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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 08-23-13, 08:16 AM   #1
bike0enthusiast
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Get a new wheel before installing a rear rack?

Hey there, this is my first thread, although I've taken advice from this site for a while. So to get to it, I have a Schwinn mountain bike that is like 10 years old and am the 3rd person to use it and the only one to actually care for and tune it up in anyway. I use it almost exclusively for the road, since there aren't really any trails in or close to NYC. I have over 1500 miles on it now and last year I broke a spoke (although it may have been broken before I even got the bike) and a few days ago broke another one (both have been fixed, of course). I want to get a rear rack, mostly to carry either my backpack or from time to time shopping/groceries. A friend of mine said I should get a new wheel before installing a rear rack just to be safe, although 2 broken spokes after a year of hard riding, often times with a lot of weight on me, in bad weather and roads so bumpy and jagged they may as well be trails, doesn't seem that bad to me.

Any thought? I just didn't plan to spend an additional $60-100 or however much it'll cost to replace a 26 x 1.95 wheel, in addition to the $40 I will spend on the Topeak Super Tourist Rack (non disc brake/non spring one). Thanks ahead of time.
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Old 08-23-13, 08:57 AM   #2
loneviking61
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I wouldn't. Hard riding and broken spokes go hand in hand. Put the rack on, carry the weight for a while and only if you start breaking a lot of spokes would I be looking for another wheel.
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Old 08-23-13, 09:39 AM   #3
bike0enthusiast
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I was thinking the same thing. I can always replace the wheel later, and if I happen to break some spokes while riding it's not like I'll be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 09-03-13, 07:01 PM   #4
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Maybe you could take the wheel to a mechanic who really knows wheels, and have them properly tension, stress relieve, and true the wheel. (Or learn how to do it yourself). It's possible to true a wheel but leave the spokes at wildly different tensions. Running the wheel that way puts extra stress on some of the spokes, leading to breakage. If a wheel is properly tensioned, the tension of all the spokes will be about the same, and spoke breakage will be unlikely under normal use.

You might call around to some local shops to see what they will charge for that. Also, please note that if you buy a new wheel it will need the same process - they don't generally come tensioned, trued, and stress-relieved (except for high-end wheels). If you buy one from a bike shop, emphasize to them that you want this done. They may include that work with the price of the wheel.
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Old 09-04-13, 01:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
Maybe you could take the wheel to a mechanic who really knows wheels, and have them properly tension, stress relieve, and true the wheel. (Or learn how to do it yourself). It's possible to true a wheel but leave the spokes at wildly different tensions. Running the wheel that way puts extra stress on some of the spokes, leading to breakage. If a wheel is properly tensioned, the tension of all the spokes will be about the same, and spoke breakage will be unlikely under normal use.

You might call around to some local shops to see what they will charge for that. Also, please note that if you buy a new wheel it will need the same process - they don't generally come tensioned, trued, and stress-relieved (except for high-end wheels). If you buy one from a bike shop, emphasize to them that you want this done. They may include that work with the price of the wheel.
This ^^^

I hand built all of my own wheels just for this reason. I typically use middle of the road components, but pay careful attention to truing and tensioning. I have one set of wheels that I built up way back in the mid 70's that are still rolling true with only minor tweaking after some 10,000 miles of riding.

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Last edited by wahoonc; 09-15-13 at 04:59 AM. Reason: speeling
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Old 09-04-13, 04:14 PM   #6
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are there any co-ops in nyc? they'd be glad to walk you through an analysis of the wheel- truing, spoke tensioning, and you do the work. a new wheel seems extreme just because a couple of spokes broke.
use their chain checker for wear and eyeball the most used gears on the cassette for scalloping since the wheel is off the bike anyway and you have put a buncha miles on.

now you done got me allllllll worked up. maybe i should go to mine just to keep me out of trouble....
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Old 09-04-13, 04:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by loneviking61 View Post
I wouldn't. Hard riding and broken spokes go hand in hand.
Only when running inferior wheels. Well built wheels (notice I did not say expensive) with quality parts (again, does not have to be expensive) should not break spokes through the life of a rim assuming no physical damage like a chain cutting into spokes from over shifting, sticks getting caught in a spinning wheel, etc.

With that being said, your spoke breakage is not often enough for me to stress too much about putting on a rear rack but I would start to budget for a quality wheel in the future, say try to get through winter on your current wheels or so.

The suggestion to having the shop that replaces the spoke double check spoke tension is a good one. Shops SHOULD be doing this with any broken spoke but some need to be reminded on how to properly fix a wheel. Learning to do it all yourself is also a great suggestion as it is not too difficult.
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Old 09-04-13, 07:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
You might call around to some local shops to see what they will charge for that.
I recently called one place that said they charge around 45-60 for my kind of wheel. However, I've already ordered the rack (for $40 from modernbike.com) and I'll see how everything goes with it first. I probably won't be using it too rigourously soon since with the weather my travels will be shorter and rarer.

Also I forgot to mention that for most of the year that I had this bike I also had attached rear spoke lights to it, fairly big ones, not the silicon type, but took them off because it became clear that they made my wheel really crooked.
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Old 09-04-13, 07:46 PM   #9
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That seems like a lot, but I guess everything costs more in NYC. I think the idea of going to a bike co-op is good. It's not really hard to work on wheels, but probably easier to learn from someone who knows what they're doing.
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Old 09-14-13, 11:38 PM   #10
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There was an issue with many spokes that were supplied to wheel manufactures about 10 or so years ago. The spokes were of poor quality and had weak spots. It was not unheard of that a bike would break several spokes in the course of a couple months. I work in a bike shop, and if we are ableto identify these spokes on a customer's wheels we just have to recommend buying a new wheel because often, the hubs/rims are not of quality to be worth the cost of re-lacing and spokes just keep on breaking one after another. We had one customer who brought us a wheel with a few busted spokes on it. We told him it was likely of the poorly manufactured era. He had the wheel fixed anyway. Then he came back a few more times for the same issue. After all that, for just a few dollars more he could have been riding some new/problem free wheels.

Bottom line, if you're breaking spokes with any frequency, there's probably something wrong with the spokes/hub and you should evalute the cost of replacement before you end up doing what this guy did and waste a whole bunch of your time and money.
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Old 09-15-13, 10:48 AM   #11
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If you take the bargain wheel route, expect the company that makes the wheels up to use Bargain Spokes

Japan Wheelsmith, Swiss DT and Belgian Sapim spokes will not show up in bargain wheels
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