How do I true an FSA wheel?

All high performance, low spoke count wheels are in danger of vibration induced loosening. This is exactly the same as with racing engines where vibration levels are so high that fasteners will try to loosen. The modern day solution to this problem is two fold: correct tightening torque and thread compound. In the case of wheels, torque alone is not enough to prevent loosening. Experienced builders, including the most reputable wheel brands, use thread compounds. If too much or too little is used, there will be undesirable consequences. Too little and spokes will loosen. The most vulnerable are left side rear where tension is lowest. The solution is adding an “after assembly” thread lock such as Loctite 220 or 290. Seek advice before proceeding with your particular wheel. If too much thread material is present, the nipple will be difficult to turn. Make sure the nipple to rim contact is lubricated, because it is the source of greatest friction in most wheels. If the nipple will still not turn, mild heat might help. Use a heat gun with the tire and tube removed. Don’t try this with carbon fiber rims, which cannot resist elevated heat. Don’t heat the nipple area until it burns to touch, only until it’s hot. If thread corrosion is part of your friction problem (did this wheel see lots of bad weather?) then heat is useless. You could possibly loosen the nipple with several days of soaking with a penetrant like WD-40. But most mechanics will simply cut out the seized spoke and replace it.

Spokes with bladed, flattened, or reduced center sections can wind up when the nipple is turned. If the windup is more than 1/4 turn, permanent damage can be done to the spoke thread (hidden inside the nipple) or to the vulnerable transition area where the spoke reduces from full diameter. To minimize this damage, use a strong, smooth jawed pliers to grip the full round section of spoke near the nipple. No one makes a dedicated tool, you’ll have to use something in your toolbox that is both strong and does minimum damage to the spoke surface. Mechanics have been doing this for decades. If you have questions, contact us.

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