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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 04-07-13, 07:32 PM   #1
ShartRate
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Broken spoke - fix myself or take it to the shop?

I was going to air up my rear tire today and found that the wheel was rubbing the brake pads. After futzing with the brakes I realized the wheel was out of true. After buying a spoke wrench I realized that the loose spoke was in fact broken!

So I'd like to get it fixed soon since I've been using this bike to get to work. I'm not surprised it broke really, I weigh 260 pounds and I've accidentally hit a couple good potholes. But now I'm worried that it was already out of true to begin with.

So can I buy a spoke and fix it myself, or should I go to the shop and make sure the whole thing checks out?
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Old 04-07-13, 07:50 PM   #2
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If you want to fix it yourself, you'll most likely need to buy another tool or two to remove the freewheel or cassette.

Since you're pretty hefty, I'd advise adding tension to the wheel (remember to flip it to check the dish). This will make the wheel a lot more durable.

What happens is that the spokes go slack at the bottom of the wheel under heavy riders, and the constant flexing causes the spokes to break at the elbow.

I bet you broke a non drive side spoke. These are a bit of a problem because they typically only have about 60% or so of the tension of drive side spokes... solutions to this issue include triplet lacing and off-centre rims.

For a heavy guy, I'd recommend an off-centre rim. It makes free strength by reducing the asymmetry of the spoke angles and allowing higher NDS tension.
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Old 04-07-13, 07:59 PM   #3
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Yes a rider can buy a replacement spoke and install it, truing the wheel in the process. Whether you can is another question. Ideally one would bring a complete/unbroken spoke to the shop (and from the same side of the wheel as the broken one, the spoke lengths can vary from side to side) and the shop would match it up (or cut to length). usually a new nipple is included.

To get at the spoke one will likely need to remove the gear cluster (special tools) and possible the tire/rim strip. To install the replacement spoke (and the one taken to the shop) both rubber and cogs will need to be off the wheel. Then the real stuff starts. the tensioning up of the installed spokes and the truing of the wheel. here is where experience really pays off. How to balance between a straight wheel and as many of the spokes sharing the work (even tensions) is but one skill the replacer will be tackling.

There is another underlining issue. The wheel has only so many "lives". How many have been used up is at this point any one's guess. Maybe soon after the repair you might find another spoke broken. The repair cycle will repeat. Then soon another will brake. I call this the death spiral of a wheel. Where along this your wheel is is to be found out in time.

When you get the replacement spoke get a few extra just in case... Andy.
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Old 04-07-13, 08:23 PM   #4
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I've got the tools to take the cassette off but it sound like I may be out of my league on this one (for now anyway!). I take it to the shop tomorrow and see if I can't get it inspected and then tensioned for someone of my girth.
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Old 04-07-13, 09:18 PM   #5
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No question that a shop will be able to get this wheel back close to what it was when new. It might even be able to get it slightly better than new. But what they can achieve will be limited by what they have to work with. If the wheel is unsuited to your needs and weight, no amount of work on it will miraculously make it so.

So, IMO the most important questions are.

1- how long did the wheel last before giving you problems?
2- what are the wheel's specs.

Odds are that the best course of action is to have the spoke replaced and the wheel aligned and tensioned, but the answer to my questions will open a window on what you can expect going forward, and can hint at what the best long term answer might be.
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Old 04-08-13, 02:30 AM   #6
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hu=int
Heh, double typo - fudged the backspace
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Old 04-08-13, 02:57 AM   #7
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I would always recommend shop or in my case the Mobile bike repair man Mike ,as I had this happen to me and ended up breaking spoke after spoke the tension is the most important thing with spokes do it wrong and you will break spokes to my untrained eye the wheel was true but was slightly off
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Old 04-08-13, 07:23 AM   #8
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I would always recommend shop or in my case the Mobile bike repair man Mike ,as I had this happen to me and ended up breaking spoke after spoke the tension is the most important thing with spokes do it wrong and you will break spokes to my untrained eye the wheel was true but was slightly off
Keepinmindthatothersmayhaveahardtimereadingtextwithoutproperpunctuation. Easier for you, maybe - but harder for everyone else.

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Old 04-08-13, 09:07 PM   #9
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Got the wheel back already, guy at the shop thought it would be good to go but I guess I wouldn't be surprised if I blow out another spoke. I feel as though a heavy duty wheel build maybe in my future...
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Old 04-09-13, 12:24 PM   #10
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So, IMO the most important questions are.

1- how long did the wheel last before giving you problems?
2- what are the wheel's specs.
Whether your wheel will last depends primarily on whether it's built properly.

That aside, if it's a bit light-on it's in for a challenge, but if it's a typical MTB wheel any spoke failure should be the builder's fault IMO.
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Old 04-09-13, 12:38 PM   #11
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Do be aware, many newer bicycles are designed for max 200 lb rider, this is especially true for the higher performance bikes. for a touring type bike, I'd suggest a 36H rear wheel, with a really strong rim, and use a relatively fat tire (28, 32). for a high end racing type bike, at 260 lbs? eek. no recommendation. those are optimized for the lance armstrongs.

the last full suspension mountain bike I bought, the forks were sprung for a 140 lb rider, I kid you not. I only found this out after multiple contacts with the fork maker, asking about heavier duty springs, which were listed in their marketing fluff but not actually available til nearly a year later. their heaviest duty replacement spring was for a 180-200 lb rider... I'm 210-220 lbs, so it was OK but still not great. at 260 lbs, I would have totally overwhelmed that suspension (float-R shock in back, manitou something fork in front, it was a base model stumpjumper FSR disk).
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