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  1. #1
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    Can I ride with 1 spoke less?

    Hi,
    Cycling for 2 years now, never had any problem, but now that we are in Tibet, far from proper bicycle shops, I got a spoke from the rear wheel that broke. We don't have the proper tool to remove the gears to be able to replace the spoke so we did 150km on bad roads arrived in a small city but we cannot find the tools here neither. We were told we won't find it before Ya'an or Chengdu, which is another 300-400km, all downhill, all asphalt, beautifull, after 1 month up here, we would really like to ride it, but are worry to damage the rim. Anyone knows if I can go on, with 35 instead of 36 spokes. Untill now they seem to be pretty strong and not much bother by the loss, but...
    Thanks for the tip!

    Alice
    www.mundubicyclette.be

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    The stress and tension in your wheel is unbalanced. You might be lucky but its better to fix it.
    You can replace a spoke without removing the cassette. Find a long spoke (eg from a 28" Chinese bike).
    Cut off the elbow at the hub end.
    Put a dog-leg bend at the hub end, ie sideways for about 3mm then down for about 8mm. The idea is to thread the dogleg through your spoke hole so the horizontal section acts as the elbow. Make sure you bend it at the correct length. You may need a couple of spokes to get it right. You may as well make a spare or 2 to carry.

    Tighten the spoke to reach a compromise between even tension and true-ness (as measured at the brek blocks). You may need to wiggle and stretch any loseness from the spoke and re-tension.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tip! Good to know for the next time and maybe carry a few oversize spokes, but here we won't find any unfortunately... so you think I should head for the bus?

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    you'll be fine with one broken spoke, you might need to counter balance the missing spoke by adjusting the next spoke on either side of the one that's broken to make sure the wheel is straight.

  5. #5
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    Anybody ever try one of these contraptions?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Anybody ever try one of these contraptions?
    I have been carrying one. I installed it once at home just to know how. It seemed like it might work but looked just a little bit hokey (not sure it would stay tight for very long).
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

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    One of the benefits of 36-spoke wheels is that -- when you DO break a spoke -- you usually don't notice. A 32H wheel will probably wobble and rub your brakes, a 36H usually doesn't.

    Of course it's better to replace a broken spoke. But if the situation calls for it, I'd keep going on 36H wheels. Depends mostly on the terrain (wouldn't do it on bone-jarring paths), and the weight on the rear wheel (maybe send some of your gear ahead?). If it gets to the point where you have cascading broken spokes, it's time to catch the next bus. Or risk your rim. But chances are you won't have that problem. I bet once you get riding, you'll forget to "baby" it, and all will be well till Chengdu.

    But first try MichaelW's tip. It'll work and give you piece of mind.

    When you get to town, get a handful of replacement spokes, the tool, and the knowledge to change them. That should give you 95% confidence to get through anything. Or if you've got another 2 years to go, it might be time to rebuild the wheel. It's possible your weakest spoke just gave out, but in general they wear about evenly (on a well-tensioned wheel). This isn't alarmist, just saying it would give you the last 5% of confidence.

    Sounds like a fantastic ride..... and a great website. Buena suerte!

    -- Mark

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    Salut Alice,

    One way to deal with this is to loosen the tension on the two spokes next to the broken one. This way, your wheel should be ok for a while... it is not a perfect solution but it can save your wheel if you have to ride. MichaelW's solution is a better one, but since you can't find spokes, this might do it.

    As for taking a bus, I'd say it all depends on how much you want to do this ride. There is a risk for your wheel but my guess is that if you put most of the weight on your partner's bike, you should be alright. The very worst that can happen is that you have to order a new wheel once in Chengdu (you can always hitch a ride once on the road).

    By the way, Chengdu is one of my partner's favourite city in China, she almost decided to live there a few years ago... I'm glad she decided to move to Canada instead ;-). And looking at your website, I,m quite envious!

    Amusez vous bien!

  9. #9
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Can you get a kevlar spoke?

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    Kevlar spokes in Tibet?

    I agree that riding with a missing spoke on a 36 spoke wheel should be fine, but you should move as much of the weight as possible off your rear wheel - if you're not alone then let your mate carry your stuff!

    Last year when I was cycling in Zambia with a local guy he removed a spoke from his rear wheel (40 spoke wheel) to use to jam his cranks since he'd lost the bolt keeping them on. Thought it was an odd thing to do, but his wheel certainly didn't untrue itself.

    I guess you know this now, but you made a big mistake travelling without a lockring tool, chainwhip and spare spokes in that part of the world.

    We live and learn.

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    The FiberFix spoke works well, is easy to install, and packs up small. It's a bit pricey and doesn't do you much good if you break more than 1 spoke though.

    I think a better solution is to carry some spare spokes (I carry mine taped to the seat tube) and a Hypercracker or Stein tool. I had to replace 2 spokes on my last tour (combination of cheap wheel, heavy load, and bad roads) and managed to do so in about 45 minutes with the Stein.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceavelo
    Hi,
    Cycling for 2 years now, never had any problem, but now that we are in Tibet, far from proper bicycle shops, I got a spoke from the rear wheel that broke. We don't have the proper tool to remove the gears to be able to replace the spoke so we did 150km on bad roads arrived in a small city but we cannot find the tools here neither. We were told we won't find it before Ya'an or Chengdu, which is another 300-400km, all downhill, all asphalt, beautifull, after 1 month up here, we would really like to ride it, but are worry to damage the rim. Anyone knows if I can go on, with 35 instead of 36 spokes. Untill now they seem to be pretty strong and not much bother by the loss, but...
    Thanks for the tip!

    Alice
    www.mundubicyclette.be

    Sure, you can go on........FOR A LITTLE WHILE

  13. #13
    Mr. Happy Medium
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Anybody ever try one of these contraptions?
    Yep, and it worked fine. I used it on my Girlfriend's Schwinn Paramount with 27in wheels. I repaired a broken rear drive side spoke without fully removing the broken old one. Shifted weight from her rear panniers to onto my bike. Worked like new until we found a shop to repair it. I carry one on each bike and the $10 price is well worth it IMO.

  14. #14
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    Well thanks everyone for all your advices!!!
    I did continue, as the descend was too tempting, could not just sit back and look it through a bus window after having done all the hard part! Was beautifull and, untill now, the others spokes are suporting the depart of their collegue well! Chengdu is now at 120km and we should do it 'till there! Anyway, it would indeed be a great idea to buy the so precious tools once there.... never know!!!
    Thanks again
    Alice

  15. #15
    Castiron Perineum Bockman's Avatar
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    I did about 120 miles on a broken spoke on one of my tours. Not saying it's ideal but a 36H you can usually get away with it.
    The best libertarian podcast on the internet! freedomainradio.com

  16. #16
    Senior Member drissel's Avatar
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    I carry extra spokes inside my seat tube, I also carry the tool to remove the freewheel, I break about 2-3 a season, soon I will have them all replaced.
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely
    in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW--What a ride!!!"

  17. #17
    Castiron Perineum Bockman's Avatar
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    Of course you can always makeshift a new spoke out of hardened Yak cheese....
    The best libertarian podcast on the internet! freedomainradio.com

  18. #18
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    I've ridden a hundred miles with a broken spoke.

    The important stuff:

    Is the wheel dragging on the brakes or stays?

    You want to keep an eye to make sure that the wheel isn't getting any worse. I used to carry a spoke wrench with me and would re-adjust tensions to pull the rim as straight as possible. Then I discovered that you can only make a limited difference when doing this and then you have to undo all of it when you install the new spoke. So now I just leave it as long as I can ride. Then when I put the new spoke in I only have to pull it up to equal tension and the wheel is straight again.

    If you have a good set of wheels a broken spoke MAY be an adolescent failure. They happen. If you have an older set of wheels the first spoke breaking almost always signals the start of spoke failures every 100 miles or so. If you get a second spoke failure in a relatively short period of time you should completely respoke the wheel.

  19. #19
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    I find that wheels built with butted spokes are not only less likely to break, but can better survive the stresses of one less spoke. Butted spokes for those of you who don't know have a little more give to them allowing them better distribute the load on the wheel with neighboring spokes.
    Live simply so others may simply live

  20. #20
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    Somebody said that they keep spare spokes in their seat tube? I realize that seat tubes are hollow but how do you keep the spokes in there? Duct tape?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by gqsmoothie
    Somebody said that they keep spare spokes in their seat tube? I realize that seat tubes are hollow but how do you keep the spokes in there? Duct tape?
    Wrap 'em in a plastic bag, snap a few rubber bands here and there. Then a bunch of rubber bands wrapped around the "top" of the package to form a bulb, like a rubber plug. Jam this plug into your seat post, put the whole thing back on your bike. Voila!

    I do this because my wife and I tour together and I need to carry 10-12 spokes. If you're only carrying 4 or so, just tape 'em to your rack.

    It's a pain to get at the spokes, but then by the time you're fixing a broken spoke, it's just noise...

    -- Mark

  22. #22
    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceavelo
    Hi,
    Cycling for 2 years now, never had any problem, but now that we are in Tibet, far from proper bicycle shops, I got a spoke from the rear wheel that broke. We don't have the proper tool to remove the gears to be able to replace the spoke so we did 150km on bad roads arrived in a small city but we cannot find the tools here neither. We were told we won't find it before Ya'an or Chengdu, which is another 300-400km, all downhill, all asphalt, beautifull, after 1 month up here, we would really like to ride it, but are worry to damage the rim. Anyone knows if I can go on, with 35 instead of 36 spokes. Untill now they seem to be pretty strong and not much bother by the loss, but...
    Thanks for the tip!

    Alice
    www.mundubicyclette.be
    Ain't life amazing!! One can communicate with the world from Tibet but can't find a spoke.
    Alice: Continue to enjoy your travels, your pictures are enticing. Charlie

  23. #23
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    try using two spokes and some wire.
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