Below are some questions we commonly receive paired with Woody's wisdom on the subject matter. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions and be sure to check out the Info Hub containing forum links to informative and entertaining discussions.
Q: On BMW Wheels, why is it not permitted to replace more than one spoke?
Woody sez: BMW recommends the 'one spoke at a time' rule because you stand a ghost of a chance at not messing up the trueness of your wheel - by carefully installing the new spoke with a little oil on the threads of spoke (we use chainsaw bar oil as it doesn't fling/wash out as easy) spin 'til you feel it drop into the notch formed by the previous spoke, hold it there and snug up the nipple lightly, then you get a starter punch and tap the head of the spoke to make sure it is seated in the lip. Now you can snug up the nipple so that it has a similar pitch/ring as it neighboring spokes. This is a simple and effective way of replacing your spoke.
NOTE: all of the rest of your spokes should ALL sound the same and your wheel should be within BMW's runout specs for this technique to work. If not you've got more than that one spoke to deal with.
Q: Are you saying that I should tighten the spokes so they all sound the same? How will I know if I am using the right target tone?
Woody sez: First I simply check the wheel in general for any obvious dead ones, mark them, then I observe if it was just an odd one or two, or if there is a pattern to the odd sounding ones. Usually every other spoke on one side or the other, i.e. all the ones that are going clockwise or counter clockwise.
If it is just the odd one or two, first clean, then loosen the grub/set screw with a 2mm allen wrench a few turns, then snug up the nipple with a 5mm allen or T40 torx wrench (early GSs used the allen; all the later GSs use torx) so that it achieves a ring similar to the neighboring spokes, preferably as close to the ring of the other spokes going in the same direction. The higher the pitch the tighter your spokes of course and above all - DO NOT LOOSEN ANY NIPPLES! your descent into hell starts with biting into that apple!!!!! Just concentrate on snugging up the low sounding ones. Remember to snug up the set screws to 1Nm when you are ready to call it quits.
All this of course is assuming you do not have an obvious flat spot and that your rim is generically running true; within the .060"/1.5mm runout BMW states is okay. This should help you keep your wheel together a bit longer! To straighten/true these wheels requires skills and tools of a professional.
Q: Could you tell us how you go about straightening one of these rims once it's unlaced?
P.S. if you value your sanity, I'll say it again, starting out with anything less than a true rim is a descent into the hell you have been experiencing. if you all visualize the importance of EACH SPOKE PERFORMING THE SAME AMOUNT OF WORK, imagine what goes on when you try to straighten the rim from where it is bent, you gotta add MORE torque, and then even more torque to move it a little more in that direction, and before you know it, you have a wheel that has a few spokes doing more work than they were designed to do and others just loafing off, and you apply pressure to the wheel and, the spokes want to even the load out, and the only way they'll do that is by relaxing here and there and you have a wobbly wheel again... whoooops
Q: Can you make my rims tubeless?
Woody sez: We will only make wheels tubeless if they have the safety bead in them, and that can be done with a broad range of custom wheels that can currently be built. We can enhance the chances of you not having to dicker with tightening your spokes and thus ruining your sealed rim by having it SUPERLACED; we are evaluating if it is feasible to re-invent the 950 wheels using the GS BMW series technology.
What has worked before in most riding situations is being challenged by two new demands placed on the existing rim sealing technology.
First, the use of tire warmers by super motard/road racers raises the rim temperatures far above 'normal' use, causing the sealant to soften and then separate from the rim due to centrifugal forces.
Second, the lower tire pressures being run by the off-road enthusiasts. I think that's why KTM designed that lip as added insurance to keep the tire from slipping off at lower pressures, we have machined/changed the profile of the safety bead for those riders that demanded easier tire changing capabilities.
I can write several pages on the many factors that are involved in making rims tubeless. There are so many - the obvious like correct rim selection and IMMACULATELY prepping/cleaning the rim and nipples are easy, it's the little stuff, i.e. spoke and nipple selection. stainless steel spokes and stainless steel nipples? Wow great!! - not so fast - if you don't use the special anti-seize lubricant provided, you can't tighten them adequately, and they will gall and seize on you. Use it and try to go tubeless and the lubricant will slowly work its way between rim and sealant compromising the seal, and on and on.
In creating solutions we have to constantly balance our objectives within the parameters we can live with, and they can be as varied as how much am I willing to pay for this; will this set me up for a lawsuit in litiguous america; am I sacrificing safety for that added edge in competition; etc...
Q: The wheel/tire is not holding air, but I don't have a nail in the tire, what can I do about this?
Woody sez: The tire is not able to form a good seal against the wheel because either chrome is peeling, paint is peeling, or the aluminum is oxidizing. We would descale and paint the wheel.
Q: I'm sending both my front and rear wheel to you, can they go in the same box?
Woody sez: Your wheels may be damaged already, but shipping the pair together will only worsen the problem! Box them separately and wrap them with paper or plastic wrap.
Q: I'm not sure about which carrier I should ship with, any suggestions?
Woody sez: We work with UPS and USPS. If shipping internationally, UPS is the way to go. Do your best to take the chance of a carrier messing up your wheels out of the equation. Wrap your wheels, wrap them again, then box each wheel separate from the other. The small extra price you will pay for two boxes is cheaper than what you would be paying for more fixes on your wheel.
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