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  1. #1
    MASTER CYLINDER! OuroborosChoked's Avatar
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    General Spokes Questions

    First things first, this is my introductory post on the bike forums. I've read a bunch of posts over the past month, and I liked the camaraderie that I was seeing so much, I've decided to join.

    So... hi!

    A brief intro before the meat of the post: I suppose I could be called a Clydesdale (which is one reason I'm gonna post this here)... I'm 6' 2", 250 ish... I've lost about 25 pounds so far this year, and I'm looking to participate in bike races someday. I commute to work on my bike, use it for errands, and for fun.

    Anyway... spokes! The one part of bikes I loathe the most...

    I first started popping spokes on my back wheel a few months after I first got my POS Raleigh c200. I think the first time might've been from moving (read: not my fault!), so I got the spoke replaced. Not long after... PING. Replaced that one. Not long after... PING. I was so frustrated at that point, that I just quit biking for the rest of that year, being too poor to afford a new wheel. About a year went by and another summer came... so I started biking again. I had fewer broken spokes this time, but it was still happening. By the end of that summer, I had had it again. For the next year, my bike stood unused and scorned in my living room (however, I did get an exercise bike... so not a total loss). This year came about, and I said "To hell with it, I'm getting a new friggin' wheel!"

    And everything was wonderful again. For the past month and a half or so, everything was like it was supposed to be (minus a few flats)... until today.

    Going down a hill, I heard the all-too familiar PING of doom. I got off and walked the bike back to the store. Now, all along... while I was getting the spokes replaced... I was being told, "Yeah, we could replace the spoke, but if one breaks, chances are they're all just going to break eventually." Today, I get told, "Well, I can replace the spoke, no problem." This makes me suspicious.

    "It won't just break again? It will be okay? I don't have to replace the wheel," I asked.

    "No, it'll be fine," bike repair guy said.

    Being the fool I am, I told him to go ahead with it. About ten minutes later (or so), I have my bike again and am back on my way. I get on the bike and start rolling. Immediately I hear a BUNCH of creaky-type pings. I stop and look down. Everything's fine. I convince myself that it's just somewhat over-tightened spokes adjusting to being used. I move a few more feet and everything's fine. All right, then. I get back up to cruising speed... then traffic speed... still no problems. I climb a hill. No problems. I get to where I broke the spoke earlier... nothing. Okay... maybe he did perform bike voodoo... maybe it IS okay.

    I nearly reach my destination and... on plain, flat, smooth road... PING.

    So my questions... after all of this seemingly unnecessary exposition... is it possible to fix a spoke for good? Is it just a myth? Am I going to have to buy a new friggin' wheel every time I pop one spoke or am I doomed to piss away my meager means on labor fees and new spokes?

    Any wisdom will be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    No. Once spokes start breaking, it is time to replace the wheel. The only exception would be breakage from a physical source, like something getting caught in the wheel and breaking the spokes.
    Bikes use brakes to stop.

    If your bike has breaks, don't ride it.

  3. #3
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    I'm the great destroyer of rear wheels. Seriously, I have a post out there about wanting to throw away my bike because of popped spokes.

    As such, I'll pass some of my hard-earned wisdom on to you. Right now, this second, get a new rear wheel. 36h, machine built will be fine, ebay is a great source. Call Raleigh or your dealer to find out the rear spacing (I'd imagine it's 135mm), and order a wheel. You will spend $100 or $200 on it, but you will have peace of mind. The second it gets here, take it to the LBS and have them check the tension on it.

    Seriously, wheel problems are the most frustrating thing on the planet. Once you pop several spokes it's pretty much over for that build, and you'll end up replacing all them anyway.

  4. #4
    MASTER CYLINDER! OuroborosChoked's Avatar
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    What do you do if you don't trust your LBS?

    I mean, that guy flat-out lied to me. I'm pretty sure he's the one who got that new wheel down from the rack when I bought it earlier this summer!

  5. #5
    Clyde Racer. .Cole's Avatar
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    Build your own wheels, get a good 36h ultegra or DA hub and lace it to a strong rim. Get the wheelbuild done by a professional, a good build is about 20-30 percent of a wheels strength. Now the most important part, get the spokes called DT Alpine 3. They are sorta pricey, but I have a 20 spoke downhill rear wheel with these spokes and have only broken one (a stick). If you were to build a 36h touring wheel with them you would be set for life.

  6. #6
    Chubby super biker bdinger's Avatar
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    Hrm, I don't think they lie, I think sometimes they are just lacking in info. Really, with us bigger guys it's hard to predict what's going to happen. The energy it takes to move a 150 pounder up a hill is significantly less than it takes to move one of us up a hill. As such, you're putting more power into the wheel. And there's more strain over bumps, etc etc.

    That being said, what did he sell you for a new wheel? How many spokes? I'd suggest trying a different shop, find a local one with a very good reputation. Being in Pittsburgh I'd imagine it shouldn't be too terribly hard to find a second opinon.

  7. #7
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I f you rode the bike and the spokes pinged, that means the guy is a lazyazz. Too lazy to stress relive the spokes while truing or installing a new one.

    The ping is the sound the spoke makes when it seats into place when pressure is added.

    When building or replacing spoke, the dude should apply stress (few differ ways) to pop the spokes into seating. OR at least testing to seat if they are seated. This dude was too lazy to do even that. What chance do you think your wheel has?

    If you notice, you will hear several pings when you sit on a new bike with machine built wheels. The macchine was n;t smart enought o go back, listen to the ping, then make corrections. Neither was our wheel dude!

    Find another wheel guy.

    Plus you don't metnion what kind of wheels you ride. 20,24 spoke? That has plenty to do with big guys and weak wheels.

  8. #8
    MASTER CYLINDER! OuroborosChoked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdinger View Post
    That being said, what did he sell you for a new wheel? How many spokes? I'd suggest trying a different shop, find a local one with a very good reputation. Being in Pittsburgh I'd imagine it shouldn't be too terribly hard to find a second opinon.
    The wheel has 32 spokes - an Alex Rims or something, DM-18. It was less than $100, with labor. I think it was like $96. >_<

    Luckily, there's another bike shop right across the street.
    Last edited by OuroborosChoked; 08-02-07 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Forgot some info...

  9. #9
    Perma-Clyde (51)'s Avatar
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    Look for another shop. When one spoke goes the others will follow soon. IF you get a good hand-built set of wheels they should last you awhile. My LBS built a wheel for me with 14 gauge DT spokes. I have gotten 2,000+ miles out of them on two occasions.

    What type of riding do you do? Pissburg is a hilly place. Are you mashing up hills?
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  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I f you rode the bike and the spokes pinged, that means the guy is a lazyazz. Too lazy to stress relive the spokes while truing or installing a new one.

    The ping is the sound the spoke makes when it seats into place when pressure is added.

    When building or replacing spoke, the dude should apply stress (few differ ways) to pop the spokes into seating. OR at least testing to seat if they are seated. This dude was too lazy to do even that. What chance do you think your wheel has?

    If you notice, you will hear several pings when you sit on a new bike with machine built wheels. The macchine was n;t smart enought o go back, listen to the ping, then make corrections. Neither was our wheel dude!

    Find another wheel guy.

    Plus you don't metnion what kind of wheels you ride. 20,24 spoke? That has plenty to do with big guys and weak wheels.
    The pinging that a new wheel can make isn't usually due to improperly stressed spokes but due to the spoke 'unwinding' when torque is put on it. I'll agree that it was a mistake by the builder but it's not that uncommon. As you tighten the spoke, the wire has a tendency to twist - it's only a tiny bit of wire after all - especially if the nipple/rim interface hasn't been lubricated properly. As I build, I hold the spoke I'm working on and feel the spoke wind up and then I'll back off a little at the end of tightening that layer of tension on the spoke...sort of a two steps forward/half step back. Machine wheels can't check for wind up at all and they will ping like crazy until all of that winding is undone.

    Something that should be done on all wheels, but seldom is, is to check tension and trueness after a few hundred miles. The wheel will have less problems that way.

    And use DT Alpine III spokes. I've got a mountain bike wheel that is over 5 years of hard riding old and it's still going strong.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member arrasmithf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OuroborosChoked View Post
    What do you do if you don't trust your LBS?

    I mean, that guy flat-out lied to me. I'm pretty sure he's the one who got that new wheel down from the rack when I bought it earlier this summer!

    My LBS' are just a bunch of bike snobs, and every time i go in for something, they snub their nose at my bike and try to sell me a new Trek. I've got nothing against Trek bikes or bike shops, but mine happen to be full of bike snobs, which are common around the other forums here(Not in the CLYDE forum though, haven't seen one yet), so i decided to start learning to do it myself. With a modest investment in a basic toolkit, and a good repair book(Local Library), as well as Sheldon Brown's articles, you can DIY. Since your current problem is wheels, go create yourself a bombproof wheel. Sheldon Brown has an excellent wheel building article and there are several resources on the web( spoke length calculators, lacing patterns, etc). good luck, and I haven't had the pleasure of building my own wheels yet(My next project), I don't think its rocket science. Good Luck and welcome to the Clyde Forum.

  12. #12
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OuroborosChoked View Post
    The wheel has 32 spokes - an Alex Rims or something, DM-18. It was less than $100, with labor. I think it was like $96. >_<

    Luckily, there's another bike shop right across the street.
    I weigh in at 215 and I run a 40 spoke touring wheel on the rear and a 36 spoke on the front. I don't have spoke issues at all. Then again, I'm also running wheels that are rated for a 23 pound bike, 40 pounds of touring gear, another 10 in bags and my heavy butt! We're talking a total load of about 300 + pounds and specced for a lot more.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  13. #13
    MASTER CYLINDER! OuroborosChoked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (51) View Post
    Look for another shop. When one spoke goes the others will follow soon. IF you get a good hand-built set of wheels they should last you awhile. My LBS built a wheel for me with 14 gauge DT spokes. I have gotten 2,000+ miles out of them on two occasions.

    What type of riding do you do? Pissburg is a hilly place. Are you mashing up hills?
    Hells yeah! I was going to post a route map of my commute ride on another thread, but I couldn't figure out how to get a URL out of the map generators without saving or creating a profile. Suffice it to say, I go from Wilkinsburg to Downtown, sometimes through Squirrel Hill, and back... every day I work. It's not very far, but it's pretty steep, and I don't take any of the hills slower than 9 mph. Check it out on Google Earth, if you're curious.

    Thanks everyone for your advice! As much as I'd like to be self-reliant when it comes to building my own / fixing my own, etc... I just can't afford to do that just yet (we're talkin' really, really broke)... But I'll certainly start learning how.

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