How To Tighten Bike Spokes -(Easy To Follow 7 Steps Explained)

Spokes are the rods that connect the bicycle hub and the rim. It is obvious that you may occasionally encounter loose spokes in your bike causing the rim to lose its shape.
This is something that you would want to avoid at all costs. To pull the rim back to true, you need to tighten the bike spokes. Wheel truing can seem simple to learn, but it is a challenging skill to master.

The benefit of wheel truing is distributing tension on all spokes equally, which improves the durability of the wheel and the performance of the bike. Occasional maintenance is also crucial for ensuring the proper alignment of the spokes.

How To Tighten Bike Spokes

 Step By Step Guide On How To Tighten Bike Spokes

The following seven steps will help you to learn how to adjust bike spokes:

1. Get The Necessary Tools:

Before you initiate the process, first check whether you have all the equipment. Your primary tool should be a spoke wrench. It is by far the most effective tool for tightening exercise. Also, it would help if you considered a wrench in which all the dimensions are equal to the nipples of the spokes.

It is vital to map out the measurements of both the wrench and the spokes before starting the task. Check whether the two match, and if not, you should get another wrench. The wrong wrench selection might end up damaging your spoke or loosening then even more.

2. Flatten The Wheels:

After you are done checking the alignment of your wrench and the spoke, now it's time to deflate the wheels. Again, you don't want to risk punching a hole on the wheel tube and causing a huge blast.

Moreover, you can choose to work on the spokes separately by removing the tube outside from the rim. This alternative can be a better choice, especially if you don't want double damage. Things happen when tightening the spoke, and you can find yourself poking the tube.

To flatten the tire, open the nozzle, and the air will move out without any problem. The nozzle is a metal-like piece that seals off the tube.

3. Straighten The Rim:

Before tightening the spokes of the wheel, aim first to straighten the rim. A crooked rim can cause uneven tension on the spokes, making them loose. Also, there is always a possibility of rim bending due to constant use.

Compare the shape of both the wheel to determine how terrible is the damage. A rim that has a warped-out shape can compromise your security, especially when riding on rough terrain.

Take the wrench and place it on any face of the rim. Start moving the wrench slowly while checking on the process. Slowly, revert the warped shape of the rim in line with the measurement of the wheel before going to the next step.

4. Check The Measurement Of The Spoke:

It's time to get the leading business! Begin by checking the diameter of the spoke of the tire of the wheel you are working on. This process helps you to understand the level of tension required by the spoke.

You can use the Park TM-1 meter for measuring the tension. This tool is more efficient and gives you the correct tension needed by the spoke. 

Furthermore, the meter helps to check the measurements of the slots that bedeck the spokes. However, you need to showcase a higher level of knowledge and keenness to employ the tool for this purpose.

5. Confirm The Spoke Tension:

You have already measured the diameter of the spokes in the previous step. Now, it’s time to translate this measurement it the correct level of tension. 

In this process, it is advisable to use the conversion chart that comes with your tension meter. You should be able to identify the spoke’s diameter location and get the relevant tension.

The spoke tensions could change depending on the type of rims your bike has. Some rim (larger ones) might need little tension, while the heavy variants need a lot of tension. Feel free to check on the manual if you aren't sure about the correct tension for your rim.

6. Compare The Tension By Measuring The Current Spoke’s Tension:

Now check the current spoke tension by holding the tension meter in a horizontal position. Squeeze the meter’s handle and put the spoke between the handle. Release the handle and read the tension on the scale.

Now vary the spoke's tension. Reduce the tension if you feel that the readings are higher than average. You can also increase the tension if it is less than usual.

Increasing the tension needs extra attentiveness. First, turn all the spokes in a clockwise direction and keep checking the reading. Repeat the process until you get the correct tension. You can also skip two of the nipples and adjust the third.

7. Test The System:

This process is the final stage of getting your spokes tight. Next, return the tube and inflate it. Next, take a ride and conduct all kinds of maneuvers and movements.

Pay close attention to how the wheels react to the acceleration and the maneuvers. Then, you can do further repair and don’t limit your options. If you still feel something unusual, you can call qualified personnel to perform the necessary repair.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

Q: Which way do you tighten bike spokes?

A: To start with, you don't tighten the bike spokes, but the spoke nipples. It is advisable to do so in a counter-clockwise way using a spoke wrench.

Q: Why do bike spokes get loose?

A: A lot of tension can cause bike spokes to loosen. Also, less tension can cause loose spokes. You should ensure that you don’t tighten the nipples too much because that makes spokes lose tension quickly hence becoming loose.

Q: When should you tighten spokes?

A: You should adjust your bike spokes when you start hearing a rattling sound when riding. Also, brakes acting wonky might be a call for you to tighten the spokes.

Q: Can I tighten spokes with pliers?

A: Yes, it is possible! However, you should be a good user of the pliers because a single mistake might end up damaging the nipples of the spokes.

Q: How to tighten bike spokes without a spoke wrench?

A: You can use pliers in case you don’t have a spoke wrench. Make sure to check the teeth of the pliers before starting the process.

Q: How do you adjust spoke tension?

A: You can adjust the spoke tension by either tightening the nipples of the spoke or loosening the nipples.

Q: How do you tighten spokes on wheels?

A: It is possible to tighten the spokes on wheels by half turning the nipples in an anti-clockwise direction. One of the rules to follow in this process is to be slow always.

Q: Should all spokes have the same tension?

A: All the spokes should have the same tension. Spokes that are very lose need to be tightened to match the tension of the other spokes.

Q: How do I know if my spokes are tight?

A: If you find the rim straight and the bike isn't producing much noise, then the spokes might be very tight. You should enjoy your ride if the spokes are tight.

Q: What is a good spoke tension?

A: It is tough to say a particular value is the best spoke tension. However, for most cases, the average tension is 60 to 100kgf.

Q: What happens if your spokes are loose?

A: Loose spokes can cause accidents. Also, loose spokes affect the braking system of the wheels.

Q: How do I know what size spoke wrench to get?

A: You should compare the diameter of the wrench and the spokes to know the correct size. The size of the wrench should be even to the diameter of the spoke.

Q: What can I use instead of a spoke wrench?

A: You can use pliers instead and make sure to check the teeth of the pliers prior.


Keeping the correct tension for the spokes is quite complicated. Use a standard tension meter to constantly check on the spoke's tension and tighten them when necessary.

Loose spokes can cause unavoidable accidents. Ensure you keep your bike in good condition. Call a professional repairer if you cannot tighten the spokes by yourself.

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