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Can this spoke be bent back into place?

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Can this spoke be bent back into place?

Old 04-10-17, 03:56 PM
  #1  
Chadden
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Can this spoke be bent back into place?

Hi everyone

I picked up a 2013 Trek 820 for $50 the other day, I had to replace both shifters, both grips, clean the seat (used a leather cleaner to turn the seat white again) but I noticed that the front wheel was not balanced. I was inspecting it and noticed that one of the spokes is bent, can I just take pliers and bend it back, or will that make it worse?

Thanks
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Old 04-10-17, 04:37 PM
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I would just buy a new spoke at the bike shop and replace it.
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Old 04-10-17, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
I would just buy a new spoke at the bike shop and replace it.
Perhaps this bike wasn't a good investment, I've put $125 into it (including the initial purchase) and it still needs new brake pads, 2 spokes (I found another bent one), and a few other things (tires could use replacing, still good but the tread is low)

May just keep it as a winter rider or sell it below cost to family
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Old 04-10-17, 06:23 PM
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Yes, you can easily take the kink out of a spoke like this.

If I see this on a wheel I'm working on, I chalk it up to something getting snagged, and always straighten it with thumbs and fingers before truing the wheel. If the wheel is already true with the bend, I ignore it completely.
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Old 04-10-17, 06:36 PM
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If the wheel is true, then the bend won't hurt anything. I've gotten a bungee cord caught in the spokes once. Still rides fine.
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Old 04-10-17, 07:00 PM
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Yeah, if you can true the wheel without rebending the spoke, you could just leave it alone. Bending it once weakens it, rebending it weakens it more. Me, I'd buy replacement spokes and lace them in and true the wheel, cuz the bent spokes are more likely to break. Buy I'm a Clyde riding 18/24s.
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Old 04-10-17, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by WizardOfBoz View Post
Yeah, if you can true the wheel without rebending the spoke, you could just leave it alone. Bending it once weakens it, rebending it weakens it more. Me, I'd buy replacement spokes and lace them in and true the wheel, cuz the bent spokes are more likely to break. Buy I'm a Clyde riding 18/24s.
In something like 50 years, I've never seen or heard of a spoke breaking at a bend like this.
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Old 04-10-17, 07:25 PM
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I bought a $50 bike last fall but I knew I couldn't handle a project so I agreed to buy something that was ride-ready. wound up making a project out of it for other reasons anyway. sometimes you can't win
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Old 04-10-17, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
In something like 50 years, I've never seen or heard of a spoke breaking at a bend like this.

While I'm nearly 10 years behind Francis in experience his observations are the same as mine. I've never seen a spoke break at a slight kink.


But I do straighten kinked spokes often enough. I use a screwdriver or other stiff tool that can concentrate the point of unbending at the kink's focal point. Andy
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Old 04-10-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
In something like 50 years, I've never seen or heard of a spoke breaking at a bend like this.
Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
While I'm nearly 10 years behind Francis in experience his observations are the same as mine. I've never seen a spoke break at a slight kink.
Ditto. Rust, maybe, but never bend in the spoke. Steel spokes are simply too tough to break from a mid-span bend like that.

Maybe @WizardOfBoz is talking about aluminum spokes?
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Old 04-10-17, 08:37 PM
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Agree

I agree if the wheel is true, then the bend shouldn't hurt anything
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Old 04-11-17, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
Ditto. Rust, maybe, but never bend in the spoke. Steel spokes are simply too tough to break from a mid-span bend like that.

Maybe @WizardOfBoz is talking about aluminum spokes?
My line of thinking was that

1) bending steel past its elastic limit, and then rebending it to straighten it creates a weak point that is likely necked
2) if a spoke got bent like that, it may also have stressed the spoke head or the minor diameter of the threads, weakening the spoke at points remote from the bend
3) Taken together, a bent spoke is more likely to fail
4) unbent spokes break, and so a bent spoke is a likely failure mode
5) it doesn't cost that much to put a new spoke in, for goodness sake

And, as I said, I weight 240, am riding a carbon frame (stiff, forces the wheel and spoke to absorb more energy), and am riding 18 radial/24 spoke wheels with aero spokes. So I'm a bit careful about wheel strength, and stand by what I said: the OP COULD ride the wheel it could be trued to his/her satisfaction. But I'd replace the spoke.

FB's Grace Hopper quote is a pretty good one, and I agree with the spirit of the quote, but in many applications she's wrong (keep in mind, she's one of my heros). For infrequent (one would hope) things like spokes breaking, a single carefully made measurement may not give much useful insight into the mean time to break. To get that insight, we'd need to bend spokes on hundreds of wheels, and have folks ride the wheels over the same course, with the same bumps, etc. Then we'd be able to fit the data to a Poisson distribution and could compare the results. Spoke companies could do this more easily: put a bunch of bent and unbent spokes through their testing process. That would be interesting. But anecdotal evidence may not be enough. Carroll Smith tells about a race car accident where a wheel top hat separated from the hub due to inadequate threaded fasteners. The guy that built the setup defended his bolt selection by saying "Never had a problem before". Not an adequate defense from an engineering standpoint.

That said, the anecdotal evidence, of three riders whom I've come to consider expert, compels one to think. It is more useful than one observation, for sure. But I would ask "how many spokes have you guys bent, and then straightened, and then ridden?" I mean in 45 years of riding, I've never bent a spoke like that. Except when the drunk hit my rear wheel and shot my bike out from between my legs, in which case the wheel was toast. If your bikes (or those you've serviced) have a lot of bent spokes, and I've never bent one, well, then in the words of Randy Newman, "Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong".*

Sapim has a page entitled "Where do spokes break?". It looks like mostly at the nipple (where the minor diameter of the thread lowers cross section and the thread acts as a stress concentrator). But sometimes in the smaller diameter of butted spokes where the cause is "Any object striking a moving wheel causes damage (sometimes only visible with a magnifying glass or microscope)." Which I take to mean exactly what the OP wrote about. The other major failure mode is "Normally just before the bend (this is fairly standard after many years use)" which is to say it's a fatigue failure, and this happens where minor nicks have acted as stress concentrators. Which is what happens when a spoke has been bent and bent back, both past elastic limits: the spoke gets necked and this is a stress concentrator.

*This is the title of a song Newman wrote about sex. Some will be amused to know it was written in 3/4 time.
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Old 04-11-17, 08:11 AM
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Back to the OP: if you DO bend it back and use pliers you should use something to ensure that the pliers don't nick the spoke. Thick leather, or a piece of copper sheeting between the jaws and spoke. Little nicks concentrate stress and could hasten failure.
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