Ivo Motycka in the Czech Republic and he has a very interesting question about the correct spoke tension on his Roval Fusee wheels. This is the same for all wheels and is not an easy answer, read on:
I need to know the tenseness for a new spokes Roval Fusee Star E5 (front and rear).
Thank you very much.
The best answer I can give you is “the correct tension” let me explain why:
The correct tension
If you buy a pair of cheap factory machine built wheels, they need to be trued after you buy them. This is because the machine puts the same tension on all the spokes. This method gives you a fairly round and fairly straight wheel, but it’s not a great wheel and will need looking at after a few rides.
Now the case with a hand-made set of wheels is the following. The wheel builder feels the tension on each spoke and looks at the shape of the rim. As he is truing the wheel, each spoke is probably at a slightly different tension. This, you could say, is an art. It’s learned over many years of wheel building. You can find that wheels built by different people feel and ride differently because they have been built with high tension or with a softer feel with less tension. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
A tight wheel feels responsive when climbing, cornering, and sprinting. However, if you break a spoke, the wheel will be unrideable, leaving you at the side of the road and. The rim will be under greater pressure, which could pull it out of shape easily if it is a soft rim.
A softer (less tension) built wheel will feel softer, which is great on bad roads. It will not feel like it has a crisp performance, a little bit sluggish. You do find with a wheel with less tension that it keeps its shape better even with a broken spoke, and this could get you home.
Complete wheelsets like the Roval, Mavic, Fulcrum, Campagnolo, Shimano, etc. are probably manufactured by someone at a machine lacing the spokes and them being tensioned to the same stress. Then there will be a technician checking each wheel for roundness, side to side, and centrality of the rim to the hub and putting more or less tension on certain spokes until the wheels are perfect and will pass quality control.
So, the answer to your question is that unless you know what you are doing, then leave wheel building to the experts or learn how to do it by practicing on some cheap and unimportant wheels. This could take you a few years to learn!