Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Truing Wheels with Thin, Bladed Spokes

All of our wheels are carefully built to tight tolerances and appropriate, equal tension. They are stress relieved before finishing. Even so, they may need the occasional tweak with a truing wrench. While I suspect most of you will be taking these to your LBS for such service, if you're familiar with the process and have the right tools, there's no reason why you can't do it yourself. If you've only worked with round spokes in the past, however, your tools and technique may need to be adjusted.

Thin, bladed spokes like the SAPIM CX-Ray that we use must be held in place when turning the nipple. Otherwise, the spoke will just twist right along with the nipple. Sapim does make a tool for this, but in my opinion, it's an overpriced piece of plastic with limited utility. I like to use it when working with internal nipples on our carbon rims but with traditional nipples, the tool needs to be placed too high on the spoke to really be effective.

The spoke holder I most prefer for this is made by DT Swiss for their aerolite spoke. Since the spoke dimensions for this and the CX-Ray are essentially the same, I find it works just as well for either.

As you can see, this is a sturdy piece of steel that holds the spoke at its base, allowing one to turn the nipple without twisting the spoke, even at high tensions.

As for the wrench, a 4-sided model with clearance for the holder is recommended. I use the Park Tool SW-20 but I'm sure there are others out there that fit the bill.


DT spoke holder and Park SW-20 at work:

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