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  1. #1
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    Broken spoke again and again. Help!

    Thanks for reading everyone!

    So, I break a rear spoke typically about once a month. It's really getting frustrating and I'm looking for advice. I don't know much about wheel quality and maybe it's time for new wheels, but a few basics first.

    Setup:
    Globe Vienna 3 Disc
    Rims: Alex rims 700c, alloy double wall, 32h
    Rear Hub: Shimano FH-M475, forged alloy, disc 6-bolt, QR, 32h
    Spokes: 1.8mm (15g) stainless
    Rear Tire: Specialized Nimbus, 700x35c, 60TPI, w/ Flak Jacket protection
    PSI: typically between 80-90

    Payload:
    6'0" Male
    190-200lbs
    Rear pannier/trunk bag
    Approx. 10-15 lbs max
    Total: 200-215 lbs.

    Riding style:
    Pavement, commuting.
    Avg. 50 miles per week
    Total mileage on bike is about 2k miles
    Broken spoke count=8 (in the last 500 miles)


    So, like i said, I keep breaking spokes (only on the rear) and it's getting irritating. I've replaced a few myself, but typically every 3rd one or so, I take it to a mechanic for a professional true. I just had that done at the local lbs about 2 weeks ago. I realize that I'm a little heavier than most riders, but not excessively. I'm in pretty good shape, so all my weight is not "in the saddle" or anything.

    So where do I start?
    Are the wheels I have decent? I thought they were, but I'm beginning to question that.
    Do I need a higher quality spoke?


    If you would suggest a better quality wheel, then I don't even know where to begin. Custom built? Off the shelf? Brands/types? Could I do only a new rear wheel, or is it most sensible to upgrade both? I dont are about wheel weight, just dependability. My budget would MAX at about $250. Is that even reasonable for a good wheel?

    Also, if anyone wants to suggest a good starting point for "wheels for dummies", I'm all ears.

    Thanks for your help everyone!

    Cheers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lionheart's Avatar
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    You could pay to have your wheel rebuilt with 14g spokes. That might do the trick.

    Quote Originally Posted by nashvillwill View Post
    My budget would MAX at about $250. Is that even reasonable for a good wheel?
    This is absolutely enough. You should be able to get a good wheel for that amount. If you're sick of this and just want reliability look for a 36 spoke wheel.
    "There's going to be a MUP throw-down."

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lot's Knife's Avatar
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    I'd go with a rebuild. The person doing it is key, though. Head washers. Eighty bucks, around there.
    Last edited by Lot's Knife; 06-25-12 at 06:43 PM.

  4. #4
    Keep on climbing
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    The key to a strong, long-lasting wheel is getting even spoke tension all the way around. It's possible to get a wheel perfectly "true" even though the spokes aren't tensioned evenly. This uneven tension leads to some spokes taking more of the load, which causes them to break... Then you take it in, they replace the spoke, and they have to tension that spoke unevenly again in order to keep the wheel true, which leads to it breaking, again, and so the cycle repeats.

    The only way to solve this is to remove every spoke and start again. However, the key is finding somebody who *really* knows what they're doing with a wheel rebuild. You might want to start a thread and ask for forum opinions on who the best local wheelbuilder is. Tell him (or her...) that you want to completely rebuild the wheel.

    Once they unlace all the spokes, they can take a look at the rim and see if the rim is undamaged / not-warped / etc. and take it from there. But I'd rebuild the wheel before bothering to get another one, as there's no guarantee a new wheel will have even spoke tension either.
    "There is more to life than increasing its speed" -- Mahatma Gandhi

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashvillwill View Post
    Thanks for reading everyone!

    So, I break a rear spoke typically about once a month. It's really getting frustrating and I'm looking for advice. I don't know much about wheel quality and maybe it's time for new wheels, but a few basics first.
    That often happens when you combine 200 pounds with machine built wheels.

    Broken spoke count=8 (in the last 500 miles)
    Expect all the spokes in the failing group(s) (rear drive side and rear non-drive side) to go because they fail due to fatigue and those spokes have all seen the same number (about 750 per mile) of similar stress cycles (they've got similar residual stress in the elbows from the forming operation, similar tension, the same unloading from your weight, similar bending in a non-drive side that's too loose).

    Are the wheels I have decent? I thought they were, but I'm beginning to question that.
    Do I need a higher quality spoke?
    You need a higher quality wheel build where some one takes the time to achieve uniform tension and stress relieve the wheel to remove the residual stress from the elbow forming process.

    If you would suggest a better quality wheel, then I don't even know where to begin. Custom built? Off the shelf? Brands/types? Could I do only a new rear wheel, or is it most sensible to upgrade both? I dont are about wheel weight, just dependability. My budget would MAX at about $250. Is that even reasonable for a good wheel?
    New spokes will run $0.40 - $1+ each depending on whether you buy on-line and do the work yourself or pay your LBS. I'd choose DT 2.0/1.8 Competition spokes with brass nipples. A complete wheel build is free with your labor but takes patience and is easier with a truing stand and dish stick. It should run under $70 (SF Bay area commercial rent and labor is high) although it needs to be done by a competent and reputable individual if you farm it out.

    Choosing a currently reputable shop with more than one mechanic on staff is _NOT_ enough. I folded one under-tensioned wheel from a formerly reputable shop and started building my own wheels because of that. Cleaning up after the other formerly reputable shop I delegated to because I didn't feel like building a wheel for my wife that week took more time than if I'd just built the wheel from scratch and would have meant the right length spokes so I wasn't in danger of running out of thread.

    You need to replace all the spokes in the failing group(s) (as in rear drive side or non-drive side).

    Also, if anyone wants to suggest a good starting point for "wheels for dummies", I'm all ears.
    Read

    _The Bicycle Wheel_ by Jobst Brandt.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Bicycle-Wh.../dp/0960723668

    He tested it on his grade school sons by having them each build a wheel set with no additional help.

    If you follow the directions it will take you a while but you'll end up with wheels that stay true until crashed and don't break spokes in the first few hundred thousand miles.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 06-26-12 at 02:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    Advice in this thread has been excellent. The one clarification I'll make is that with unevenly tensioned spokes, it isn't necessarily the tighter spokes that will fail first. It's more of a crapshoot depending on each spoke's prevailing tension relative to its neighbors: the spokes that are undergoing the largest fluctuation from minimum to maximum tension as the wheel rotates are the most likely to fail soonest.
    Geoff
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  7. #7
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    Thank you guys for the great responses.

    So, a couple of you said to rebuilt, but I'm wondering if that would even be worth it. Do you guys think my stock wheel has decent enough parts for a rebuild? I'm just wondering if it would be better to start from scratch, or if my current wheel is rebuild worthy.

    Thanks again! You guys are awesome.

    Dave, I'm going to send you a pm about shops in the Bay Area.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    Also, are there any "off the shelf" wheels that are any good, or is a custom wheel the way to go?

    If I decided to do a wheel build where is a good online place to start looking for parts?

  9. #9
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Something is amiss, as I was substantially heavier than you and even when I was riding well used, very entry level, factory built, single-wall, 32-straight gauge spoke, on no-name hubs, I can count the number of spokes I've broken on one hand. I rode 1,200 miles last year and am over 1,800 already this year. Only on the last 1,000 miles have I had better wheels but still factory built, upper entry level stuff. My first hand-built wheel just went on the back of my touring bike about 200 miles ago.

    You could try having the wheels hand-rebuilt in a 3-cross pattern with DT Swiss butted spokes (the builder who did my touring rear wheel explained to me why butted spokes are actually less likely to fail than straight gauge). An alternative would be to do what I did (not because I was breaking spokes but just because I wanted to bomb-proof for upcoming solo touring) and go to a 36-spoke hand built rear wheel on a double-wall eyeletted rim and decent hub. I got a Salsa Delgato rim with DT Swiss butted spokes and a Deore LX hub for about $200. The builder is well respected in an equally well respected shop and told me it would be an excellent riding and extremely tough wheel. It did weight about 100g more than my old wheel but I really don't notice the difference and it rides great.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 06-26-12 at 12:25 PM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Sounds like a rebuild is in order, or you should be able to find a decent hand built wheel online. If it were me, I wouldn't invest more in rebuilding a mediocre wheel. Check Universal Cycles.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    On My 2008 Globe, the spokes were specified as 1.8MM, but are actually 2.0MM.

    I'm 230 and have no problems, but I do ride quite conservatively and don't mash.

    I think your rim would be totally fine if you replace the drive side spokes and have them properly TENSIONED.

  12. #12
    Half way there gmt13's Avatar
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    While it's theoretically possible to build 32 spoke 4x wheels, it's pretty much something that you should not contemplate. It probably will result in spoke head interference. 3x for 32 holes is pretty much max. For your weight, I wouldn't think that properly tensioned wheels would give you that many broken spokes. If they are drive side rear spokes you may be abrading them with your chain.

    -G

  13. #13
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
    _The Bicycle Wheel_ by Jobst Brandt.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Bicycle-Wh.../dp/0960723668

    He tested it on his grade school sons by having them each build a wheel set with no additional help.

    If you follow the directions it will take you a while but you'll end up with wheels that stay true until crashed and don't break spokes in the first few hundred thousand miles.
    I read that book, but ended up following Sheldon's website for directions on how to build my wheel instead. Wasn't too hard (though I just did that and haven't mounted/ridden on the wheel yet).
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    I read that book, but ended up following Sheldon's website for directions on how to build my wheel instead. Wasn't too hard (though I just did that and haven't mounted/ridden on the wheel yet).
    Brandt's and Musson's books on wheelbuilding are excellent if you're looking to get into history, theory, and non-standard or mixed cross patterns.
    I found Sheldon's guide to be just fine for my basic 32h, 3-cross wheels.
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  15. #15
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    For what it's worth, I don't believe spoke quality, or even gauge, is the critical factor. Certainly not if you're under 200 lbs. The issue is spoke tension. And there, it's not even that important to have spoke tension uniform. As long as your spokes have sufficient tension, your wheel will hold up.

    If a spoke comes in and out of tension under your weight as the wheel turns, it will fatigue and eventually break. In most situations, if one spoke is getting fatigued, they are all getting fatigued. So what you have to do is replace them all, and tension them properly this time. This much is necessary. More is not necessary.

    You can replace all the spokes yourself; or you can have someone else do it. The former is cheaper; the latter is faster.

    Better spokes? Butted spokes? Professional build? Whole new wheel? Sure! All of these are fine options. I'm not opposed to them; there is nothing wrong with any of them. They are just not necessary.

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    For what it's worth, I don't believe spoke quality, or even gauge, is the critical factor. Certainly not if you're under 200 lbs. The issue is spoke tension. And there, it's not even that important to have spoke tension uniform. As long as your spokes have sufficient tension, your wheel will hold up.

    If a spoke comes in and out of tension under your weight as the wheel turns, it will fatigue and eventually break. In most situations, if one spoke is getting fatigued, they are all getting fatigued. So what you have to do is replace them all, and tension them properly this time. This much is necessary. More is not necessary.

    You can replace all the spokes yourself; or you can have someone else do it. The former is cheaper; the latter is faster.

    Better spokes? Butted spokes? Professional build? Whole new wheel? Sure! All of these are fine options. I'm not opposed to them; there is nothing wrong with any of them. They are just not necessary.
    Bolded to emphasize that more replacing of single spokes and retruing is not going to solve the problem. All the spokes on there need replacing, whether the rim and hub get replaced as well is up to you.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  17. #17
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I am 280...and have no problems with 32h wheels on my commuter or my road bike. I learned to build wheels after I started breaking spokes on my rear wheel. Rebuild with good quality spokes, tension meter and sheldons instruction and have had no problems since. Rebuild the wheel with new spokes and proper tension.

    for everyone out ther.....is there any correlation between disk brakes and spoke breakeage? It seams like the different focus of breaking power might have different impacts on spokes.... but that is a theory.
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  18. #18
    Fredly
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    I'm a superclyde and I had the exact same problem with spoke breaking at the nipple. I finally untensioned everything and retensioned the wheel so everything is exactly spot on, even throughout, and oh so awesomely true. I've had one spoke break since which was probably bound to go anyways (I just didn't have the money to buy all new spokes).

    While starting the rebuild I discovered that the shop that built my wheel set some of the spoke tensions to about 200 where they shouldn't have been more than 125. I'm not sure why they did that as it wasn't required.

  19. #19
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    I am 280...and have no problems with 32h wheels on my commuter or my road bike. I learned to build wheels after I started breaking spokes on my rear wheel. Rebuild with good quality spokes, tension meter and sheldons instruction and have had no problems since. Rebuild the wheel with new spokes and proper tension.

    for everyone out ther.....is there any correlation between disk brakes and spoke breakeage? It seams like the different focus of breaking power might have different impacts on spokes.... but that is a theory.
    I was going to mention that actually. Disk brakes have a lot less leverage than rim brakes and I'm fairly certain they stress the spokes a lot more.

    As far as places to get wheels, I believe "Handspun" has a decent reputation without costing too much.

    If the OP is thinking of getting a new wheel, it wouldn't hurt to buy a bunch of spokes and try to rebuild the old one first, or even if you get another wheel. It's a good learning experience and you already have the hub and a rim. I don't think you could sell it as is with a good conscience and it would be a waste to throw it away.
    Last edited by tjspiel; 06-26-12 at 01:22 PM.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    If the OP is thinking of getting a new wheel, it wouldn't hurt to buy a bunch of spokes and try to rebuild the old one first, or even if you get another wheel. It's a good learning experience and you already have the hub and a rim.
    You know, that's actually something I'm heavily considering. It would be a great learning experience and certainly the most economical.

    One question I have though. If I'm going to go to all of the effort and drop $40 or so on spokes, is the hub I have (see top page) even worth a crap? Assuming its in great shape, would you guys (given the option) replace this hub, or is it just as good as any other entry level hub I would buy with a build?

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    In addition there are a couple butted spoke options.. for the rebuild..

    DT 13-15-14 and wheelsmith, a 13-14 for more beef on the J end.

  22. #22
    Gearhead old's'cool's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be too concerned about the effect of disk brakes on spokes myself. That is one load that is evenly shared among all the spokes, all the time (assuming any kind of reasonably even tension). And it is not a highly cyclic load, compared to wheel rotation.
    Geoff
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  23. #23
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    The issue is spoke tension.
    You can prolong the life of a moderately crappy wheel by ensuring sufficient tension. If the tension is evenly distributed, the wheel is likely to last much longer. But when spokes start to pop, this type of measure isn't going to help.

    I see some reasonable priced wheels with Sunrims CR-18, DT spokes and basic shimano hubs that I suspect could last a while... something like this 27inc rim
    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=51189
    Last edited by gerv; 06-26-12 at 09:11 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    As far as places to get wheels, I believe "Handspun" has a decent reputation without costing too much.
    You would have to order from Handspun through a dealer and pay markup and tax. The wheels I recently bought from Universal Cycles online were made by Handspun, but at a much better price. And search for coupon codes for Universal.
    Last edited by alan s; 06-27-12 at 08:10 AM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    You can prolong the life of a moderately crappy wheel by ensuring sufficient tension. If the tension is evenly distributed, the wheel is likely to last much longer. But when spokes start to pop, this type of measure isn't going to help.

    I see some reasonable priced wheels with Sunrims CR-18, DT spokes and basic shimano hubs that I suspect could last a while... something like this 27inc rim
    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=51189
    27" <> 700c

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