Date: 17-01-22  Time: 08:09 am

Author Topic: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters  (Read 212 times)

Slaninar

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Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« on: 12 January 2022, 08:43:55 am »
Suppose it doesn't hurt to ask - in case there are any motorbike wheel builders among the members:


Could you recommend a set of spoke keys, and tension meters (I suppose this is done by measuring the tightening torque, with all the cons of such a method) for building motorcycle wheels?


Preferably available in Germany, but the UK works fine too - USA is a bit cost-prohibitive due to shipping costs bein over the roof in most cases, for whatever reason (guess they don't like Serbia very much :)  ).
Most things done in a hurry need to be done again - patiently.

Gnasher

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Re: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« Reply #1 on: 14 January 2022, 09:46:37 am »
I've rebuilt a fair few while doing restorations, I've never used a tension meter.  It's not like torquing down a head. or doing up a bolt, there's just too many variables, each will be slightly more or less than the next, within reason.   

I tighten each spoke down to have showing a couple threads showing, once all done then check how they feel, often you have to tighten until there's one or no thread showing on some or all.

What's more important is keeping the hub/rim central, then start to true the wheel, both up/down and left/right or runout, that is all a balancing act.  Providing the all the spokes are straight, same length, including the threads, the rim/hub is true, how tight each spoke is really doesn't matter as they won't be far from each other.  Remember no more than half a turn on any spoke when tightening/adjusting, and take your time.  It really is a by feel/experience job, it's why it cost so much to get them rebuilt. 

Once it all true, they will need checking after 500 miles or so and then periodically, lack of the latter is what wrecks them long term.   


       
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Slaninar

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Re: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« Reply #2 on: 14 January 2022, 11:24:50 am »
I've rebuilt a fair few while doing restorations, I've never used a tension meter.  It's not like torquing down a head. or doing up a bolt, there's just too many variables, each will be slightly more or less than the next, within reason.   

I tighten each spoke down to have showing a couple threads showing, once all done then check how they feel, often you have to tighten until there's one or no thread showing on some or all.

What's more important is keeping the hub/rim central, then start to true the wheel, both up/down and left/right or runout, that is all a balancing act.  Providing the all the spokes are straight, same length, including the threads, the rim/hub is true, how tight each spoke is really doesn't matter as they won't be far from each other.  Remember no more than half a turn on any spoke when tightening/adjusting, and take your time.  It really is a by feel/experience job, it's why it cost so much to get them rebuilt. 

Once it all true, they will need checking after 500 miles or so and then periodically, lack of the latter is what wrecks them long term.   


     


I've built what could be called "a lot" of bicycle wheels. And read all I could find regarding the mechanics and engineering of it (the theoretical side).
All that (theory + experience) lead me to this conclusion:


If spokes on the same side of the hub have tension within +-10% difference between each other
and if the total spoke tension is high enough for the spokes to not go slack (and have the nipples start unwinding),
a wheel can last for decades. No spokes breaking, no coming out of true ("touch-ups").


The problem I face with building motorcycle wheels is:
a) not having a wide enough wrench to minimize any nipple damage, especially when unlacing old wheels with stuck nipples.
b) not being able to more accurately confirm if I've gotten the spoke tensions to be equal enough (I see no way of being able to measure the absolute values to confirm that the total tension is not too low, or too high - so guess-work is left there).


For now, motorcycle wheels I've built or serviced, have worked fine, using a method similar to what you've described.
Likewise, measuring tension by measuring nipple tightening torque is very far from being precise.


So, using a guitar pluck to judge the tension evenness by the tone is more precise, but I'm not very "musical" so it takes a lot of time and effort. Wanted to see if the torque wrench would get me close enough when the threads and nipple seats are properly lubricated (to make the reading as uniform as possible - and to make the tightening easier on the nipples).


They say a fool and his money are soon parted.  :)  I've been looking at this:
https://www.warp9racing.com/product/spoke-torque-wrench-kit/


« Last Edit: 14 January 2022, 11:26:07 am by Slaninar »
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Grahamm

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Re: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« Reply #3 on: 14 January 2022, 01:00:47 pm »
I've never done motorcyle wheels with spokes, but I've had to re-true bicycle wheels a couple of times and I just used a "spoke key" which is a metal disc with different sized slots to turn the adjuster.

As for checking the tension, I just put the key resting on the spokes, spun the wheel and listened for the "ting" as it tapped each one. If I heard "ting, ting, ting, tunk, ting", I'd know that one needed a bit more tightening.

Obviously, this isn't exactly precise, so, if you prefer, use a torque meter or similar :thumbup

Gnasher

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Re: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« Reply #4 on: 14 January 2022, 01:52:46 pm »
It's not an exact, as I've already pointed out there are too many variables for each spoke to be exactly the same torque. 

Motorcycle spokes are initially tighten at their base on the inner side of the rim, either via torx or allen key and can be undone in the same way.  Yes you will need a correctly sized spanner or you can shell out for a kit such as you've shown, it's your money.

A cheaper one can be had here [url]https://www.24mx.co.uk/motocross-accessories/tools_c91/tyre--rim-tools_c1619/proworks-spoke-torque-wrench-set-2-7nm_pid-PIA-209396?gclid=CjwKCAiA24SPBhB0EiwAjBgkhnMq9x1aCkE7rp5Eh4w9RQopN69X_pu8G094Krd8LBRwtMFqpngE_hoCMz4QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds/url]

How accurate it is, who knows. 

Providing all the spokes are the same type/length and not bent, the rim and hubs are good, no spoke nut should be more than the a few mm different from each other, once the rim/hub are running true. 

The skill comes in being able to achieve the balancing act, that comes form a lot of patience and experience.     
Later

Slaninar

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Re: Motorcycle spoke keys and tension meters
« Reply #5 on: 14 January 2022, 09:28:24 pm »
I've never done motorcyle wheels with spokes, but I've had to re-true bicycle wheels a couple of times and I just used a "spoke key" which is a metal disc with different sized slots to turn the adjuster.

As for checking the tension, I just put the key resting on the spokes, spun the wheel and listened for the "ting" as it tapped each one. If I heard "ting, ting, ting, tunk, ting", I'd know that one needed a bit more tightening.

Obviously, this isn't exactly precise, so, if you prefer, use a torque meter or similar :thumbup


For bicycle spokes, I have a high quality, very precise, tension meter (my list of wheel building tools).


The process you described is very precise in determining any difference in spoke tension (though, calculating the exact tension from the tone is not as easy for me, and can be determined by feel for bicycle wheels at least with some experience). It's probably more precise than using nipple turning torque to measure it.
However, I'm very bad at recognizing different tones. Worse than most people. So for me, a tension meter might be a good idea - probably more precise in practice, than using the plucking method. Motorcycle spokes are often a lot shorter and a "bicycle" spoke tension meter can't fit them properly, even if I made one with a stronger spring, more fitting for thicker motorcycle spoke measurement.


The biggest challenge when it comes to motorbike wheels is when I only get a hub and a rim - so I have to calculate the optimal spoke length, but I can't be certain that it's enough to get the spokes level with the nipple end, or similar - because my calculation might have been off by a mm, or even two! For those occasions, having some idea of the total spoke tension is important. The plucking method is next to useless for that (OK, plucking a spoke and measuring the frequency, knowing the spoke's length and width, can let one calculate ballpark tension, but it's a long and tedious process in practise - for me at least).
For now, in such instances, I have to rely on my feel for the resistance when turning the nipples. But I suppose a torque wrench used for that would be more precise (or less imprecise :) ).


@Gnasher:
bookmarked the Proworks set - thank you  :)
Most things done in a hurry need to be done again - patiently.