[Note: this is #19 of a series of 20]
But how tight is right? In other words, what is optimal tension?
About Tension Levels
(1) There is no one correct tension for all wheels. Resist generalities, like “tighter is better.” No more true of spoke tension than of tire pressure. Situations vary widely.
(2) Even with low spoke tension, wire wheels can efficiently support very large loads with minimal flex. Damon Rinard’s famous stiffness test should have put misconceptions to rest. But they’re out there like zombies (… ideas that should have died long ago in the face of evidence or logic, but just keep shambling forward, eating peoples’ brains).
Having tested spoke wire for years and made and sold millions of spokes, I will confirm the single greatest defensible argument for higher spoke tension is its contribution to spoke fatigue life by minimizing moments of zero tension during load cycles.