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Broke a Spoke

Old 09-22-19, 09:24 AM
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Broke a Spoke

After 30 years of riding, I have broken a spoke in my rear wheel. The wheels were purchased from Performance Bike sometime after 1985. They have sealed bearing hubs and came with MAVIC MA-2 rims. Yes, I got my money's worth.

I didn't hit a pothole or anything, so I suspect it was just a fatigue fracture - the head came off right after the bend. Luckily, it is on the non-drive side making replacement just that much easier.

Now, I likely have a replacement and will install it if I do. Still, this question occurred to me.

What is the threading of spokes/nipples?

If I don't have the proper spoke length, can I cut one to length and thread the shank? Will cut threads survive or do they have to be rolled threads?
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Old 09-22-19, 09:38 AM
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Get a proper length spoke. The threads should be rolled. Let someone else take care of that.

After breaking a spoke, I try not to think about it. If a wheel breaks two spokes, it's time to scratch my head. After three spokes, it's time to rebuild the wheel. Good luck.
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Old 09-22-19, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Get a proper length spoke. The threads should be rolled. Let someone else take care of that.

After breaking a spoke, I try not to think about it. If a wheel breaks two spokes, it's time to scratch my head. After three spokes, it's time to rebuild the wheel. Good luck.
Yes, I assume this first fatigue failure is a prelude of things to come. The ferrules in the rim are corroding due to the salty marine environment, too. This repair will just stave off the inevitable.
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Old 09-22-19, 10:25 AM
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After breaking a spoke, I try not to think about it. If a wheel breaks two spokes, it's time to scratch my head. After three spokes, it's time to rebuild the wheel. Good luck.
Pretty much how I feel about a spoke or two, providing I can true the wheel with one or two less, as was the case with my Bianchi last winter, while in Jamaica. No spokes available anywhere that I could get to. So, I went with one less spoke, in the rear wheel, for six weeks and with no further failure issues. I will be taking a few spare spokes this trip and a back up wheel set - just in case.

If I break a second spoke, then it is time for a complete build - I am so anal:-(
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Old 09-22-19, 10:28 AM
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The thread pitch is 56tpi which is close enough to 0.45mm that it doesn't make a difference which standard you use. For 14ga (2mm) spokes, the major diameter would be around 2.2mm or a # 2 screw. If I recall correctly, I have used a # 2-56 tap to chase spoke nipples when in a pinch. I could be wrong about the exact diameter, and it varies between gauges of spokes, but I know the 0.45mm/56tpi pitch is used across all gauges of commonly used bicycle spoke (there must be exceptions, and I know cars and motorcycles are different). I have the spoke thread rolling tool, but I do this a lot and I'm always frustrated by having a pile of spokes that are the wrong length, and the spoke thread rolling tool fixes this problem for me. I feel like I'm always replacing spokes for friends.

As @noglider says, threads are rolled and not cut; this process is harder to do so the tooling is expensive. If you're not planning on making a long-term hobby out of wheelbuilding (and becoming the friend on-call when your buddies' spokes break), the best thing to do is to bring the broken spoke to a shop and ask them for a replacement (or three). They will be cheap. You can also get them online if you prefer, just measure with a ruler.
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Old 09-22-19, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Will cut threads survive or do they have to be rolled threads?
They have to be rolled threads.

Why not simply visit a bike shop and purchase a correct replacement spoke. It's not a big deal.

1985 eh? One spoke breakage is not unusual, sometimes they just break. But when 2 or 3 spokes start breaking in a row, it indicates the wheel is toast.
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Old 09-22-19, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Why not simply visit a bike shop and purchase a correct replacement spoke. It's not a big deal.
This.

I'd remove a good spoke on the same side of the wheel to bring to your lbs. Buy two of them of that length.
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Old 09-22-19, 11:58 AM
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When I tour in outback Australia, I always have 3 spare spokes for each side of both wheels. Cheap insurance, even though I have 48 spoke 26" wheels and PW hubs.

Needed those spokes once for the rear wheel and they were a god-send. 😜
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Old 09-22-19, 01:03 PM
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Congrats @Bad Lag, that is a pretty respectable service life. If you're concerned about the other spokes, you could always stress-relieve them in the Jobst Brandt manner, by grabbing pairs of nearly-parallel spokes and squeezing them really hard with your hands. He originally started that practice to find (and break) marginal spokes while the wheel was still in the stand, not on the road. It was only later that he worked out the other benefits.
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Old 09-22-19, 01:55 PM
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I've broken a couple spokes and was out of pocket $2 for each one.
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Old 09-22-19, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
They have to be rolled threads.

Why not simply visit a bike shop and purchase a correct replacement spoke. It's not a big deal.
Actually, there are very few bike shops in the area. They have all gone out of business. What's left tend to specialize in beach cruiser sales. It's pretty sad. Online is just about all there is for me.

Performance Bike Shop is gone. Bikecology is gone. Ted Ernst is gone. Celo Europa is long gone. I have no idea where to go for a local supply of stainless steel, double butted spokes.
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Old 09-22-19, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Actually, there are very few bike shops in the area. They have all gone out of business. What's left tend to specialize in beach cruiser sales. It's pretty sad. Online is just about all there is for me.

Performance Bike Shop is gone. Bikecology is gone. Ted Ernst is gone. Celo Europa is long gone. I have no idea where to go for a local supply of stainless steel, double butted spokes.
Yeah, that's an issue these days. Not as many shops. Surviving bike shops seem to mostly sell assembled bikes, plus do basic servicing but with minimal parts in stock. BITD when I wrenched shops usually kept a full stock of spokes in all sizes and several gauges. Anyway I don't know where you are, but maybe try Helen's Cycles or I Martin. Call first... I don't know if they keep spokes in stock.

Or measure your spoke yourself and buy online. All you need is a ruler.
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Old 09-22-19, 06:21 PM
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Wow!, that one spoke cost me $18 and an hour's time.

Even so, I'm not 100% certain I got the exact length. I am sure it will work.

I am not sure I got stainless steel spokes. The quality of the posted information is so poor: "color = silver".

Nashbar does not even offer spokes.
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Old 09-22-19, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Actually, there are very few bike shops in the area. They have all gone out of business. What's left tend to specialize in beach cruiser sales. It's pretty sad. Online is just about all there is for me.

Performance Bike Shop is gone. Bikecology is gone. Ted Ernst is gone. Celo Europa is long gone. I have no idea where to go for a local supply of stainless steel, double butted spokes.
SoCal, no bike shops?

I'd suggest you tell us what city you're in, there are a lot of forum members from the land of no rain that can suggest a good bike shop.
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Old 09-22-19, 08:49 PM
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i recently went to ebay for spokes for a wheelset. a bit over $40 for 72 stainless sapim spokes. i can't see how you paid $18 for one. that's nuts (edit: unless you mean that was for the part and labor?)

anyway, this ebay seller operates out of his own shop and cuts and rolls the spokes himself. if you're interested in getting any, he's flexible enough to sell you what you need and not more. iow's, his auctions/bin's are advertised as set amounts, but will happily adjust upon request

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Old 09-22-19, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by thook View Post
i recently went to ebay for spokes for a wheelset. a bit over $40 for 72 stainless sapim spokes. i can't see how you paid $18 for one. that's nuts (edit: unless you mean that was for the part and labor?)

anyway, this ebay seller operates out of his own shop and cuts and rolls the spokes himself. if you're interested in getting any, he's flexible enough to sell you what you need and not more. iow's, his auctions/bin's are advertised as set amounts, but will happily adjust upon request
$5 for 5 spokes (the minimum order) + 10% sales tax + almost $13 for shipping (FedEx ground) = $18

It is NUTZ but I needed to place the order and move on. I had other things to do. Getting the broken spoke out. In-situ measuring of the approximate size of an unbroken spoke. Finding a source of supply for "regular ole" spokes (major disappointment at their rarity). Finding the info I needed for sizing and gages. All that takes precious time.

Anyway, it's on order and should get here soon enough. In the mean time, I will ride a different bike.
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Old 09-22-19, 10:08 PM
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Where is a good place to buy high quality, stainless steel, J-shaped, double butted spokes? I don't do ebay. Is Amazon decent?

I should get some to build replacement wheels in case this broken spoke is a harbinger, a warning, of impending high cycle fatigue failures.

I have an old set of Campagnolo NR high flange hubs and a new set of VO PBP rims.

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Old 09-22-19, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Where is a good place to buy high quality, stainless steel, J-shaped, double butted spokes? I don't do ebay. Is Amazon decent?

I should get some to build replacement wheels in case this broken spoke is a harbinger, a warning, of impending high cycle fatigue failures.

I have an old set of Campagnolo NR high flange hubs and a new set of VO PBP rims.
My last time around, I called Danscomp on the phone with the length I needed. 60 cents for each spoke (nipple included): https://www.danscomp.com/products/43...ted_Spoke.html
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Old 09-23-19, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
$5 for 5 spokes (the minimum order) + 10% sales tax + almost $13 for shipping (FedEx ground) = $18

It is NUTZ...
Where did you buy them?

All that takes precious time.
Worse time-suck would be going to a bike shop, waiting, talking, paying, coming back, all that way with a bum wheel strapped to your bike or a spoke poking you in your pocket, or worse yet, driving! Ugh, driving. I constantly have to remind myself of this when I DIY, that travel/parking/being helped in a shop still takes time.

Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Where is a good place to buy high quality, stainless steel, J-shaped, double butted spokes? I don't do ebay. Is Amazon decent?
Amazon's algorithm makes it nearly impossible for me to get anything by looking up tech specs. The "color: silver" thing is something I feel like I'd find on Amazon. So much needless information, packaged as one-size-fits-all for the consumer masses, not for people actually trying to accomplish something meaningful. For component parts of every kind, from capacitors to brazing silver, I really prefer Ebay. What do you have against it? It's not the same animal it was 15 or even 10 years ago. I've been pleasantly surprised buying stuff there. Selling stuff - is another matter..

For spokes, I like Yojimbo's Garage, which has a brick-and-mortar location in Chicago but sells spokes online. I've purchased from them a few times because their prices were best on triple-butted 13-15-14ga spokes, which are my favorite for tandems and touring. They sell Sapim, which seem to make fine spokes. They normally sell through Ebay but might sell you some over the phone if you play the luddite.

Bikecology, what a fine shop they were, my Ron Cooper was purchased there, ages ago of course.
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Old 09-23-19, 01:08 AM
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I purchase spokes (always DT butted for my wheels, and they carry other brands), and many other components, from Universal Cycles:

https://www.universalcycles.com/shop...p?category=198
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Old 09-23-19, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
SoCal, no bike shops?

I'd suggest you tell us what city you're in, there are a lot of forum members from the land of no rain that can suggest a good bike shop.
+1

I probably have the correct size (or close enough) in inventory (my garage stash)
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Old 09-23-19, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
$5 for 5 spokes (the minimum order) + 10% sales tax + almost $13 for shipping (FedEx ground) = $18

It is NUTZ but I needed to place the order and move on. I had other things to do. Getting the broken spoke out. In-situ measuring of the approximate size of an unbroken spoke. Finding a source of supply for "regular ole" spokes (major disappointment at their rarity). Finding the info I needed for sizing and gages. All that takes precious time.

Anyway, it's on order and should get here soon enough. In the mean time, I will ride a different bike.
In the future, if it's difficult for you to find what you're looking for, just ask here. You mentioned that Performance went out of business. When my local store was having it's blowout sale, @Mr. Spadoni negotiated a deal to purchase their remaining spoke inventory, @Andy_K bought in for a 1/3 tranche each, we had a spoke inventory/sorting/beer drinking party at the Atelier. I volunteered to be the keeper. I'd bet I have what you were needing. A few spokes in a mailing envelope would be cheaper than $18, and I'd be happy to help a brother out.

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Old 09-23-19, 04:16 PM
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Oh dang! I'm gonna hit you up next time @gugie.
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Old 09-23-19, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Oh dang! I'm gonna hit you up next time @gugie.



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Old 09-23-19, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
I wish I had a spoke cabinet like that, could use a big one. I only keep silver spokes, never bought any in black.
Bought out a couple of builder's inventories 5-6 years ago and what they had was all silver.

I used to get straight and DB spokes at Steve Lebanski's Open Road shop in Pasadena (now in Altadena) and he always gave me the best deal around.
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