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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    New Bike Breaking Spokes

    A little over a month ago I got my first bike (Specialized Expedition Sport) and rode it for 250 miles with zero problems when I weighed 370lbs. Then I wanted to go a little faster, so I bought a Trek FX 7.2 and have ridden it about 120 miles now. In that 120 miles, I have broken two spokes on the rear wheel now and I'm down to 348lbs. I'm trying to figure out why the new bike is breaking spokes so quickly and the first bike did not. Also trying to figure out what needs to be done in order to keep it from continuing. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ursa Minor's Avatar
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    I dont know anything about wheels but congratulations on the weight loss.

    Charlie
    Grimly determined to have fun.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TampaRaleigh's Avatar
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    Have the shop check the tension of the spokes. Spoke breakage is common in wheels that have spokes that are too loose.

  4. #4
    Senior Member adrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TampaRaleigh View Post
    Have the shop check the tension of the spokes. Spoke breakage is common in wheels that have spokes that are too loose.
    Yup. Production bikes generally have machine-built wheels. They generally ship true, but not well tensioned. Your Specialized may have had its wheels properly tensioned as part of the shop prep. My guess is the Trek did not.
    "how do you know you can't swim until you have drowned?"

  5. #5
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Sounds like good advice ^... Way to go on the weight loss!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Thanks, I've dropped 52lbs so far.

    I know my Specialized had the spokes tensioned, I watched the guy do it. He thought it was a good idea. That was at a different shop. But that bike also have suspension fork, suspension seat, bigger tires. The trek is all fixed and thin tires.

    When I took the bike into the shop for the last broken spoke I talked to the tech about adding tension to the spokes and he said he didn't believe in that theory. He said he had a friend at the olympic training center that did tests on larger riders (they have 350lbers at the olympic training center? ) and found that higher spoke tension was not as good as some thought.

    Wondering if I need a stronger wheel or just a better adjusted wheel.
    Last edited by Jarrett2; 07-03-13 at 08:19 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member adrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    Thanks, I've dropped 52lbs so far.

    I know my Specialized had the spokes tensioned, I watched the guy do it. He thought it was a good idea. That was at a different shop. But that bike also have suspension fork, suspension seat, bigger tires. The trek is all fixed and thin tires.

    When I took the bike into the shop for the last broken spoke I talked to the tech about adding tension to the spokes and he said he didn't believe in that theory. He said he had a friend at the olympic training center that did tests on larger riders (they have 350lbers at the olympic training center? ) and found that higher spoke tension was not as good as some thought.

    Wondering if I need a stronger wheel or just a better adjusted wheel.
    Um, well, is his theory going to buy you new wheels? Is his friend building track wheels? (fixed gear, minimal dish, smooth surface...I could go on, but it's not exactly a direct comparison)

    The tension doesn't have to be crazy high. It does need to be even, and my experience is that if it is even and appropriate (highest on drive side rear) your odds are lowest for issues. Yes, it is possible that the wheels can't take your weight or riding style (especially if low spoke count). But it is also likely that riding a wheel that is proven to break spokes without adjusting wheel tension will ruin the wheels. Once a single spoke is broken the first thing good wheel mechs do is check the tension across the board. What made the first spoke break is not fixed by replacing the spoke.

    Oh, and great news on the weight. Hopefully we can get the wheel issue addressed so you can keep it up.
    "how do you know you can't swim until you have drowned?"

  8. #8
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    I had a problem like that on my hybrid some years back. At the time, I was about 250 - 255. With two spokes broken in just over 100, it is likely to continue, especially at your weight. In my case, the shop replaced all the spokes and rebuilt the wheel, and I never had a problem with broken spokes again. You could ask them to do that, and they should do it. Alternately, get a new, higher spoke count rear wheel, either 36 or even 40 spoke wheels. Honestly, the bike shop probably should have addressed this issue before you bought the bike.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    I've had the bike about a week and a half. What should I be expecting to pay for something like that?

  10. #10
    Senior Member ka0use's Avatar
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    dang, dude! can i give you 65 of my pounds to lose for me?
    first star on the right and straight on 'til morning
    avatar is of dame edna

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Which side? NDS?
    Are the spokes breaking in the bend?
    IF so, that points to the spokes not being properly tensioned.

    How many spokes on the wheel?

  12. #12
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    I've had the bike about a week and a half. What should I be expecting to pay for something like that?
    I would expect them to rebuild the wheel under warranty. Question. Did they discuss the wheel issue with you before purchase?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    There was no talk of wheel issues before the purchase. I think I asked if the narrow tires would be ok and they said yeah.

  14. #14
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I would expect a new, properly tensioned, properly spoked, rear wheel - under warranty. And, if you paid for prior spoke replacement, I would want that reimbursed.

    Once you asked about the durability/wheel issues, they accepted responsibility to sell you a proper vehicle.

    MHO

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  15. #15
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    There was no talk of wheel issues before the purchase. I think I asked if the narrow tires would be ok and they said yeah.
    Not tires, wheels. Anyway, it isn't your fault. They are supposedly the professionals. When I had the broken spoke issue at 250 lbs, the bike shop guys mentioned the thing about machine built wheels. Once spokes start breaking, the wheel may be compromised. That is why at this point, you may need the entire wheel rebuilt. The bike shop guys probably don't like this as it is time consuming, but they should stand behind their product if they want to keep you as a customer.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    I just called them and they said they have a wheel and will try to get it installed under warranty today. Going to take it up there about 1:30pm.

    The reason I hesitate on pushing for free fix is I think the weight limit on these bikes is 300lbs. I'm 48 over that.

  17. #17
    Senior Member adrien's Avatar
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    ...so I looked it up. Assuming it's a current FX 7.2, those are 32 spoke, 3-cross, and the tires are 35s. They were right -- the "skinny" tires are not an issue, and the wheels have a decent chance of being issue-free, if they are properly tensioned and bedded in. Unfortunately, as you describe it they are not, and the shop continues to refuse to do that.

    THis is a warranty issue -- sounds like they didn't prep the bike properly for you, and are continuing to not do it by not tensioning the wheel because of the mech's theory (ugh). I wouldn't pay them for fixing it; I'd ask for a manager and tell him or her that you want your wheel issues fixed instead of constant run around and up charging. I would let them offer a trade-up to a higher count wheel (36 or 40), or rebuild the wheel (not just true it -- at this point I'd ask for a rebuild).

    As a final point, these guys may not know enough about wheels for heavy guys. Wheelbuilding is an art, and it's amazing how many shop mechs don't know what they are doing. This may turn into something where it makes sense to walk away with some settlement (maybe a credit) and get a new wheel from someone who knows what he's doing.

    BTW, which spokes are breaking? Rear only? Drive side or non?
    "how do you know you can't swim until you have drowned?"

  18. #18
    Senior Member adrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    I just called them and they said they have a wheel and will try to get it installed under warranty today. Going to take it up there about 1:30pm.

    The reason I hesitate on pushing for free fix is I think the weight limit on these bikes is 300lbs. I'm 48 over that.
    Oh, good. our posts crossed. Make sure you ask if these are evenly hand-tensioned.
    "how do you know you can't swim until you have drowned?"

  19. #19
    Senior Member TampaRaleigh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    The reason I hesitate on pushing for free fix is I think the weight limit on these bikes is 300lbs. I'm 48 over that.
    But... how are you riding the bike? Paved streets?

    A "hybrid" is designed for light-off road use. (Gravel roads, small bumps, etc.) A wheel that is made to hold 300 lbs for light off-road use should easily be able to handle 350 or more on a paved street.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    I just called them and they said they have a wheel and will try to get it installed under warranty today. Going to take it up there about 1:30pm.

    The reason I hesitate on pushing for free fix is I think the weight limit on these bikes is 300lbs. I'm 48 over that.
    Once again, since you asked about it before buying the bike, it's their problem. The worst that should happen is that they take the bike back and refund your money. If that happens go to the shop that sold you the Specialized and tensioned the wheels...

  21. #21
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    I had the same problem with my 7.2 FX. After about six broken spokes I got tired of chasing the problem and had the wheel professionally rebuilt for a hundred bucks. It was money well spent. BTW, I ditched the spring loaded seat post too. Those two fixes made it a great bike.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info. Both spokes where on the rear wheel, but I didn't check sides. The first one was only loose but in place with no tension. Like it pushed into the wheel. This time the spoke was out of the wheel and flopping around. I bent it back into the center of the wheel so I could finish the ride without it getting into the chain/gear. Maybe that answers the which side question?

  23. #23
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    FWIW, I had a similar experience breaking spokes last year on a bike I ordered over the Internet (I was about 270 pounds or so then). I was just starting bike commuting and didn't have any experience with anything. I got a recommendation from a friend for a good wheelbuilder in town, who rebuilt my rear wheel with new spokes for less than $100. I have gone over 1500 miles on that wheel since, with no problems (even though I ride with loaded panniers on potholed streets). A good wheelbuilder rebuilding a wheel with quality replacement spokes should solve most problems of this sort. It sounds like you may already have found a solution, but I thought I would post this in case others were in a similar situation.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Any known good wheel builders in the DFW area?

  25. #25
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    Any known good wheel builders in the DFW area?
    Hopefully who works at, or with your LBS.

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