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  1. #1
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Catastrophic Wheel Failure

    So... the guy who never broke a spoke in his life until about 3 weeks ago had catastrophic wheel failure this afternoon. Making a turn at about 20-22 mph, I had at least two spokes break, my real tire puncture, and my bike do a mean impression of one of those bucking broncos you see in the rodeo.

    Thankfully, I'm okay. I was riding on a trail through Hershey farmland and was able to bail into a nice soft grassy ditch. Unfortunately, it meant a 3 mile hike with bike in tow to the nearest bike shop. Upon reaching said shop, I explained my situation and asked for help getting the spokes replaced. I told them I had a spare tube and could handle that part myself, if they were busy. They told me they were too busy to help me out. I reiterated the situation and explained that I had no other means to get home by and that fixing a few spokes shouldn't take THAT much time out of their busy schedules. I mean - it is generally a "while you wait" kind of repair, isn't it? Well they just shrugged. I thought for a moment about making use of a nearby wrench as "incentive" but just decided to impart some choice words before throwing my disabled steed back over my shoulder and hiking the remaining distance home.

    I'm pissed. This shop has screwed me over enough times by not fulfilling their promises of meeting deadlines (i.e. - when I needed a tuneup prior to a race and gave them over a week and still didn't get it done in time), they also dropped my bike in the shop and didn't tell me. I discovered that the plastic casing on one of my SRAM shifters was cracked when I got it home the first time. Unfortunately, I don't have any proof, but it wasn't broken when I took it in there. But now I'm just pissed. How do you turn away a customer in need like that?

    Anyhow - can anyone help me figure out two things? 1) What the hell happened that would cause a failure like this? and 2) How do I fix it?

    I really should just learn all I can about bike maintenance and ditch the middle man.
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

  2. #2
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I myself ain't so sure it's a repair while you wait deal. If your wheel bucked that bad after breaking a spoke, the entire rim may be totaled and or the spokes. I myself wouldn't trust a wheel that had just tossed me off.

    I'd plan on replacing the rim as well as the spokes. As a rider that "doesn't" take well to the shop myself, I 'd have to say this one may be right, I wouldn't think it's as easy as replacing a couple of spokes and all is well.

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    First, switch shops.

    Secondly, the wheel is probably toast. Three spokes in two weeks and a bent rim mean it's over.

    Start getting prices for a 36 spoke wheel, and start learning wheelbuilding.

  4. #4
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I myself ain't so sure it's a repair while you wait deal. If your wheel bucked that bad after breaking a spoke, the entire rim may be totaled and or the spokes. I myself wouldn't trust a wheel that had just tossed me off.

    I'd plan on replacing the rim as well as the spokes. As a rider that "doesn't" take well to the shop myself, I 'd have to say this one may be right, I wouldn't think it's as easy as replacing a couple of spokes and all is well.
    It bucked because the tire blew going through a turn at high speed. Maybe "wobbled violently" is a better description.

    The part that pisses me off, is that I had the bike in to these guys just two weeks ago to make sure the wheel was trued and the spokes properly tensioned.
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

  5. #5
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    Metal fatigue can strike anywhere. I had spoke problems with my Trek 6000 and they'd never break while I was beating on it. It was always on the way home down a smooth street, I'd hear a "TWANG" and either have to walk it back or be really careful the rest of the way.

    As for the way you were treated, I am no expert on wheels, but I have done my own spokes on a disc brake mountain bike in well under an hour each. I'd think they could have at least put a couple new ones in it, got it close enough on tension not to be a safety hazard, and just let you disable the rear brake so it doesn't rub, at least. That is a 30-minute job for a good mechanic, at least unless you have some sort of really bizarre wheels. But I got pretty good at replacing spokes and getting it 'good enough' until I was able to get the wheel properly rebuilt.

    I got a similar bit of treatment from my shop on my wheels, where they made me leave it for a couple days, and I got it back with poorly tensioned spokes because the tech firmly believed I just needed better wheels. I had a shop I now trust more rebuild the wheel, and haven't had trouble since. It seems like some shops pick and choose how long to keep customers, and when certain customers need special attention, they'd rather be jerks and let them go elsewhere than give them the time of day.

    -Eric

  6. #6
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayre Kulp View Post
    The part that pisses me off, is that I had the bike in to these guys just two weeks ago to make sure the wheel was trued and the spokes properly tensioned.
    I've posted many times here in the past that I don't let the shops touch my wheels. You are right, time to learn build it yourself. What many do is true the wheel, make it straight then pretend it's good.


    Once you learn to build them yourself, you see the difference in craftsmanship. You turn spokes making sure they don't bind. They turn spokes, make the wheel straight, kick you in the arse then push you out the door onto the next customer.

    I myself build my wheels by placing a black dot on each spoke with a sharpie marker. When I turn the nipple, I verify that the spoke is not twisting/binding. I get a clean turn.

    I had so many problems with shop tuned wheels and so many creaks that I began to observe their work. Never once did I see a shop dude place any type of reference to verify that the spokes don't bind. I've read some place a tape (flag)on the spoke before turning the nipples. So when I got home and my freshly tuned wheel was crackling like Rosie, I loosened then re tightened the spoke making sure it did not bind, the noise went away. Then I knew the shop dudes had no clue.

  7. #7
    Neil_B
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    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=1#post7337989

    And the followup, with the wheel breaking two more spokes as I approach DC:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=1#post7333161

  8. #8
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    what they did was unacceptable. hell they could have at least said. your wheel is toast, you need to buy a new one from us right now! and that would have at least gave you a fair option to get home. it's possible that they may not have had the right sized spokes you would need if they don't build a lot of wheels but it sounds like they didn't even try to help you. I guess in their mind they dont think they are gonna make any money selling 2 spokes at a cost oof $2 but they could have easily charged you $20 for the repair and told you that the wheel might still be done long term but good enough to get you home riding slowly. as beanz said, learn to build your own. I'm so glad I did. they say you cant have cheap, light, and durable well if you know how to build your own wheels you can.

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=1#post7648797

    Final disposition of my wheel in 2008.

  10. #10
    Non sibi sed patriae thestoutdog's Avatar
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    Sayre, you may want to look into a new wheel. Just before Neil_B and I attempted our trip earlier this summer, I had a similar occurrence to yours. Now, having said that, Century Cycles in Peninsula, OH (I don't work there, just a shameless plug for my favorite LBS), was willing to drop everything to help me figure out if the wheel could be salvaged or not. I decided to pick up a hand built Salsa Delgado rim with DT Stainless spokes and a Deore hub, cost: $109, already built. I am confident that this wheel will last longer than the frame, and Derrick, the wheel builder, stands behind his work. Neil_B can attest to just how "customer service oriented" this shop is as well. Did I mention that I love my LBS?
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  11. #11
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Back in the day I had a similar situation on a long ride and an LBS lent me a wheel so I could get home. I returned later to get my repaired wheel and return theirs.

    I'm guessing the modern bicycle is so complicated and full of variation that a loaner wheel isn't possible today?
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  12. #12
    Senior Member snowman40's Avatar
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    Whenever I've had to replace a few spokes, I've just gone and had the wheel redone with new spokes all around. It more expensive, but it cheaper than taking it in every few weeks to replace a few spokes.

    I'm trying to do more of my own wrenching, however, I will not do wheel truing. I'd prefer someone do that who does it much more often than I would.
    Quote Originally Posted by snowman40
    If you must speed up to pass me, you don't deserve to pass me
    Quote Originally Posted by abstractform20 View Post
    farts are greatly appreciated as long as the other riders are talented and experienced. at the precise moment of release, a vacuum is formed. this is the optimal time for the rider behind you to get as aero as possible and "ride the brown rhino". his face should be within 2-3mm of the anus to receive maximum benefit (reduced drag...duh, its in a vacuum). i have hit speeds of over 53mph in such conditions.

  13. #13
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    where can u learn to do you r own wheel building is there classes for that?

  14. #14
    Senior Member 1855Cru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kleinsamuel View Post
    where can u learn to do you r own wheel building is there classes for that?
    Look on youtube, lots of useful videos on how to build a wheel.
    http://www.ablokeandabike.blogspot.com

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  15. #15
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    All very interesting.

    If one were going to dive into building their own wheels, where would you start? What tools do you need?

    Would one spend 200 bucks on tools and stands just to save 100 by doing it oneself? Or is the payoff in the knowledge that the wheels are done right?
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  16. #16
    attacking the streets!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayre Kulp View Post
    Unfortunately, it meant a 3 mile hike with bike in tow to the nearest bike shop. Upon reaching said shop, I explained my situation and asked for help getting the spokes replaced. I told them I had a spare tube and could handle that part myself, if they were busy. They told me they were too busy to help me out.

    I'm pissed. This shop has screwed me over enough times by not fulfilling their promises of meeting deadlines

    Anyhow - can anyone help me figure out two things? 1) What the hell happened that would cause a failure like this? and 2) How do I fix it?
    never use that shop again.

    what part of the spoke failed?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGlover View Post
    All very interesting.

    If one were going to dive into building their own wheels, where would you start?
    Read _The Bicycle Wheel_

    http://www.amazon.com/Bicycle-Wheel-.../dp/0960723668

    Jobst tested it by having his grade school sons each build a wheelset with no help.

    What tools do you need?
    You need a spoke wrench (the standard Park 2-sided wrench is nice; get the black one for DT spokes. You don't need the 4 sided wrench unless you're working on a wheel built by an idiot who neglected to lubricate threads + sockets which you won't do, and it's a lot harder to seat), anti-seize, and acid brush with half the bristles chopped off (use the anti-seize in the nipple sockets and on the spoke threads).

    Although you can mount wheels in your frame, use the brake pads for lateral true and rubber band a ruler on for vertical I'd much rather sit at my kitchen table.

    Minoura makes a decent truing stand for $90 online. I bought mine 15 years ago and it's still going strong.

    Although you can check centering by flipping the wheel or standing the rim on three soda cans and measuring the distance to the table I like a dish stick which can be used to check the wheel without removing it from the stand.

    Park's WAG3 is nice for $20 online.

    You can get lightish box section rims with conventional spoke counts to the right absolute tension (the last front I built that way averaged 110kgf without a tire, and last rear 110kgf drive side with a tire just like I'd shoot for) by alternately tightening and adding tension tension until the wheel deforms in waves at which point you back off half a turn and re-true although that doesn't work for the deeper more durable rims you should be using (the rims are stiff enough that you'll put too much load on the spoke bed before exceeding their elastic limit) and it takes a while.

    Park's TM-1 tension meter can be found for $50 online which makes it affordable for the occasional builder. Get one and use it.

    For relative tension just pluck the spokes. You can get just as uniform as with the tension meter and it's a lot faster.

    Would one spend 200 bucks on tools and stands just to save 100 by doing it oneself?
    Around here you're saving $70 in labor to build the wheel and $40 in spokes on a rim replacement due to wear or crash damage (the shop isn't going to risk their reputation on your old spokes, although if you follow Jobst's directions the spokes will last hundreds of thousands of miles).

    The tools pay for themselves after the first pair of wheels.

    Or is the payoff in the knowledge that the wheels are done right?
    Your wheels will be done right and after crashing one you can have a replacement built this evening (if you keep spare rims around) or in a few days if you need to order a rim.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 08-19-11 at 01:02 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGlover View Post
    If one were going to dive into building their own wheels, where would you start? What tools do you need?

    Would one spend 200 bucks on tools and stands just to save 100 by doing it oneself? Or is the payoff in the knowledge that the wheels are done right?
    I would suggest buying a truing stand suitable for a home mechanic (e.g. not the $200+ Park TS-2; I bought a Spin Doctor truing stand from Performance Bike for around $60 and it works fine), a Park TM-1 tension meter (~$50-60), some sort of dishing tool (I like the Park WAG-4, but it's $40-45; the WAG-3 or WAG-5 are cheaper, $25-30), and a four-sided spoke wrench (Park SW-40 or SW-42, $6-8).

    Old Timers will tell you that you don't need all of these tools to build a wheel and will probably suggest that you can get by with a pocket knife, a stick, and a wad of chewing gum... or something like that. As a beginner, you'll find the wheel-building process significantly easier if you have access to all of these tools. Once you've built a few sets of wheels, then you can think about taking short-cuts.

    Sheldon Brown is a good source of info on wheel-building. There are also lots of good videos on YouTube. I especially like the series by 'expertvillage' as well as the 3-part series by TheBikeTube.

    I would not expect to save any money building your own wheels, unless you're prepared to spend months shopping for parts. Places that buy lots of parts get volume discounts. You won't. It's very likely that you could end up paying more for your wheels. The advantage to building them yourself is that you'll know the work is done right and you'll be able to maintain and repair the wheel as necessary.

  19. #19
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    I bought a spin doctor back in 2005 on sale $30. Park dish tool on sale $12 and a spoke wrench $4 and borrow my buddies tension meter. ........I invested $46 to build wheel that last 20,000 miles when the pro shops used top of the line stuff to build wheels that have failed a soon as 40 miles same components. You don't need expensive stuff.

    Last time I paid a pro to build wheels, I paid $65 for the build alone, I didn't lose a penny by investing the $46 for my tools.


    -------------

    Last wheel I built:

    I reused my hub, bought a Deep V for $62 at Jenson no shipping, no tax sale. $20 for spokes and built the wheel for $82 and another 20,000 trouble free miles.

    If I had gone the LBS route. $80 for the Deep V. Special order, they want to charge me $15 shipping and tax. Build $65 and spokes $30. I would get the same wheel I just built but lower quality of craftsmanship for about $220.

    One of the last wheels I built was from old parts that the LBS said I was too plain heavy to use. I used the parts with new spokes and built the wheel for $15. They could not hold the wheel true for more than a week. I rebuilt it and now has 8,000+ miles.

    I have built 6 of my won wheels now, that $46 was some of the best money I have invested in bike tools. Figure saving $150 per each wheel I have built (X6)....did I lose money? No, I have literally saved hundreds of dollars by now.

    I never lost a penny

    My $15 wheel. (Rear CXP30 Ultegra 600)



    My latest $82 Ultegra Deep V build (rear wheel)


  20. #20
    Fat guy on a bike
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    I keep encountering threads where I find myself saying "Hey! I just did this, and I have an opinion!" Well, once again: Hey! I just did this, and I have an opinion!

    Noticed last week that my rear wheel started to need truing. Kept checking air pressure and saying "I'll get to it." I broke a spoke during last night's ride. It was a long, slow ride home. Grr...

    I do my own wrenching and have been wanting to learn to build wheels. So after the ride, I got on the interwebs and started looking for tools. I ended up buying almost everything locally from Harris Cyclery (This is the shop that Sheldon Brown worked at). I could've gotten things cheaper online, but when buying tools, I need to put my hands on them first. Also wanted to support a fine local business! One of the mechanics helped me with the sale, and spent a great deal of time giving pointers. Thanks guys!

    I got:
    Minoura true pro for $124.99.
    At first, it seemed a little cheaply made, but with everything dialed in, the stand works just fine - it's perfectly servicable for the home mechanic. I lust after the Park Pro truing stand, but I simply can't justify the expense.

    Park TM-1 Tensiometer $79.99 (Ouch!) very nicely made, easy to use. Documentation is quite good.

    Park WAG-5 dish tool ordered from Amazon for $24.70. All Harris had was the WAG-3 and the Minoura dishing tool. There is something about the WAG-3 that I just do not like. Odd for a tool that I've never used... And, based on online reviews, the Minoura dish tool is awful.

    I replaced the spoke and spent AT LEAST three hours truing the wheel laterally and radially. Plus checking and rechecking tension. I get very anal over things like this.
    The end result is a very true wheel and a happy camper now that I don't need to rely on anyone but myself to do this.

  21. #21
    Fat guy on a bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    One of the last wheels I built was from old parts that the LBS said I was too plain heavy to use. I used the parts with new spokes and built the wheel for $15. They could not hold the wheel true for more than a week. I rebuilt it and now has 8,000+ miles.
    Mr. Beanz, you're the second or third person I've heard say something like this.
    One of my intentions in wheel building was to create a super heavy duty wheel set to haul my fat butt around; using the heaviest 36 spoke rims and hubs I could find.
    I'm starting to think this may not be necessary.

  22. #22
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    36 hole rims and hubs are always popping up on ebay. brand new items can be found for 1/2 price because not many people use them anymore. I find deals all the time.. I still use a minoura truing stand that I bought in the 80's and it works just fine.

  23. #23
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fotoflojoe View Post
    Mr. Beanz, you're the second or third person I've heard say something like this.
    One of my intentions in wheel building was to create a super heavy duty wheel set to haul my fat butt around; using the heaviest 36 spoke rims and hubs I could find.
    I'm starting to think this may not be necessary.
    You know, I rebuilt the 28 spoke wheels as an experiment after I realized I did a much better job at building my wheels than the shops.

    I had dismantled the rims in order to ship the 28 hole hubs to a forum poster but he refused to take them free of charge.

    They were the stock rims on my Cannondale back in 98. They would not stay true for more than a week and the shop said it was my weight after several attempts to adjust them properly. I was only 220 lbs.

    So I spent $15 to rebuilt them as an experiment. I have been riding them at 250 lbs and the wheel has been great with 28 spokes!

    The parts sat in my closet for 11 years, I had nothing to lose but $15 if I were wrong. I wasn't and I still have another hoop sitting in the closet in case this one wears out after 20,000 miles. I re tensioned the front wheel (24 spoke) it and it has been fine during the last 8,000 miles as well.

    So much for the shop pros!

    I do prefer the 32 hole just because I have always used them but the 28's have been fine. And if I can squeeze 20,000 out of each one of the hoops, I'm set for a long time.

  24. #24
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    I've posted many times here in the past that I don't let the shops touch my wheels. You are right, time to learn build it yourself. What many do is true the wheel, make it straight then pretend it's good.


    Once you learn to build them yourself, you see the difference in craftsmanship. You turn spokes making sure they don't bind. They turn spokes, make the wheel straight, kick you in the arse then push you out the door onto the next customer.

    I myself build my wheels by placing a black dot on each spoke with a sharpie marker. When I turn the nipple, I verify that the spoke is not twisting/binding. I get a clean turn.

    I had so many problems with shop tuned wheels and so many creaks that I began to observe their work. Never once did I see a shop dude place any type of reference to verify that the spokes don't bind. I've read some place a tape (flag)on the spoke before turning the nipples. So when I got home and my freshly tuned wheel was crackling like Rosie, I loosened then re tightened the spoke making sure it did not bind, the noise went away. Then I knew the shop dudes had no clue.
    Best way to utterly screw up a wheel is let your LBS service it. Sad but true [pun].

  25. #25
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    Best way to utterly screw up a wheel is let your LBS service it. Sad but true [pun].
    True! Last 3 or 4 times I took my bike in for service ( free tune up etc), I broke a spoke within a week. Problems seized when I started working on my own stuff.

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