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Broken spoke nipple?

Old 09-22-16, 09:14 PM
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Broken spoke nipple?

On the commute home from work today, I was putting some power down to get through some traffic, and suddenly *POP* ting-ting-ting a spoke had broken on my rear wheel. Or so I thought. I walked the bike into a parking lot, and found the nipple itself had broken. The spoke was bent from hitting various things around the rear wheel, but otherwise was completely intact.

I run Vuelta Corsa Lite wheelset which have 20/24 aero bladed spokes. Pretty low spoke count for a commuter bike I know, but they have over 8,000 completely trouble-free miles on them, and were as true as the eye could see up until today when that one spoke nipple let loose.

Can I just replace the spoke and the nipple and be on my way? Or could there be some issue why the spoke nipple itself broke, as opposed to the spoke?
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Old 09-22-16, 09:30 PM
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The spoke should be threaded into the nipple "head" up to the bottom of the screw driver slot.
If the "head" broke off, the spoke was too short. (unless the head physically broke into pieces)
It should act like a nut on the opposite side.
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Old 09-22-16, 09:35 PM
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If just the nipple broke, why replace the spoke with it?
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Old 09-22-16, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
The spoke should be threaded into the nipple "head" up to the bottom of the screw driver slot.
If the "head" broke off, the spoke was too short. (unless the head physically broke into pieces)
It should act like a nut on the opposite side.
Image of what Bill is explaining:
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nipple-thread-too-short.jpg (30.5 KB, 127 views)
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Old 09-22-16, 11:29 PM
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I would suspect all spokes are cut too short and the problem will repeat. Had a fellow build 4 sets of wheels for me some years ago. At about 5000 miles on each, started popping nipples (32 DB spokes, 200# rider). Only then did I notice that threads were showing above all the nipples, much like the diagram above on the left.
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Old 09-23-16, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94
On the commute home from work today, I was putting some power down to get through some traffic, and suddenly *POP* ting-ting-ting a spoke had broken on my rear wheel. Or so I thought. I walked the bike into a parking lot, and found the nipple itself had broken. The spoke was bent from hitting various things around the rear wheel, but otherwise was completely intact.

I run Vuelta Corsa Lite wheelset which have 20/24 aero bladed spokes. Pretty low spoke count for a commuter bike I know, but they have over 8,000 completely trouble-free miles on them, and were as true as the eye could see up until today when that one spoke nipple let loose.

Can I just replace the spoke and the nipple and be on my way? Or could there be some issue why the spoke nipple itself broke, as opposed to the spoke?
Replace the nipple and go on your way. You only need to replace the spoke of its kinked. I once had a rear wheel that was true until 15k miles when 1 nipple broke. I replaced it and logged another 20k miles without incident. Eventually the hub flange gave up. Wheels are good until you start breaking spokes or nipples every couple hundred miles, then the rim is toast.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
The spoke should be threaded into the nipple "head" up to the bottom of the screw driver slot.
If the "head" broke off, the spoke was too short. (unless the head physically broke into pieces)
It should act like a nut on the opposite side.
While the spoke should be buried in the nipple for any wheel, this is far more important with aluminum nipples.

Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed
Replace the nipple and go on your way. You only need to replace the spoke of its kinked.
I agree with replacing the nipple. The spoke would have to have a 90° bend in it before I'd worry about replacing it and even then I'd probably use it. Bent spokes get straightened out under tension.
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Old 09-23-16, 08:06 AM
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<shaking head and in your folly>


To go with your wrong wheel for the application you are using it on, I expect the Nip was aluminum.






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-23-16 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 09-23-16, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
<shaking head and in your folly>


To go with your wrong wheel for the application you are using it on, I expect the Nip was aluminum.






...
How do you figure? For the price and weight of the wheelset, I'd say it's been an outstanding value. The spoke is a little bent, so I'll run by the LBS today and see what they have on hand in terms of spokes and nipples. The spoke is somewhat scratched up, so if they have one on hand that's the right length and looks the same, I'll replace it. If not, I'll reuse the old spoke and put a new nipple in there.

Although, I may need to get a spoke that's 1-2mm longer, if the old one was in fact too short.

*edit* I checked and there are no threads showing outside the nipple on any of the remaining spokes. They all appear to extend up to the screw driver slot on the nipple head as far as I can tell.

Last edited by PatrickGSR94; 09-23-16 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 09-23-16, 09:39 AM
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I had a preference for less avant garde time trial wheels for my Bikes ..

Good luck ..

As Said, spoke must come up to the bottom of the screwdriver slot, In the nip-head.

double wall rim it can even go above, a mm..





...
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Old 09-23-16, 10:04 AM
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I once had an aluminum nipple crack longitudinally ... parallel with the spoke, across the threads.

And I've also had the head crack off once. This was a pre-built wheel so I don't think the spoke was too short.



Both wheels lasted many more miles with just a nipple replacement.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:34 AM
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My only experience with broken nipples was caused by low NDS tension and a heavy strong rider.
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Old 09-23-16, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott
I once had an aluminum nipple crack longitudinally ... parallel with the spoke, across the threads.

And I've also had the head crack off once. This was a pre-built wheel so I don't think the spoke was too short.



Both wheels lasted many more miles with just a nipple replacement.
I had two brass spoke heads break off their nipples earlier this year after running over a putty knife (WTF was that doing there!?). The knife flipped up into my front wheel, got caught in the spokes and jammed against the fork blades. If the nipples hadn't broken, I would certainly have done a face-plant! As it was, I was able to ride the bike to a stop safely. The knife flew into the air and almost hit the rider next to me in the face. The knife also managed to slash the sidewall of my tire on its way out, so I had to resort to the Call of Shame to get home, but at least no one was injured. When I got home, I replaced both nipples (not the spokes) and the wheel has been fine ever since.
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Old 09-23-16, 10:56 PM
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Took it to the LBS and asked for a new spoke nipple. Apparently the guy loves building wheels as he grabbed the wheel and spoke from me, got a nipple and put the spoke back on, put it in the stand and got it perfectly true once again. I was like ahh man I was gonna do that myself. I picked up a roll of Velox rim tape, and was charged $5.45 total. Service! Then we talked wheel building for awhile.
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