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Old 11-30-09, 10:41 AM   #1
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Spoke truing

I was gifted a truing stand so I want to start truing my wheels. I sorta successfully trued a wheel on an old bike a couple of years ago but stripped a couple of nipples in the process. I would like to practice a bit before tackling my good wheels. Anyhow, that is where my confusion sets in. I pulled a wheel off a true junker of a bike that my daughter has laying around the back of the garage. Surprisingly the front wheel spins true BUT there is almost no tension in the spokes. They all easily move when I squeeze them. I assume I should tighten them up a bit but how to begin. Should I just tighten every spoke a quarter turn and then see where I am?
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Old 11-30-09, 10:54 AM   #2
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Your approach would be consistent with what Sheldon Brown recommended in tensioning and truing a wheel (see this site about half way down the page: )
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Old 11-30-09, 11:17 AM   #3
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You're on the right track. I always start at the valve stem and tighten each spoke in small equal increments. That way you don't affect the wheels trueness in either plane.

When you are trueing a wheel for side-to-side wobble, tighten and loosen opposing pairs of spokes an equal amount and you won't affect the wheel's up-and-down roundness.
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Old 11-30-09, 11:22 AM   #4
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Yep. Equal tightening turns on each spoke will tighten the spokes without affecting trueness or roundness. Reto Grouch's second paragraph is very important advice.
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Old 11-30-09, 11:30 AM   #5
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If the wheel is true but lacks tension you just need to bring up the tension in small increments until the tension is within it's proper range.

Stripped nipples are caused when you use a poor quality spoke wrench, over tighten spokes (with a bad wrench), or it can happen when you use Al nipples which are much softer than the steel in the wrench.

Many wheels you come across will have been machine built and these are far more prone to having spokes loosen over time as they may have never been tuned up or de-stressed... after proper servicing they may never have to see a wrench again.
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Old 11-30-09, 12:06 PM   #6
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On an old wheel--put a drop of penetrating oil (WD40) onto the Spoke/nipple interface a few hours before attempting to tighten them. Saves a few rounded off nipples. And get a good spoke wrench that fits the nipples. Park Tools do a good one and in 3 sizes if I remember correctly. I only have the two that fit my nipples- a red and a black one.
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Old 11-30-09, 12:26 PM   #7
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The best way to learn how to true is to build a wheel from scratch. Take it all apart and rebuild it for practice. If the spokes are very loose, they need more than a quarter turn.
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