How to Re-Spoke a Bike Wheel

Written by melanie avila
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How to Re-Spoke a Bike Wheel
(Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Riding on a bicycle with weakened or broken spokes can damage the wheel and cause injury. If your bicycle spokes need to be replaced, stop using the bike and fix it as soon as possible. Replacement spokes are available at most bicycle stores, as are the necessary tools, and store employees can replace the spokes if you are unable to do it yourself.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tire iron
  • Replacement spokes
  • WD-40 or lightweight oil (if necessary)
  • Spoke wrench
  • Tire pump

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  1. 1

    Remove the wheel from the bicycle. Most bikes have a quick-release system that releases the wheel with the flip of a lever.

  2. 2

    If the wheel does not quick-release, remove the axle nuts and any safety device beneath the nuts, avoiding the brake pads. The brakes may separate slightly to allow easier removal of the tire.

  3. 3

    Lay the wheel on one side. Note the pattern, or "lacing," of the spokes, including how they overlap. This is important for reassembly.

  4. 4

    Work your way around one side of the rim, loosening the spokes gradually to prevent the rim from losing its shape.

  5. 5

    Unscrew one spoke completely from the rim, and remove it from the flange (the centre piece of the wheel).

  6. 6

    Insert a new spoke. Take care to replicate the lacing pattern of the remaining spokes.

  7. 7

    If the spoke or nipple does not slide easily, apply WD-40 to all pieces as well as to the spoke hole.

  8. 8

    Screw the spoke into the nipple (on the rim), but do not tighten.

  9. 9

    Connect the spoke to the flange. If you replace one spoke at a time, it will be clear where the new spoke should go.

  10. 10

    Repeat steps 4 through 9, rotating the wheel clockwise until you've replaced all the spokes.

  11. 11

    Turn the wheel over, and repeat steps 4 through 9.

  12. 12

    Use the spoke wrench to tighten connections at both ends of every spoke. Do not over-tighten, or there will be too much tension, which could damage the spokes or rim.

Tips and warnings

  • Bring an existing spoke or the entire wheel into a bike shop to ensure that you purchase the correct size of spokes. Rear wheels sometimes have two different sizes.
  • If a spoke breaks and you must continue riding, tighten the adjacent spokes and twist the broken piece around one of them until you get to your destination.

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