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One Loose Spoke

Old 04-10-21, 05:36 PM
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sasa_ke
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One Loose Spoke

Hey everyone,

I wanted to ask some advice about this one loose/loud spoke on my bike. I'm just starting to learn about bikes so apologies for any wrong terminology.

I bought a Fuji Track at a local store. I love the bike and have already upgraded a couple of things on it but there's an issue... one spoke on the rear wheel is loose and makes a loud sound where it rubs. I took it back in for the free included tuneup and mentioned this issue and specifically showed the guy how loose the one spoke is. He said he'd make sure to true the wheel carefully and I said that the wheel was true, the issue was just this one loose spoke making noise and probably getting slowly damaged. So he said that he'd make sure to look into it.

Anyway I went and picked it up today and after about ten minutes of riding the sound and looseness came back! I'm pretty disappointed... and not sure what to do next. The bike store guys are very nice but don't really seem like they know what I'm talking about when I go in there. I don't want to just tighten the spoke myself because so many people have told me that if you don't know what you're doing, you can crack your rim doing this.

I'm wondering if this wheel just has an undiagnosed issue or if, being a 28H track wheel, it's just not quite up to the abuse I'm putting it through on my commute as a 180lb guy going over pretty bad city streets.

So, the question is, what do I do? Go back to the original LBS? Go to a different one? Try something at home? Get a new wheel? I'm lost.

Thank you!
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Old 04-10-21, 06:20 PM
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I assume that by loose you mean that the spoke has little tension in relation to the other spokes, right? How loose is it, e.g, can you wobble it a few cms side to side, or does it just sound an octave below the others when you pluck it? What is it rubbing on? Perhaps another spoke?

I'll also assume that the bike shop guy did check it and tightened it up. This would explain the noise free short ride after picking it up.

So here's my wild guess: I think the nipple on this spoke is stripped to the point that it slips after tightening. Do you happen to have 13 gauge spokes? If so it is likely that they used a 14 gauge nipple in the build. This will thread on fine but won't hold tension for long.

I recommend that you try to tighten it yourself - just get it close to the others by feel. Make sure that you mark this spoke for identification so that you can monitor it. If it loosens quickly, take it back to the shop and have them replace the nipple.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.
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Old 04-10-21, 06:20 PM
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The store should take care of it if the bike is still under warrantee, which it sounds like it is. At some point learning to do this yourself will save you lots of time, headaches and $$$$'s. For this though let the store figure out if something is wrong or it's just the spoke/spokes need going through. If they see you have been working on it yourself and something is defective with the wheel they can claim it's your fault. Lot's of info on YouTube and the net on how to true, build and find problems with spoked wheels. Working on your wheels isn't all that difficult but you just need to understand the basics and have plenty of patience in the beginning.
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Old 04-10-21, 07:04 PM
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sasa_ke
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Thanks for the responses

Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I assume that by loose you mean that the spoke has little tension in relation to the other spokes, right? How loose is it, e.g, can you wobble it a few cms side to side, or does it just sound an octave below the others when you pluck it? What is it rubbing on? Perhaps another spoke?

I'll also assume that the bike shop guy did check it and tightened it up. This would explain the noise free short ride after picking it up.

So here's my wild guess: I think the nipple on this spoke is stripped to the point that it slips after tightening. Do you happen to have 13 gauge spokes? If so it is likely that they used a 14 gauge nipple in the build. This will thread on fine but won't hold tension for long.

I recommend that you try to tighten it yourself - just get it close to the others by feel. Make sure that you mark this spoke for identification so that you can monitor it. If it loosens quickly, take it back to the shop and have them replace the nipple.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.
Yes, it has less tension than the other spokes. I can move it a few centimetres with my finger. I think it's rubbing on the spoke it crosses; I can see where the black paint has been abraded away at the crossover. I think you're right that the guy at the shop did tighten it and then it loosened back up. I just tried to spin the nipple and it was finger-loose.

I don't have calipers to measure spokes with, but from what I read online these wheels are not the best, so maybe there was some kind of manufacturing error. I'm going to just give it a couple of quarter turns with the spoke wrench and then see if it goes back to finger-loose tomorrow when I ride it.

Originally Posted by Crankycrank View Post
The store should take care of it if the bike is still under warrantee, which it sounds like it is. At some point learning to do this yourself will save you lots of time, headaches and $$$$'s. For this though let the store figure out if something is wrong or it's just the spoke/spokes need going through. If they see you have been working on it yourself and something is defective with the wheel they can claim it's your fault. Lot's of info on YouTube and the net on how to true, build and find problems with spoked wheels. Working on your wheels isn't all that difficult but you just need to understand the basics and have plenty of patience in the beginning.
Yep, I'm just going to take it back to the store if it persists another day.

I'm in the process of watching lots of bike youtube and reading the whole Sheldon Brown website, I love how many things on a bicycle you can fix or tune yourself with simple tools and enough knowledge!
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Old 04-10-21, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I assume that by loose you mean that the spoke has little tension in relation to the other spokes, right? How loose is it, e.g, can you wobble it a few cms side to side, or does it just sound an octave below the others when you pluck it? What is it rubbing on? Perhaps another spoke?

I'll also assume that the bike shop guy did check it and tightened it up. This would explain the noise free short ride after picking it up.

So here's my wild guess: I think the nipple on this spoke is stripped to the point that it slips after tightening. Do you happen to have 13 gauge spokes? If so it is likely that they used a 14 gauge nipple in the build. This will thread on fine but won't hold tension for long.

I recommend that you try to tighten it yourself - just get it close to the others by feel. Make sure that you mark this spoke for identification so that you can monitor it. If it loosens quickly, take it back to the shop and have them replace the nipple.

Good luck. Let us know what happens.
You don't actually think the shop built those wheels do you? At that level they come right out of the box, the rear is almost certainly already installed.
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Old 04-11-21, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
You don't actually think the shop built those wheels do you? At that level they come right out of the box, the rear is almost certainly already installed.
I never said nor implied that the shop built the wheels nor do I feel that the shop made the error, which likely occurred during during the wheel build.
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Old 04-11-21, 11:16 AM
  #7  
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I've had good experiences with maintenance by the dealers shop and some poor experiences. These days I keep a supply of extra spokes and nipples, do my own truing and rely on shop monkeys to mess with my bike to the least extent possible.
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Old 04-11-21, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I never said nor implied that the shop built the wheels nor do I feel that the shop made the error, which likely occurred during during the wheel build.
My point is there would be basically zero chance of a single nipple of the wrong gauge ending up on the wheel in a production line environment.
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Old 04-12-21, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
My point is there would be basically zero chance of a single nipple of the wrong gauge ending up on the wheel in a production line environment.
OMG, that is SO funny, I nearly fell off my chair laughing!

As a mechanic I remember many odd things on new cars from the factory, as an engineer I saw many a strange thing happen on a production line, and today editing translated production issue reports in our international manufacturing world it sometimes seems remarkable that so much we build is actually so right.
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Old 04-12-21, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Geepig View Post
OMG, that is SO funny, I nearly fell off my chair laughing!

As a mechanic I remember many odd things on new cars from the factory, as an engineer I saw many a strange thing happen on a production line, and today editing translated production issue reports in our international manufacturing world it sometimes seems remarkable that so much we build is actually so right.
I was thinking that in a production line scenario there would be thousands of the correct size nipples on hand and it would be pretty hard for a small number of incorrect ones to make their way into the mix, guess I'm wrong.
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Old 04-12-21, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
I was thinking that in a production line scenario there would be thousands of the correct size nipples on hand and it would be pretty hard for a small number of incorrect ones to make their way into the mix, guess I'm wrong.
There are many, many things that go wrong - someone adjusts the spec and/or the design of the nipple and fails to inform those downstream, the nipple making machine starts to fail or an error is made during machine servicing and out of spec nipples are sent out before quality control picks up the error, the wheel assembly machine is not cleaned sufficiently well when switched to a different wheel type - so there is one old nipple left in the barrel, etc. etc. etc. Every time you get the production or quality system smoothed out, someone realizes that now you can manufacture something even more complicated.

If you can imagine something going wrong in a production environment, then somewhere it already is.
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