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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-08-13, 01:22 PM   #1
Chitown_Mike
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Do ya'll break spokes all that often?

It seems there is a rash of broken spoke threads, or stronger wheels, or what have you in regards to stronger wheels. What weights are people seeing issues at? I have never, well in my adult years, broken a spoke. I ride on a 82 Schwinn with some cheapy Wienmann rims I got off CL and I have an older Trek 800 with a stock rim and a new one. I ride the Trek hard but have never broken a spoke, stripped the freewheel off the rim, but never busted a spoke. The Schwinn is just my road "racer" that I ride just on trails or the street for long distance rides (or sprints).

I currently weigh 240 (down 15 lbs since March!) and losing weight, but should I be worried? They are a 27" aluminum replacement rim for the old bike (so 27" x 1 3/8" tire I think?) and a 26" x 1" aluminum rim on the MTB (with 2" tires).

Or do I have nothing to worry about and just need to shut up and ride

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Old 05-08-13, 01:34 PM   #2
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Or do I have nothing to worry about and just need to shut and ride
I'd phrase it differently: Don't worry about until you need to worry about it. If you've never broken a spoke, then maybe you never will.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:41 PM   #3
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I'm 270ish and i have a set of 20/24 spoke Reynolds Solitudes on my primary bike. I popped a spoke on the rear @ around 600 miles and just yesterday I popped one on the front @ 760 miles. But those are low spoke counts with a heavy rider.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:51 PM   #4
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I've never been above 250, and maybe I haven't ridden enough, but I've never broken a spoke. I've taco'd wheels jumping off of stuff, but never had a failure...
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Old 05-08-13, 02:06 PM   #5
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~6,000 miles on my Trek 2.3, never broken a spoke or adjusted a wheel. I started off at 252 lbs and am currently 205.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:58 PM   #6
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I started riding again in 2009, I have broken 1 spoke in that time on the last ride of the year on my new Trek, until that time I have had no spoke issues but I ride light if that makes sense. The spoke that I did break was at the end of a short "workout" ride, came down a short hill and into a turn, heard a "ploink" and had no idea what it was thought a stick hit the wheel and over the winter I noticed the broken spoke... I am getting a wheel built for the rear of my bike as I am pretty heavy currently and don't like the feeling of thinking about another spoke breaking while on a ride.
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Old 05-08-13, 03:13 PM   #7
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I've been up to the high 200 pound range and I rode my Bianchi Veloce for 12 years before finally breaking a spoke last summer. Didn't even need the wheels trued until then. It's a matter of how well the wheels are built and how hard you treat it.
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Old 05-08-13, 03:17 PM   #8
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You don't really need to shut up.
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Old 05-08-13, 03:21 PM   #9
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Keep the tension and true-ing up and they last longer..
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Old 05-08-13, 03:29 PM   #10
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Never broke a spoke in my 50+ years of riding. Currently, my wheelsets are spoke 16/20 count, (Dura-Ace and Ultegra), and I'm bouncing around between 215 and 225 lbs. the past year. I have a difficult time understand how people break their spokes. Maybe they hit pot-holes or something? I don't know.
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Old 05-09-13, 12:45 PM   #11
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Im not having much luck this year after getting a new ride at the end of last season. I do several rides "hard" all out to improve my fitness and performance, but roads are poor quality here and I do my best to avoid what I can. I try to always preride check my wheels for a general trueness and spoke condition but Ill be honest I dont fully understand it and have to pay someone who does. This spring I been 250 pounds and only ride on paved surfaces and I had to have the wheels trued twice and broke a spoke a couple days ago. At this rate I wont be able to afford riding though the season or finishing my kit. Wheel in question is Alex S480 32 spoke double wall they look nice but might be crap
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Old 05-09-13, 01:14 PM   #12
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My Trek FX came with some cheapie 32-spoke wheels that served me well last year, but this year was a different story. Maybe it's because I got a luggage rack and panniers and moved my cargo weight, I dunno. I weigh about 260 and try to ride somewhat gingerly when it comes to potholes and the like. I broke one spoke on the rear wheel earlier this year. Took it to a shop, they replaced the spoke and trued the wheel, then two weeks later the next spoke broke. I had them order me a stout 36 spoke rear wheel with a beefier hub and rim and haven't had any trouble since.

I suspect that the big differences are the quality of spokes and the quality of the initial build. My Trek was a modestly inexpensive bike since I was just getting my feet wet with bike fitness (I suspect a lot of people in this forum are the same way). From what I read, if you have quality wheel components with quality build that it probably doesn't matter how many spokes you have (I went 36h because I was paranoid ). In my situation, I think it was a combination of crappy road conditions, the static weight of my luggage over the rear wheel, and the overall weight of ME. If I'd bought a nicer bike with nicer wheels right from the get-go I doubt I would have had problems.

My road bike (which I admittedly haven't ridden much) has 32h wheels but it has higher quality rims and hubs than my cheap hybrid. I've ridden it much faster than my hybrid and in some similarly poor road conditions and haven't had any problems with it yet (knock on wood).
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Old 05-09-13, 01:42 PM   #13
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Many years ago, at a weight of < 250, I had a lot of problems with loose spokes but never a broken one. Now I'm much heavier and riding custom wheels.
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Old 05-09-13, 02:27 PM   #14
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Or do I have nothing to worry about and just need to shut up and ride
I'd vote for this one. Best not to over think things....its just a bike...parts break/wear out, fix it and ride some more. Repeat cycle and remember to have N+1 bikes
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Old 05-09-13, 03:10 PM   #15
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Riding on some 32 spoke double wall rimmed wheels that came original on my bikes direct hybrid I it new. Started at 320, down near 270 now. In the past month I broke 3 spokes. Each on different rides. I decided to replace my wheels with some 36 spoke double wall rims from my lbs. Haven't gotten them yet, but I anticipate my wheels will hold out until I do. I broke a spoke climbing a modest hill near my daily ride destination, stopped at the lbs to ask if I could buy a spoke and use their tools. Worker said no problem, and even offered advice and even did a little work for me. Best 1$ I wet spent at a bike store. I asked the guy to price a new rear wheel as I descried above, and to go ahead and price the front too. Came back within my budget and a claim that for the life of the wheel, truing is free. I was sold. I can't wait to get them so I can start riding hard again. Being timid about breaking spokes and having to "limp" home does not put me in the mental state for good riding.
Sounds like you found a good LBS. Support them with business and recommendations to friends and co-riders. If you want to and think it is appropriate, you could post its name and address here. Most LBSs are a bit marginal on total business volume, so a bit of help should be good for all concerned.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:31 PM   #16
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Brand spanking new Trek 1000 straight from the LBS and probably broke 8 - 10 spokes riding around 265lbs, probably less than 2.5K miles riding normally. All on the rear wheel. Got fed up and bought some used craigslist wheels and fixed my spoke problem. Now I weigh 245 and have put around 2000 miles on a set of Shimano RS20 16/24 spoke count wheels and not a single problem, even after hitting a pothole flying thru an intersection at 30mph.

I also think I'm riding differently as, I beleive I'm becoming a stronger rider, I think I may be putting more weight on the pedals, and less on my butt, if that makes any sense.

If you want to break some spokes, get the wheels I started out on. I donated them to a friend and he hasn't used them yet. He'd probably part with them for a small fee.
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Old 05-10-13, 04:17 AM   #17
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Properly tensioned and trued, even lower end stock wheels will hold up for a long time. I started on an old Trek 820 and rode the heck out of it with stock wheels and Bontrager H4 Eco tires and never had a broken spoke. My second bike was a Giant Yukon (not blaming the company) with stock wheels and I snapped several spokes before having the LBS rebuild the rear wheel which solved the problem. Since that time I have learned to not only true, but properly tension all my wheels and do so as part of my winter maintenance (once they are properly tensioned, they rarely come out of true at all, maybe a minor tweek due to my OCD).
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Old 05-10-13, 05:49 AM   #18
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+1 Properly tensioned and trued...I've broken lots of spokes on ill tensioned wheels, I don't seem to have any problems with a properly tensioned wheel.
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Old 05-10-13, 12:00 PM   #19
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Properly tensioned and trued, even lower end stock wheels will hold up for a long time. I started on an old Trek 820 and rode the heck out of it with stock wheels and Bontrager H4 Eco tires and never had a broken spoke. My second bike was a Giant Yukon (not blaming the company) with stock wheels and I snapped several spokes before having the LBS rebuild the rear wheel which solved the problem. Since that time I have learned to not only true, but properly tension all my wheels and do so as part of my winter maintenance (once they are properly tensioned, they rarely come out of true at all, maybe a minor tweek due to my OCD).
So most likely the rims I mentioned in reply #12 are ok but the fact that I had to have them trued twice and broke a spoke is because when they trued them they did a poor job? or wheels crap? or both? Is there a way to determine if they did a good job? I have read a few write-ups about it and watched some you tube videos on the topic but for some reason I am struggling to understand wheel maintenance (I am sure I am over worring about it, but most shops in the area the fastest is 1 to 2 days and dont have a back up bike right now due to low cash flow at the moment) And I am really pressing to ride as many miles as I possably can cause I have to lose more weight and very obsessed with being more then just a big recreational rider
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Old 05-10-13, 12:17 PM   #20
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The trouble with knowing whether a shop was any good at providing even spoke tension would be if you could check their work. If you were good enough to check their work you would just do it yourself.
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Old 05-10-13, 01:03 PM   #21
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I have ridden between 270 and 198 lbs., never have been a light rider - currently at 225 lbs. Can't say as I have ever broken a spoke - while riding many different Treks, Bianchi's, Schwinn's, Motobecane's and recently a Jamis. They are also ridden exclusively on the stock wheels, some of them for 15 - 30 years. I have had a few wheels develop a wobble that needed corrected on occasion, unfortunately I have never developed that talent, maybe later in life - the local Amish/Mennonite repairman will true my wheels for $2.00 per bike...while I wait...I feel bad and usually slip him a 5 or 10 spot.
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Old 05-11-13, 07:49 AM   #22
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222lb this morning down from 235lb, never broken a spoke while riding on any bike and that includes riding vintage 27" and 700 wheelsets. My lightest wheelset is 16/24. I think the way you ride has alot to do with it, besides the quality of the build.

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Old 05-11-13, 09:20 AM   #23
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208 currently and was about 230 at my highest. I have yet to break a spoke. Have ridden several different wheel sets and sizes.
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Old 05-12-13, 08:08 PM   #24
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a little knock on wood here:

bought an off the shelf secteur sport with stock rims @ 350lbs, ridden it 55 miles on some really crappy cracked roads or choppy sidewalks, and so far i've only popped a tube.

the guy at the store who fitted me told me that it has a lot more to do with the rider than the weight sometimes. if you are lighter on the bike before a big bump (or can just avoid them altogether) and ride carefully then you can probably avoid some of these problems.

i did bend a rim once a while ago, i was riding in the dark without the best light and i mis-guessed on the location of the curb ramp. i picked the front wheel up in time, but that meant all my weight was on the back of the bike and the back wheel just slammed into the curb. it was vicious, but the wheel was still able to be trued and there were no popped spokes. never had another problem with that bike after that.
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Old 05-12-13, 08:30 PM   #25
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I have broken a few spokes over the years but only a couple have broken at the bead of the spoke the others have broken at the nipple and these were alloy nipples. I have quite a few bikes with wheels that have 20-36 spokes. I also tend to ride light, avoiding potholes, curbs and I stand when hitting bumps.
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