Why is the proper spoke tension so important?

Find out why the proper spoke tension is so important and why we take a “fingerprint” of each of our wheels before it leaves one of our plants.

«Spoke tension; The hidden force that makes your wheel durable, provides precise steering, and gives you the ability to accelerate.» The art of wheel building is to set the spoke tension as close as possible to the given maximum while keeping the deviation of the tensions between them as low as possible.

Spokes tension without tire
Illustration 1: Spokes tension without tire

Illustration 1 shows the spoke tensions of a rear wheel with 28 spokes. The black circle shows the tensions of the spokes of the right side (drive side) in N and the red curve shows the tension of the left side (non-drive side). Here it can be seen that individual tensions, per side, differ only minimally from each other.

Spokes tension with tire
Illustration 2: Spokes tension with tire

Illustration 2 shows that by mounting the tire the spokes tension drops. The tire pressure presses on the rim and thus has an influence on the individual spoke tensions.

loaded wheel
Illustration 3: loaded wheel

Illustration 3 shows the tension of a wheel statically loaded with the weight of a rider. If the wheel is well and equally preloaded, the load is distributed to almost all spokes in the upper half of the wheel. The tension of the individual spokes increases there. In the area of the contact patch, the tensions of a few spokes decreases slightly. This means that, during a wheel rotation, each spoke is maximum loaded and unloaded once. This happens about 450 times on a one kilometer long track. If the preload is too low overall, this can lead to spokes being completely unloaded. As a result, the spokes can loosen further and these are charged heavier. The wheel is more unstable overall and the material tires prematurely. On the other hand, if the tensions were too high at peak loads, e.g. In a landing after a jump, the force on the spoke would be too high and the spoke would plastically deform. This over-stretching of the spokes reduces the tensions and the wheel loses stability.

DT Swiss Poland wheel building

Only the correct way of building a wheel makes quality components a quality wheel.This is the reason why all wheels are built by hand at DT Swiss. With the highest precision and the smallest possible tolerances, which would never be reached by a conventional machine, every week hundreds of wheels are built up in Switzerland, in Poland, in Asia, and in America by hand.

DT Swiss takes a “fingerprint” of each wheel before the wheel leaves production. In addition to the tension of each spoke, this fingerprint also includes the centricity and concentricity of the wheel. A wheel leaves the DT Swiss factory only when its fingerprint meets our strict requirements. The fingerprint of each wheel is saved, along with the name of the wheel- builder, in our database. All of these controls ensure the highest level of quality in DT Swiss wheels.

You can find further information about the production of spokes on our website.

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