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Thread: Spoke Noise?

  1. #1
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    Spoke Noise?

    I'm noticing weird random noises that appear to be coming from my front wheel. The sound appears to be the same as when I slide one spoke against another where they cross. Almost like a ping sound.

    About a month ago I tightened the spokes and trued the wheel. I tried to make sure that the spokes weren't twisted. About a week ago I hit a curb head on and went over it. It didn't appear to cause any problem or untrue the wheel. The rim has a single wall construction. The spokes still appear to be tight.

    So I'm wondering what the noises may be and if they are something to worry about.

    Could it be that I had twisted the spokes a bit and the spoke threads are turning inside the nipples?

    Is it just a normal movement between spokes as I ride on the wheel but I just never noticed hearing them before?

    Is it the sound of an impending failure?

    Could it be sand particles trapped between the spokes from that ride through the mud last week?

    Opinions anyone?

    Scott Novak

  2. #2
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    That is usually caused by grooves being worn in the spokes where they cross one another. I don't know what kind of spokes you have, but it tends to happen to cheaper plain steel (not stainless) spokes, or powder coated spokes. If you spread the spokes apart at their crosses you should be able to see or feel a little notch worn in to the spokes if this is the case.

    The only real solutions is to get new spokes. Sometimes dropping a thick oil at the crosses helps, but it is a short term solution. I supposed tying and soldering the spokes would probably help as well, but that's more trouble than its worth.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post
    Could it be that I had twisted the spokes a bit and the spoke threads are turning inside the nipples?
    Unlikely, as long as there is good tension on the spokes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post
    Is it the sound of an impending failure?
    Not necessarily, but I would check the trueness/tension of the wheel.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post
    Could it be sand particles trapped between the spokes from that ride through the mud last week?
    Almost certainly not.

    Typically, pinging in a wheel indicates 'wind-up' relieving itself (essentially, the spoke/nipple unit untwists itself). Still, inspect the rim/spokes/hub for any damage.

  4. #4
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    My year old AC race 29s have been making this noise almost from new. It was temporarily fixed with a professional re-tensioning by AC, only to return, twice. They are still very true (1-2mm) though.
    Currently they sound a bit like a syncopated player piano whose intensity depends on loading. And they're playing a tune that I'm quite tired of...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matty F View Post
    That is usually caused by grooves being worn in the spokes where they cross one another.
    I'll have to check the spokes tomorrow. However, this might be a plausible explanation if it turns out there is any kind of grooving in the spokes.

    On Sunday night we had a good rain. The bike path that I normally take along a freeway and across the freeway bridge was torn up and huge sewer pipes were being installed. I wasn't very familiar with the area and didn't know how to get around the construction site so i went through it. The ground had turned to mud and was mostly slippery clay. I pushed my bike through most of it, and had to carry it it a good way as well. I finally got past the construction and back onto the trail. However my wheels were just covered with sticky mud. It wasn't washing off in the rain. I found a huge pile of snow that hadn't melted and used it to scrub off the mud. Later on during my ride I found a section of really deep potholes and rode my bike back and forth through it to wash off the mud. There was a fair amount of fine grittiness to the mud and that could have acted like a grinding compound between the spokes. I don't remember noticing the noise before I encountered this mud.

    i was planning on building anew set of wheels anyway. I can live with the noise until then.

    The spokes appear to be stainless steel. It's an older Araya rim.

    But I wonder if anyone has ever had spoke breakage at the point where the spokes cross each other? Spoke breakage would be my main concern.

    Scott Novak

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Novak View Post

    But I wonder if anyone has ever had spoke breakage at the point where the spokes cross each other? Spoke breakage would be my main concern.

    Scott Novak
    Spokes don't break there.

  7. #7
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    As one said. The ping is the spoke untwisting from being tightened and not stress reliving the wheel. The pings are a sign of possible improper tensioned wheel and now untrue. Go through and destress the wheel and then check trueness and spoke tension.
    High Ho Sultan, Lets GO

  8. #8
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    Update.

    The noises stopped. But I checked the wheel and it still seemed to be true. But I couldn't leave well enough alone.

    I removed each spoke nipple one by one and greased them. I retrued the wheel. I marked the outside of each spoke with a marker when it was loose, so I was sure that I wasn't twisting the spokes.

    The average spoke tension read 25 on a Park TM-1 Spoke Tension Meter. For a 14 Gauge (2.0 mm) spoke that is supposed to convert to 121 Kgf, which according to some people would be considered excessive for a generic single wall aluminum rim. I have been riding with this tension for at least 6 months and haven't noticed any problems around the spoke holes.

    I also haven't noticed any more noises from the front rim.

    Maybe the noises were spokes untwisting after all. I may not have been careful enough when I trued the wheels the first time. And I'm sure the lubrication this time helped reduce spoke twist.

    Scott Novak
    Last edited by Scott Novak; 05-26-2013 at 06:46 AM.

  9. #9
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    had the same issue with a brand new set of stans wheels. low spoke tension wheelset plus a flexy crest rim. i squeezed the spokes and rubbed the point they cross each other. either the dirt was rubbed off or the oil from my skin helped with the friction.
    i ended up putting some silver anti-seize on them. because it matched and that stuff sticks. hopefully it'll help the last ride i went on the front tire would hit a bump and the rear would ping or pong.

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