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Single spoke comes loose on new bike, how should I proceed?

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Single spoke comes loose on new bike, how should I proceed?

Old 05-21-20, 08:57 AM
  #1  
GrainBrain
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Single spoke comes loose on new bike, how should I proceed?

Hey all, I was wondering how to approach my LBS about this. Checked spoke tension on rear wheel other day and spokes seemed not as taught as they should be (just by hand).

Took it in and LBS trued wheel, it was a little out. Next day felt a wobble after riding, one single spoke was very loose. I retightend just by hand then a half turn with a wrench, spoke felt like they others. Did a ride and spoke is loose again.

Maybe 1,100 miles on this new bike. 180lb rider. Wheel rim is 28h WTB ST i23 TCS. 14g stainless spokes. Gravel bike.

Should I insist they use a tension gauge? I checked the rim by eye for cracks didn't see any. Should I ask for a replacement wheel? Should I let them fix it again and expect it to stay?

Thanks for any input!
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Old 05-21-20, 09:16 AM
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Keep taking it back until it's right.
Let them know in a nice way that you don't want to have to keep messing with it.
Let them figure out what they have to do.
Don't mess with it yourself. They don't know what you are doing and possibly you don't either.
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Old 05-21-20, 09:20 AM
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New bike wheels should checked before the bike is sold (but often aren't). Since they failed at that, and failed again even when they knew there was a problem, I don't think the third time will be the charm with them...

In my opinion your paths to success are getting the wheel trued by a competent mechanic or learning to do it yourself. Otherwise, you will definitely have problems later. 1100 miles on a wheel with severely under-tensioned spokes means you may have already significantly reduced the fatigue life and will have problems no matter what you do, short of re-building the wheel from scratch with fresh spokes.
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Old 05-21-20, 09:33 AM
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Agree with FJ; the wheel may be toast and the dealer is at fault. Assuming they have a competent wheel builder, they should rebuild (hopefully with new spokes, but at least loosen all spokes and "rebuild").
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Old 05-21-20, 09:36 AM
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It may be that 28 spokes is inadequate for your weight & riding style?
IF you mash low gears, think about how 1/2 the spokes are trying to "unwind".
Assuming it's a NDS spoke, it may actually get "slack" if there isn't enough tension, allowing the nipple to unscrew a bit. Repeat.....
It may be that simple "proper" (higher) tension may prevent this. They also make Spoke Prep which is a mild thread locker. I use linseed oil when building wheels.
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Old 05-21-20, 11:41 AM
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Thanks all for the quick replies! Yes I will be insistent that they check tension when retruing again. I talked to one of the mechanics he said they'll use some kind of spoke specific thread locker this time. I have trued up a wheel myself before but am an absolute novice, that's why I will get it tight enough to keep the wheel truish and limp home.

​​​​​​I didn't want to dish on my LBS they're very cooperative so far. This is the second problem, the first was a creaky BB (pressfit of course) and they quickly fixed it perfectly no questions, hasn't made a noise since.

Thanks Bill for the remark on 28h vs maybe 32h. I'm 180 but have maybe 15lbs of extra stuff on the bike at times, do ride a large amount of gravel, and do stand up to mash and stretch out often on my rides (often 30 miles but I do 60 alot and 100+ often).
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Old 05-21-20, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by GrainBrain View Post
I talked to one of the mechanics he said they'll use some kind of spoke specific thread locker this time.
Strike three. Properly tensioned wheels don't require thread lock.

All I can say is good luck, I guess. Have the front wheel looked at too, preferably by someone not at that shop. It's likely just as bad as the rear but you'll see problems on the rear first.
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Old 05-21-20, 01:44 PM
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Not every bicycle mechanic knows how to build or fix wheels. Sounds like the wrench at your shop doesn't, unfortunately. So here's one more vote for "find another shop." If you've got friends who cycle, ask them who in your area knows their stuff. If not, it's time to buy "The Bicycle Wheel" by Jobst Brandt, a truing stand, spoke wrench, and possibly a tensiometer (if you're at all musical, you can do it by pitch -- see https://www.sheldonbrown.com/spoke-pitch.html for details). This is a good way to spend a long, rainy weekend, but you'll learn a lot in the process.
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Old 05-21-20, 02:17 PM
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A lot of folks doing the usual speculating that the shop is at fault with very little knowledge. We know the bike has a significant amount of mileage for a "new" bike we know it 28 spokes on a WTB rim and it has been tensioned before but we don't know if the wheel was handbuilt or machine built and how bad the riding has been, it is off road with some standing up on the pedals. I am curious to know the full story from all different sides.

However I would take the wheel back to the shop and see if their head mechanic can take a look. You might look at a 32h wheel at the back or if you are stuck on 28 then go with a good wheel builder and quality parts.
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Old 05-21-20, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
A lot of folks doing the usual speculating that the shop is at fault with very little knowledge. We know the bike has a significant amount of mileage for a "new" bike we know it 28 spokes on a WTB rim and it has been tensioned before but we don't know if the wheel was handbuilt or machine built and how bad the riding has been, it is off road with some standing up on the pedals. I am curious to know the full story from all different sides.
No need to speculate. A spoke going floppy loose one day after "truing" by the LBS? That's embarrassingly bad. Unless the OP hit something hard enough to leave a huge dent in the rim.

That's a pretty beefy rim, 556g for 700c. For rough terrain I'm a believer in a lighter rim and more like 32-36 spokes, but this wheel should be entirely appropriate for a 180lb person.
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Old 05-21-20, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
Strike three. Properly tensioned wheels don't require thread lock.

All I can say is good luck, I guess. Have the front wheel looked at too, preferably by someone not at that shop. It's likely just as bad as the rear but you'll see problems on the rear first.
I wouldn't take this as a bad sign. I assure you I build very good wheels--right at the rated rim maximum tension, typically <%10 variation, <.5mm tolerance, spoke line set and stress relieved, etc. I build with appropriate lubrication and, yes, a tiny dab of DT spoke freeze on each spoke. You cannot predict the use conditions of a wheel--nipples will not rattle loose if the spokes don't go slack, which they shouldn't, but wheels may momentarily undergo forces that exeed their design intentions, and the odds of the spoke loosing tension permanently are offset with a small amount of mild thread locker, which if appropriately chosen and applied does not adversely effect the wheel's ability to be trued in the future (which also shouldn't really need doing on a regular basis).

If someone is experiencing tension loss, I'd certainly first check for total tension and tension evenness, but there's nothing wrong with a belt and suspenders.

That said, many shops don't do the best assembly checking on new builds, and some definitely don't really check tension or true on disc wheels if it doesn't effect their rideability. Still more true the wheels to a reasonable tolerance, but aren't balancing tension or stress relieving. Depending on price point I think it's appropriate to at least stress relieve the wheel, bring the wheel to true, and balance spoke tension to a reasonable degree, but I don't think at all price points it's appropriate to expect the same care to getting maximum tension as you would on a handbuilt wheel, or to have tension balance down to %10 or abouts.

OP, the shop really should sort this out. A reasonable test is to see how even the pitch of the spokes is on the same side of a wheel--should ideally be within a semitone (or much smaller, I probably aim for about 30 cents in most cases), but if it's off more than a perfect fourth then it either needs real attention or the rim is bent. The wheel should be true to within about a mm, generally speaking, though on a disc wheel tension balance is more important than extremely precise true. Given the amount of time, this really shouldn't require a new wheel.

Last edited by cpach; 05-21-20 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 05-21-20, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
I wouldn't take this as a bad sign. I assure you I build very good wheels--right at the rated rim maximum tension, typically <%10 variation, <.5mm tolerance, spoke line set and stress relieved, etc. I build with appropriate lubrication and, yes, a tiny dab of DT spoke freeze on each spoke. You cannot predict the use conditions of a wheel--nipples will not rattle loose if the spokes don't go slack, which they shouldn't, but wheels may momentarily undergo forces that exeed their design intentions, and the odds of the spoke loosing tension permanently are offset with a small amount of mild thread locker, which if appropriately chosen and applied does not adversely effect the wheel's ability to be trued in the future (which also shouldn't really need doing on a regular basis).......
There's a good chance the wheel will be "more true able" in the future. I'd much prefer "something", Spoke Prep, linseed oil, or "milder" Locktite.be used vs corroded nipples.
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Old 05-21-20, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
There's a good chance the wheel will be "more true able" in the future. I'd much prefer "something", Spoke Prep, linseed oil, or "milder" Locktite.be used vs corroded nipples.
The mild thread locker may help a little with sealing from the elements. I build with nipples soaked in medium viscosity oil both to reduce friction and windup while building and also for corrosion resistance. Only a barbarian would hand build a wheel with no lubrication.

The thread lock is very much secondary to good lube and a quality build.
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Old 05-21-20, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by FastJake View Post
No need to speculate. A spoke going floppy loose one day after "truing" by the LBS? That's embarrassingly bad. Unless the OP hit something hard enough to leave a huge dent in the rim.

That's a pretty beefy rim, 556g for 700c. For rough terrain I'm a believer in a lighter rim and more like 32-36 spokes, but this wheel should be entirely appropriate for a 180lb person.
A poorly built wheel can do that. We know little about the wheel. A beefy rim with poor spokes and poor building doesn't matter much. We had a wheel recently that went loose on the first ride, we tried to re-tension but the spokes bottomed out. This was on another "beefy" rim from a reputable manufacturer (though I am unsure if they hand build wheels).

A wheel is a system and using the wrong components in that system will not hold well especially if assembled poorly. Going after the shop because we heard one story doesn't do any good unless we know something more. The wheel has been ridden that we know and we know small bits but we really don't have the full story.
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Old 05-22-20, 09:28 AM
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How can that spoke not be loose?
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Old 05-22-20, 09:45 AM
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Request a complete thorough true.

1. Balance tension on each side of wheel - variance of no more than 2 reading indicators on a Park Tool tensionmeter.
2. 100 - 110 KGF front disc side and rear drive side final tension...
3. While still properly dished..

THIS AFTER A FINAL STRESS RELIEVE CYCLE

(super hard squeezs of parallel pairs of spokes for a full rotation of the wheel).

=8-|
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Old 05-22-20, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
I wouldn't take this as a bad sign. I assure you I build very good wheels--right at the rated rim maximum tension, typically <%10 variation, <.5mm tolerance, spoke line set and stress relieved, etc. I build with appropriate lubrication and, yes, a tiny dab of DT spoke freeze on each spoke. You cannot predict the use conditions of a wheel--nipples will not rattle loose if the spokes don't go slack, which they shouldn't, but wheels may momentarily undergo forces that exeed their design intentions, and the odds of the spoke loosing tension permanently are offset with a small amount of mild thread locker, which if appropriately chosen and applied does not adversely effect the wheel's ability to be trued in the future (which also shouldn't really need doing on a regular basis).

If someone is experiencing tension loss, I'd certainly first check for total tension and tension evenness, but there's nothing wrong with a belt and suspenders.

That said, many shops don't do the best assembly checking on new builds, and some definitely don't really check tension or true on disc wheels if it doesn't effect their rideability. Still more true the wheels to a reasonable tolerance, but aren't balancing tension or stress relieving. Depending on price point I think it's appropriate to at least stress relieve the wheel, bring the wheel to true, and balance spoke tension to a reasonable degree, but I don't think at all price points it's appropriate to expect the same care to getting maximum tension as you would on a handbuilt wheel, or to have tension balance down to %10 or abouts.

OP, the shop really should sort this out. A reasonable test is to see how even the pitch of the spokes is on the same side of a wheel--should ideally be within a semitone (or much smaller, I probably aim for about 30 cents in most cases), but if it's off more than a perfect fourth then it either needs real attention or the rim is bent. The wheel should be true to within about a mm, generally speaking, though on a disc wheel tension balance is more important than extremely precise true. Given the amount of time, this really shouldn't require a new wheel.
No tone or perfect fourths is even necessary - same for a cup of tea and or a chat with the ship's captain.

Simply spin the wheel - spokes that flare out are loose in comparison to the rest, spokes that flare in are on the tight side in comparison to others.

=8-|
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Disclaimer:

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2. I like anyone will comment in other areas.
3. I do not own the preexisting concepts of DISH and ERD.
4. I will provide information as I always have to others that I believe will help them protect themselves from unscrupulous mechanics.
5. My all time favorite book is:

Kahane, Howard. Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life
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