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  1. #1
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    How accurate is trueing your wheel(s) by ear? (like a piano tuner. . .)

    So just how accurate is tuning your wheels by ear? Husband's wheels make a ridiculous amout of noise when first starting out for a ride (later they are quiet), but the spokes were checked by the bike shop with a tensiometer (we watched) and were said to be right on. When I pluck various spokes I am definitely hearing a difference in the tone between spokes. Some of the spokes sound way different than the others.
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    The tension on the drive side, right, of the rear wheel should be higher, than the other side. My guess is that those tensionometers are less accurate than your ear so there will be differences.
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  3. #3
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Not very. Spokes can have the same tension and have a diffrent tone and the wheel still have a slight wobble in it. Id say you could do it with a good ear to a point and make fine tuneing the rim easyer. In other words get major wobbles out then finish useing a trueing stand or even your forks with a feeler on them.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by geo8rge
    My guess is that those tensionometers are less accurate than your ear so there will be differences.
    Tensionmeters are more accurate than your ear - that's why they exist.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Tensionmeters are more accurate than your ear - that's why they exist.
    Agreed. No matter how accurate and identical spokes are- they are not. They are made out of Steel (Or aluminium or titanium) drawn out into a wire. Providing the wire meets certain parameters- they will do as a spoke. Each spoke will be drawn differently- the butting will be in a separate place and even the quality of the steel will vary over a given length. Eack of these factors will give a separate note to a spoke when struck. May not be a great deal but the difference will be there. A top grade builder may not even use a tension meter, but he will build a perfectly true wheel so even tensionmeters may not be required.
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  6. #6
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    Agreed. No matter how accurate and identical spokes are- they are not. They are made out of Steel (Or aluminium or titanium) drawn out into a wire. Providing the wire meets certain parameters- they will do as a spoke. Each spoke will be drawn differently- the butting will be in a separate place and even the quality of the steel will vary over a given length. Eack of these factors will give a separate note to a spoke when struck. May not be a great deal but the difference will be there. A top grade builder may not even use a tension meter, but he will build a perfectly true wheel so even tensionmeters may not be required.

    All you need to get a "perfectly"true wheel is a wheel/trueing stand. I can get a prebuilt wheel nearly perfect just useing forks and a bit of plastic from those free credit card offers you get all the time. I should probably re true my wheels infact. If you realy want to get fancy get a couple nice lazer pens and use them to shine the lazer so its shining on the most out of true spot based on eye balling it. Then just keep adjusting the lazer pen as you take the bend out of the rim When the beam no long touches or just barly hits the edge of the rim you know your set. Cool thing is even the smallest varaint in the rims trueness will make the lazers contact patch much larger and very noticable.

    Ive seen some electronic tape mesure that mesure to 1/1000 of a inch you could even use a couple of those if they wre not relitivly bulky.

    Another way is a good hard plastic protracter on a pivot point and a pointer on you trueing stand. Little fingers just big enough to allow your rim to spin freely to move the protractor.

    Some times not having a job leads to lots of ideas to make a accurate home brew tool

  7. #7
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    After spokes are adjusted it is normal for some creaking and popping while the rim and spokes get seated to their new tension. Normally this noise will cease in a very short time.

    If this noise persists every time your husband rides, I would continue to search for an answer.
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  8. #8
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edp773
    After spokes are adjusted it is normal for some creaking and popping while the rim and spokes get seated to their new tension. Normally this noise will cease in a very short time.

    If this noise persists every time your husband rides, I would continue to search for an answer.
    I had that ones it turned out to be one very slightly loose spoke. That was a fun one to find.

    Basicaly the spoke felt tight and there was no wobble in the wheel at all. But every once in a while when i realy pushed it id hear a very evenly spaced tink sound coming from some where. I finaly guessed it was a rim and considering i just replaced about 10 spokes on the rear wheel it had to be the rear. I finally gave up on my quest to find thew tink spoke and loosened them all up again and re did each one. I was pretty lucky as the new were just shinny enough to tell the diffrence.

    If it is a spoke and your sure it is dont even bother tryig to find it you wont ever find the spoke. Loosen all the new spokes if a rebuild replaceing some worn out spokes or all them if a new build. I think in my case what happened was this. The spoke end at the hub was ever so slightly twisted or had some bit of grit etc in the hole at the hub and that was the source of my tink sound.

    Also and i know this can happen if a spoke is put in backwards by accident it will also make pops tinks etc nosies double check the spoke ends in your hub to make sure none are flipped around

  9. #9
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edp773
    After spokes are adjusted it is normal for some creaking and popping while the rim and spokes get seated to their new tension. Normally this noise will cease in a very short time.
    …snip
    Very true, but the noise may not even occur, especially if the wheel has been stress-relieved correctly…

    I've found I've had far more success using a tensionmeter to accurately measure tension than I have trying to judge the tension by the pitch of the spoke when plucked. YMMV…

    - Wil
    Last edited by Wil Davis; 07-16-06 at 08:47 PM.
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  10. #10
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foehn
    So just how accurate is tuning your wheels by ear? Husband's wheels make a ridiculous amout of noise when first starting out for a ride (later they are quiet), but the spokes were checked by the bike shop with a tensiometer (we watched) and were said to be right on. When I pluck various spokes I am definitely hearing a difference in the tone between spokes. Some of the spokes sound way different than the others.
    They could very well be "right on" and look simply wonderful on a tensionmeter, and be perfectly true, but if the wheel has not been stress-relieved, then as soon as any weight is put on the wheel, there will be all sorts of pinging and tinkling and pops and bangs and boings as the wheel settles down, and the spokes loosen up, and start to move, and wear, and eventually break… (and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth… )


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  11. #11
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    I would never use sound to determine when a spoke reached the correct tension, but I have used sound to tell if a particular spoke was way off.

    I agree the popping sound will go away after stress- relieving the spokes. They will also stay truer much longer.
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  12. #12
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    How would you feel about someone tuning your piano using a tensiometer?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by foehn
    So just how accurate is tuning your wheels by ear? Husband's wheels make a ridiculous amout of noise when first starting out for a ride (later they are quiet), but the spokes were checked by the bike shop with a tensiometer (we watched) and were said to be right on. When I pluck various spokes I am definitely hearing a difference in the tone between spokes. Some of the spokes sound way different than the others.

    There is simply no way that even in a perfectly true wheel all the pitches of the spokes would be the same. Every spoke would have to have the exact same mass and length and be at the exact same tension. No spokes, except for radial, vibrate freely anyway, they have other spokes touching them (and probably not at the exact same spot). You CAN get a general idea of the overall tension by listening to a few and seeing if they are in the same general range.

    In practice, even with the tensiometer, not all the spokes will be at the EXACT same tension. The components just aren't made to such exacting tolerances.

  14. #14
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    So what do you all mean by stress relief with the spokes on a wheel? Riding it and letting everything settle in for a while?

    When my husband rode with me saturday, he had had this new wheel on his bike for about a week after having the wheel replaced under warranty(the old wheel had started to pull a spoke nipple out of the rim). As of last Saturday he had al least 100 miles on the new wheel after the tensiometer test and about 250 since he originally picked it up.

    Is there anything else that we might try to quiet things up? I am about ready to ask the LBS owner to go out with my husband for a short while (of course when husband's bike is cold) so he can really hear what is going on.
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  15. #15
    hill hater nova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foehn
    So what do you all mean by stress relief with the spokes on a wheel? Riding it and letting everything settle in for a while?

    When my husband rode with me saturday, he had had this new wheel on his bike for about a week after having the wheel replaced under warranty(the old wheel had started to pull a spoke nipple out of the rim). As of last Saturday he had al least 100 miles on the new wheel after the tensiometer test and about 250 since he originally picked it up.

    Is there anything else that we might try to quiet things up? I am about ready to ask the LBS owner to go out with my husband for a short while (of course when husband's bike is cold) so he can really hear what is going on.

    Its also called press stressing. Its basically finding where each spoke overlaps another and flexxing it a bit then putting back in and tightening/tensioning it. This way the idea is it wont need to flex after the rim is trued up and ready to ride.

    You dont have to do it and can just let the spokes stress releive them self after a while. But doing it this ways means you need to find each spoke that becomes loose from haveign the stress releived. If you chose to ignore it then youll start having spkes snap.

  16. #16
    Curmudgeon Wil Davis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foehn
    So what do you all mean by stress relief with the spokes on a wheel? Riding it and letting everything settle in for a while?

    When my husband rode with me saturday, he had had this new wheel on his bike for about a week after having the wheel replaced under warranty(the old wheel had started to pull a spoke nipple out of the rim). As of last Saturday he had al least 100 miles on the new wheel after the tensiometer test and about 250 since he originally picked it up.

    Is there anything else that we might try to quiet things up? I am about ready to ask the LBS owner to go out with my husband for a short while (of course when husband's bike is cold) so he can really hear what is going on.
    Here's Sheldon "Wheel Man" Brown's take on the subject of seating and stress-relieving wheels. What you're hearing as your husband rides is the spokes moving and settling in, so you might say that the wheel is being stress-relieved as he rides; but the problem then is that as he rides, the spokes will loosen, and the wheel will lose its trueness, and to keep riding will certainly not improve things, and eventually might even lead to a collapsed wheel; so the stress-relieving is done as part of trueing the wheel, which is an iterative process, and is done before the wheel is ridden.

    Your comment about the old wheel sounds like there was a problem with the rim. How heavy is your husband? What style of riding (road, off-road, kerb-whacking, stump-jumping…)? What sort of bike? What brand hub/spokes/rim?

    - Wil

    PS: Sometimes noises can be deceptive; are you sure that the noise you're hearing is coming from the wheel?
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