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How Tight Should BMX Spokes Be? (Complete Guide)

BMX are sports bikes. They are ridden off-track. So they should be strong enough to deal with those adversities. BMX spokes need to be strong and sturdy.

Off-track racing bikes need more maintenance than regular bikes. It is the wheels that require the most attention in BMX bikes.

How tight should BMX spokes be?

BMX spokes should be tight enough to provide enough strength to the stability of the wheel. If you squeeze the two near to parallel spokes, they should not move more than a couple of millimeters. If they move more than this, they need tightening. It needs to be tight enough to provide a smooth ride.

BMX spokes have to be checked frequently. Off-track racing involves more exposure to dirt, pebbles, and other kinds of stuff. To make sure the spokes have the right amount of spoke tension, check them using a spoke tension meter.

Do not over-tighten them. Your spokes need a little wobble as well to minimize the friction and provide a smooth ride.

How do you know if your spokes are loose?

Spokes are an integral part of bike wheels. These are the strands that hold the rim of your bike in place. Spokes keep your bike wheel firm and help in moving the wheel in a circular motion.

When the wheels of your bike are in good position and condition, they stay in alignment. This condition of your wheel is known as the true wheel. And if the wheels vibrate or wobble when they rotate, then the spoke tension of your bike is loose.

Your bike spokes are loose when your bike wheel is not in true condition. That is, they wobble or vibrate when rotated.

You can notice that your bike spokes are loose if your bike vibrates while cycling.

To check your spokes, place your wheel on a jig. Then spin the wheel by keeping your hand by the rim. If it wobbles sideways, then check the spoke tension of your bike using a spoke tension meter.

The old-school way of checking your spoke is to use your hands. You have to squeeze two spokes towards each other at a time. If they move more than 1-2 mm, they are loose.

How do you tighten BMX spokes?

BMX bikes are off-track bikes. Uneven and rough terrains are the forte of BMX bikes. Due to rough cycling on BMX bikes, its spokes can become loose.

The spokes of a BMX bike need tightening upon checking regularly. The steps to tighten BMX spokes are as follows:

  • Step 1: Place your BMX wheel in a stand. If you do not have it, turn your bike upside down on its handle.
  • Step 2: Spin the wheel and check the condition of the spokes.
  • Step 3: Identify the areas where the spoke needs tightening.
  • Step 4: Check the flexibility of the spoke areas, which are fine before starting the tightening process.
  • Step 5: Use a spoke wrench or a plier and move it anti-clockwise to tighten the loose ones.
  • Step 6: Tighten all the loose spokes at the nipple of the spoke. (Nipple is the screw apparatus at the outer end of spoke wires)
  • Step 7: Do not over-tighten the spokes. Over tightening can cause the spoke to snap
  • Step 8: After you have tightened the spokes, spin the wheel to check its flexibility and attachment with the rim.

It is the tightening process of your BMX bike spokes.

When should you tighten bike spokes? 

Bike spokes remain connected with the rim of the wheel. These parts together give a wheel its firmness and functionality.

To know when to tighten your bike spokes, you have to consider a few things. You have to check your wheel by placing it in a stand and spinning it for any wobbling movement.

When the wheel is not in proper alignment, it will move in a non-uniform manner. Moreover, the spinning of it in loose spoke areas will make a ticking noise.

You can also check the tension of the spoke by using your hands and bringing two spokes together at a time. If they move more than 2 millimeters, then the spokes need tightening.

When your bike wheel is not in true condition or proper alignment, it is time to tighten your bike spokes.

What causes loose spokes?

Spokes are the wire structures in bike wheels. They are connected with the rim by a screw apparatus. That screw is known as the nipple of the spoke. It is the spot of tightening your spoke.

If the spokes of your bike wheel get loose, you have to tighten the nipple of the spoke using a spoke wrench. Loose spokes are harmful to your bike.

There are a few things that cause a loose spoke. Some of them are as follows:

  • Poor built of your bike wheel.
  • Poor or uneven tension on your bike wheel.
  • Absence of enough spoke tension on both sides of the wheel.
  • Improper installment of the nipple of the spoke.
  • Excessive load on your bike.
  • Deformation of the rim.
  • Gouges and dents on the rim.
  • Uneven acceleration or hard braking causes nipples to turn.

The overall structure and performance of your bike wheel are the causes of the functionality of the spokes. Spokes get loose if you do not use your bike following the tension it requires.

Rough cycling, jumping, dirt racing, stunts, etc., causes your bike to land on the wheels. These can cause the rim or hub of your wheel to deform. And this ultimately loosens or breaks the spokes.

Are loose spokes dangerous?

You have to be aware of the condition of your bike wheel by checking it for spoke tension and rim positioning. You will face some problems in your bike with loose spokes.

Loose spokes are not safe. It can cause accidents. You can lose your balance. It can also cause your wheel to collapse.

The rim of the bike can deform if the spokes are loose. And the wheel can wobble or vibrate. It can result in serious handling issues.

Off-track ridings are even more dangerous with loose spokes. In off-track riding, the rider has to jump many times on dirt or uneven surface. If the spokes are loose, this can snap the spoke and blow up the wheels.

Loose spokes have to be tightened to avoid accidents. And if they snap, they have to be repaired as soon as possible to avoid maximum harm.

Why do my spokes keep coming loose?

Spokes can come loose in your bike. It is designed so for the convenience of riders. So that you can tighten it when required.

Loosened spokes make your bike wobble and vibrate. It can cause improper balance on the wheels as well.

The proper structure of a wheel consists of a lot of combinations. The rim, wheel hub, spokes, tubes, etc., together constitute the functionality of your bike wheel.

Hard acceleration and braking also cause the spoke nipples to turn. So, if you are using your bike roughly or for longer times, you might want to check your spokes from time to time.

The tension of the spokes on both sides of the wheel must be the same to function properly. If you land on one of your wheels more, then you must adjust the spoke tension of it according to the other one.

Often new bikes face the problem of spoke loosening. It happens due to uneven tension on both wheels.

Take proper caution and do not over-tighten your spokes. For a smooth ride, your spoke must be a little sloppy to endure the resistance of the riding tracks.

Make sure to know the proper tension your bike spokes need. And tighten them from time to time. Else your spokes will get loose and cause dysfunctionality for your bike.

Why do my spokes make noise?

Spokes can make noise when they are loose. Also, deformation of the wheel rim and the hub can loosen your spokes, and thus your spokes can make noise.

A rattling sound indicates a loosen spoke. When spokes make a rattling sound, it is not providing enough power or stability for the wheels.

Rhythmic rubbing noise from the spokes indicates deformation of the rims. Tighten the spokes on the opposite side of it to eliminate this noise.

Pinging noise from spokes indicates the non-uniform tension on spokes. To solve this, check the opposing pairs of spokes at a time. If they wobble a lot, then tighten them.

Can I ride a bike with a broken spoke?

Spokes can break due to excessive pressure or load on the bike or due to loose spokes. But you can pedal your bike to your destination even if one of your spoke breaks.

It is not that harmful to ride a bike with one broken spoke. You can ride a bike with one broken spoke for months. But the longer it gets, the more damage will happen to the overall structure of your bike.

But this case is different in terms of BMX bikes. Bikes with 36 spokes lose 3% of the bike’s stability with one broken spoke. Bikes with 16 spokes lose 6% of the bike’s stability with one broken spoke.

It is safe to ride with 3% less stability. It is dangerous to ride with 6% less stability. So, if one of the spokes of 16 spokes breaks in a BMX bike, you should not ride it.

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