It is the most common problem recorded on every bike wheel, it occurs due to the high weight of the rider, bike, and the stuff that you are carrying on the trails which include tools, pumps, etc exerting pressure on the rear wheel in the form of spokes, which exerts all the weight and pressure of the bike are on the spokes, if the wheel has good spokes then it would run the wheel for a lifetime but if the wheel has poor quality spokes (usually aluminum spokes), you will hear bad irritating voices of creaking arising from the rear wheel.
Spoke noises are not common with a set of new wheels you have ordered for your bike, but if the new wheel is not well installed and well built by an experienced person or mechanic then after a few rides your spokes will lose all of their tension and your bike will suffer from this problem. it does not matter whether the spokes are new or old, but wheel building accurately will matter for spokes.
The point where the spokes are contacting each other and crossing each other in an X shape is responsible for all the noise and it is due to the loose tensioning of the spokes not well mounted with the wheel and flanges.
Usually, you will not hear any spoke noise as long as you are not riding your bike but as soon as you put weight on it and run it on trails the noise becomes way too obvious which is usually due to poor tensioning of the spokes.
How to measure tension in Loose spokes?
When the wheel is mounted and built with the help of all the spokes, then you can easily measure the loose spokes by your hand, you can grab the two spokes on that X crossing point and make them a part bit and then leave them both you will spokes sound when they hit each other, you can easily measure the distance of both spokes in millimeters when you are grabbing them in opposite direction, its an easy and DIY method of checking the tension of the loose spokes within the wheel of every bike.
the more they are easier to be separated from that X point the more likely it is that they are going to make noise or even break.
The other common method, you can push the pedals of your bike and move the wheel by sitting on the saddle, you will hear spokes noise coming from the back, it usually indicates that your wheel has loose spokes which are causing the noise.
Usually the spoke noise problems occur in the back wheel due to enormous stress and weight on the rear wheel
On crossing X point of spokes, you will notice a couple of spokes are rubbing too much even with every rotation of the wheel as a result of the application of the torque. this is a sign of loose stretching and loose tensioning in the spokes.
Also, It can be that the sound is coming from your spokes because you got your wheel recently rebuilt the sound should go away in this case after a few miles on the bike but if it persists then it may be that the wheel builder forgot to properly tension spokes or the spokes were far too low quality for your riding style
It can be caused by many factors for example higher weight on the bike usually taken as 150kg but the torque produced on the trails because of braking and constant vibrations can also cause these problems as well.
How to avoid Spoke noise?
You have to rebuild the whole wheel by a proper method so that all the spokes are tight and fully tensioned. it is complicated, if any of the spokes is weak then change it with a new one of recommended size and quality and check the upper and lower ends of the spokes, after that mount them into the wheel with accurate size and stretch them all so that these would not further create any tension issue in the future ride.
Never ride long mileage distances with the loose tensioned spokes, you can use it for commuting and smooth trails, not for aggressive and hard terrains. these will further break or cause to damage the bike wheel, never wait too long to change the spokes and build a new wheel.
Clean all the spokes and their meeting points with a mixture of soapy water, after that rub them with a brush thoroughly to remove all the waste material from the spokes, nipples, and flanges of the hub, Sometimes the crossing point of the spokes becomes dry and rusty, they need to be wet and lubed properly within the crossing points deeply.
Lube the spoke nipples for better grip and long-lasting to avoid them from breaking on aggressive and rough terrains.
Things Responsible For Spoke Noise:
The center of gravity is constantly attracting the spokes of the wheel due to which loose tensioned spokes would release voice.
If the rim is bent and deformed and has cracks on any side then the spokes would not work better in a single rotation of the wheel and they will capture into each other at some points where the deformity is present within the rim, surely they will make noise, you have to rue the wheel and rim before mounting the spokes and building of new wheel to avoid noise.
If a spoke is broken then it will cause a pinging and ticking noise on every rotation of the wheel, it’s an alarm, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible, and avoid long-distance rides with broken wheel spokes.
After welding a cracked rim or wheel, the tire edges would hardly sit on the rim bead, and if the cracked or welded place is dry then you will hear noise coming from that place, in such cases, you can wet the edges of the tire and lube the rim to make that place slippery and a sliding surface for the tire to get rid of the irritating noise.
If you have installed a bike speed checker near the wheel, then sometimes if it becomes loose and comes closer to the rim and hits rapidly with the rim and spokes, it is usually installed at a few millimeters of distance from the wheel and rim to avoid rubbing and causing a disturbance.
It is also seen that sometimes the suspensions of the front and rear tires of a bike cause noise, when these compress and relax, the cables of the front and rear brakes sometimes stuck into them, due to which the suspension brings the cables close to the spokes and the rim, these will rapidly rub with the spokes and make noise.
The calipers of brakes align nearer to the rim and the spokes, sometimes they will lose their position because of loose nuts and bolts when the bike is regularly traveling on the trails for long-distance miles then the calipers will come nearer to the spokes and cause noise after touching with the spokes.
Mostly it happens, the old cassette and old chain is creating a voice from the rear tire which confuses you, and you will start thinking about the spokes, in such cases, you can change the cassette and order a new chain for your bike to avoid noise.
Mount the derailer hanger a few millimeters of distance from the spokes of the wheel to avoid rubbing and also locate the largest cog teeth of the rear derailer a few millimeters of distance from the flanges of the hub and spokes to avoid touching the spokes.
10 out of 100 riders have installed blade spokes in their wheels, which have threaded designings, although these are good for riding, they are hard and stiff but at their crossing X points where two spokes are meeting with each other, these points will cause noise when the wheel rotates on the terrains, when you lube and give oil to these points, as far as these points are wet, you will not hear noise, after some minutes when the lube sweeps down, the noise arises again, their proper way is that you can wrap rim tape, gorilla tape or binding tape between their contact points to finish the noise arising between them.
A single loose spoke nipple causes loose tensioning which results in losing all the spoke nipples of the bike wheel, single spokes nipples do not affect too much in creating a spoke noise but when all the loosen spoke nipples combine with each other, surely these will cause a big negative effect on the rotating wheel when torque is applied by pushing the pedals of the bike.
An accurate method of tightening spokes:
If you are a mechanic and you have skills in wheel building still avoid this work because in some places even you would miss anything which further needs to be built by any mechanic. it looks like an easy method but actually wheel building is not a simple and easy process, because it is a must to check the tension of the spokes with a tension meter for accurate results.
Spokes do not need a large force when tightening, if you stretch them more than their power, surely these will break and if you leave them a little bit loose they will further produce tension and become loose after a few rides.