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  1. #1
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Awk, how often do spokes need to be checked?

    About a year and half of commuting, and on the ride in today a spoke broke. Huh, a spoke broke. I thought you didn't have to check spokes. So,

    -- how often do spoke break?

    -- do you check spoke tension regularly, or only when they break?

    Thanks
    Hi 'o Silver away

  2. #2
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Well, you can't really check spoke tension visually, and a spoke on the verge of breaking due to fatigue would probably look totally normal under most circumstances. I would say, check spoke tension with an honest-to-goodness tensiometer when you true the wheel, and otherwise don't bother. Maybe hand check 'em every once in a while. I don't even use a tensiometer when I true my wheels - who wants to pay for one?

    And no, you shouldn't have to check spokes except when truing the wheel. A wheel that is properly built and tensioned the first time (and the definition of "properly built" includes "built strongly enough for weight and riding style") won't break spokes, period, unless it is seriously overloaded through a crash or other mistreatment - like being allowed to go badly out of true and/or tension.

  3. #3
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    Check spoke tension with tensiometer when you true the wheel, then after a couple of weeks riding to check that all is well. When you do the recheck, let the pressure down in the tires, so you can see how the tension compares with the previous tension.

  4. #4
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Is the park tensionmeter the best, or do you have another recommendation?
    Hi 'o Silver away

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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    A wheel that is properly built and tensioned the first time (and the definition of "properly built" includes "built strongly enough for weight and riding style") won't break spokes, period, unless it is seriously overloaded through a crash or other mistreatment - like being allowed to go badly out of true and/or tension.
    Truer words have rarely been spoken

  6. #6
    Biscuit Boy Cosmoline's Avatar
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    I wish! I've been breaking heavy ga. spokes in a double wide Sun rim on a weekly basis. They're simply not tough enough.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    About a year and half of commuting, and on the ride in today a spoke broke. Huh, a spoke broke. I thought you didn't have to check spokes. So,

    -- how often do spoke break?

    -- do you check spoke tension regularly, or only when they break?

    Thanks
    yes you have to check spokes, i do everytime i check my tire pressure, usually just a squeeze, more if the wheel is coming out of true....they come loose, break when you hit bumps, rust out (i've had 6 break on 1 wheel when the salt got them in winter)

    Because of the length of my commute and the weight i sometimes carry in my panniers, i switched to a 34 spoke wheel, have found it necessary to have it trued 3 times in 6 months, and tighten the odd spoke at least once/week

    usually the rear wheel needs more attention

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmoline
    I wish! I've been breaking heavy ga. spokes in a double wide Sun rim on a weekly basis. They're simply not tough enough.
    this usually happens if you've had the wheel trued a few time too many...the internal stresses may be building up and focusing on a certain area of the rim...also make sure that you have the right tire pressure and that the spokes are the correct length for the hub/rim

    may be time to have the wheel relaced or have the rim replaced

  9. #9
    Enjoy
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
    Truer words have rarely been spoken
    No pun intended of course

  10. #10
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Sometimes you can hear when the spokes are getting loose. A specially loose one will rub on the others making a clicking or very short sharp squeeking sound. I will stop and tighten it a bit immediately. With my 3 cross wheels with 36 14gage spokes I have the lbs work it over every year or two.
    This space open

  11. #11
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    [rant]

    Modern bikes are a pain. I expected spoke replacement to be a snap. Nope, need 3 special tools to remove the cassette. 2 days no riding, ugh, ugh, ugh. [/rant]

    Hello park tools.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  12. #12
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    Since I just built up my first pair of wheels, I was interested in this.
    I do use a tensiometer, and I regularly check the tension to see how my wheels are holding up.
    When I first built the wheel, I went out and rode it for a couple of miles..then checked the tension. It was lower, so I retensioned the wheel. Then after maybe another hundred miles, I cheked again and found the tension to be lower again, but only slightly, so I readjusted the tension again. Now after about 400 miles the tension has stayed the same. I suppose my spokes are finished stretching by this point.

    the lesson I learned...If not properly stretched the spokes will loose tension in the beginning, but after one or two adjustments you should be able to achieve a stable level of tension. So I would say, in the beginning, with a new pair of wheels, it would be a good idea to monitor the tension for a few hundred miles...thereafter if the tension remains the same, you shouldn't have any problems until the wheel begins to wear out due to corrosion, brake pad wear and what not.

  13. #13
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Good advice, I need:

    1. cassette plug
    2. cassette chain
    3. tension meter
    Hi 'o Silver away

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grolby
    ...A wheel that is properly built and tensioned the first time (and the definition of "properly built" includes "built strongly enough for weight and riding style") won't break spokes, period, unless it is seriously overloaded through a crash or other mistreatment - like being allowed to go badly out of true and/or tension.
    I'm not so sure I'd agree. A wheel is a very dynamic object. As each spoke rotates around the wheel it experiences different forces of tension and compression at the rim. Since these constantly changing forces are translated to the hub, the head of the spoke is put under a lot of strain for a thin piece of metal that is severly bent. The spoke head doesn't fill the hole at the hub (by about 0.3mm) either. The spoke head can move, slightly, back and forth until you overstrained the head and it fails. The strain on the head is worse in straight gauge spokes because the full change in force is translated directly to the spoke head while in a butted spoke the force is modulated by the flexibility of the thin section of the spoke. If you 'fill' the hub hole by using 2.3mm spokes, like the DT Alpine, combined with the thin section of the spoke, most of the force is translated to the hub and the wheel is stronger for it.

    I've been running 2.3/1.8/2.0mm Alpines on my mountain bike for 5 years or so now and haven't had a spoke fail yet. And I ride them very hard
    Stuart Black
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