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Old 02-22-06, 10:48 AM   #1
MrCjolsen
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Broke a spoke when I got to work. Do I need to get a ride home?

Or can I fix it by wrapping the spoke and truing the wheel? Is that bad for the rim?

Also, why have the only two spokes I've broken popped when I was off the bike? Does that mean anything?
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Old 02-22-06, 10:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
Or can I fix it by wrapping the spoke and truing the wheel? Is that bad for the rim?

Also, why have the only two spokes I've broken popped when I was off the bike? Does that mean anything?
I'd wrap and tape the spoke and ensure the wheel was close to true. Then, I would ride it home carefully. I'd then replace the spoke at the earliest opportunity. Was it a rear wheel spoke? I would bet it was. They tend to go more often than the front wheel spokes. I would check all the spokes for wear and replace any that appear ready to fail. Properly true the wheel or take it to the LBS for wheel repair. Note: you will likely have to remove the casette to replace the spokes.

Charles
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Old 02-22-06, 11:04 AM   #3
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If you have a 32 or 36 spoke wheel you should be able to ride home. To get the wheel true enough to ride, tighten a couple of spokes on the same side of the wheel as the broken spoke, and loosen a couple of spokes on the other side. Dont hop any curbs on the way home. When you replace the spoke try and get the tension even on all the spokes.
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Old 02-22-06, 11:52 AM   #4
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How do I know if a spoke is ready to fail?
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Old 02-22-06, 12:06 PM   #5
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Yeah you should be fine riding it home unless you've got like a 50-mile commute over potholes or something.

As for knowing if a spoke is ready to fail: it's going to be hard to tell in all but the very worst cases. I wouldn't even bother with more than a cursory inspection (obvious 'cuts' or other signs of stress, particularly at the bends/heads at the hub).

Instead, ask yourself whether the wheel is old? If so, might be time to rebuild it, or just outright replace it, depending. If it's not old, take it to the LBS and explain the situation and have them retension it and replace spokes as needed.

If this is a rear wheel: has the chain ever gone between the cassette and the spokes? If so you might have damaged the drive side spokes and they should all be replaced, as well as have your derailer inspected and adjusted. This kind of event would be fairly obvious and you'd probably remember doing it.
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Old 02-22-06, 12:25 PM   #6
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The wheel has about 3000 miles on it. It's a stock alex AT450 that comes with a Trek 1000. I broke a spoke at about 2200 miles and now this one.

I commute and my rider + bike weight can reach 260 lbs depending on the day and what I need to carry. I cross one bad RR track each day. So the wheel definitely earns its pay.

I've thought about building a new wheel (within my range of skills).
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Old 02-22-06, 12:49 PM   #7
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I've thought about building a new wheel (within my range of skills).
My only wheel building advice:

Patience.
Don't get in a hurry to make the wheel perfect. If you feel like you need to really tweak that one spoke to get done faster, you should probably take a break and come back to it later. The first time I built a wheel, I got rushed and ended up having to start over again.

Good luck.
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Old 02-22-06, 01:32 PM   #8
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How do I know if a spoke is ready to fail?
What 'Nother said is true, it's virtually impossible to tell except when there is extreme damage. And that's not usually why they fail. If your spokes have broken at the elbows, as is the most common occurence, it's because of metal fatigue and stress fractures due to flexion, OR because the spoke head can move within the flange hole. If spokes are undertensioned, they can move slightly in the flange hole and/or flex excessively at the elbow, every time they load and unload--in other words, many thousands of times on each ride! So, they quickly develop the ability to break, and very often it's not a direct impact that causes the actual break.

If two of your spokes have done this now, then there may very well be many others on this wheel that are getting ready to do the same thing. Ideally, it would be best to buy new spokes and rebuild the wheel, making sure to have proper tension. If this wheel is still under warranty, then I'd approach the shop about replacement, or at the very least, spoke replacement and *proper* tensioning. It sounds like maybe the wheel was undertensioned from the get go. And that's the fault of the shop who sold it to you, if that's the case.
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Old 02-22-06, 01:52 PM   #9
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The spokes broke at the nipples.

So now here is a new question. Dollar for dollar how can I get the best wheel:

I can buy a replacement at a bike shop for around $60. It would be basically the same as what came with the bike. Then I would have a spare to use on the trainer. But I don't ride my trainer that much. I mainly use it for bike storage and adjustment.

Or I can get new (and hopefully better) spokes and rebuild my wheel. With the same rim. I might have to pay an lbs to do the final truing and tensioning.

Or I can get a $30 Mavic MA3 and build a new wheel. Would that be better than using the Alex AT450?
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Old 02-22-06, 02:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MrCjolsen
The spokes broke at the nipples.

So now here is a new question. Dollar for dollar how can I get the best wheel:

I can buy a replacement at a bike shop for around $60. It would be basically the same as what came with the bike. Then I would have a spare to use on the trainer. But I don't ride my trainer that much. I mainly use it for bike storage and adjustment.

Or I can get new (and hopefully better) spokes and rebuild my wheel. With the same rim. I might have to pay an lbs to do the final truing and tensioning.

Or I can get a $30 Mavic MA3 and build a new wheel. Would that be better than using the Alex AT450?
Depends on how much you value your time and/or how skilled you are at wheelbuilding. I would love to have the time to build, tension, etc. etc. my own wheels but the fact is, it takes some time to learn how to do it well. It's not terribly difficult, technically, but it requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. Personally I'd rather ride on the wheels than burn half a day building and truing them.

My solution was to pick up some new pre-built (probably "machine" built) wheels at Performance and have the shop guys inspect and true them before I even rang them up (I just picked them off the rack and said, "hey, would you mind checking this for true before I buy it?" and they willingly obliged).

I have a truing stand in my shop that I use for minor incidents, but for more major stuff it's off to the LBS.
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