Ask a Mechanic | Spoke Windup Solutions

Question: I tried re-dishing my wheel following your instructions and everything came out great, but after one ride my wheel ended up pretty far out of true. I know that I turned each spoke the same amount. What went wrong? From: Kyle

Answer: What is happening is that when you turn the spoke nipple, it isn’t tightening onto the threads of the spoke, but is instead just twisting the spoke and winding it up. Double and triple butted spokes are especially prone to winding up.  Spoke wind up will throw off your wheel true by making the spoke tight until you go on a ride where the spoke is unloaded and it unwinds back to a lower tension. Lubing the spoke and nipple interface helps, but won’t cure the problem.

If you have bladed spokes us a bladed spoke holder tool to hold the blade straight while you turn the spoke nipple. With round spokes it is a little trickier. Use some chalk, crayon, or another marker on one side of the spoke to gauge how much wind up you are getting so that you can compensate for it when you tighten the spoke. Once you’ve made your tensioning turn, you should then turn the nipple the other direction to unwind the spoke while being careful not to go too far and loosen the spoke nipple. The marks you made on the spoke will help you to know how far to go.

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