b-b-b-b-bicicle Rider orange leader's Avatar
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    Usually those sounds are from a freshly tuned wheel, and will go away after a ride. But it sounds like your spokes are continually "settling". It could mean too much flex in your wheel. I'd have that checked out.

    but on the side of simply lubing the spoke crossover instersections...almost any lube you put in there will collect dirt to that junction, and create an unsightly black gooked up spot. Not a big deal, but you seem concerned about little annoying things. You didn't mention what chain lube you have, but a dry lube, like would collect the least dirt of what you mentioned, the grease would collect the most, and the citrus degreaser isn't a lube.

    Perhaps just drip some candle wax or bees wax on those intersections. If you want to go all out, you can tie your spokes (at the intersections) and then seal the tying with candle wax or bees wax, an old school trick I haven't seen done for a looooong time.

    good luck
    Rudimentum mendum menda
    Iudicium mendiosus
    Judicium per erratum
    Judicium et erratum!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Thanks for the reply. I'm actually not all that concerned about it, if it's in fact just an annoying sound. I'm more worried about it being part of a larger problem, but, I'll just live with it for a while longer and see if it eventually settles out. If not I'll just mention it next time I bring my bike in for a tune up or whatever. I'll also try to just clean those junctions...I try to keep my bike fairly clean, but I don't recall ever giving much attention to the spokes or those crossover points in particular.

    Now that you mention it, I am a little worried about wheel flex, as I don't notice it as much while coasting. Seems like when I put more force on the pedals or am standing, it happens more frequently. I'm a little heavy at ~200lbs, but they are 32 spoke rims, so that should be ok...right?

  4. #4
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    Sounds like an undertensioned wheel. As you apply torque to the wheel, some spokes loosen. If they are undertensioned, they will go slack and the pinging sound you hear is the spoke going from tight to slack. This will eventually cause spoke breakage.

    Check the wheel for tension.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

    1980 3Rensho-- 1975 Raleigh Sprite 3spd
    1990s Raleigh M20 MTB--2007 Windsor Hour (track)
    1988 Ducati 750 F1

  5. #5
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    Just an update to this, but it did feel like the tension was somewhat low overall, so when I trued up my rear wheel a week or so ago, I ended up just tightening instead of tightening and then loosening on the opposite side, and the sound seems to be gone for now. Hopefully I didn't screw up the dishing by doing that, but I'm new and not very experienced at wheel truing, so if it runs reasonably straight and doesn't have any bad hops in it, I'm happy ;-)

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