What size spoke key should I get?

contadino

Über Member
Location
Chesterfield
Could someone tell me/point me to an explanation in plain English of how spoke keys/spokes are measured? I'm running 630 wheels from 1980 if that has any bearing..

Looking to put a key in my saddle bag for when I have to true a wheel mid-adventure.

Many thanks.
 
Location
Loch side.
Nipples are square and measured across the square i.e. 3.2mm. If the nipple measures 3.2mm, a 3.2mm spoke key is very, very tight, get a 3.25 mm spoke key. It's a little bit like a 19mm spanner which fits on a 19mm hex bolt head.

If the nipples are brass, you can safely "oversize" the spanner. If the nipples are aluminium, you can't.

Most quality nipples are 3.2mm and require a 3.25mm spanner.
 

Hacienda71

Mancunian in self imposed exile in leafy Cheshire
No doubt they are considered a bit rubbish by the purists, but I have found the round ones you get in the generic bike tool kits which fit multiple sizes nipples work fine.
 

migrantwing

Veteran
Have/had the same dilemma myself. Tried measuring my spoke nipples with a vernier caliper and was getting between 3.2-3.8mm. (The caliper isn't the best.) I gambled on a 3.25mm Spokey wrench...fingers crossed it works when it arrives....
 

accountantpete

Legendary Member
Photo Winner
Nipples very slightly in size - a quick google suggests

Specialist makers (Swiss DT and Sapim etc) 3.23mm
European makers 3.30mm
Asian - 3.45mm

You should try to get the correct spoke key for the nipples you have as a smaller key will wear the nipple and too large a key will round the edges.
 
Location
Loch side.
View attachment 87975

The 3.25mm Spokey I ordered arrived this morning. It seems to be a snug fit so I'm guessing the spoke nipples on my wheels run at 3.23mm, as you've mentioned, @accountantpete and @Yellow Saddle
The best of the best. I have one Spokey that must have built 1500 wheels and it is still perfect. It's the yellow one, slightly bigger but yours is good for brass and alu nipples.

Remember, hard-core mechanics wear it around their neck on a leatherette thong made from woven recycled handlebar tape.
 

Smurfy

Naturist Smurf
I've got three spoke keys, Sapim (3.45mm), Park (3.23mm) and Spokey (3.25mm). Unless you have a seized spoke (you did remember to grease the threads when building didn't you?) I find a spoke key that is very snug on the nipple significantly adds to the amount of time to build and true a wheel.

The Park is very tight, and I wouldn't bother with it unless I had a seized spoke. The Sapim is rather loose for 3.2mm nipples, but will turn ok on new lubricated threads. The spokey is a nice fit for 3.2mm nipples.
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/park-tool-four-sided-spoke-wrench-prod19837/
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/spokey-red-for-euro-us-spokes-prod12838/
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/sapim-14g-nipple-key-345-prod26860/
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
Could someone tell me/point me to an explanation in plain English of how spoke keys/spokes are measured? I'm running 630 wheels from 1980 if that has any bearing..

Looking to put a key in my saddle bag for when I have to true a wheel mid-adventure.

Many thanks.
...there are only two common sizes for older wheels so you could just buy both! Generally there are 3 sizes (US, Euro, Asia) but modern expensive wheels now often require many 'special' sizes.
 

e-rider

crappy member
Location
South West
I've got three spoke keys, Sapim (3.45mm), Park (3.23mm) and Spokey (3.25mm). Unless you have a seized spoke (you did remember to grease the threads when building didn't you?) I find a spoke key that is very snug on the nipple significantly adds to the amount of time to build and true a wheel.

The Park is very tight, and I wouldn't bother with it unless I had a seized spoke. The Sapim is rather loose for 3.2mm nipples, but will turn ok on new lubricated threads. The spokey is a nice fit for 3.2mm nipples.
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/park-tool-four-sided-spoke-wrench-prod19837/
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/spokey-red-for-euro-us-spokes-prod12838/
http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/sapim-14g-nipple-key-345-prod26860/
in my experience, the park four-sided Park wrenches are too tight to actually use - I much prefer the older 3-sided park tool wrenches
you should never grease spoke threads - oil yes, grease no, otherwise the wheel will never stay true.
 
Could someone tell me/point me to an explanation in plain English of how spoke keys/spokes are measured? I'm running 630 wheels from 1980 if that has any bearing..

Looking to put a key in my saddle bag for when I have to true a wheel mid-adventure.

Many thanks.
Mmm I'd guess a 3.25 spokey Pro ( from having rebuult a few older wheels )
The spokey has a nice fit for a range of nipples. DT Swiss as well as the Park Tools are best to leave for brand new nipples because they can be rather snag fitting on old nipples.

I hate the generic ones. Once you find the one you need ie 3.23 you can easily use a bigger size without realising it and it can round the nipple...

The spokey pro is my favourite but I also use the DT Swiss, Park Tools and others. I have more than 10 and none in my saddle bag :blush: but I have one in my keyring. I'll correct that today :smile:
 
Location
Loch side.
why are many wheels built using thread lock on the spoke threads? Grease has the complete opposite effect. Oil will improve the building process but grease will persist on the threads for years
You therefore say that somehow the oil will disappear after time whereas grease will persist for ever. In my experience, the lubricating effect of oil on a spoke before building allows the nipple to move freely even a few years after the build. Grease on the other hand, hardens, but not enough to lock the nipple either. Several years later a greased nipple can be turned as on day one.

The oil and grease on a spoke (and rim and nipple) before building reduces friction enough to make the build easy without spoke windup, however, high tension and thread ramp friction keeps it in position for ever, not the locking effect (or not) of the initial lubrication. The exception is where spokes go out of tension due to too few spokes in the wheel, then nipples can shake loose with grease or oil. But that's an incorrectly designed and spec'd wheel and has no bearing on the argument.
 
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