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Broken spokes...

Old 10-27-23, 01:50 PM
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Broken spokes...

hi,
I bought a bike from bikes direct and I am having some problems with the rear wheel. it seems after a few rides (not much mileage most from 6 - 10 miles)
I break a spoke and I find it a bit frustrating....
I looked on youtube so I fixed the previous broken spoke by measuring and ordering a set from amazon. was able to fix the spoke then did what I saw on youtube for
"stressing / destressing" the spokes by stressing them laterally, then truing the wheel.
so its been about 5 rides and just today I broke another spoke...

obviously, I need to fix the spoke but what can I do to prevent this problem from re-occurring?

additional information: the spokes break at the J bend...
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Old 10-27-23, 02:22 PM
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Contact bikesdirect.com and see if they will replace it. If not, have the whole wheel rebuilt, probably not cost effective, depending on the wheel. Or, buy a better set of wheels. They have some pretty good deals on bikes, but there are reasons they sell at what seems to be lower cost. They have to cut costs themselves to do this, wheels are one of the big ways to save on the build cost.
You do not state what bike you, purchased or what wheels it came with. So, I am just guessing it is not one of their higher tier bikes.
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Old 10-27-23, 02:42 PM
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gravity flat bar road bike (not the cheapest, not the most expensive)...
it has Alex rims, 32 hole spokes with 3x pattern.. (which I have other bikes that have 32 holes and have never broken a spoke on them)
I also had a Trek 7100 multitrack that had the same problem and basically, the shop told me that the style of bike was the problem (and of course I am a clydesdale).
supposedly, because of the flat bar, I put more stress on the back wheel.
However, I like the same position on all my bikes flat or drop bar (seat and handlebars need to be even)... so I guess I really didn't think that would be the problem.

oh and one other bit of information: it has disk brakes... don't know if that would make a difference...

Last edited by e0richt; 10-27-23 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 10-27-23, 02:51 PM
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It is a decent bike, wheels maybe. You maybe just need to go to heavy duty wheel builds, more/stronger spokes, maybe wider rims. Stock wheels usually are for average weight riders. TBH, I am not a wheel tech guy, basic truing is it.
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Old 10-27-23, 02:51 PM
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Old 10-27-23, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by delbiker1
It is a decent bike, wheels maybe. You maybe just need to go to heavy duty wheel builds, more/stronger spokes, maybe wider rims. Stock wheels usually are for average weight riders. TBH, I am not a wheel tech guy, basic truing is it.
I think it is a decent bike, first time with mechanical disk brakes. I find them to be a hassle so it is possible I would replace them with calipers...
I have been ambiguos about my weight...I am 260 but I have lost a bunch of weight since the trek... is that too much for a bike?
I have 2 road bikes (trek 1220, bikes direct dawes lightning sport) and have never broken a spoke on them and I have had them for (gee whiz) over 20 years...

I was heavier when I had the trek mulitrack 7100... just for clarification...
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Old 10-27-23, 03:04 PM
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Which spoke(s)?
Front/rear
Drive side/non drive side?

IF everything is rear NDS, I'd have all those spokes replaced with double butted (14-15 or 14-16 gauge) and both wheels properly tensioned.

BTW When I weighed 250-260, I had no problem with "properly built" 32 spoke wheels on good pavement.

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Old 10-27-23, 03:29 PM
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IME, the single biggest factor causing spoke breakage or short wheel life is riding style. At your weight, it's even more important.

So, questions.

How good or bad are your roads?
Do you lift off the saddle for bumps and potholes?
Do you try to bunny hop?
Do you tend to push higher gears or spin lower gears?
How do you mount and dismount?
Do you tend to lean or rock the bike on hard climbs or otherwise, not counting turns?

You can deal with the wheel, ie. fix or replace, but looking for underlying causes will help in the long term.
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Old 10-27-23, 04:31 PM
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Broken spokes are almost always a symptom of incorrect and/or uneven spoke tension. Take your wheels to an experienced wheelbuilder and ask them to retension all the spokes in both wheels. Those would be machine-built wheels, purchased from an online dealer, so you can be sure that the wheels were not checked by a human before they shipped it. Keep in mind that just because a wheel is true does not mean the spoke tension is even and that the wheel is strong.

Be aware that not every shop has a good "wheel guy". Call around. And while some people claim they can do it by feel or by ear (plucking the spokes), they should double check with a tensiometer.
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Old 10-27-23, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
Which spoke(s)?
Front/rear
Drive side/non drive side?

IF everything is rear NDS, I'd have all those spokes replaced with double butted (14-15 or 14-16 gauge) and both wheels properly tensioned.

BTW When I weighed 250-260, I had no problem with "properly built" 32 spoke wheels on good pavement.
it is the rear wheel only, actually, now that you have mentioned it, the last two spokes were on the drive side
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Old 10-27-23, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
IME, the single biggest factor causing spoke breakage or short wheel life is riding style. At your weight, it's even more important.

So, questions.

How good or bad are your roads?
Do you lift off the saddle for bumps and potholes?
Do you try to bunny hop?
Do you tend to push higher gears or spin lower gears?
How do you mount and dismount?
Do you tend to lean or rock the bike on hard climbs or otherwise, not counting turns?

You can deal with the wheel, ie. fix or replace, but looking for underlying causes will help in the long term.
the roads are good, no real pot holes but there are spots where I would not want to hit because it would be jarring...

normally, I do lift off the saddle for bumps or dips in the road (smoother ride that way)

not really a bunny hop more like a tiny wheelie and only going into a parking lot that has a "concrete lip" that is raised from the road...
This would be where the most stress is put onto the rear wheel even though I do this out of the saddle
don't know why they do that for a parking lob but it is, what it is...

mount by shifting the bike with the drive side upwards, and lift my leg over the seat to the drive side pedal...

I live in new jersey where it is pretty flat... so no real rocking the bike on hard climbs.
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Old 10-27-23, 05:48 PM
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You've provided a few clues.

1 early 2x failures
2 drive side
3 your weight
4 (assuming here) 14g plain gauge spokes on production wheel.

Tossing those in the bag and shaking well, I'd consider these to be overload vs. fatigue failures.

If I'm right, the wheels (or spokes) are fundamentally flawed and/or underbuilt. Possibly over tensioned, so the dead load on the right spokes is high, leaving no room for the dynamic loads. Or the spoke quality is poor, so the spokes are on the brittle vs. ductile side. Or the elbows weren't set or stress relieved, making them prone to premature fatigue.

ANY of these mean that you can expect a 3rd, then more spoke failures on a schedule comparable to what you've seen so far. NOTHING YOU DO NOW, WILL CHANGE THAT.

Toss this wheel, or have it rebuilt with new double butted SS spokes, by a skilled builder who will not overtighten the right side spokes. Or consider a 36h wheel, for the added 10% strength it offers.

If you live in or near Bergen County, I can recommend Alan at Westwood Cycles.
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Old 10-28-23, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by e0richt
it is the rear wheel only, actually, now that you have mentioned it, the last two spokes were on the drive side
As would be expected. It really is a red herring to ask “which wheel” or even “which side” when it comes to spoke breakage. Front wheels very rarely break spokes and rear drive side spokes are almost always where spoke breakage occurs.

You will also get tons of people telling you that the problem is “tension”. It isn’t. Or that it’s because you don’t have strong enough rims by which they usually mean heavy rims. That’s not the problem either. The real problem is that you have spokes that aren’t up to the task. If you want to address the problem, actually address the problem and don’t go down rabbit holes that lead you nowhere.

Your spokes are breaking because your wheels are built with the least strong spokes you can buy. OEM wheels are built with 2.0mm straight spokes. It’s counterintuitive but a double butted spoke (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) with a narrower middle section is stronger than an unbutted spoke by about 15% to 20%. If you add 0.3mm to the head of the spoke…2.3/1.8/2.0mm…you increase the strength over a straight spoke by 30% to 50%. This article says that’s the equivalent of adding 10 spokes.

For big people or for little people carrying heavy loads or for big people carrying heavy loads, triple butted spokes are the solution. I suspect that your wheel has a freewheel hub as well. That’s another issue that will eventually raise its ugly head down the road…bent axle…and you might want to address that at the same time as the spokes. Having someone build you a wheel with triple butted spokes…maybe 36 hole…and a freehub will solve your problems nicely. Just about any other solution is only going to result in more broken spokes.
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Old 10-28-23, 09:52 AM
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The only thing lower than that bike is bigbox stuff. So you can't expect much. Even less with a big rider.
If 2.3 bend DS spokes don't help, then you need a better bike.
My Sturmey Archer heavy drum brake IGH hubs all have 2.3/ 2.0 spokes. Impossible to break.
My Rohloff14 tour bike is 120 lbs loaded. Nothing broke but the first skinny fork.
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Old 10-28-23, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
As would be expected. It really is a red herring to ask “which wheel” or even “which side” when it comes to spoke breakage. Front wheels very rarely break spokes and rear drive side spokes are almost always where spoke breakage occurs.

You will also get tons of people telling you that the problem is “tension”. It isn’t. Or that it’s because you don’t have strong enough rims by which they usually mean heavy rims. That’s not the problem either. The real problem is that you have spokes that aren’t up to the task. If you want to address the problem, actually address the problem and don’t go down rabbit holes that lead you nowhere.

Your spokes are breaking because your wheels are built with the least strong spokes you can buy. OEM wheels are built with 2.0mm straight spokes. It’s counterintuitive but a double butted spoke (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) with a narrower middle section is stronger than an unbutted spoke by about 15% to 20%. If you add 0.3mm to the head of the spoke…2.3/1.8/2.0mm…you increase the strength over a straight spoke by 30% to 50%. This article says that’s the equivalent of adding 10 spokes.

For big people or for little people carrying heavy loads or for big people carrying heavy loads, triple butted spokes are the solution. I suspect that your wheel has a freewheel hub as well. That’s another issue that will eventually raise its ugly head down the road…bent axle…and you might want to address that at the same time as the spokes. Having someone build you a wheel with triple butted spokes…maybe 36 hole…and a freehub will solve your problems nicely. Just about any other solution is only going to result in more broken spokes.
so I have bikes with a freewheel... have not bent an axle ... but again that was on a road bike... the bike in question has a freehub... I was a bit surprised by that when fixing the spoke and needing to remove the gear cluster...
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Old 10-28-23, 10:01 AM
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Thinking a bit... I did buy a road bike that had problems with the rear wheel in terms spoke breakage... it was an entry level c'dale synapse and I finally paid a bike mechanic to relace using better spokes.... unfortunately that guy is long gone as the Beacon closed last year
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Old 10-28-23, 10:03 AM
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Where did the spokes break? There are steps you can take if they are breaking at the elbow (bend). If at the elbow, is it where the elbow is on the outside or inside of the hub flange?
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Old 10-28-23, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Where did the spokes break? There are steps you can take if they are breaking at the elbow (bend). If at the elbow, is it where the elbow is on the outside or inside of the hub flange?
I called it the j bend... but maybe elbow is better...
the broken spoke was straigh... j
so just at the bend is where it broke...
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Old 10-28-23, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact
Where did the spokes break? There are steps you can take if they are breaking at the elbow (bend). If at the elbow, is it where the elbow is on the outside or inside of the hub flange?
the head of the spoke was outside of the flange so the elbow was inside
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Old 10-28-23, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53
The only thing lower than that bike is bigbox stuff. So you can't expect much. Even less with a big rider.
If 2.3 bend DS spokes don't help, then you need a better bike.
My Sturmey Archer heavy drum brake IGH hubs all have 2.3/ 2.0 spokes. Impossible to break.
My Rohloff14 tour bike is 120 lbs loaded. Nothing broke but the first skinny fork.
yeah that was said about the dawes lightning sport but its been a good bike to me... and only cost a fraction of what the lbs was charging...so there's that.. everything about the bike says it's a good basic bike and I have had these same problems with bikes bought from the LBS... I would be more upset if I had paid the higher price and had the same problems...I can find a good wheel Smith to place up a rear wheel and still be ahead...
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Old 10-28-23, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
As would be expected. It really is a red herring to ask “which wheel” or even “which side” when it comes to spoke breakage. Front wheels very rarely break spokes and rear drive side spokes are almost always where spoke breakage occurs.

You will also get tons of people telling you that the problem is “tension”. It isn’t. Or that it’s because you don’t have strong enough rims by which they usually mean heavy rims. That’s not the problem either. The real problem is that you have spokes that aren’t up to the task. If you want to address the problem, actually address the problem and don’t go down rabbit holes that lead you nowhere.

Your spokes are breaking because your wheels are built with the least strong spokes you can buy. OEM wheels are built with 2.0mm straight spokes. It’s counterintuitive but a double butted spoke (2.0/1.8/2.0mm) with a narrower middle section is stronger than an unbutted spoke by about 15% to 20%. If you add 0.3mm to the head of the spoke…2.3/1.8/2.0mm…you increase the strength over a straight spoke by 30% to 50%. This article says that’s the equivalent of adding 10 spokes.

For big people or for little people carrying heavy loads or for big people carrying heavy loads, triple butted spokes are the solution. I suspect that your wheel has a freewheel hub as well. That’s another issue that will eventually raise its ugly head down the road…bent axle…and you might want to address that at the same time as the spokes. Having someone build you a wheel with triple butted spokes…maybe 36 hole…and a freehub will solve your problems nicely. Just about any other solution is only going to result in more broken spokes.
When I use the cheap, poor quality spokes, stronger rims and higher tension help a lot, especially for the strong, heavy, high-mileage riders.

Of course, if I could choose, I'd rather go with good-quality swagged spokes and a "weaker" rim, than the vice-versa.
But, in my experience, stronger rims do help (and higher tension, up to a point, does make for a stronger wheel).

Relja
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Old 10-28-23, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
When I use the cheap, poor quality spokes, stronger rims and higher tension help a lot, especially for the strong, heavy, high-mileage riders.

Of course, if I could choose, I'd rather go with good-quality swagged spokes and a "weaker" rim, than the vice-versa.
But, in my experience, stronger rims do help (and higher tension, up to a point, does make for a stronger wheel).

Relja
I am considering buying some nice spokes and relacing the wheel myself....what would be a good brand of spokes to use?
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Old 10-28-23, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by e0richt
I am considering buying some nice spokes and relacing the wheel myself....what would be a good brand of spokes to use?
I've had good experience with DT Swiss and Sapim spokes (when possible, I prefer 2 - 1.8 - 2 mm swagged/"double-butted" spokes).
DT Swiss calls those "Competition," and Sapim calls theirs "Race."

If your budget allows (and if you can source them), DT Swiss makes some 2.34 - 1.8 - 2 mm spokes (thicker at the elbow) which are even stronger and fit nicely into most modern hubs (DT Swiss Alpine III is what they call them).


For nipples, I like 2x12 mm "DT Swiss Standard" nipples.

Relja SwissSapim Novović

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Old 10-28-23, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
I've had good experience with DT Swiss and Sapim spokes (when possible, I prefer 2 - 1.8 - 2 mm swagged/"double-butted" spokes).
DT Swiss calls those "Champion," and Sapim calls theirs "Race."

If your budget allows (and if you can source them), DT Swiss makes some 2.34 - 1.8 - 2 mm spokes (thicker at the elbow) which are even stronger and fit nicely into most modern hubs (DT Swiss Alpine III is what they call them).


For nipples, I like 2x12 mm "DT Swiss Standard" nipples.

Relja SwissSapim Novović
DT Swiss calls those Competition.
Their straight gauge is Champion.
(caught you)
https://www.dtswiss.com/en/component...dt-competition
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Old 10-29-23, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by e0richt
I am considering buying some nice spokes and relacing the wheel myself....what would be a good brand of spokes to use?
Any time someone reports broken spokes, people start thinking along the lines of "better" spokes or "stronger" rims, sometimes higher spoke count, but the main factor in creating a strong wheel is how they're built. Chances are you have perfectly fine wheels. When someone says they started breaking spokes and they had someone replace all of them, it's not actually the new spokes that solved the problem, it's the fact that the wheel was rebuilt better. Most experienced wheelbuilders (as well as many articles and videos) will tell you that spoke tension is the single most important factor in how strong the wheel is. Even low-end DT 2.0 spokes and single-wall rims can be built into a strong wheel that doesn't break spokes.

If you're thinking of rebuilding the wheels yourself, here are some links. The first one is a somewhat detailed explanation, and the second one is a Park video about the same thing. Also, if you watch any videos on wheelbuilding, you'll see them go through the process. You'll need a tensiometer, and the the Park Tool seems to be the one that people favor.

You bought a bike online and most wheels these days are machine-built, which can be hit or miss. Replace all the spokes if you must, but you could probably save yourself a lot of money by just making sure your existing wheels are properly built. Personally I never just install and ride on "out of the box" wheels - they need to be put on a stand and checked for true and tension. That's the part that didn't happen with your bike.

The Complete Guide To Wheel Spokes Tension

Spoke Tension Measurement and Adjustment
Jeff Neese is offline  

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