Whether you’re out for a casual ride or performing jumps on the track, proper bike maintenance keeps you up and running. One often overlooked area is the wheel spokes which center the tire and support the rim. Loose spokes can break and damage your rim, which is a costly mistake. While on a run, this could leave you hoofing it back to civilization with your bike in tow. Over-tightening is another concern that can strip the threads and stress the rim. Although not every daring dirt bike woman has an expensive spoke torque wrench, you can use your musical ear as a substitute.
Tap each spoke lightly with a screwdriver and listen to the sound it makes. A high-pitched "ting" indicates a properly tightened spoke. A low-pitched or rattling sound indicates the spoke is too loose. You can also compare the tension to other spokes by comparing the sounds.
Place the spoke wrench over the head of the spoke, which sets into the rim. If you don't have a spoke wrench, you can use an appropriately sized crescent wrench. Avoid using a pair of pliers, which could strip the nut.
Turn the spoke counter-clockwise while looking at the inside rim to tighten the spoke. Turn clockwise to loosen the spoke. This is the opposite direction of standard nuts or bolts, which use a clockwise direction for tightening.
Remove the wrench and test the sound again. If it still sounds dull, repeat the procedure until it has the same high-pitched sound as other properly-tightened spokes.
- If you're tightening all the spokes, alternate between sides to create even tension and prevent off-centering. To use a clock-face as an example, you might tighten in the order "9-3-12-6-10-4-1-7-11-5-2-8."
C. Taylor embarked on a professional writing career in 2009 and frequently writes about technology, science, business, finance, martial arts and the great outdoors. He writes for both online and offline publications, including the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Samsung, Radio Shack, Motley Fool, Chron, Synonym and more. He received a Master of Science degree in wildlife biology from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences at College of Charleston. He also holds minors in statistics, physics and visual arts.