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  1. #1
    Senior Member fholt's Avatar
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    Rear wheel problems - respoke it?

    So I've got a just over a year old Novara Randonee tourer that I use to commute on. My normal load is me (215 +-) plus a ThinkPad, toolkit and some clothes in panniers on the rear rack. The rest of the bike is dead stock plus pedals, lighting, and fenders.

    About 2 months ago I broke the first spoke on the rear - drive side leading spoke. This week I broke the next one over, drive side trailing (pulling). So I've now used up the 2 spares that came on the bike (mounted on the chainstay). While I've done everything I can to true it (dead true) and even up the tension on the spokes by feel - still I figure it's just a matter of time until the next one goes. I just figure that's the deal once I've broken 2 spokes on a wheel, which I have now done on 3 of my 4 wheelsets on the bikes I own.

    The wheel itself is a Tiagra hub, laced 3x with 14ga straight stainless spokes (36 of 'em), to Mavic A319 rims. My thought is to respoke it (as my first wheel build) after I get a tensiometer and truing stand - which I plan in the next couple of months.

    Is this a good idea?
    Is there some other (cheap) wheel I should consider for the rear?
    Consider swapping the hub or rim while I've got it apart?
    Am I crazy to try a heavily loaded rear as my first project?

    TIA
    -------------------------------
    '06 Novara Randonee
    '09 Fuji Cross Pro
    '13 Specialized Roubaix Pro
    '13 Specialized Allez Smartweld Frankenbike

  2. #2
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I have a Giant Cypress (cheap $300 hybrid). My rear wheel started breaking spokes at about 1000 miles, and I was breaking a spoke almost weekly for several months. Finally I said screw it, bought a new rim and butted DT spokes and built a new wheel. This one has 10,000 miles on it with zero troubles. So I'd say yeah, build a new wheel.

    I had never built a wheel before, but with Sheldon Brown's instructions and some patience I had no real problem.

    I built a truing stand from 2x4s, a couple of shelf brackets and some aluminum that I cut notches into to match the axle. I put a bit of threaded rod through a junction nut attached to one of the uprights as an indicator. Cost nothing, just junk I had lying around.

    I dished it by adjusting things until the rim was just touching the indicator whether I flipped the wheel around or not.

    I just built a new front wheel too so I could put disc brakes up there. I never bothered with a tensiometer; a friend said "just start tensioning everything up while keeping it true, and just put as much tension on it as you reasonably can without going nuts; just stop before you start to strip things". I also just plucked the spokes and got the pitch of all the spokes on one side of the wheel pretty close (within about 1/4 step I'd say). ISTM that's probably a more accurate gauge of tension than a tensiometer, at least as far as getting them all the same.

    I've even seen resources online for determining the tension of a spoke given its pitch, so you could just use a pitch pipe, keyboard, or tuning device as a tensiometer.

    I'm sure I could have done a little better with $200 of equipment, but given that it was a first wheel build, I did it with $0 in equipment, and it's still dead true after 10,000 miles, I'd say maybe the $200 isn't necessary for the occasional builder.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  3. #3
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    BTW, I'd highly recommend butted spokes. It just seemed like a damn good idea to me for a drive wheel to have some flex in the center rather than on the elbow. Every single one of my spokes broke at the elbow.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  4. #4
    Senior Member fholt's Avatar
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    Both of the spoke failures on this wheel were at the nipple - basically everything that wasn't threaded came out of the nipple. I don't know what that means, but that's what they did.

    I've broken some at the elbow on the roadie, but not this wheel.
    -------------------------------
    '06 Novara Randonee
    '09 Fuji Cross Pro
    '13 Specialized Roubaix Pro
    '13 Specialized Allez Smartweld Frankenbike

  5. #5
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    +1 for a new wheel. I broke two on my commuter/tourer on tour while pulling a trailer, and one more on an overnighter with panniers. It was just as someone else said, a 300 dollar hybrid. Get a good wheel with double wall and eyelets, otherwise it will just keep being a headache.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

  6. #6
    extra bitter kyselad's Avatar
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    +1 for butted spokes. Let 'em flex somewhere else and hopefully that will help with the breakage.

  7. #7
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    My experience is that you can continue to mess with it one spoke at a time, or you can replace it. I have seen alot of this sort of things with commuters pushing 200 lbs and up, and carrying 15-20 lbs of stuff in rear panniers. I really am curius if 1). the weight is simply pushing what a traditional 36-spoke/700c-27" wheel will handle (thus the 40 and 48 spoke versions of old); 2). The un-sprung mass of the panniers is doing these wheels in; or 3). if the higher weights require more attention to build quality.
    "Where you come from is gone;
    where you are headed weren't never there;
    and where you are ain't no good unless you can get away from it."

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