I was doing some maintenance on my 29er today and found a couple of loose spokes on my rear wheel. Like no tension whatsoever. Is it possible for me to get this wheel to you sometime to get it looked at?
Crrrraaaaapppppp. That was a message from Keith, who I built some Arch EX/Shimano XT wheels for about six months back. Immediately the wheels started turning in my head.
Did I not build them with enough tension?
Did he bend the rim?
What did I do wrong?
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?!?
I got in touch with Keith to arrange for me to get the wheel and look it over and I asked a few questions. He didn't remember hitting it hard on anything. And no, the loose spoke isn't on the non-drive side, it's on the drive side.
What?? That didn't make any sense at all. You see, the non-drive side (NDS) spokes only have about 60% the tension of the drive side (DS) on a rear wheel. That means the NDS spokes only have 60% of the load capacity of the DS. So, if the tension is too low, and the load capacity is exceeded, it'll be the NDS spokes that go slack and have their nipples loosen first. So how in the world was there a loose spoke on the drive side of Keith's wheel??? I was perplexed. We were both going to the SORBA-CSRA meeting so he was going to bring the wheel then.
A day or so after getting Keith's e-mail I received this Facebook message from Kai:
Hey while looking over the bike I noticed a slight wobble in the front rim. How bad does it need to be before I make an appointment with The Wheel Doctor?Man! Talk about a kick in the balls! Two back to back? What in the world was going on? We swapped some messages, Kai said the wobble is tiny, he just wants to keep the wheels perfect because he really likes them. Fair enough. I was hoping it was just an optical illusion, maybe the tire is just wobbly - most tires aren't perfectly straight. He was going to bring it over on the weekend.
Saturday I met up with a few other riders and we did a little ride through the woods. And of all the people to run into, we ran into Kai! He spun his wheel for me, and sure enough it looks pretty dang straight to me. I'm guessing it's just a slightly wobbly tire, the wheel itself is fine.
That's it for this update. Keep turning those pedals!