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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 06-05-06, 11:43 AM   #1
saharvey2
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Three Spoke Morning

This morning I broke three spokes on the way into work. I picked up this wheelset new from my LBS last month. So, far I've broken four spokes on the rear wheel in only 400 miles -- all non-drive side. This is a 32 spoke, straight guage, Shimano 105, Mavic MA3 wheelset. Strange thing about these spoke when they break, there is just a little ping.

This is the second wheelset I've had problems with. Last year I purchased a new wheelset. I broke three spokes within the first 1000 miles. Things were pretty good until the rear rim cracked last month at 4000 miles.

I'm getting very tired of this spoke breakage. Until this last year I had never broken a spoke. Now, I break more spoke than I get flats.

Is this just a poor wheelset, or am I just brutal on wheels?
How often to other cyclists break spokes?
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Old 06-05-06, 12:15 PM   #2
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I have a mavic wheelset with 1800 miles on it since the end of march.
Your experience sounds like my old Alex wheelset.

Do you curb hop, run into potholes, etc?
I generally try and avoid all potential hazards and stay on the road. I have no desire to repeat my old issues.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:36 PM   #3
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I've broken one spoke in the past 5 years.

Sounds like you got a bum wheel. I hope you can return it to the shop where you bought it.

You might consider building your own wheels.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:44 PM   #4
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Unless you weigh ONE MEEELION POUNDS! there is something wrong with that build. Go talk to the bike shop you bought it from.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:46 PM   #5
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It is from bad tensioning of the spokes if you are breaking non-drive side spokes. This is magnified if you have to replace a spoke after breaking one. The replaced spoke is hard to get tight enough and puts the stress on the spoke next to it.

It is not hard to rebuild wheels with all new spokes starting from just rim and hub (not simply replacing each spoke one by one to a tensioned wheel). I'd recommend you visit Harris Cyclery's site and get a full set of new spokes so you can rebuild the wheels. This ensures all the spokes are the same tension since they are all tightened evenly starting from the slack state. You can get a good shop to do this as well, for a price.

I'd also recommend replacing your spokes with 14-15-14 gage double butted spokes. These spokes are thicker at the ends than the middle, which is good because it is always at the ends where the spoke breaks. I'm a big guy for a cyclist (200 lbs) and have broken spokes before. After rebuilding the wheel after a broken spoke (I've had this happen on two wheelsets, always the rear), I've never had a problem. The only time I've had problems is when I broke a spoke (non-drive side) and simply replaced it and trued the wheel. The very next day, a different spoke broke.

Once the spoke tension is correct, the wheel should be solid for a long time. After replacing 4 spokes in the wheel, I can say right now that the tension on the spokes are not even around the wheel.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DataJunkie
Do you curb hop, run into potholes, etc?
I generally try and avoid all potential hazards and stay on the road. I have no desire to repeat my old issues.
Curb hop -- never
Potholes -- rarely, when it's car, curb, or pothole, I choose the pothole.

My route is a bit rough. Half (9 miles) is bike path, which is rough. There are 1" steps about every half mile where the concrete underpass joins with the asphalt roadbed.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokenrobot
Unless you weigh ONE MEEELION POUNDS! there is something wrong with that build. Go talk to the bike shop you bought it from.
I'll add that if it is a cheapish wheel, it is machine tensioned and it is very likely the build is wrong and the spoke tension is not what it should be.
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Old 06-05-06, 12:52 PM   #8
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your bikeshop sold you a bum wheel...

i would hesitate to buy more wheels from them if this is the second wheel from them you had problems with.

they should be looking into replacing that wheel for you... that is not your fault it was a badly built/tensioned wheel.

i too had these problems, but then finally started buying handbuilt wheels made by someone who knows what they are doing (it's not cheap but neither is constantly replacing spokes). zero broken spokes since then.

another note: according to most who know after breaking 3-4 spokes your wheel should be completely rebuilt.. something about spoke pressue on the rim (blah blah)... but anyway if you just replace those spokes there is a good chance they will just keep breaking over and over.
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Old 06-05-06, 03:00 PM   #9
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The stock wheel my Giant came with broke spokes like crazy.
I finally gave up and built one. I bought a Mavic double wall rim on sale at Nashhbar, and a set of DT butted spokes, printed out Sheldon Brown's wheelbuilding tutorial, and sat down in the living room with a spoke wrench. I have about 3000 miles on that wheel. The only spoke I've broken is when I sucked the chain into the spokes one day and mangled a spoke completely.

If they're breaking on the non-drive side on the elbow, either the spokes are really junk, or they probably don't have enough tension on them; this causes them to unload and reload on every pedal stroke, which causes metal fatigue at the elbows of the spokes.

[EDIT] I ride over 8 miles of rough potholed/washboarded gravel every day, which is > 1/3 of my route. So this rear tire I built has > 1000 miles of rough gravel miles on it with no problems. IME except for RARE instances if the rear is breaking spokes, it's due to loading/unloading of improperly tensioned spokes, NOT because of riding over rough road.
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Old 06-05-06, 03:50 PM   #10
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To the OP: that is the exact wheelset my jake the snake came with (except that the front hub was a mtn bike shimano LX hub). I broke a spoke last fall in the same manner you did. Was riding along and PING it went. My LBS replaced it for free. I noticed that it was not dished right this spring. I took it back to the LBS and they tried to redish it. PING PING PING go the spokes. End result? Factory built wheel = POS and they rebuilt the wheel from scratch for free. Since then, it has seen over 1200 km and has given me zero issues and has not even thought about going out of true. The components you have are ok, the build is not.
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Old 06-05-06, 04:53 PM   #11
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road bike rim? if it is, and your breaking that many spokes but not getting pinch flats...i'ld say it's the rim. Make them refund your money and buy something different (from someone else if they are building the rims in house) i have been riding for 2 years, and never broken a spoke. Road a converted mountain bike for 5 years before that (2 of those 5 i commuted every day) and never broke a spoke on that. The mountain bike was a GT with standard issue rims, (nothing fancy)

The road bike, I had a set of something old with 105 hubs and never had a problem, upgraded to some newer mavic cp22 rims with 105 hubs again, 36 spoke, standard lace on all these wheels (as I'm a big guy) and i've never had a spoke break once. Really sounds like a crap rimset.
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Old 06-06-06, 07:43 AM   #12
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I broke five spokes in one ride and had to release the brakes to get home. The wife had suprised me by having the other bike shop put on solid tires while I was at work. The five were just the climax of a long series of broken spokes. Obviously not your problem. On my current bike I went 7000 miles without a broken spoke. Then I had the lbs retrue the wheel. A few weeks later PING. The shop had "trued" the wheel leaving some spokes almost slack and some too tight. They replaced the spoke and "trued" it again. This time after riding it a week to seat the nipples I retightened any loose spokes. No problems now.
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Old 06-06-06, 08:27 AM   #13
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I bought a new rear wheel last week. It was machine built and all the drive side spokes had only 80 kg or less tension on them. The tension should have been more than 100 kg. When you bought the wheel you should have checked the tension or had the shop do it.
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Old 06-06-06, 09:01 AM   #14
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No one's asked what brand the spokes are?

Make it Wheelsmith or DT if you want it to be a "keeper." Or another top-notch brand that's their equal, although for the US market (since you gave distance in miles) I don't know of anything else readily available. The rest is good advice too, the wheel should be built and tensioned properly.
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Old 06-06-06, 11:15 AM   #15
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I took the wheel back to my LBS. I would say they were embarassed by the poor performance of the wheel. The LBS is rebuilding the wheel. The shop is putting in the labor for free; I am purchasing the spokes, at cost. Seems like a fair deal, going from a machine built wheel with straight guage spokes to a hand built wheel with butted spokes, for just the cost of the spokes.
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