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Do You Need Washers On Spoke Nipples?-Here’s what you need to know

Washers are inserted within the spoke nipple head of the spokes and also on the other hub flange end of the wheels. at hub flange ends of spokes, these washers would increase the durability of the spokes at their bent ends, and also these are helpful at spoke nipple places. hubs have different widths and different thicknesses of flanges, which is the main reason the spokes come out from the flange hub, for these less durable flange hubs mostly washers are installed on the down head ends of the spokes for strengthening and tensioning. and also these are far better for heavier wheels and for heavy riders because these are the extra insertions that would also gain extra load from the spokes and increases the strength of the spokes when the riders ride on their bikes with the washers installed in their spokes.

Washers prevent rubbing of the lower head end of the spokes with the flanges of the hub, but these flange hub washers are small in size as compared to the spoke nipple washers of the wheels. when the load is pushed downward towards the spokes of the wheels, the surface of the washers does not push downward force on the rims because of the design and dome shape of the washers. these washers have also other advantages, more often when the spoke holes are damaged or destroyed the spoke holes bulge or the width of the spoke holes increase, in these cases all the force and weight of the rider and bike is pushed directly on the washers which prevent the spoke holes from further damaging and the washers would carry all the load and prevents emergency crashing and hitting on the trails.

How do Washers Increase Tensioning Of The Wheel?

Modern bike hubs contain shorter or longer flanges on both the drive and non-drive sides of the hubs, which also have smaller or larger lengths of spokes. larger flange hub spokes have a smaller length of spokes and the opposite side which has smaller hub flanges contain larger length spokes. now if you insert these small washers on that side which have smaller flanges then the other opposite side of the flange hub stretches itself, due to which it also stretches the opposite side of the spokes which are installed within the flanges, in such cases when you install these washers on one side of the rim( drive or non-drive side), it will automatically stretch the other opposite side of the spokes and the whole rim spokes stretch and cause tension.

How Washers Are Helpful For The Rim And Spoke nipples?

The dome shape of these washers plays a big role in increasing the life span of the spoke nipples and the edges of the spoke hole on the rim, because these washers are inserted and placed between the spoke nipples and rim surface which resists rubbing of the spoke nipples and rim. these would play a major in increasing the strength of the spoke and spoke nipples and decreasing friction.

Washers increase the lower surface area of the spoke nipples, without these washers all the force is exerting and applying force in the downward direction on these small spoke nipples, but these washers would gain all the load coming down towards the spoke nipples, it has many advantages, these washers spread and distribute this weight and stress and prevents the spoke holes and the rim surface on the edges of the spoke holes from bent and cracking.

When a single spoke cracks or the spoke nipple goes inside in the hollow space of the rim, you will notice the spoke hole becomes wider as compared to the other normal holes, for such kind of spoke holes in the rim, mostly washers are used and installed to cover the width edges of the holes by these washers.


Accurate alignment of washers:

It is common when these washers would not stay correct with the spoke nipples because of the wrong size, angle, and brand of the spoke nipples within the rim, these washers would not work for unsuited spoke nipples, in simple ways these washers are also specific for their specific spoke nipples, they need better alignment on the rim so that the angle of the spokes would be same exactly matched with these washers, you have to make them compatible with the spoke and spoke nipples for better performance, for which each brand of spoke nipples have their own washers which are produced from the company, these have many colors, many shapes and also many sizes, which sometimes may create difficulties in installing them on different rims. (aerodynamic and non-aero rims). material of the spoke nipples and washers would also play a major role in providing tensioning within the spokes and the wheel, if the washers are of aluminum material ad the spoke nipples are of steel material then these would not create a better relationship and these will distract straightening of spokes and also increases friction.

Compatible And Non-Compatible Rims For Washers?

Those weak aluminum metal rims have thin walls and a thin center line where the spokes are installed, it is better to install washers within the spoke nipples but for thicker rims, these are not recommended. including the rims, if spoke nipples have less width and these are much narrower as compared to the thicker spoke nipples then there is also a need to install washers between them.

Washers are also recommended and specific for those rims which have heavier spokes as compared to the thin-bladed spokes and when we discuss the tensioning of the spokes then, those rims which have fewer number of spokes like 24 spoke wheel or 28 spoke wheel and also basically for front rims which contain lesser number of spokes, these washers would have a noticeable performance and it increases tension on less number of spoke rims.

Are Washers Necessary For Rim And Spoke Nipples?

Washers are not necessary accessories to install them within the spoke nipples, it totally depends on the width and length of the spoke nipples, if these are compatible with the material, then you can use and install them, the other main point is that these require mechanic skills when doing wheel building or wheel lacing, if you are a beginner then, mostly these will create length issues of spokes.

What Are The Risks Of Installing Washers Within The Rim?

Washers are 1mm to 2mm in width which surely will increase the length of the spokes when wheel lacing, these washers are inserted at the beginning of the wheel lacing within the spokes, and after that, the spokes are inserted within the nipples. when spokes are installed within the rim, it happens with every wheel builder, you will notice that there are some spokes that are loose and the others are tight, and when you start tightening and loosening the spoke nipples, all the rim will go out of true and the wheel needs to build it from the beginning.

Do Washer Size Matter?

Yes, the center holes of these washers have smaller or larger widths, larger-width washers are not installed within the spoke nipples, and specific sizes of washers are recommended so that their hole width should be compatible with the width of spoke nipples.

Prevent Rust And Corrosion:

Washers are of small sizes, when these are inserted between the spoke nipples, these would fit tightly immovable and when you start riding on dirt trails, muddy and rainy water would penetrate deeply within the washers, as a result within a  few months, these washers would start dispersing and spreading rust toward the spoke nipples and the rim.

To prevent rust and corrosion, in the beginning when you are going to install the washers lube and bleed them thoroughly with the recommended fluids to increase their lifespan.

How To Get An Appropriate Sized Washer?

When installing the spoke nipples, all of the nipples of the rim are of the same size, carry a single spoke nipple with you and go to a mechanic store, and ask them about the same-sized washer so that it would fit appropriately within the nipples, it is an easy way to get rid of the sizing problem of these small washers.

Washers Are Mostly Used For Drilled Holes Of Rim:

Those rims which you have drilled with a drill machine for any kind of purpose like you are retrieving a stuck spoke nipple from the rim, then the holes become larger, for this kind of rims also these washers are installed and their shape is changed in such a way so that the edges of the washers would touch exactly on the surface of the rim around the spoke nipples for better stress relief.


These washers were old discovery which means these were used on old hubs and old rims of bikes, but all the modern and new bike wheels and spokes do not need them and nowadays riders have little awareness of them, another disadvantage is that sometimes these washers would crack and break from the center, which results in the loosening of the spokes and untrue of the wheel, that’s why all the modern bikes do not need their installation.