Commuting - Rear wheel problems - respoke it?
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So I've got a just over a year old Novara Randonee tourer that I use to commute on. My normal load is me (215 +-) plus a ThinkPad, toolkit and some clothes in panniers on the rear rack. The rest of the bike is dead stock plus pedals, lighting, and fenders.
About 2 months ago I broke the first spoke on the rear - drive side leading spoke. This week I broke the next one over, drive side trailing (pulling). So I've now used up the 2 spares that came on the bike (mounted on the chainstay). While I've done everything I can to true it (dead true) and even up the tension on the spokes by feel - still I figure it's just a matter of time until the next one goes. I just figure that's the deal once I've broken 2 spokes on a wheel, which I have now done on 3 of my 4 wheelsets on the bikes I own.
The wheel itself is a Tiagra hub, laced 3x with 14ga straight stainless spokes (36 of 'em), to Mavic A319 rims. My thought is to respoke it (as my first wheel build) after I get a tensiometer and truing stand - which I plan in the next couple of months.
Is this a good idea?
Is there some other (cheap) wheel I should consider for the rear?
Consider swapping the hub or rim while I've got it apart?
Am I crazy to try a heavily loaded rear as my first project?
12-15-07, 08:39 PM
I have a Giant Cypress (cheap $300 hybrid). My rear wheel started breaking spokes at about 1000 miles, and I was breaking a spoke almost weekly for several months. Finally I said screw it, bought a new rim and butted DT spokes and built a new wheel. This one has 10,000 miles on it with zero troubles. So I'd say yeah, build a new wheel.
I had never built a wheel before, but with Sheldon Brown's instructions and some patience I had no real problem.
I built a truing stand from 2x4s, a couple of shelf brackets and some aluminum that I cut notches into to match the axle. I put a bit of threaded rod through a junction nut attached to one of the uprights as an indicator. Cost nothing, just junk I had lying around.
I dished it by adjusting things until the rim was just touching the indicator whether I flipped the wheel around or not.
I just built a new front wheel too so I could put disc brakes up there. I never bothered with a tensiometer; a friend said "just start tensioning everything up while keeping it true, and just put as much tension on it as you reasonably can without going nuts; just stop before you start to strip things". I also just plucked the spokes and got the pitch of all the spokes on one side of the wheel pretty close (within about 1/4 step I'd say). ISTM that's probably a more accurate gauge of tension than a tensiometer, at least as far as getting them all the same.
I've even seen resources online for determining the tension of a spoke given its pitch, so you could just use a pitch pipe, keyboard, or tuning device as a tensiometer.
I'm sure I could have done a little better with $200 of equipment, but given that it was a first wheel build, I did it with $0 in equipment, and it's still dead true after 10,000 miles, I'd say maybe the $200 isn't necessary for the occasional builder.
12-15-07, 08:40 PM
BTW, I'd highly recommend butted spokes. It just seemed like a damn good idea to me for a drive wheel to have some flex in the center rather than on the elbow. Every single one of my spokes broke at the elbow.
Both of the spoke failures on this wheel were at the nipple - basically everything that wasn't threaded came out of the nipple. I don't know what that means, but that's what they did.
I've broken some at the elbow on the roadie, but not this wheel.
12-16-07, 08:47 AM
+1 for a new wheel. I broke two on my commuter/tourer on tour while pulling a trailer, and one more on an overnighter with panniers. It was just as someone else said, a 300 dollar hybrid. Get a good wheel with double wall and eyelets, otherwise it will just keep being a headache.
12-16-07, 09:39 AM
+1 for butted spokes. Let 'em flex somewhere else and hopefully that will help with the breakage.
12-16-07, 12:24 PM
My experience is that you can continue to mess with it one spoke at a time, or you can replace it. I have seen alot of this sort of things with commuters pushing 200 lbs and up, and carrying 15-20 lbs of stuff in rear panniers. I really am curius if 1). the weight is simply pushing what a traditional 36-spoke/700c-27" wheel will handle (thus the 40 and 48 spoke versions of old); 2). The un-sprung mass of the panniers is doing these wheels in; or 3). if the higher weights require more attention to build quality.
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