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  1. #1
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    I fubared a wheel.

    I was riding a replacement wheel from Jamis after my last one was plagued with broken spokes. I was just glad to have my bike back and tried not to notice that some spokes felt looser than others although it was true. After less than 200 miles, I hear a clunking sound and discover a completely loosened NDS spoke. Instead of just tightening it and moving on with my life, I stupidly decided to try to properly tension the wheel. I've read that all the spokes on each side of the rear wheel should sound similar when twanged indicating even tension. So I go through the spokes trying to even out the sound and tightening the spokes. My goal was to get them all sounding the same and then tweak them further to make it true. Well I went way, way too far because the wheel was unable to turn without rubbing the chainstays and even the open brakes. At this point I thought okay I'll just bring it to the bike shop and have them true it. They told me it's beyond hope and I had to buy another wheel for $50. It's also a lower end machine built wheel off a similar bike. So I have lost weeks of riding time to this wheel and $50 and this wheel probably won't last either.

  2. #2
    Senior Member daintonj's Avatar
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    Wheels are always an area where costs are cut. You may as well learn from it and start saving for a decent set of wheels.
    London to Paris - Multiple Sclerosis Trust
    Genesis Vapour ('08), Specialized Hardrock ('98), Emmelle 333 ('8x)
    Full-time Bike Commuter.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'm curious. What happened to the fubared wheel?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    Do you mean how did it get fubared or what did I do with it? If you mean the former, I guess I tensioned the spokes too high so it resembles a potato chip now. The shop transfered my cassette and skewer to the new wheel. I might take off the spokes on the old one for kicks to see how bad the rim is bent.

  5. #5
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    The front stock-wheel for my Trek FX 7.5 was fubared. Not by me - by the dolt who designed it. It's a 20-spoke, 2mm spokes, radial wheel that proudly says Bontrager on it, with hubs that should have little helicopter-blades attached to the axles and be used to stir drinks. And why did Bontrager do this? They think WE think it looks cool - and we'll buy them! Really - they were asked and this was their reply. So I just spent an hour coaxing this rotten piece of idiocy back into true. It loves to go out of true if you even look at it. If you don't notice just by looking at it, you will when the brakes grip the rims on one side and stop the wheel dead in it's tread.

    My point is daintonj is quite correct that wheels are where the bike companies cut corners. And this has the greatest effect on the buyers - you and I - of any major component going out of whack. And you can't expect most people to know how to grab their spoke-wrench and do a proper job of putting it right again when the defective-from-the-drawing-table wheel goes out on you - again. And it costs money to those who don't know how to wield a spoke-wrench. Either it costs money by taking it to their LBS. Or they try to do it themselves and the above happens.

    My suggestion is get the best wheel(s) you can. They may cost more, but they will last with a little care here & there. As for those of us who learned to build and true wheels, it still costs us money. Finally we get so tired of this dance that we shell out $$$ for good rims/hubs and build good and suitable wheels for the machine. So don't feel bad - just get the best wheel you can. And learn about them - how to build, true, what good rims are, which hubs are which - and so forth. We all end up paying, in one way or another, for the cheap wheels some Machiavellian designer pushed on us.

    Anyone want a radial 20 - 2mm spoked Bontrager front wheel? ~~~~~~~~~~~~X
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  6. #6
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throwmeabone View Post
    So I go through the spokes trying to even out the sound and tightening the spokes. My goal was to get them all sounding the same and then tweak them further to make it true.
    That's just bass-ackwards. You should aim for a straight, centered wheel first, then increase the tension by tightening each spoke a little bit at a time. That is:
    1. tighten all of the spokes by 1/4 turn
    2: adjust to round out the wheel
    3: adjust to center the rim
    4: adjust to true the wheel
    5: start over at step 1
    Repeat until your hand cramps (at least, that's my tension gauge)

    Spokes will often have minor differences in tone across the wheel due to variations in rim thickness. Also, the drive-side spokes will have a higher tone due to higher tension. This is normal and expected.

    IMO, cheap, machine-built wheels can be just fine if they're tensioned properly after being built. They haven't built a machine yet that can properly true a highly-tensioned bicycle wheel, so your only choice is to find a competent bike shop that will take the time to hand-true and tension machine-built wheels.

    FWIW: I've been building my own wheels for nearly 30 years. Since I learned to build them with enough tension, I haven't broken a single (undamaged) spoke. That's with my 215 pounds carcass in the saddle.
    Jeff Wills

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  7. #7
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    The front stock-wheel for my Trek FX 7.5 was fubared. Not by me - by the dolt who designed it. It's a 20-spoke, 2mm spokes, radial wheel that proudly says Bontrager on it, with hubs that should have little helicopter-blades attached to the axles and be used to stir drinks. And why did Bontrager do this? They think WE think it looks cool - and we'll buy them! Really - they were asked and this was their reply. So I just spent an hour coaxing this rotten piece of idiocy back into true. It loves to go out of true if you even look at it. If you don't notice just by looking at it, you will when the brakes grip the rims on one side and stop the wheel dead in it's tread.

    <snip>

    Anyone want a radial 20 - 2mm spoked Bontrager front wheel? ~~~~~~~~~~~~X
    I hate those things.

    Had a lady come in with her new FX and a front wheel that would go out of kilter if you breathed on it.

    I was working on my Peugeot which is running some vintage Weinmann wheels and tok the fromt off to make a comparison...

    My 30 year old high spoke wheel and tyre was lighter than her fancy new low spoke wheel and has not needed to be trued in over 8000 km of hard riding.

    She took her bike back and had the shop fit new wheels at no cost (my advice to her).

  8. #8
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Wills View Post
    That's just bass-ackwards. You should aim for a straight, centered wheel first, then increase the tension by tightening each spoke a little bit at a time. That is:
    1. tighten all of the spokes by 1/4 turn
    2: adjust to round out the wheel
    3: adjust to center the rim
    4: adjust to true the wheel
    5: start over at step 1
    Repeat until your hand cramps (at least, that's my tension gauge)

    Spokes will often have minor differences in tone across the wheel due to variations in rim thickness. Also, the drive-side spokes will have a higher tone due to higher tension. This is normal and expected.

    IMO, cheap, machine-built wheels can be just fine if they're tensioned properly after being built. They haven't built a machine yet that can properly true a highly-tensioned bicycle wheel, so your only choice is to find a competent bike shop that will take the time to hand-true and tension machine-built wheels.

    FWIW: I've been building my own wheels for nearly 30 years. Since I learned to build them with enough tension, I haven't broken a single (undamaged) spoke. That's with my 215 pounds carcass in the saddle.
    I know that tension is key but the bike shops I've tried don't seem to realize that. The Jamis dealer where I got my bike kept replacing my broken spokes one by one without adjusting any of the others so of course they kept breaking. He finally just got me a replacement.

    At the shop where I got this new wheel from, I asked the guy who does wheels if he uses a tensiometer when building wheels. He told me that he's been building wheels since before there were tensiometers and he doesn't see the need for them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throwmeabone View Post
    I've read that all the spokes on each side of the rear wheel should sound similar when twanged indicating even tension. So I go through the spokes trying to even out the sound and tightening the spokes. My goal was to get them all sounding the same and then tweak them further to make it true.
    I'm surprised that no one has commented on this yet. On a multispeed rear wheel (or on a disc front wheel) because of the dish in the wheel, the NDS (or non-disc side) spokes will be looser than the drive side (or disc side). If you made all of the spokes on your rear wheel even in tension, you threw the dish way off which was likely the cause of it rubbing the chain stay.

    Depending on just how potato chipped the wheel is, it likely could be made rideable again with some effort. It's likely that the LBS just didn't feel like dealing with a wheel that someone goofed on for fear that they would waste their time and never get it right. I'd suggest retrieving the wheel (if you have not already), taking the tension back down, and then retensioning the wheel and attempting to true it. It would be a good learning experience if nothing else.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Tunnelrat81's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Depending on just how potato chipped the wheel is, it likely could be made rideable again with some effort. It's likely that the LBS just didn't feel like dealing with a wheel that someone goofed on for fear that they would waste their time and never get it right. I'd suggest retrieving the wheel (if you have not already), taking the tension back down, and then retensioning the wheel and attempting to true it. It would be a good learning experience if nothing else.
    I couldn't agree with this more. I too ride the above mentioned Bontrager radially laced 20 spoke wheels...and apart from the first rear wheel completely failing (like so many of these things did) I RARELY have to do anything to keep them straight. I've had really good luck, especially with the front wheel (this is no surprise, front's don't deal with nearly as much abuse, [the following account excluded]).

    I posted early in the season about an experience I had during a crit practice where I was essentially cut off and had someone's R/D jammed into my front Bontrager wheel, ripping out three consecutive spokes on the left side. The Wheel immediately went WAY out of true and was completely unrideable. I worried that the rim was toast after such an extreme experience, but decided to unlace it and take a look at the rim unlaced. It was perfectly straight, and after spending like 10 bucks on a handful of new matching spokes I was able to build my first wheel, in my living room with the wheel on my upside down bike using the calipers for reference. I brought it up close to tension, and was able to keep it true as can be. Then I just took it to my preferred LBS and they simply added 1/4 turn to each spoke to up the overall tension and I was out the door. I've since put hundreds of miles on it with no wobble and no trouble.

    I sincerely hope you left the store with your 'bad' wheel, if for no other reason but to keep the hub for future tinkering. You never know when you'll have some free time and want to try your first build. If you didn't take it with you, go back and get it if you can, before they re-lace it themselves and sell it to some joe-blow fixie rider for 50 bucks.

    -Jeremy

  11. #11
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Tunnelrat81: We were speaking of the Bontrager only as an example of how bad wheels have become a main-stay of new bikes being sold these days. We don't know a name or pattern for the wheel the OP is dealing with. But perhaps we should have a thread devoted to the wonders of these good-lookin' "COOL" Bontrager wheels. The one's that shoot spokes like a Porcupine supposedly does his quills.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    I'm surprised that no one has commented on this yet. On a multispeed rear wheel (or on a disc front wheel) because of the dish in the wheel, the NDS (or non-disc side) spokes will be looser than the drive side (or disc side). If you made all of the spokes on your rear wheel even in tension, you threw the dish way off which was likely the cause of it rubbing the chain stay.

    Depending on just how potato chipped the wheel is, it likely could be made rideable again with some effort. It's likely that the LBS just didn't feel like dealing with a wheel that someone goofed on for fear that they would waste their time and never get it right. I'd suggest retrieving the wheel (if you have not already), taking the tension back down, and then retensioning the wheel and attempting to true it. It would be a good learning experience if nothing else.
    I know that the tension is different on both sides. I meant to say that I tried to make the spokes on each side sound the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tunnelrat81 View Post
    I sincerely hope you left the store with your 'bad' wheel, if for no other reason but to keep the hub for future tinkering. You never know when you'll have some free time and want to try your first build. If you didn't take it with you, go back and get it if you can, before they re-lace it themselves and sell it to some joe-blow fixie rider for 50 bucks.

    -Jeremy
    Don't worry I still have it. If I unlace it completely, do you think I could use the same spokes to try a rebuild or should I get new ones?

    Here are some pictures:




  13. #13
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    What brand of rim, hub, and spokes do we have here? Lordy does that look a bit off! LOL.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    From Jamis: Alex ACE-24 alloy double-wall rims, Formula sealed alloy QR hubs, 14g stainless steel spokes.

  15. #15
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    I'd untension all of the spokes and see if the rim goes flat by itself. It may not be as bad as it looks and you might be able to flex it back flat. If nothing else, it is a great learning opportunity. I am no expert at truing, but I would love to take a crack at that one.

    I think that the LBS just didn't want to have to mess with it. Especially if they have a lot of other work piled up that can be finished with less effort. just my opinion though.
    Old enough to know better and old enough to forget that I do.

  16. #16
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    The wheel has taken on the infamous characteristics of the "potato-chip." This can be an all-day lesson in futility, or work-avoidance, when it is wheeled (wobbled) into a bike-shop. Or your own shop. One can try a simple truing job - and maybe get lucky. It might come back to being near true. Then comes the fine, slow part...Generally what I would do is unlace the wheel and start over. Examining the rim once it's unlaced. If the rim shows as being true and undamaged, okay. Is the rim still looking like a potato-chip without any spokes? Forget it. Suggest a better wheel.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  17. #17
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    That wheel is probably FUBARed, but I would consider it an Oppotunity! (A FUBArtunity?). Carefully detension all the spokes, then remove them (Keep drive side and non-drive side spokes separate - they are different lengths). Lay the rim on a flay surface - like a floor - and if it is close to straight you can learn to lace a wheel!

    There are many resources to this. My favourite is Jobst Brandt's The Bicycle Wheel, which is detailed and very physics-theory heavy. Others could reccomend different resources.

  18. #18
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    If the technical Jobst Brandt gives you a headache at this time of initial contact with a bicycle wheel, try this easy-going style of the illustrious Sheldon Brown:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  19. #19
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throwmeabone View Post
    He told me that he's been building wheels since before there were tensiometers and he doesn't see the need for them.
    Well, so have I- as I said, when my hand starts to cramp, I'm close to finished.

    BTW: in addition to what everyone else has said, you should remember to lubricate the spoke nipples. Most machine-built wheels I've seen are dry- if the spoke threads and rim seats are lubed, it's a lot easier to get the tension even.

    Shout it from the rooftops: "LUBE YOUR NIPPLES!"
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  20. #20
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I build wheels without a tension meter and then test them once they are built to find that I don't need one to get the spoke tensions correct.

  21. #21
    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    You said you tried to get all the spokes to sound the same the drive and non drive sides shouldn't be all the same. That rim looks like it may be ok but you need to loosen all the spokes very loose and start over. You will need to dish it also but the rims got like this from spokes being way to tight it may be possible to save if it goes flat when you loosen spokes and look at it. In any case you can play with it and learn from it at this point.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
    http://www.jtgraphics.net/cyclist_bicycles.htm

  22. #22
    Senior Member Throwmeabone's Avatar
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    Okay I unlaced the wheel. I pushed the rim up next to a wall and it seems flat so that's good news.

    I noticed on the hub that some of the holes seem stretched out. Will it be okay to reuse that hub? Here's a picture:


  23. #23
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Oh brother! I do believe I'd be shopping for some decent hubs right about now...What was the original tension that would account for munging the spoke-holes? Better still - what is that hub made out of? Plastic?

    What is the brand/model of that hub? Formula? Scratch that off my list. I just re-examined my old Campy Record hubs from 1982. Built to approx. 124 Kgf and ridden on until a few months ago. Their holes are in fine shape. Wow! is all I can say.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cateye View Post
    Only panthers007 is stupid enough to believe that this is a good idea.

  24. #24
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throwmeabone View Post
    Okay I unlaced the wheel. I pushed the rim up next to a wall and it seems flat so that's good news.

    I noticed on the hub that some of the holes seem stretched out. Will it be okay to reuse that hub? Here's a picture:

    That's normal for a used hub. When you rebuild, orient the spokes to use the same orientation they had before.

    In regards to using tone to get insight on spoke tension: while you're truing and rounding the wheel, you can use tone to decide which spokes to loosen, and which spokes to tighten, in order to perform the correction you're working on at the moment. For example, if the rim weaves left, see if there's an extra-tight spoke on the left side at that point, and/or an extra-loose spoke on the right side at that point, and try to even them up relative to their closest "flange-mates." If the rim dips radially, you can use tone to look for extra-tight spokes that need to be backed down. Vice versa for radial hops. So you gradually home in on balanced tension, as part of the truing/rounding process.

    Don't expect the tone to match perfectly among all the spokes on each side, especially not after the rim's been warped like that.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panthers007 View Post
    Oh brother! I do believe I'd be shopping for some decent hubs right about now...What was the original tension that would account for munging the spoke-holes? Better still - what is that hub made out of? Plastic?

    What is the brand/model of that hub? Formula? Scratch that off my list. I just re-examined my old Campy Record hubs from 1982. Built to approx. 124 Kgf and ridden on until a few months ago. Their holes are in fine shape. Wow! is all I can say.
    There is often some deformation at the spoke holes. I have read (but I don't remember where) that you should use the deformation as a guide to how to lace up a new wheel with the old hub - the new lacing should tend to deform the holes the same way vis a vis the trailing/leading/inside/outside arrangement. I have built many wheels and never paid it much attention and never had a client come back with a busted hub.

    It is possible that Throwmeabone, in his zeal to straighten his wheel in the first place, caused some of that damage while he was retensioning.

    If it were me, and this was my first wheel build, I would be happy knowing that the hub, rim, and spokes were not perfect to begin with, and if I totally messed it up it would not be a big loss.

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