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  1. #1
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    Broken spokes a constant problem!

    I asked this about a week ago in the Bicycle Mechanics forum but as my weight is around 100-105kg (~220-230lbs) I thought I would ask here as well.

    I am having a real problem breaking spokes. I have this problem on both my old bicycles and my brand new trek belleville. The things just keep going for seemingly no reason.

    I tend to be a slow rider and normally like to go along around 15kph. Our streets are full of potholes though and I do hit them from time to time, but only once broke a spoke on one (doing nearly 40kph and hit a major crater that almost tossed me off). I rarely hit them full speed as I know where most are now and weave around to miss them (must look like a drunk to many). The worst I do is do my shopping on the weekends and load the bike with between 15-30 kg of stuff. My rack is rated for 25kgs so I feel 30 should just be ok.

    2 of my bikes are standard 700x35c wheels and the other is a normal 26 inch mountain bike. Every spoke in the last 4 years have been rear spokes, even with a front rack on my new bike and loading that down.

    I was told it was most likely that the spokes were not tensioned properly from the start. I am taking the wheel to a little hole in the wall shop that has been around a good 20 years and give them a try. I was just wondering whats the overall thought.

    And btw. I was at ~90kg for a few months when I was on a little diet and was still breaking on average a spoke a week. So I don't think it's my weight.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  2. #2
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    When spokes break, have you had anyone check and true the rim and tension all the spokes evenly? Not just the one that needed replacing, but all of them? Sounds like the rim is too bent, or spokes have widely differing tensions after changing single spokes many times over.

    Also, do you lose spokes consistently on one side of the wheel (drive side = the side where the rear gearing is, or non-drive side)?

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    If the wheel has been improperly tensioned for a long period of time, you may well have weakened the majority of the spokes. Sometimes, there's no solution but to throw the spokes away and do a complete re-build. A good wheel builder should be able to tell you if you're running into this case...

  4. #4
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Take the wheels to a good tech and have him go over them carefully,rebuilding if necessary. I weigh as much as you, ride 5-6k miles a year, much on fully loaded tours and rarely break a spoke. I do have hand made wheels and true and tension them myself once or twice a year.

    Marc
    Read Simply Cycle

    "I can still do everything I used to, but now I'm mature enough to take a nap without being told." - Me

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  5. #5
    Senior Member DaninTexas's Avatar
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    I am a noob at this stuff (only been riding for a few months - couple weeks seriously) - but the problem you are having is not normal.

    I am alot bigger than you - 360 lbs and I haven't had any problems with my wheels or spokes yet. I do have my LBS go over my bike once every other month or so just to make sure everything is all tight and looking good.

  6. #6
    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    Yeah it sounds like a tension issue. I've been through this before with a new bike and new wheels. They come perfectly trued, but I've learned to look at the tension and I now can tell, by feel, if the spokes don't have enough tension. BTW, I weigh about the same as you (230lbs) and I ride a heavy bike with panniers (primarily a commuter/tourer). However, I saw this issue on another persons bike and he only weighed 160lbs and kept popping spokes. I trued it (specifically tensioned) for him and his problems stopped. And he had just had his wheel rebuilt.

    I've learned to true wheels myself after spending much money at many different bike shops rebuilding the wheel only to have it happen again. It's all in the tension.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."

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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the comments. I brought the wheel to a LBS and they thought the problem was likely cheep spokes. That could be as that is the only one our local trek store uses. Outside of their racing spokes that would never fit my rim/hub anyway. I asked that he use the strongest spokes he has in the rebuild of the wheel. The total cost will go over $100 for the rebuild, but if it works it will be worth it as that bike IS my transportation.

    I really think next tax season I am getting a truing stand and a bunch of spokes. Could be fun .

  8. #8
    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
    Thanks for the comments. I brought the wheel to a LBS and they thought the problem was likely cheep spokes. That could be as that is the only one our local trek store uses. Outside of their racing spokes that would never fit my rim/hub anyway. I asked that he use the strongest spokes he has in the rebuild of the wheel. The total cost will go over $100 for the rebuild, but if it works it will be worth it as that bike IS my transportation.

    I really think next tax season I am getting a truing stand and a bunch of spokes. Could be fun .
    When this first happened to me the mechanic said the same exact thing, "cheap spokes...". He rebuilt the wheel using DT spokes and it happened again. That's when I decided I need to learn more about the wheels. Most of my self-learning came from this site http://www.sheldonbrown.com/

    I recently bought a new wheel and it was perfectly trued, yet the tension was lacking. I tensioned/trued and haven't had a problem after a couple thousand miles.

    BTW, that wheel has "cheap spokes" -- it's a bottomline wheel.
    "The aim of science is to make difficult things understandable in a simpler way; the aim of poetry is to state simple things in an incomprehensible way. The two are incompatible."

    -- Paul Dirac

  9. #9
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    At 286# I came very close to busting spokes but most time my wheels went out of true before braking - There is nothing wrong with getting a new set of wheels designed for a tandem bicycle - They are slightly heavier, but they are built for tanks and take it...

    But at 230# its probably not your weight...

    http://www.bikemania.biz/PhotoDetail...ty_Tandem_disc

  10. #10
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
    Thanks for the comments. I brought the wheel to a LBS and they thought the problem was likely cheep spokes. That could be as that is the only one our local trek store uses. Outside of their racing spokes that would never fit my rim/hub anyway. I asked that he use the strongest spokes he has in the rebuild of the wheel. The total cost will go over $100 for the rebuild, but if it works it will be worth it as that bike IS my transportation.

    I really think next tax season I am getting a truing stand and a bunch of spokes. Could be fun .
    Build your own; like I did: http://forums.bicycletutor.com/thread-3155.html

    no more broken spokes or LBS robbery rates for my wheels

    tension, true, stress relieve, true, stress relieve, true, stress relieve, until truing is not required. My wheels are .006" both radially and axially.
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

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