Today we'll take a look at a custom made spoke tension meter from Filip Kralyevski to see how it stacks up against other similar quality meters. I will be drawing comparisons from some well known and high quality units like the DT Swiss Analog Tensio 2 and the popular Wheel Fanatyk meters that are based on the Jobst Brandt design.
I should start off by stating that Filip's meters follow in the tradition of Jobst Brandt's triangular body design as seen in the photo above. This design is quite ergonomically sound and fits in your hand nicely for quick and easy working. Your fingers fit through the large holes and the palm of your hand depresses the plunger at the top of the meter. It feels different from the DT Swiss Tensio 2 which uses a plier like design. I find I am able to use both of these without issue, though their shapes are quite different.
I believe that Filip chose the Jobst Brandt design for more than just an ergonomic consideration and I will address that aspect shortly. First off I'd like to talk about the overall build quality. Filip's meters are all hand made one at a time and offer some different options depending on your needs and how much you would like to spend. He does the actual CNC work on the 7075 alloy body himself. On the unit we are looking at today the CNC machining work is pretty much flawless as is the final anodising. The unit pictured has a fine bevel throughout, showcasing some very top quality machining. Though the bevelling work is for aesthetics only, this attention to detail speaks volumes about Filip's high standards and workmanship.
He has chosen to reduce the weight by adding four additional cutouts in the body, which looks nice. His choice of parts also shows his keen interest in keeping the quality top notch. On this meter he has used a Swiss made Atorn digital dial indicator. I can attest from using this tool that the Atorn dial indicator is incredibly accurate and shows great sensitivity even in the range of lower spoke tensions. When making a spoke tension measurement I immediately noticed that I didn't need to make 2 or 3 measurements as I did with my DT Swiss Tensio 2. This is admittedly an issue with my DT Swiss analogue meter. I noticed that I didn't always get the same measurement on the same spoke and I put this down to the fact that the analogue dial indicator was having a degree of difficulty in rendering the exact same measurement on the same spoke. That problem is both time consuming and can cause you to wonder what the precise tension really is. By comparison the Atorn dial indicator on Filip's meter showed the same value no matter how many times I checked. This saves a great amount of time when assessing your wheels.
The next design difference with Filip's meters is his inclusion of a THK linear bearing, something not found on the older FSA or current Wheel Fanatyk meters. This is unique to his meters and is one of the things that are responsible for its ultra smooth operation. The plunger that you depress to take a reading slides along that linear bearing which enhances not only the ultra smooth feel but contributes to the accuracy of the readings. Its importance can't be overstated. The THK linear bearing is a costly addition that comes standard on Filip's meters. This is a level of sophistication that is not found on either the DT Swiss or the Wheel Fanatyk meters or any other meter presently available to my knowledge. That doesn't mean that the aforementioned meters aren't good quality units, but Filip has raised the bar with this innovation.
Another nice detail which could easily go unnoticed lies in the spoke path. The area where you place the spoke to engage the tip of the dial indicator to take your measurement. The two circular end pieces are type 696 2Z bearings that rotate, and are held in place with stainless steel allen key bolts. The rotation of the bearings helps to enable the spoke path to glide along the spoke to where you decide to place the meter. This enables precise and easy placement of the meter before depressing the plunger to take your reading. A simple but important addition. By comparison, the DT Swiss Tensio 2 has only static allen key bolts in the spoke path and has decided to forgo this clever feature.
Its important to mention that Filip has experimented with numerous different dial indicators and he offers both analogue and digital indicators at different price points. Each spoke tension meter is a boutique custom made unit and therefore the price varies according to the different options that he makes available. When contemplating what type of dial indicator you might prefer, remember that the prices can vary considerably. You may be perfectly happy with a more affordable Japanese made Mitutoyo dial indicator as seen on the Wheel Fanatyk meters. Or you can inquire as to whether or not he has any of the more expensive Swiss or German made digital dial indicators in stock. It all depends on your budget. The same would be the case for a specific colour anodising of the body or any other custom options such as fine bevelling.
I should mention that when ordering my new spoke tension meter I was impressed with how very helpful Filip was in assisting me to make the right decision on the dial indicator that would suite my needs. I wanted something different than my analogue DT Swiss meter and I did make the right choice with Filip's help. He's very knowledgable about these matters and is more than willing to help to educate you enough to make an informed decision.
Whether you are a novice wheel builder or a seasoned professional I believe that you will immediately see the benefit of such a fine tool. Its a highly refined version of a well known and appreciated design. Those builders who own or have used the Wheel Fanatyk or the FSA meters will feel right at home with Filip's meter as its very similar in feel.
A purchase like this will up your wheel building game and for bona fide tool junkies it will be like Christmas morning. Filip Kralyevski does not have a website yet, but he can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filips meters start at $250 USD and increase from there depending on what dial indicator is chosen and possibly other options. In my opinion, a very fair price for an incredible meter.
In full disclosure I want to mention that I paid for this meter just like everyone else. I did not receive any remuneration or product for this review.