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Old 01-26-09, 07:19 PM   #1
chrisoco
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Wheel trouble

Here is a little mechanical trouble I've had lately and my venting.

On my commuter bike, I have now broken 4 spokes in 4 months all on the rear wheel. Zero flats, 4 broken spokes. And I never break spokes. The bike was new 4 months ago. I thought I made some adjustments and was good for the last 6 weeks or so, but had 50 pounds of cargo on Friday and just noticed last night the brakes were rubbing because... broken spoke. Even with the massive cargo, the total load on the bike was about 215 .lbs which is not extreme. Maybe it is the cargo b/c I do haul a lot on the bike but this should not happen, should it?

After the 3rd spoke, I had no more replacements so I exchanged out to my MtB rear wheel. The MtB has been unused since I've been here (that needs to change). All should be well, right? That wheel has been through a lot, and never a broken spoke. I had the bike for 5 years (and it was well-used when I got it) and I probably only did some tough single track about 5 times a year but also NYC riding and trail riding in the snow, etc.

Well after several weeks, the rim split! That's another first for me.


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Old 01-26-09, 07:24 PM   #2
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Man! You're killing all the bikes in your stable, Chris!

Sorry to hear about that, though. Maybe it's time to buy a new bike?
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Old 01-26-09, 07:29 PM   #3
chrisoco
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Nah, just new wheels, and they've already been bought.
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Old 01-26-09, 09:05 PM   #4
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Usually when 1 spoke goes, it's a sign that more will follow. Most likely a cause of uneven spoke tension, or the wheel was not properly built to begin with. Unless, or course, your wheel had many thousands of miles on them. They all gotta go at some point!

I've gone through my fair share of spoke failures... which is why I decided to build my own wheels.

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Old 01-26-09, 09:40 PM   #5
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Sounds like the spokes were never properly tensioned to begin with, though that rim failure was pretty bad. What kind of wheels were they? Many sporty wheels really aren't intended to handle a rider, bike, and gear weight much over 180. Depending on how you were loading the bike with your gear, the forces on the wheel could easily exceed what it was intended for. More likely, it was just a bad build, which is just about every off the shelf bike wheel out there aside from those handmade by well-trained professionals.
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Old 01-26-09, 10:06 PM   #6
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I feel your pain. My Mavic 517 rear went out on my commuter bike. Just fell apart.
Si instead of buying fun new bike stuff i bought a new wheel. I had it hand build on Mavic .. 717? I think.

Any way, it sucks.
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Old 01-26-09, 10:53 PM   #7
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Yes I think you are right about the wheel not being built right to begin with since I got the bike new 4 months ago and a spoke broke right away. The wheels are from my relatively cheap commuter which cost just under $400 so I can't really complain.

2006 Marin Novato (I think it's a 2006 even though I just bought it in Oct. 2008.)

I have carried major cargo - like regularly 30 to 50 pounds on my rack - and those are when at least 3 of the spokes broke but I am only about 150 pounds so I don't think that is a good enough excuse.

It is WTB Dual Duty XC wheel. It is frustrating since I've been riding all the time, if only to commute, for 9 years and never had this problem before. And I kind of buy cheap stuff, which for wheels it sounds like spokes would be less likely to break (heavier and more sturdy, no?).

The wheel that split was a Mavic X221, at least 8 years old. It is from a Rocky Mtn Bike that the previous owner did mountain biking on and I really got a lot of use out of it, and serious rough single track use, if only 5 or 6 times a year, but also NY City riding. SO I really can't complain about that one either, especially since I noticed it was busted when I was home so at least I was not stranded in the middle of the woods, or far from home.
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Old 01-27-09, 12:43 AM   #8
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I think it was the build. I didn't realize that it was a mountain bike (I should pay better attention). There really is no excuse for a 26" wheel to fail under the use described. Also, I have a Marin similar to yours from 2003, but a few models up the line. That bike had great hubs and spokes, as well as OK rims, but the wheels were woefully under-tensioned when I got the bike, even from a reputable shop. I had to retension and stress relieve the rear wheel before it would hold true. This should be covered under warranty, I think.
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Old 01-27-09, 01:00 PM   #9
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I agree with the one goes, other follows as mentioned above, but to switch out a wheel and then have a failure on that wheelset is odd. I would check the alignment of the dropouts as well. Something may not be as should there causing undue horizontal loads as opposed to vertical loads. Just a thought. Sorry to hear about your woes.

although looking at the picture of the split rim...it looks awfully thin...
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Old 01-27-09, 03:23 PM   #10
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although looking at the picture of the split rim...it looks awfully thin...
That's what I was thinking. The braking surface is toast! I was going to mention that but he said this was a new wheel. Now I think I got it... new wheel broke (3 spokes), swapped out for old, and it too broke (1 spoke + rim). Is that right?

Well, the old wheel is self explanitory. The rim should have been trashed long ago. A ruptured rim could lead to a serious crash! Rims usually are the first to go if the wheel was well built - assuming you are using rim brakes.

The new wheel is a tough one to figure out. I don't usually hear about spokes breaking that soon. It usually takes some time for the spokes to fatigue, even when the build is poor. This could be a case of having a bad batch of spokes - based mostly on how quickly they failed. If you haven't already, take it in for warranty replacement. You mentioned new wheels were ordered but I would still get a free replacement.
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Old 01-27-09, 04:06 PM   #11
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Thanks rydaddy and I_meant2_do_that. When you say the breaking surface is toast, do you mean too thin, or too damaged by grooves?

As for the details, that is mostly right. 3 broken spokes on the new wheel, no more extra spokes so I swapped out for my old MtB wheel, then that wheel split at the rim. Meanwhile I bought a tensiometer and tightened things up on the new wheel, although they pretty much seemed OK, put it back on and then the 4th spoke broke some weeks later.
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Old 01-27-09, 04:21 PM   #12
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The braking surface looks like it's gone. Rim brakes wear away the surface, and with time, are no longer usable. The walls of the rim then weaken and can no longer hold the pressure of the tire/tube. Most modern rims have wear indicators.

Out of cuiousty, where along the spoke did the failures occur (the elbow or the threaded end)? And if you have both pieces in front of you, can you match the the broken pieces back together or did the spoke 'neck' down where it broke? This can tell a lot about what caused the failure.

Hey at least you bought a tensiometer! A little studying with Sheldon Brown and Jobst Brandt and you can become a wheel guru yourself
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Old 01-27-09, 05:40 PM   #13
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Yes, good old Sheldon, RIP, I never met him but love him.

The spokes all broke at the elbow (or just beyond the elbow), so I don't have the little broken end, just the remaining 99% of the spoke.
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Old 01-27-09, 11:24 PM   #14
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chrisoco, you may want to look at the elbows and see if the little head is seated all the way. I recently did a rim for my tandem and learned that the DT spokes I bought were a tad larger than the hole in the hub, so I had to work them all the way in to ensure that they seated and did not cause undue tension on the spoke at the elbow.

The mechanic at my LBS turned me on to that information as he builds many wheels and said this is fairly common with the DT spokes. Perhaps this is what you have going on?
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Old 01-27-09, 11:34 PM   #15
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Your rim split after 4 months of use? Either you bought a REALLY crappy wheel, you ride 500 miles a day, or you need to warranty that thing. Go back to the place you got it and bring your receipt. What I would do, is invest in a new back wheel. Probably hand built. A warranty would get you a very similar wheel to what you have.... and look how that turned out
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Old 01-28-09, 01:51 AM   #16
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Your rim split after 4 months of use? Either you bought a REALLY crappy wheel, you ride 500 miles a day, or you need to warranty that thing. Go back to the place you got it and bring your receipt. What I would do, is invest in a new back wheel. Probably hand built. A warranty would get you a very similar wheel to what you have.... and look how that turned out
Actually Tapeworm, the wheel that split was off an old reliable mtb he had...from the looks of it, he got plenty of miles out of it so it was probably a good thing it happened on this bike as opposed to out on a trail somewhere.
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Old 01-28-09, 08:16 AM   #17
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Your rim split after 4 months of use? Either you bought a REALLY crappy wheel, you ride 500 miles a day, or you need to warranty that thing. Go back to the place you got it and bring your receipt. What I would do, is invest in a new back wheel. Probably hand built. A warranty would get you a very similar wheel to what you have.... and look how that turned out
I agree that if you bought that bike new 4 months ago then the wheel should be part of the warranty package regarding the spokes breaking. Some wheels have a weight limit and if you over loaded the wheel because of what you carried then you might be out of luck. I'd go back to the bike shop and explain the situation about the original wheel. Perhaps they will be able to help you find a stronger wheel for your usage and maybe give you a break (no pun intended) on the price.

As for the second rim splitting, it could be the walls were thinning?
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