Spoke tension calculator
- Get the correct spoke tension distribution for your wheel -

Building durable and strong wheels requires correct spoke tension. But before taking any spoke tension readings and balancing out tension on each side of a wheel figuring out the target spoke tension and tension distribution for your wheel is a must-do process of every build. And good news, there is a free tool for the job! Spoke tension calculator will give you great guidelines for spoke tension balance of your wheel. Here are some tips and tricks to use this free tool to its full potential.

straight pull hub
To get the correct spoke length, one must get the most accurate rim and hub measurements first!

Target spoke tension

Spoke tension calculator , a web tool for calculating target spoke tension for each side of a wheel and getting the correct spoke tension distribution for your wheel was born out of SpokeCalc’s original spoke calculator. Calculating spoke tension balance distribution of a wheel is basically based on the measurements of your build’s components while considering limitations – a maximum rim tension.

You see, your wheel hub measurements and rim characteristics (size, depth, asymmetry) will geometrically define your spoke tension ratios – a relative spoke tension, distribution or balance of your tension. While your rim strength will give you a maximum recommended spoke tension not to be exceeded in the final build.

So, before you start adding tension to your spokes and taking readings with your spoke tension meter, you should know what spoke tension you will be aiming for on each side of a wheel. In other words, this is your target spoke tension.

target spoke tension
Required input, target spoke tension for drive and non-drive side of a wheel in the tension app.

From that point on, just translate these actual spoke tension values into your target spoke tension meter reading (a reading on a scale) and you are good to go!

Target spoke tension in kgF for each side of a wheel is also a required input of every tension app, including my new app.spokecalc.io – a total wheel building tool. Calculations of single spoke tension deviations and other statistical parameters like standard deviation, variation and averages will be based on those target spoke tensions, just beware! And once you enter a target spoke tension into the tension app, it will automatically also figure out what your target number on your tension meter scale should be.

target spoke tension meter reading
With the tension chart imported, the tension app will use your target spoke tension to calculate the desired reading on tension meter scale, you are aiming for.

So, how does one get a target spoke tension?

Maximum recommended spoke tension

To get a target spoke tension for your wheelset, let’s first get your maximum recommended spoke tension first.

Most rim manufacturers add disclaimer labels on their rim models stating a maximum spoke tension. It is also DT Swiss’s standard practice, just take a look at their RR511db model. Use a basic online app to convert units and 1200N should equal to 122 kgF, right? You shouldn’t exceed that specified spoke tension or it may damage your wheel. So, this will be your maximum spoke tension, you can afford on this build.

Note: Tighter is not necessarily better. Wheel’s stiffness does improve by adding a spoke tension, but only to a certain degree. From that plateau, you are just putting unnecessary stress on the wheel.

maximum rim tension dt swiss
Read carefully the label on your rim. It should state your maximum recommended spoke tension for the build. Do not exeed this value on each side.

Note that this is a maximum recommended spoke tension, not necessarily a number you will be actually aiming for. There are multiple different factors to take into consideration when deciding on maximum spoke tension for your wheel including wheel side, spoke count, lacing pattern, expected load induced on wheels, single component characteristics and other specific requirements.

For more information on spoke tensioning, read my other article – Spoke tension, The definitive guide to spoke tensioning.

Spoke tension calculator app

Once you have your maximum spoke tension, getting the correct spoke tension distribution is a routine job for the spoke tension calculator. For best results, follow the steps below.

First select wheel side then enter wheel hub measurements, add your rim details and define your lacing pattern. Besides accurate measurements, the maximum recommended rim tension is a vital piece of information here. Basically, the process is almost identical as using a spoke calculator.

spoke tension calculator
The process of getting the correct spoke tension distribution is almost identical as using a regular spoke calculator.

Once you enter data, press on Calculate button and you should get results - a guideline spoke tension for each side of the wheel. Now look in your spoke tension meter spoke conversion table and find out your target readings.

spoke tension calculator results
Target spoke tension for each side of the wheel. Use it as a reference when tensioning the wheel!

You can also use the calculated left and right side spoke tension as a target spoke tension in the new tension app (the link below).

Note: the calculated results are just mathematical guidelines. They may vary from the actual spoke tension, you will actually use on your wheel.

For more detailed summary and visualisation, click on the button with a chart icon below calculations. You will see left and right tension, tension ratios, bracing angles etc. I suggest you tweak your measurements or lacing pattern a little and see what it comes out. You will be able to compare different components and tailor your wheelset to suit specific needs. Enjoy using this free spoke tension calculator!

spoke tension calculator results
Summary page of this free spoke tension calculator tool.

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NEW!!! We've just released a total wheelbuilding tool. Calculate spoke length, save components, calibrate tension meter and use tension app.