Ride Safe: Checking Your E-Bike Spoke Tension

Ride Safe: Checking Your E-Bike Spoke Tension

The impact of spoke tension on your e-bike goes far beyond the spokes themselves. Just one improperly tensed spoke can lead to a warped wheel or frame. That puts you at risk for braking issues, crashes, and serious injury.

The good news is that you can easily prevent all of that through proper spoke inspection and maintenance. So keep reading to learn how to check your spoke tension, detect potential problems, and make the call to bring your bike in for service.

With correct spoke tension, you’ll ride farther safely on your e-bike.

Safety Warning: Spoke adjustments and replacements should only be performed by a professional. Improper spoke maintenance can result in serious injury or death.

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How Often Should I Check Spoke Tension For My Safety?

Since spoke repair happens in the shop, your only spoke responsibility is just to check the tension. We recommend you check that about once a month.

It never hurts to check more often than that, though — especially if you’re a daily rider. Spoke tension issues can quickly lead to hazardous wheel and frame damage, so you can’t be too careful!

How Do I Know If My Spoke Tension Is Off?

Checking the trueness of your wheel is a quick way to understand whether you might have a spoke tension issue.

Stand in front of your bike. Grab the stem and lift the bike up, holding it steady. Then spin the front wheel. Now look down over the top of the spinning wheel. Is it wobbling from side to side at all? If so, your wheel might be out of true: a likely indicator of improper spoke tension.

A birds’ eye view: testing front-wheel trueness to identify spoke tension issues.

Another quick way to check? Stay in that same position, but tilt your head to look at the wheel from the side. Spin the wheel again. As it rotates, does it look like a perfect circle? If you see any bulges or indents in the shape of the wheel, you might have a spoke tension issue.

A side view of testing wheel trueness.

Lastly, your ears can also detect improper spoke tension! While you’re riding, especially when you hit any bumps or come around curves, do you hear pinging? That’s an indicator that your spokes are probably losing proper tension. 

How To Check Spoke Tension Using Spoke Pairs

What’s a spoke pair? A spoke pair is made up of the 2 spokes that cross each other diagonally along the radius of your wheel. Both outside edges of your wheel have spoke pairs, and you need to inspect every single one. 

First, find your valve stem; that’s the input where you connect a pump to add air to your tires. Now find the spoke pairs closest to the valve stem and squeeze each pair together. Squeezing the spoke pairs on each side of your wheel at the same time helps you feel whether any spokes are looser or tighter than others.

Squeeze every spoke pair until you've gone all the way around the wheel.

Turn the wheel, checking the spoke pairs all the way around. You’ll know you’ve inspected the whole wheel when that valve stem rolls around again.

Every spoke pair should feel roughly the same in terms of tension. So if you feel a pair that’s tighter or looser than others, take your bike to your local dealer or e-bike repair shop. 

Can I Adjust Or Change My Own E-Bike Spokes?

Neither spoke tension adjustments nor spoke repair are at-home jobs. You’ll need a professional to fix any spoke tension issues. 

This comes down to both tools and expertise. At your dealer or e-bike repair shop, they’ll have:

  • A truing stand
  • A spoke tension meter
  • Spoke prep (keeps spokes tight and protects from corrosion)
  • Spoke nipples (hold the rim of your wheel to each individual spoke)
  • Correct spoke size for your bike
  • Knowledge to repair trueness/roundness of a damaged wheel
  • Knowledge to properly replace, or correct tension in, the spokes

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into the science of spoke tension. While there are plenty of parts of your e-bike that you can safely maintain and repair at home, this is one we strongly recommend that you leave to the pros.

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