As a rule, cheap machine-built wheels are not stress-relieved, are undertensioned, and the spokes have not been properly "bent" at the elbow... and they tend to fatgue and break after a couple of thousand miles.lawrence said:On my new bike, should I use this tapping method to check for spoke tension? and then if it clunks, tighten it? A previous post said under tension spokes break.
It just takes a bit of work to make them good, though. If you have a rubber mallet, tap on the outer spokes where they exit the hubs... if you don't have one, press on the spokes in that area with your thumbs so they make a straight line out of the hub. Stress relieve all the spokes by grabbing pairs and squeezing, or any method that increases the tension in the spokes. Lube all nipples at the threads and where they go into the rim. Check for loose spokes on each side of the wheel by tapping (as you said) or plucking... I use a guitar pick. Tighten loose spokes until the tone is the same. Stress-relieve again. Bring the wheel to final tension and true.
If you don't have a tensiometer, maybe you could borrow one or have your local shop check a couple of spokes... it would only take them a minute. Generally the drive rear and front spokes should feel very tight.