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Bent/loose spoke: harbinger of doom or don't worry about it?

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Bent/loose spoke: harbinger of doom or don't worry about it?

Old 03-01-15, 12:15 AM
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Bent/loose spoke: harbinger of doom or don't worry about it?

This past week I noticed my rear wheel was out of true, so I got it up on the stand, found the spot that was kicking right (drive side), and grabbed the corresponding non-drive-side-spoke to tighten it up, and found it was (a) completely loose, and (b) bent somewhat sharply, as if it had suffered an impact of some kind (stick?)

Here's a pic:



If it's not obvious, the problem spoke is taped for reference, and the bend is pretty much in the center of the picture.

So I tightened it up a couple whole turns, it seems to hold tension, and the wheel straightened out. Also, the head of the spoke seems ok (by visual inspection, comparing it to its neighbors).

Apparently I can lose a whole spoke and the wheel doesn't fly apart (32H velocity dyad, ~250lb), so this is not a critical issue, but should I get this spoke replaced preemptively? Or just be happy that it tensioned up and wait for an actual problem to occur?
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Old 03-01-15, 01:20 AM
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The bend in the middle of the spoke is probably not a big deal.

The question is whether it seemed like the nipple was stripped, or the spoke had stretched.
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Old 03-01-15, 01:28 AM
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could go either way. if it were me and i could see the bent spoke i would probably get a new one and fix it. if i were, say in college, and i had other interests, i'd probably let it slide.
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Old 03-01-15, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
The bend in the middle of the spoke is probably not a big deal.

The question is whether it seemed like the nipple was stripped, or the spoke had stretched.
I don't know how to tell whether the nipple is stripped or not (unscrew completely, pull the spoke out and try to look in it?) or whether the spoke is stretched or not (remove two spokes and compare lengths?).

When I found it was completely loose, I assumed the spoke had broken, and I was surprised to find that it tightened up easily and seemed to hold. I left my reference tape on to remind myself to be checking it.
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Old 03-01-15, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan
could go either way. if it were me and i could see the bent spoke i would probably get a new one and fix it. if i were, say in college, and i had other interests, i'd probably let it slide.
I'm not in college, but I'm a cheapskate as if I were...
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Old 03-01-15, 11:41 AM
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I wouldn't worry about a slight kink breaking. Look at the elbows!
It's simply a matter of appearance.
IF I had a spare, identical spoke, I'd probably change it, since it would be on a wheel I built.
I would wait until I had a flat (at home) though. Not worth needlessly dismounting a tire etc.
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Old 03-01-15, 11:44 AM
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As hueyhoolihan mentioned, it is really up to you. You seem to be able to true your own wheels and do your own maintenance, so a replacement spoke and nipple is a few cents at best. A bit of a pain to replace the nipple sometimes.

It may or may not hurt anything.

You would notice if it skipped threads by noting if any threads were visible before tightening (or more or less are visible after tightening). A stretched spoke might look longer when looking at the amount sticking out of the nipple.

I snagged a couple of spokes on a recently built wheel with a bungee cord. They look bad, but I don't think I even had to true the wheel afterwards, so I just left them.

It may depend on your use of the bike. Highly competitive racing? Training and riding around town? I'm doubting you'll ever have problems with that spoke again, but some of it will be your own comfort levels.
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Old 03-01-15, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun
I wouldn't worry about a slight kink breaking. Look at the elbows!
That's a good point. The elbows tell all...
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Old 03-01-15, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
You would notice if it skipped threads by noting if any threads were visible before tightening (or more or less are visible after tightening). A stretched spoke might look longer when looking at the amount sticking out of the nipple.
I'm not sure, but I don't remember seeing any threads when the spoke was loose, and none of the good spokes are showing any thread, which I guess raises the possibility the spoke did stretch, and now that I tightened it, it is poking into (but hopefully not) through my rim tape. Hopefully I won't find out the hard way in the rain tomorrow...
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Old 03-01-15, 10:39 PM
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Please note that the threads are HIGHLY unlikely to strip on the spoke - they are rolled threads, not cut threads, meaning they are work hardened, and about as strong as possible for the steel the spokes are made of. The nipplies are another matter, they are brass or aluminum, and their threads are comparatively easily stripped.
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Old 03-01-15, 11:28 PM
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I had never heard of that rolled/cut distinction before. I looked it up, that was interesting, thx for the info.
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