Clyde breaking spokes
Cross-post from Mechanic forum, would appreciate the input from my fellow cyldes...
I've started commuting to school and back 2-3 days a week this summer to lose some weight and save some $$$ on gas. I have a stock 2005 Trek 7300FX that I purchased new but let sit around until recently so it only has about 250 miles on it in total. I suppose I could be characterized as a super-cylde at 325 lbs. The problem I'm having is that twice in the last 3 weeks, I've broken 2 spokes on the left (non-cog) side of the rear wheel. The first time was on a night ride home and I didn't notice until the next day. I took the wheel in to the LBS to have get spokes replaced and it took 5 days to get my bike back (i'm guessing they are busy right now.) I was not completely satisfied with the job they did, as the wheel seemed a bit out of true when I got it back, but I figured it was close enough and I wanted to get back to riding, so I fgured it wouldn't matter and took the bike home. On the ride home today (only the second ride since I got it back), I hit a bump and heard the "pong" as 2 more spokes popped.
The wheel is a WTB Dual Duty XC 700c (622x17) rim with a Shimano Deore FH-510 VAM hub. My questions are: As a clyde, should I just accept that I'll pop spokes and take it back to the LBS for another round of repairs? The wheel seems to have low-mid quality components, so is it worth repairing the wheel again (probably $27- $25 labor +$1 per spoke?) I'm not afraid to build/ rebuild a wheel myself (although I've never done it,) so would it be worthwhile to invest in a wheel truing stand and the other accoutrements (and is the truing stand absolutely necessary if I just want to replace a spoke or two on occasion?) If I choose to upgrade the wheel, please offer recommendations on a clyde-appropriate 700c rim/ hub spoke combo.
My plan is to keep this bike in service until I hit 250 lbs then I'll treat myself to a new bike, but I cannot fathom that paying $27 every other week and having the bike in the shop for 5 days as being a reliable machine and the best investment I can make until I have lost that weight.
Originally Posted by Aeneas
I ride a stock Trek 7.2FX and so far have no issues (I have 20Lbs on you too). You just have to mind what you do with 700c wheels, it's easy to pop if you don't. Also, ask the LBS to replace them with DT Swiss (Double-butted) spokes, you can also do it yourself pretty easily. Also, if a wheel is out of true, you will have a higher chance of popping a spoke or three. You are already at 32spoke-count, so that is fine for the weight (it's what I'm running).
You don't need a truing stand, but they are nice (check your local CList to see if anyone has one available).
Since you are interrested, I would definately get the truing stand and build/rebuild/repair your own. Read up on how spokes really work and what causes them to break and build wheels that fit your purpose. Weight is really hard on wheels. - TF
Originally Posted by Aeneas
+1 on the advice to go with quality, name brand spokes. It makes a big difference- even for me at slightly north of 200lbs.
(And replace them all, not just as they break!)
32 spokes can hold your weight on a well-built wheel, but you'll still want be careful about things like curbs and potholes.
I don't know what the stock spokes are on that wheel, but I won't build a wheel with anything except DT spokes. I'm a big fan of the Champion 2.0 which is a straight 14ga stainless. They're big, they're heavy, and you can build wheels for a tank with them. I'm 240 pounds and I beat my wheels like they owe me money. I'm currently using mid-quality rims (Alex DA-16) 32h laced with DT Champions to a Deore hub. After the initial settling of the wheel and a quick spin on the truing stand, they've been stable and true for the past 1700 miles.
For a heavy rider stock machine built wheels are often under tensioned. I build my own wheels and tension them much higher than any complete wheel I have purchased. You indicated that the spokes broke on the non-drive side, these are by default the loosest spokes as the rear wheel is dished to accommodate the cassette. If you want to read more than you ever cared to on the subject of spoke tension just Google "Wheels for heavy rider Jobst Brandt" or indeed just google Jobst Brandt and have a coffee while you sift through the endless forum posts on the subject that he has made.
As for whether this is going to be an ongoing problem, the answer is probably yes if the remedy is always the same.
If your local bike store is simply replacing the broken spokes and then bringing the wheel back to true without upping the tension on all the other spokes, then the spokes are still likely to be under tensioned on the whole so you should expect repeated failures. Simply bringing the tension up evenly on all the spokes may alleviate your problems but in my experience once a few spokes have broken, for reasons other than something getting caught in them, it is not worth replacing individual spokes, it is time to get the wheel rebuilt with all new spokes as you can not know what the condition of the remaining spokes is. There is of course a maximum tension that a particular rim can handle so donít go crazy with this. I over-tensioned one wheel a few years back and the rim cracked on the first ride.
When getting new spokes I suppose some brands may be more reliable than others but I have not experienced any issues with any particular brand and I have used Wheelsmith, Marwi, DT and others that are not identifiable as they have no markings. In fact some of my wheels have three or four different brand spokes on a single wheel as I get spokes in bundles of 36 and most of my wheels are 32 spoke so the 4 extra spokes get tossed in a box and eventually get used based on length not brand.
Learning to build wheels yourself can be rewarding. For me there is little financial reason to do it as my favourite shop charges me only 10 bucks more to build a wheel than just buying spokes. However, it teaches you quite a bit about wheel maintenance and lets you get your bike back on the road quickly after you have wheel problems. If you do go this route, take your time, and make the first ride on the wheels you built yourself a short one as you are likely to learn about spoke wind-up during that ride and need to get home to re-tension the wheel.