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Thread: tension meter

  1. #1
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    tension meter

    is it acurate? I've been truing my wheels for some time with no problems(imo). is it worth buying the tension meter?

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    Accuracy is usually not as important as consistency. I question the accuracy of my Park TM1 but I believe it gets me in the right ballpark on the high side and has avoided spokes breaking from low tension. The tension measurements are consistent and repeatable if the device is released onto the spokes slowly and smoothly. I think it is easily worth the ~$60 investment.
    Last edited by Al1943; 06-28-10 at 03:33 PM.

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    I don't believe so. I've never used them. If it's a question of even spoke tension in truing, you can go by sound (or feel). If it's a question of getting the best maximum tension , you can go by sound or feel.

    There really isn't an objective measure of "correct" tension in terms of absolute numbers.

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    In my experience, I can easily see a difference in spoke tension after 1/4 turn of the nipple by using my Park TM1. By no means can I feel/hear that same tension difference. YMMV but I'm certain that the wheels that I've built with a tensionmeter have more even tension than they otherwise would if I had built them by feel. 4000 miles on my 1450 gram commuting wheelset without a single turn of a nipple tells me that I'm doing something right.

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cC6MynIUsU Just do it by ear if your not musical deaf.

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    I prefer an objective instrument to verify my subjective feelings therefore I go for and regularly use my tensiometer to make sure that other factors in my life don't cause delusion to be mistaken for superior tonal accuity.

    Translation - I'd rather trust a tensiometer than me.
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    I think musical pitch can work well on radial laced spokes if you know what the pitch needs to be from an example.
    I would have problems trying to set the tension on cross spoked wheels due to the rattle from the crossings.

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    If by any means you sense the changes in tones (like you are guitar/piano/vuvuzela /any kind of instrument player, or singing or even have a good hearing for music) then it's fine.

    A tension meter works best, but i feel that it's not so important to get a good job done.

    I bet that if you hand over a professional truing stand and a tensiometer to an unskilled person can get worse job than a skilled mechanic with the brake shoes on a bike and a good ear. (I'm not referring to anyone, unskilled mechanic=someone who doesn't know how to screw a bolt)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asi View Post
    I bet that if you hand over a professional truing stand and a tensiometer to an unskilled person can get worse job than a skilled mechanic with the brake shoes on a bike and a good ear. (I'm not referring to anyone, unskilled mechanic=someone who doesn't know how to screw a bolt)
    Yeah but if I took my wheel to two professionals, one with a tensiometer and one without, I would without a doubt trust the one with the tensiometer over the one without! Knowledge + tools trump knowledge.
    Last edited by wmodavis; 06-23-10 at 03:45 PM. Reason: addition
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmodavis View Post
    Yeah but if I took my wheel to two professionals, one with a tensiometer and one without, I would without a doubt trust the one with the tensiometer over the one without! Knowledge + tools trump knowledge.
    ...assuming of course the two professionals have equal knowledge, as a tensiometer does not equal knowledge!

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    In my experience, I can easily see a difference in spoke tension after 1/4 turn of the nipple by using my Park TM1. By no means can I feel/hear that same tension difference. YMMV but I'm certain that the wheels that I've built with a tensionmeter have more even tension than they otherwise would if I had built them by feel. 4000 miles on my 1450 gram commuting wheelset without a single turn of a nipple tells me that I'm doing something right.
    It's difficult to detect a 1/4 turn at the early stage of building a wheel. Once you go over the elastic limit of a rim, even 1/8 turn is readily detectable (feel) by an experienced wheel builder.

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    Once you go over the elastic limit of a rim
    What does this mean? First of all an aluminum rim doesn't have a clearly defined elastic limit. Second if you put enough tension in your spokes to stress a rim this high I think you've gone too far. I'm not even sure if it is possible.

    I remember reading some threads about wheelbuilding a month or two ago and the consensus was that the tensiometer was beneficial.

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    Quote Originally Posted by furballi View Post
    It's difficult to detect a 1/4 turn at the early stage of building a wheel. Once you go over the elastic limit of a rim, even 1/8 turn is readily detectable (feel) by an experienced wheel builder.
    I'm (vaguely) referring to the later stages of building a wheel. I'm not all that experienced at wheel building and I doubt I ever will be at my current rate. Going over the elastic limit of a rim is something I'd prefer to avoid though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjtesch View Post
    I remember reading some threads about wheelbuilding a month or two ago and the consensus was that the tensiometer was beneficial.
    It is, it removes some of the guess work, but it does not give knowledge and experience with it.

    I can live without it but it would be nice to have if it would grow on trees or find one in my garage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
    ...assuming of course the two professionals have equal knowledge, as a tensiometer does not equal knowledge!
    1. Strawman
    2. Sleight of Hand
    3. Misrepresentation (wmodavis never made that claim)

    Come on guy...you are better than that.

    =8-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
    1. Strawman
    2. Sleight of Hand
    3. Misrepresentation (wmodavis never made that claim)

    Come on guy...you are better than that.

    =8-)
    Maybe I should have added a smiley face or something. I was half joking, but to say "without a doubt" one would pick the one with the tension meter is a bit broad to say the least. What I said speaks to the fact that a good wrench can do with wrenches, a dead blow hammer and some creativity what a novice can't do with all the tools that money can buy - never meant to claim the poster thought tools=skill. Sorry I did not explain the subtlties better.

    ...but thanks for the compliment!

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    Senior Member mrrabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
    Maybe I should have added a smiley face or something. I was half joking, but to say "without a doubt" one would pick the one with the tension meter is a bit broad to say the least. What I said speaks to the fact that a good wrench can do with wrenches, a dead blow hammer and some creativity what a novice can't do with all the tools that money can buy - never meant to claim the poster thought tools=skill. Sorry I did not explain the subtlties better.

    ...but thanks for the compliment!



    Aw...dang! I was all set for a bare knuckle knock-down drag 'em out and dump on the leeward side island fight!

    4000+ wheels built since 1984...

    Disclaimer:

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    5. My all time favorite book is:

    Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjtesch View Post
    What does this mean? First of all an aluminum rim doesn't have a clearly defined elastic limit. Second if you put enough tension in your spokes to stress a rim this high I think you've gone too far. I'm not even sure if it is possible.

    I remember reading some threads about wheelbuilding a month or two ago and the consensus was that the tensiometer was beneficial.
    Gradually increase the spoke tension by 1/8 of a turn, then check for axial and radial trueness to within 0.001". At some point, one or more spoke hole will deform more than the others, making it very difficult to hold tight tolerances. That's the time to back-off the spoke tension by about 1/4 turn.

    This strategy has worked very well for me throughout the years...as far back as the days of Weinmann concave rims.
    Last edited by furballi; 06-23-10 at 08:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmodavis View Post
    I prefer an objective instrument to verify my subjective feelings therefore I go for and regularly use my tensiometer to make sure that other factors in my life don't cause delusion to be mistaken for superior tonal accuity.

    Translation - I'd rather trust a tensiometer than me.
    A big Amen brother.
    Feel is not the way to go. Either use a tensiometer or tension and stress relieve until the wheel goes out of true then back off a half turn and retrue and stress relieve.
    In his book "The Art of Wheelbuilding" Gerd Schraner Said that he was suprised to find out that he wasn't as accurate as the meter and now uses one. He builds wheels for a living for racers.

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    A racer requires a very light wheel with high radial and axial tolerances. Most are under 150 lbs. The roads are often well paved with no massive pot hole. The average rider is more concerned about durability. Experience in racing does not necessarily translate to touring.

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    A tensiometer has enabled cheap machine -built wheels to carry my Clydesdale mass for an extended period without need for retrueing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by walterz54 View Post
    is it acurate?
    I did some crude tests hanging a weight (me) off a spoke. The difference I could generate by how I released the lever was bigger than the difference between the tensiometer and the bathroom scale. Not saying that the scale is 100% accurate either, but good enough for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by walterz54 View Post
    I've been truing my wheels ...
    Trueing and tension balancing are two different aspects of wheel care. They should coincide, but don't have to. You can have dead true and plenty unbalanced, or the other way around. Most wheels eventually end up in a compromise where improving the one would degrade the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by walterz54 View Post
    ..with no problems(imo).
    If you aren't having any problems, then obviously you're doing well enough as it is. If your wheels already are durable/strong enough, then more durable/stronger isn't going to help you much.

    Quote Originally Posted by walterz54 View Post
    ...is it worth buying the tension meter?
    As long as you stay in your little sphere, no - but once you venture outside, yes.
    Suppose you post a question here about some wheel trouble you're having. The quality of the answers you can get if you're able to tell the actual spoke tension will be far better than what you'd get if all you could say was that "spoke tension felt OK".

    Or suppose you build a pair of wheels for someone else, and these start failing. W/o a tensiometer it's pretty much guesswork and opinions as to whether the other rider is much harder on his/her wheels than you are, or if you didn't get the build right. With a tensiometer you get a decent quantified indication of the build quality. Sure, a tensiometer can't indicate wind-up and some of the finer nuances of wheel building, but it's still a great tool.

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    I like the tension meter. When you are dealing with a critical variable, why would you guess when you can easily measure?
    People who say they can build equally good wheels by "feel" are just wrong. Maybe simple 36 spoke wheels can be built by feel (although I remember a lot of broken spokes when I raced on those), but there is far less room for error with fewer spokes and the extreme offset that modern wheels have.
    Anyone who thinks they can build wheels by feel without the experience of dozens or hundreds of wheels doesn't understand the problem.

    em

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    Tension balancing a wheel is absolutely important. When a wheel has all its spokes within 20% relative tension (assuming it is high enough) it will stay true longer. Also, the tensometer can give you a good idea of the overall wheel health. If you can true the wheel, but can not get all the spokes within relative tension, the rim is damaged and you may want to consider getting a new one. Spokes that are under tensioned will tend to fatigue prematurely and fail sooner. The tension meter is a good tool to give you objective information about your wheel. Unless you have worked with a lot of wheels, you may not be able to accurately assess how well balanced your wheel is.
    When I tension a wheel, I will bring it to lateral true, then dish the wheel, and finally do the radial true. After that I will use a tensometer to assess the health of the wheel and eliminate any unbalanced spokes. Then you should stress the wheel by pushing on the rim when the axle is on the ground to release any wound up spokes. Retrue and retension as necessary.
    This is what I do at the shop. When I work on my bike I just true things and balance them by feel and they come out just fine. So all in all, if you dont have much experience with wheels, or you want to do it the professional way, use the tensometer. If you know what you're doing, do whatever you want, just fix it.
    Professional mechanic for 9 years

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    Quote Originally Posted by cny-bikeman View Post
    ...assuming of course the two professionals have equal knowledge, as a tensiometer does not equal knowledge!
    You can assume whatever you want to but I stick by my statement "if I took my wheel to two professionals, one with a tensiometer and one without, I would without a doubt trust the one with the tensiometer over the one without! Knowledge + tools trump knowledge."
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