Among all the things that a dirt bike’s owner should care about his ride, probably the wheel spokes are the one given the least importance. Unless looked closely, it’s hard to know whether the spokes are loose or too tight. Whatever the spoke’s condition is, the bike riding experience is unchanged.
But the problem of faulty spoke tightness comes unannounced. Issues might rise when you’re in the middle of a ride, or anytime. But when it does, the results of them can be quite expensive and devastating for your bike. The rim can break if the spokes are too loose, while too tight adjustments can wear out the spoke threads.
In this guide we’ll talk about how to tighten your dirt bike’s spokes in a few simple steps.
How to Tighten Dirt Bike Spokes
It’s actually not that hard to fix loose or overly tight spokes. You need a good amount of patience and correct know-how, which we’ll talk about here. Let’s talk about the steps now.
Step 1 – Sound Testing
Tap every spoke on the tire to check what sound each of them makes. When a spoke is well tightened, it should give off a sharp sound, which is easily recognizable with a strong ting. On the other hand, when a spoke is loose, you’ll hear a muffled ting sound. The buzzing, also, will stop sooner.
Try checking with this sound test. Or another way you can check is by figuring out the sound of tightly placed spokes. Once you’re figured that out, try checking the others for uneven sounds. The difference will be easily noticeable by you now.
Also, it’s important to have your bike stand still while you’re working. It’s best to use a truing stand to keep the bike stable if you have it. You can also secure the bike’s handlebars in any other ways that you like. Whatever the method you choose, it has to keep the bike stable or if it moves, you won’t get best results.
Step 2 – Tighten the Spokes
Take a crescent or motorcycle spoke wrench and start turning the spokes’ heads one by one. The head is where the spoke connects to the rim. If you think the spokes are too tight and need to get loose, turn clockwise. Turning them anti-clockwise will make them tight.
Clockwise movement for loosening and the reverse for tightening isn’t the case with spokes only, standard nuts and bolts also have the same mechanism. Try to use a wrench here that’s appropriately sized for the spokes. Don’t go for pliers since it’s hard to control and adjust the torque force with them.
Use a spoke wrench that has the correct size specification with the nipples of the spokes. There are a variety of spoke wrenches for different spoke variations available.
You can also follow the common method of tightening car lugs here. The method is basically starting with a reference point and tightening every third spoke until you complete the revolution. This method is simple, and easily evens up the torque force throughout the circular rim.
Once the first revolution is done, repeat the same process starting with the next spoke of the previous revolution’s starting point. Once this step is complete, repeat the process for the final time with the next remaining spokes. Once you’re done with three revolution steps, all the spokes will have tightened.
Step 3 – Final Test
Once you’re done with the wrench works, repeat step 1 for the sounds. If all the spokes sound even or nearly even, you’ll be good to go. If they’re making different sounds, adjust the tightness of the spokes with uneven sounds. Keep repeating the adjustment and sound check process until the spokes are evenly tightened.
You can also check spoke tension if you have a spoke wrench that can test torque amounts. Now, to know what torque your spokes should have, one of the easiest ways to know about this is by seeing the bike manufacturer’s guide. You can also contact your bike’s manufacturer to know the specifications for your model.
And that’s it. If you follow the steps well and regularly, you can easily maintain your bike spokes in the best ways.
How often should you check?
We’ve talked about the steps for tightening the spokes. Now let’s talk about how often to check.
If you’ve just bought a new dirt bike, try to check the spokes as often as possible. Not only spokes, check all the components as much as possible and as regularly as possible. Because a new vehicle, though is less likely to have anything faulty, might get into trouble unannounced. It’s better to be safe and prepared.
Also, things take time to settle down when it is brand new. Probably in the beginning your new dirt bike won’t have any issues but still you should check. There could be a problem inside your bike unknown to you and if you aren’t able to figure that out in time, it might cause a big damage to your new bike later.
But what if the bike is old? You can, in this case, try to check the spokes once after and before every ride. It’s not uncommon to see some problems with the spokes after a rough ride. So, checking as early as possible is always a good idea. You can then take quick action and try to keep yourself safe on the next ride.
But these rules aren’t set on stone. Choose whatever timing works best for you. Give equal importance to all the other bike equipment too.
Although tire spokes are mostly overlooked, they’re some of the most vital components of a dirt bike. If they get too tight, the spoke threads might die too soon. And if they’re too loose then the rider might be at risk from the bike’s instability.
You have some ideas about the spoke tightening process now and know how often to check their tightness. If you follow the process regularly, you’re less likely to have any spoke tightness related issues at all.