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  1. #1
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    Hello. I have a problem.

    Hello everyone. I just joined today. I'm about 350 lbs and I've been riding my bike for the last three summers.....till it breaks and I'm too broke/lazy to get it fixed. I ride to work, which used to be about 10 miles round trip. Now its about 15 miles round trip.

    My main problem: spokes.

    I've looked around the forum real quick and see that everyone says that a tension issue, not a weight issue. I guess I just want to make sure that's all it is. I keep taking it to the shop to get them fixed and they eventually break. The reason I'm so upset now is I got them fixed last week, and rode for two days (about 31 miles total), and I have one broken spoke in front and 6 or 7 in back. I've been to this shop before and usually get a few months out of their repairs, but two days? I'm afraid to take it back because one, will they fix it properly this time? Two, I can't afford to fix my bike every week. And lastly, I don't have time to go to the shop, I work whenever they're open.

    I'm considering doing the repairs myself from now on. I'm wondering if I should save up and just buy new wheels (I replaced the rear wheel last year, the front is stock, but I plan on replacing it at some point, I'm just spending so much money on the back wheel, lol) or if just replacing the spokes is alright? And if replacing them is OK, then are there stronger spokes? And where do can I buy them? Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Generally they say if one spoke breaks replace it. If a second breaks on the same wheel have it rebuilt with new spokes. They have spokes well strong enough to hold your weight.

    Good Luck

  3. #3
    Retired C.O. RandoneeRider's Avatar
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    New guy here..... short & stout.
    I don't know what I'm talking about, but I've been asking questions regarding my 255 pounds (when I was shopping for a new bike) and what I should be concerned about regarding bike frame material, wheel strength, number of spokes per wheel, etc.

    * A quality touring or "Cyclo-cross" wheel has the strength
    * 36 spoke wheels will stand up to weight
    *And I understand that there ARE in fact, heavy duty spokes
    * Proper spoke/wheel alignment is only part of the equation, apparently good tension & tight spokes is paramount.

    Like I say, I've only had my bike for less than a month and know little of what I speak, but because of what I learned.... I bought a steel frame 'touring' road bike that has strong wheels, each with 36 spokes.

  4. #4
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    First off welcome to the herd Yodahat .

    Unfortunately there are no easy answers as to why you are breaking spokes. If it is being repaired, tensioned, and trued properly, you shouldn't be having so many problems.

    First question would be how old is the bike and/or wheels? Next would be how many spokes? Another would be what kind of bike and tires, and at what psi are you running them? Last question would be what kind of terrain or what type of riding are you doing?

    As you can see a lot of things come into play. My suggestion would be to bring it to another shop and see what they say when you describe the problem. It could be something simple like tensioning or trueing, or it could be a combination of factors and there recommendation would be to replace the wheel.
    lil brown bat wrote:
    Wow, aren't other people stupid? It's a good thing that we're so smart. Yay us.

  5. #5
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Yodahat - welcome aboard.

    I am now a bit over 300, was just 400 less than two years ago.

    I disagree with exile - there are easy answers - it is all about wheel building. Spoke failure happens because the spokes are subject to oscillating stress as the wheel goes around. If the spoke tension is insufficient to always keep the spokes in tension, the oscillating stress will sometimes drive the spokes into compression. If this happens, the spokes are subject to fatigue (like bending a paper clip back and forth). High enough tension, and the spokes never going into compression, and thus fatigue is a non-issue.

    The particulars - the spokes must be tensioned, trued, stress relieved, retrued, repeat until truing is no longer needed.

    When one spoke breaks, the rest will fail in a short period.

    I went through what you did, and being a cheap ____ I learned to re-build and then build my own wheels. And because I am lazy, I build my wheels once, and never break spokes. I built my own truing stand: http://forums.bicycletutor.com/thread-3155.html because I am cheap, and when I tried to true a wheel on the bike, it just got worse.

    With respect to spokes: on the drive (right side) of the rear wheel get Wheelsmith DH13 spokes. On the non-drive side, and in front get Wheelsmith SS14 spokes. Follow Sheldon Brown's instructions on wheel building. http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

    If you are near San Jose, give me a shout.
    Last edited by nfmisso; 06-17-11 at 06:39 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Yodahat it would be helpful to know what your gear is Bike, wheels, type of spokes, to the best of your knowledge. Pics help also.

    I had a pretty new wheel with ok specs (deore hub, Sun sr018 rim, stainless straight gauge spokes) that started breaking spokes...after the third, I rebuilt the wheel (my first wheel build and it has held for 3 years) so in that case I think it was a not great build.

    My father in Law's bike had some spoke problems that were due to rust on on a 30+ year old bike stored near the oceans, so spoke breakage cuase can vary.
    '82 Nishiski commuter/utility
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    looking for: De Rosa 58cm ELOS frame and fork internal cable routing

  7. #7
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandoneeRider View Post
    New guy here..... short & stout.
    I don't know what I'm talking about, but I've been asking questions regarding my 255 pounds (when I was shopping for a new bike) and what I should be concerned about regarding bike frame material, wheel strength, number of spokes per wheel, etc.

    * A quality touring or "Cyclo-cross" wheel has the strength
    * 36 spoke wheels will stand up to weight
    *And I understand that there ARE in fact, heavy duty spokes
    * Proper spoke/wheel alignment is only part of the equation, apparently good tension & tight spokes is paramount.

    Like I say, I've only had my bike for less than a month and know little of what I speak, but because of what I learned.... I bought a steel frame 'touring' road bike that has strong wheels, each with 36 spokes.
    RandoneeRider, you learn fast.
    Enjoy many carefree miles on the new ride.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  8. #8
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    yodahat: Welcome. I am constantly underwelmed by the Bicycle Mechanics I encounter. As a rule in my area they are just out of high school and weigh 140#. When I asked about a free tuneup if I bought a bike one of them said "That's not necessary. We check them over before they leave." I test rode a $2150 bike today. The seat post made bad noises the head set was loose and the rear deraileur was worse( improper setup) than my $600 Trek ( UPS arrived with a new deraileur while I was testing. Problem fixed.) Your bike shop must think constant problems are a profit center.

  9. #9
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    Hey, sorry it took so long for me to get back. Thank you for all your answers. My bike is a Columbia Pathway FE (I know, its a cheap bike compared to what you guys ride, but I don't have much money). Its about 2 years old. Everything on it is stock except the rear wheel that I had replaced last year. I must have had the spokes fixed about 4 times, this last repair was the first on the newer wheel. Both wheels have 36 spokes. Not sure what type of spokes they are. The new wheel is double walled. They are both 26".

    I like the wheelsmith spoke idea. Is it really ok to mix different spokes on the same wheel? And where do I buy them? Can I trust the ebay auctions I've found of them? And should they be the same length as my old spokes? And do I need any special tools for tensioning and truing? And do I really need a truing stand? Why couldn't I just do it on the bike upside down? Thank you all again for all your help.

  10. #10
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Its going to take some time to get down to a reasonable weight - So go ahead and invest in a set of TANDEM wheels...

    It may be worth it to lace them up yourself then take them in for the final tune & dish...

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