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  1. #1
    Unintentional Troll Scrotze's Avatar
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    Wheelbuilders: how many of you check spoke tension by hand?

    Just wanted to know how many people actually use spoke tensiometers/tension meters when building their wheels. Or by contrast, how many tension by hand. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Unintentional Troll Scrotze's Avatar
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    Or pluck, whatever it is you do.

  3. #3
    cab horn
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    We already had this flame fest a week ago. No need to start it again.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  4. #4
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    I tension by hand. My wheels hold up just fine.

  5. #5
    Unintentional Troll Scrotze's Avatar
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    Oops sorry.

  6. #6
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I tension by hand and ear for most conventional wheels and I also use a tension gauge to double check my work or when I am building unconventional wheels (radials).

    If I don't have a tension gauge at hand when I am building a conventional wheel I don't fret it... the last wheel I built was for my friend's touring bike and I finished the build the night before he left while sucking back a few cold one's on my patio.

    6000 km of loaded touring later and the wheel is still true to within 5/1000 and it was built using the bike's fork as my truing stand.

    I have a set of mtb wheels that are rolling around under my 240 pound friend and these wheels have never needed to see a spoke wrench... I used the tension gauge and had these dialled in to a tolerance of < 2/1000 and they have not changed.

    Getting even / high tension is much more important that getting maximum tension in a wheel and I usually build just below the advised maximum (90% to allow for any adjustments)... if the spokes are so tight that you are rounding off the nipples or destroying the rim you are doing it wrong.

    I encourage my customers to bring their wheels back for a free inspection as I like to inspect my work but very few do as they tell me their wheels remain as perfect as they were when they were first built.

  7. #7
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    I tension by hand, and from time to time use a tension meter to "calibrate" my fingers, especially when doing unusual builds with spokes or rims I'm less familiar with.

    Unlike many others I don't use tension meters to compare tension in various spokes within the wheel, but only to sample tension to get an idea of overall tension. I ensure even tension by the methodology of my building & tightening procedure, and spot the occasional oddly tensioned spoke by hands, eyes and ears.
    FB
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  8. #8
    Senior Member hopsing08's Avatar
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    im sure, not to discredit anyone who builds wheels on here, that everyone will say that they do. who would come into this thread and say that they don't and expect business.
    A long life may not be good enough but a good life is long enough.
    Wish not so much to live long as to live well.
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  9. #9
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    I always use a tensiometer. I only build occasionly and feel that this is the best way to get a constant build.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopsing08 View Post
    im sure, not to discredit anyone who builds wheels on here, that everyone will say that they do. who would come into this thread and say that they don't and expect business.
    I think you might be wrong here. Many top wheel builders do not use tension meters, or use them as I do, as a cross check of their sense of feel. Some of those take pride on their non-reliance on tension meters. A skilled builder will produce an evenly tensioned wheel the same way top builders always have, using reliable methodology coupled with good feel, born of experience.

    It's skill, not better tools that makes for the best wheels.
    FB
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    An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

    “Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

    “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

    WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

  11. #11
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I have built countless wheels. Not only do I not use a tension meter, I haven't even seen one in the flesh (or metal). I don't pluck spokes for sound, either.

    The wheels I build are durable. I once built a wheel for a tandem that took a long tour with heavy luggage. The customer came back after the tour and told me that his wheel was still as straight as an arrow. On all other tours he took, he destroyed the wheel, every time.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  12. #12
    Unintentional Troll Scrotze's Avatar
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    Hmm, surely you use some sort of reference to build your wheels upon?

  13. #13
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    I gauge overall tension by feel and relative tension by sound. I've been doing it for five decades and it hasn't let me down yet.

  14. #14
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotze View Post
    Hmm, surely you use some sort of reference to build your wheels upon?
    Oh yeah, I have calibrated fingers.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  15. #15
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Oh yeah, I have calibrated fingers.
    My knuckles crack at the correct torque.

  16. #16
    Unintentional Troll Scrotze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I gauge overall tension by feel and relative tension by sound. I've been doing it for five decades and it hasn't let me down yet.
    Are you the same Mike T. that created that wheelbuilding article?

  17. #17
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotze View Post
    Are you the same Mike T. that created that wheelbuilding article?
    That would be me. I'm guilty of motivating many people to attempt to build their first wheel. Almost all of them do it with the bare minimum of equipment too.

  18. #18
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    That would be me. I'm guilty of motivating many people to attempt to build their first wheel. Almost all of them do it with the bare minimum of equipment too.
    Yes let's just pass on gospel and bad technique and never actually use tools designed to help you build better wheels. You think you can commit to memory the proper spoke tension for different size spokes, round, bladed and ellipitical? And then further divide that into recommended spoke tension for different rims and 'exotic' OEM wheelsets.

    You do a disservice to future wheelbuilders by not even mentioning a tool that helps build better wheels, faster, more accurately and more consistently. When you can match my DT tensionmeter in accuracy for every single spoke on a wheel with your hand or by 'plucking', i'll eat my words.

    Get with the times grandpa, your techniques are deprecated and so is your knowledge and you'll never be a better wheelbuilder with the attitude portrayed in your article. Good mechanics evolve with the times. You seem to be stuck in the good ole days.
    Mes compaingnons cui j'amoie et cui j'aim,... Me di, chanson.

  19. #19
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    I'm not going to argue or even discuss with you as I've seen your posts before. You're well known around here. You must be a very bitter person. Who cares what you think.

  20. #20
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I'm not going to argue or even discuss with you as I've seen your posts before. You're well known around here. You must be a very bitter person. Who cares what you think.
    Whom indeed? Most of the regular bike-wrenches around here that make up the inner-core of these forums. That would be who cares. You may not like his personality, but his information is top-notch most of the time. And I happen to agree that using a spoke tension-meter, which today are available for pretty cheap, will result in better-built wheels for those just starting out.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  21. #21
    In beaurocratic limbo urbanknight's Avatar
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    I used to tension by hand and never had a problem building conventional builds, but after I started getting into lower spoke counts and thinner spokes, a tensiometer's need became evident.
    "Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want... Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about." (Richard Dreyfus as Glenn Holland)

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    I use one, believe they are very helpful but not essential. I think less experienced people have more to gain by using a tension meter by avoiding mistakes that experienced builders would not make.

    Al

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    I'm not going to argue or even discuss with you as I've seen your posts before. You're well known around here. You must be a very bitter person. Who cares what you think.
    "Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing."
    Oscar Wilde

  24. #24
    Senior Member jnvw's Avatar
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    I’ll throw my .02 in here. You can build a wheel that is true and pluck & listen to the sound as your only variable for tension. However, even crappy built wheels will remain true under normal use, it is long term use that is subject to spoke fatigue and the uneven tension eventually leads to spoke breakage, then your problems just begin.

    If you want to build a reliable, true wheel with even spoke tension, you have to use a tension meter, period. The tension meter is not just used to make sure you have achieved proper tension, it is also for balancing the tension as well, something many simply ignore.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Whom indeed? Most of the regular bike-wrenches around here that make up the inner-core of these forums. That would be who cares. You may not like his personality, but his information is top-notch most of the time. And I happen to agree that using a spoke tension-meter, which today are available for pretty cheap, will result in better-built wheels for those just starting out.
    +1

    Oh, and since this could be another long one, I also brought popcorn for you and Operator.

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