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Broken Spokes, need suggestions

Old 07-01-14, 11:11 AM
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anthonybkny
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Broken Spokes, need suggestions

So ive had a total of 3 broken spokes. The bike and wheels have about 2500 miles on it. The first spoke broke at about 1000 miles after a hard breaking (i ride streets NYC) The 2nd break happened this past saturday afternoon. Not sure why it broke, but had it replaced and went on my way. The next time i took the bike out, another broke while going up a very steep hill. All 3 breaks have been drivetrain side, and at the nipple. My LBS suggests its my riding style and that i shouldnt be mashing and torqeing, which i guess i do. Im a big guy (260lbs) He recommended a rebuild. I asked about upgraded spokes and nipples but they said they werent necessary. Does this sound like good advice?

Last edited by anthonybkny; 07-01-14 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 07-01-14, 11:55 AM
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I had a similar situation last year with 3+ broken spokes on the rear wheel of my fixed gear . The general consensus of BF was that I had a poorly built wheel, and I was throwing money away replacing the spokes one at a time. I had a very nice new wheel built by Psimet, and I couldn't be happier with it.
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Old 07-01-14, 12:37 PM
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it's often been said that after 2 or 3 broken spokes within several hundred miles, that there has probably been some damage to all the spokes (maybe driveside only) and they will keep breaking at about the same or greater rate in the future. this has been my experience too.

i recently built up a set of wheels (not my first BTW) and forgot to do the final tighten=up on the rear wheel spokes before the first ride. hard to believe, but true!!!

i discovered my problem soon enough, maybe a half-mile or so at the most, coasted back home, tightened everything back up and soon forgot about it. within the next 500 miles i had broken seven spoke heads off on the drive side at the hub flange. i ordered 16 new spokes and re-laced the wheel. haven't had any trouble (cross my fingers!) in the last 500 miles.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 07-01-14 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 07-01-14, 12:38 PM
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Is the spoke breaking or is the nipple breaking because the spoke is too short?
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Old 07-01-14, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Is the spoke breaking or is the nipple breaking because the spoke is too short?
thanks everyone for your input so far. to answer bills question: the spoke itself is breaking, right where it meets the nipple. same on all 3 total breaks.
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Old 07-01-14, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
it's often been said that after 2 or 3 broken spokes within several hundred miles, that there has probably been some damage to all the spokes (maybe driveside only) and they will keep breaking at about the same or greater rate in the future. this has been my experience too.
now would it make a difference as to where the spoke is breaking? at the nipple vs elbow
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Old 07-01-14, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
thanks everyone for your input so far. to answer bills question: the spoke itself is breaking, right where it meets the nipple. same on all 3 total breaks.
That is rare. I've only had that happen when I ran a high flange hub 3X in a 26" rim. That had the spokes sitting at an obvious angle at the nipples.
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Old 07-01-14, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
now would it make a difference as to where the spoke is breaking? at the nipple vs elbow
they are equally inconvenient, i think. but those wheelbuilders with more experience and cleverer than me might be able to make good use of that information in problem determination.

for instance, maybe spokes that break at the nipple indicate a "too tight" situation and those that break at the flange "too loose". i really don't know.
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Old 07-01-14, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dabac View Post
That is rare. I've only had that happen when I ran a high flange hub 3X in a 26" rim. That had the spokes sitting at an obvious angle at the nipples.

That was exactly my situation (spokes breaking at the nipple): high flange hubs, 3x spokes, and 650c rims. I assume with the short spokes, the angle was to acute and put extra stress on a marginally built wheel. Two well respected, wheelbuilders independently told me they would recommend 2x for my wheels.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
So ive had a total of 3 broken spokes. The bike and wheels have about 2500 miles on it. The first spoke broke at about 1000 miles after a hard breaking (i ride streets NYC) The 2nd break happened this past saturday afternoon. Not sure why it broke, but had it replaced and went on my way. The next time i took the bike out, another broke while going up a very steep hill. All 3 breaks have been drivetrain side, and at the nipple. My LBS suggests its my riding style and that i shouldnt be mashing and torqeing, which i guess i do. Im a big guy (260lbs) He recommended a rebuild. I asked about upgraded spokes and nipples but they said they werent necessary. Does this sound like good advice?
We could use some more details...

700c or 26"

Box profile? Aero profile? Low profile aero (30mm or less) or Deep profile aero (in excess of 30mm)?

Hole many holes / spokes

Current crossing - 2X, 3X ...

Nipple length - 12mm, 14mm, 16mm...

Low flange, medium flange or high flange hubs?

=8-)
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Old 07-02-14, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mrrabbit View Post
We could use some more details...

700c or 26"

Box profile? Aero profile? Low profile aero (30mm or less) or Deep profile aero (in excess of 30mm)?

Hole many holes / spokes

Current crossing - 2X, 3X ...

Nipple length - 12mm, 14mm, 16mm...

Low flange, medium flange or high flange hubs?

=8-)
lol, well, this is the wheel model, hope it can give you a bit more insight.
Maddux C3 Urban, 700c, 32 hole, 2X
these are the wheels that came with the bike (cannondale badboy 5 2013)
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Old 07-02-14, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
My LBS suggests its my riding style and that i shouldnt be mashing and torqeing, which i guess i do. Im a big guy (260lbs) He recommended a rebuild.
If you are moving smoothly, it shouldn't make much difference whether you're mashing or spinning- no matter how much your legs are churning, it gets converted to the same torque via the chain and gears, and your spokes are still seeing whatever torque is required to move the bike uphill at that speed.

I had a rear wheel come apart at about 4,000 miles, warranty replacement lasted about 500 miles and at that point, I asked a local wheelbuilder to make me up a bombproof wheel, which was done with positive results.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
lol, well, this is the wheel model, hope it can give you a bit more insight.
Maddux C3 Urban, 700c, 32 hole, 2X
these are the wheels that came with the bike (cannondale badboy 5 2013)
These are (most likely) machine-built wheels. My experience with machine-built wheels is that they tend to be loose on the tension of the spokes, and with a heavy load will definitely be over-stressed. I would recommend a re-buiild and make sure the tension on the spokes is good (high) and you should be set.
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Old 07-02-14, 11:41 AM
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(i ride streets NYC)
(260lbs)
I suggest a set of Fiberglass reinforced Nylon Composite Skyway Tough Wheels

Plastic Wheels - Composite Wheels - Skyway 20 and 24 inch diameters



Or hire a Hand built wheel set with a whole lot more spokes , and go back by the shop regularly

for the tensioning and truing service a wheel set getting abused needs.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-02-14 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-02-14, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I suggest a set of Fiberglass reinforced Nylon Composite Skyway Tough Wheels

Plastic Wheels - Composite Wheels - Skyway 20 and 24 inch diameters



Or hire a Hand built wheel set with a whole lot more spokes , and go back by the shop regularly

for the tensioning and truing service a wheel set getting abused needs.
I'm not sure that wheel is really getting abused - probably just poorly built to begin with. A good rebuild with new spokes and nipples should work fine.
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Old 07-02-14, 02:00 PM
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OEM factory wheels are pretty much all machine tensioned.. at least the Skyway things can be ignored .

spoked wheels need some attention to maintenance..

(IDK if people go in for Spring tune-ups, unless they say so)
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Old 07-02-14, 04:32 PM
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Rebuild it is. Thanks for the help guys
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Old 07-06-14, 12:50 PM
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Also, spoke upgrades (as in thicker spokes) are nonsense, unless you started out with 15g spokes. 14 gauge double butted stainless spokes, a strong (usually also heavy) rim, preferably 36 hole, and a good wheelbuilder should get you sorted.
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