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Park Spoke Tension Meter vs. 20 inch Wheel Spokes

Obviously, the good folks at Park Tool never anticipated a three-cross spoke pattern on a 20 inch wheel:

Park Tool Spoke Tension Meter vs 406 wheel

Park Tool Spoke Tension Meter vs 406 wheel

It’s my trusty Park Tool TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter, unchanged since shortly after the turn of the millennium.

For future reference, the rebuilt wheel┬áspoke tensions came out around 25, slightly lower than the 27-ish I measured on Mary’s bike; it didn’t occur to me to measure the tension until after I’d relaxed the spokes. I’ll ride it for a while before doing any tweakage.

The spoke pattern is pretty close to four-cross, due to the large-flange Phil Wood hubs:

Tour Easy Front Spoke Pattern

Tour Easy Front Spoke Pattern

Which makes for a hella-strong wheel, particularly seeing as how it’s very lightly loaded. The Tour Easy we got for our lass came with a radially spoked rim around a Phil hub.

I transferred the hub and laced spokes intact to the new rim by the simple expedient of duct-taping the spokes into platters, removing the nipples, stacking the rims, sliding the spokes across into their new homes, reinstalling the nipples, then tightening as usual.

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  1. #1 by Jason Doege on 2018-08-03 - 08:35

    Question about tensioning spokes: when the tension is matched does the tone when you strike (or pluck) them match? Could you use that to balance the tension if you lacked a meter?

    • #2 by Ed on 2018-08-03 - 08:58

      In theory, yes, but (in practice) I’m tone-deaf … [sigh]

      I’ve never finished at equal tension all around, even with the wheel true / round / dished within a fractional millimeter. Without measuring every spoke, they’re maybe 22 to 27 and none sound particularly stressed or slack. After riding it for a few days, I expect it’ll be about the same, whereupon I’ll declare victory and move on.

      • #3 by RCPete on 2018-08-03 - 13:24

        When I built wheels (circa 1995), I’d do uniform tensioning, then rough-true the wheel. I’d measure tension at a couple of places, then finish truing. Seemed to work well with 26 and 27″/700cm wheels. The 20″ wheels in the Zephyr trike used custom hubs with flanges bigger than Phil Woods. I left them alone… OTOH, I didn’t ride the trike much; it was A Bad Idea to buy the prototype. Some bugs weren’t fixable. [yikes]

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