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OK to ride with missing spoke?

Old 07-31-20, 02:06 PM
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enargins
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OK to ride with missing spoke?

I have a 2018 Rad Power Bikes RadCity and I just noticed one of my rear spokes is out of the nipple. I put it back in and tried tightening it, but didn't work. Threads in the nipple must be stripped.

Is it OK to ride for the time being with one spoke disconnected? (I have disc brakes.)

Thanks!

Last edited by enargins; 08-01-20 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 07-31-20, 02:59 PM
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Much depends on how many spokes the wheel has, your riding style and your weight.
Likely it's just a "standard" 14 gauge nipple for a 2mm diameter spoke.

IF one came entirely loose, your other spokes may also have loosened and the wheel needs to be PROPERLY tensioned to prevent it from happening again.
Machine built wheels can have very poor average tension. I bought a cheap front wheel once and 1/2 the spokes had about 1/2 the proper tension. It was quite true, but still a crap build.
NDS rear?

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Old 07-31-20, 03:00 PM
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More left in the wheel un broken, the better ..

My touring bike's rear wheel had 47 spares when 1 broke I touched up the truing to run thru the rim brakes fine

then replaced the spoke later..

20 spoke .. only 19 left, has more issues..



.....
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Old 07-31-20, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by enargins View Post
I have a 2018 Rad Power Bikes RadCity and I just noticed one of my rear spokes is out of the nipple. I put it back in and tried tightening it, but didn't work. Threads in the nipple must be stripped. Two questions:

1) Is it OK to ride for the time being with one spoke disconnected?

2) What size nipple should I buy to replace the damaged one?

Thanks!
A missing spoke is less of a problem with disc brakes in that the rim doesnít hit a brake pad. However, wheels work best as a whole and if you remove one of the spokes, the other spokes have to take up more of the load. Add in an electric motor and the torque that comes along with it and the spokes have to work even harder. Bottom line: get it replaced. And have the other spokes checked as well.

The size spoke nipple you need is going to be a little problematic at a local shop. Most bikes have 2.0mm spoke and take a 14 gauge nipple. But your bike uses 12 gauge spokes (2.6mm diameter) according to the specifications on your bike and few bike shops are going to carry those. Go to the shop that sold you the bike or go to a motorcycle shop or buy on line.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:20 PM
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If all else fails, buy a new spoke and nipple together.
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Old 07-31-20, 05:46 PM
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Rad Power bikes use thick 12 gauge spokes. This is not a common size that you should expect most bike shops to carry, but if there are a lot of e-bikes in your area you may be able to find some. I have two friends with Rad Power bikes and both of them tell me that the spokes seem to be under-tensioned causing them to loosen up. You may want to check the rest of them. I'm guessing that your nipple just unscrewed as well and did not "pull" out of the nipple.

When you tried to screw the nipple back onto the spoke, did you dismount the tire and tube? If not, you may want to do that and give it another go. The pressure of the mounted tire may have prevented you from positioning the nipple the right way to engage the threads. Also, verify that you are turning the nipple the correct way to tighten - looking down the spoke from rim toward the hub, you should turn the nipple clockwise.

Interesting results when you google 12 gauge nipples?
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Old 08-01-20, 01:39 AM
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If you're having spoke failures on that bike, I'd recommend taking it to a good bike shop that can also sort a correct replacement spoke/nipple and spend a significant amount of time correcting the spoke line on the wheel and bringing it to appropriate high, even tension. In my experience as a mechanic, Radpowers have especially poorly built wheels that suffer uncommonly frequent spoke failure. I theorize that the very thick (and probably needlessly so) spokes build up poorly on a wheel building machine--the spoke line is pretty poor in general, and the tension is straight up bad. Be prepared to pay for this if you go for it though--they kind of suck to work on, and if they're looking after themselves they will charge more than a standard true.

Most shops probably don't have 12g nipples in stock. If you're replacing it yourself, they seem a little difficult to source. Here's one source https://www.ebay.com/i/184127885056?chn=ps, though that's for a whole wheel's worth. A bike shop with a JBI account (which is common but not ubiquitous) can order replacement 12g spokes and nipples.
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Old 08-01-20, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
If you're having spoke failures on that bike, I'd recommend taking it to a good bike shop that can also sort a correct replacement spoke/nipple and spend a significant amount of time correcting the spoke line on the wheel and bringing it to appropriate high, even tension. In my experience as a mechanic, Radpowers have especially poorly built wheels that suffer uncommonly frequent spoke failure. I theorize that the very thick (and probably needlessly so) spokes build up poorly on a wheel building machine--the spoke line is pretty poor in general, and the tension is straight up bad. .
The Rad Power rear wheels that I've seen and worked on have spokes in a 1x pattern - necessary for a reasonable spoke line on such a big hub. The rims that Rad Power use are not up to the task and will start cracking around the nipple holes if tensioned too highly. Likely due to the torque of the motor. My opinion is that triple butted spokes would be the best choice if rebuilding - like the 13-16-14 gauge spokes from DT. Do it when you need to replace a bearing in the rear hub. To get to the bearing, you have to de-lace the wheel!

Here's a pic of a Rad Power rear wheel showing rim cracks:

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Old 08-01-20, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by enargins View Post
I have a 2018 Rad Power Bikes RadCity and I just noticed one of my rear spokes is out of the nipple. I put it back in and tried tightening it, but didn't work. Threads in the nipple must be stripped. Two questions:

1) Is it OK to ride for the time being with one spoke disconnected?

2) What size nipple should I buy to replace the damaged one?

Thanks!
I doubt the threads are stripped. It can be awkward to get the spoke far enough inside the nipple, and turn the nipple at the same time, without having the nipple creep inside the rim. It's easier if the tire & tube are off, so you can push the nipple towards the spoke to help engage the threads.
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Old 08-01-20, 10:54 AM
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RadPower and other similar low cost brands are well known for spoke issues. All those parts weren't mean to hold up a 5-7 pound motor plus all the torque going through it plus all of your weight plus anything else you are carrying plus the varied nature of roads and paths. I would upgrade the bike to something non-hub drive based and you will be less likely to have wheel problems.

Unfortunately with wheels like that you will probably be chasing spokes a lot if not other problems. We had one that had broken 20 spokes out of 32 spokes and the company said "Just replace the spokes, certainly not time for a new wheel yet". Generally at 2 spokes it is time for a new wheel unless you want to keep having issues.
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Old 08-01-20, 05:33 PM
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It's obvious I don't super-love Rad, but I've often wondered if the wheels wouldn't actually be better of with 14g or at least 13g spokes. I don't think the motor torque exceeds that of heavy disc brake use, and the bike weight really isn't much different than a loaded touring bike. I think the 12g spokes don't build up well with the wheel building machines.
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Old 08-01-20, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
I doubt the threads are stripped. It can be awkward to get the spoke far enough inside the nipple, and turn the nipple at the same time, without having the nipple creep inside the rim. It's easier if the tire & tube are off, so you can push the nipple towards the spoke to help engage the threads.
OK, I'll give that a try. Thanks!
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Old 08-01-20, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Much depends on how many spokes the wheel has, your riding style and your weight.
Likely it's just a "standard" 14 gauge nipple for a 2mm diameter spoke.

IF one came entirely loose, your other spokes may also have loosened and the wheel needs to be PROPERLY tensioned to prevent it from happening again.
Machine built wheels can have very poor average tension. I bought a cheap front wheel once and 1/2 the spokes had about 1/2 the proper tension. It was quite true, but still a crap build.
NDS rear?
Yes, that's how the bike came. But I tightened them all up. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with it over time, and that one must've come loose again.

Turns out it's a 12 gauge spoke, so pretty beefy.
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Old 08-01-20, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
More left in the wheel un broken, the better ..

My touring bike's rear wheel had 47 spares when 1 broke I touched up the truing to run thru the rim brakes fine

then replaced the spoke later..

20 spoke .. only 19 left, has more issues..

.....
Just counted them. It's a 26" wheel, and it has 36 spokes. The spokes are 12 gauge. So probably should be fine for a little bit, especially given that I don't do any rough riding (mostly streets and cement trails).
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Old 08-01-20, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
A missing spoke is less of a problem with disc brakes in that the rim doesnít hit a brake pad. However, wheels work best as a whole and if you remove one of the spokes, the other spokes have to take up more of the load. Add in an electric motor and the torque that comes along with it and the spokes have to work even harder. Bottom line: get it replaced. And have the other spokes checked as well.

The size spoke nipple you need is going to be a little problematic at a local shop. Most bikes have 2.0mm spoke and take a 14 gauge nipple. But your bike uses 12 gauge spokes (2.6mm diameter) according to the specifications on your bike and few bike shops are going to carry those. Go to the shop that sold you the bike or go to a motorcycle shop or buy on line.
A motorcyle shop would have a 12 gauge nipple? Never thought of that! I thought they'd all be like 10 gauge or thicker for motorcycles.

And, yes, tried bike shops, but none of them had any. Did order a new spoke and nipple from Rad Power Bikes (they come as a set), but it'll probably take a few weeks to get here.

And, yes, I have disc brakes.
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Old 08-01-20, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
If all else fails, buy a new spoke and nipple together.
Would if I could. But no local shops work with 12 gauge spokes. I did order one from Rad Power Bikes, but it'll take a few weeks to get here.
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Old 08-01-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by cpach View Post
If you're having spoke failures on that bike, I'd recommend taking it to a good bike shop that can also sort a correct replacement spoke/nipple and spend a significant amount of time correcting the spoke line on the wheel and bringing it to appropriate high, even tension. In my experience as a mechanic, Radpowers have especially poorly built wheels that suffer uncommonly frequent spoke failure. I theorize that the very thick (and probably needlessly so) spokes build up poorly on a wheel building machine--the spoke line is pretty poor in general, and the tension is straight up bad. Be prepared to pay for this if you go for it though--they kind of suck to work on, and if they're looking after themselves they will charge more than a standard true.

Most shops probably don't have 12g nipples in stock. If you're replacing it yourself, they seem a little difficult to source. Here's one source https://www.ebay.com/i/184127885056?chn=ps, though that's for a whole wheel's worth. A bike shop with a JBI account (which is common but not ubiquitous) can order replacement 12g spokes and nipples.
Thanks. I ordered a new spoke and nipple from Rad. But it'll take a few weeks to get here.

And, yeah, Rads come with poor spoke tension. I tightened all mine when I got the bike a few years back. But, stupidly, I haven't been keeping up with it.
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Old 08-01-20, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
I doubt the threads are stripped. It can be awkward to get the spoke far enough inside the nipple, and turn the nipple at the same time, without having the nipple creep inside the rim. It's easier if the tire & tube are off, so you can push the nipple towards the spoke to help engage the threads.
OK, I just took the tire and tube off, but the results were the same. I pushed down on the nipple with one hand, while holding the spoke straight and tightening the nipple with the other hand. Turned it around 20 times, but it didn't take. Spoke came out afterwards.

Last edited by enargins; 08-01-20 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 08-01-20, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
RadPower and other similar low cost brands are well known for spoke issues. All those parts weren't mean to hold up a 5-7 pound motor plus all the torque going through it plus all of your weight plus anything else you are carrying plus the varied nature of roads and paths. I would upgrade the bike to something non-hub drive based and you will be less likely to have wheel problems.

Unfortunately with wheels like that you will probably be chasing spokes a lot if not other problems. We had one that had broken 20 spokes out of 32 spokes and the company said "Just replace the spokes, certainly not time for a new wheel yet". Generally at 2 spokes it is time for a new wheel unless you want to keep having issues.
Well, yes, RPBs have spoke issues out of the box oftentimes. I tightened all mine at the start. Unfortunately, stupidly, I haven't kept up with checking on the spokes. So now, 2 years and 2,000 miles later, I had a spoke come out of the nipple. I'd say that's not bad, considering the lack of maintenance I've done over the years!!
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Old 08-02-20, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by enargins View Post
OK, I just took the tire and tube off, but the results were the same. I pushed down on the nipple with one hand, while holding the spoke straight and tightening the nipple with the other hand. Turned it around 20 times, but it didn't take. Spoke came out afterwards.
With the tire off, you can remove the nipple, and then thread it onto the spoke. Easier to check the threads with nothing interfering.
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Old 08-02-20, 10:02 AM
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12 gauge is rather thick , (But I cant measure your stuff from here)
more likely bike industry typical 14 gauge, 2 mm thick (15 is 1.8 mm)

AWG also applies to copper wire in electricity,... spokes are mostly stainless steel wire.

12 (American Wire Gauge) is 0.0808 inches (2.053 mm)
I see thick spokes used on Brompton's rear wheel spokes measure roughly 2,2mm..

Nips are usually brass, they often break when spoke is too short, So does not come up to the end of the nip.





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Old 08-02-20, 06:50 PM
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I rode a bike with one broken spoke to a bike shop and got a new spoke installed. I also picked up to extra spokes in case I broke another one. Haven't used either since I bought them 19 years ago.

I might ride a 32 or 36 spokes wheel a few kilometres to get home or to a shop but I'd not ride it far or keep riding it before replacing the missing spoke. Why take a chance of the remaining nearby spokes breaking from the extra stress on them?

Cheers
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Old 08-03-20, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I rode a bike with one broken spoke to a bike shop and got a new spoke installed. I also picked up to extra spokes in case I broke another one. Haven't used either since I bought them 19 years ago.

I might ride a 32 or 36 spokes wheel a few kilometres to get home or to a shop but I'd not ride it far or keep riding it before replacing the missing spoke. Why take a chance of the remaining nearby spokes breaking from the extra stress on them?

Cheers
I broke a spoke on a loaded touring bike near Lolo Pass in Montana and rode it to Kamiah, ID, about 100 miles. I couldnít get the cassette off to replace the spoke. I changed the tension on the spokes around the broken one and rode conservatively. I rented a U-Haul truck to get me to Lewiston, where I got the cassette off. Iíve since taken to carrying a FiberFix spoke and have started using DT Alpine III spokes. Havenít had to use the FiberFix yet.
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Old 08-03-20, 04:29 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by enargins View Post
Just counted them. It's a 26" wheel, and it has 36 spokes. The spokes are 12 gauge. So probably should be fine for a little bit, especially given that I don't do any rough riding (mostly streets and cement trails).
IF the spokes keep loosening, you might try some BLUE or GREEN Locktite on the threads.
A 1 cross pattern & all that extra torque from the motor is putting them through a major strain. When one spoke gets loose enough, it probably "rips" the last few threads out of the nipple.

A 12 ga. spoke is going to require a LOT of tension that the rim may not be up to. Else, you'll have a lot more "elbow flex" than normal.
Also keep in mind, when you apply power, 1/2 the spokes are trying to "unwind". That probably results in a momentary "loose" spoke, allowing the nipple to back off a bit. REPEAT.....

For every loose spoke, the rest of the spokes have more strain applied to take up the load. I see a pop corn effect.
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