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JMaloney 07-10-07 10:43 PM

first busted spoke
this is my first post here, I recently (about 2 months ago) purchased a fuji newest 4.0 and have been riding my tail off. This is my first road bike, I just completed my first 50k! and have been riding almost every day and am totally loving my bike, except... today I busted a spoke on my rear tire (drive side), through the kindness of a stranger and my local bike shop, I'm back up and running however, I started discussing how this occured with my local bike dealer and they stated that because I'm a bigger guy (6' 4" / 220lbs) my wheels are going to be prone to breaking spokes. My question is two fold: Is this a legitmate reason for increased spoke breakage? If so does anyone know of a particular type of road bike wheel that is going to withstand my increased demands on my bike (and not cost an arm and a leg) or is this just a hazard of being a clydesdale! your input is greatly appreciated.


(51) 07-11-07 04:13 AM

Yep, it is a legitimate claim. More weight and more force when you're hammering up the hills will strain your spokes.
Did your LBS just replace the spoke, or did they rebuild the wheel?
How many miles did you have on the bike when the spoke popped?
What type of riding do you do?
What wheels do you have? What is the spoke count?

At 220# you should have few problems with a well-built wheel. I weigh far more than you (100+) and I expect to get 2,000-2,500 miles out of my wheels (Matrix 750 with DT spokes and shimano hub) before I have them rebuilt.

cyclezealot 07-11-07 04:32 AM

you are out there and you break a couple spokes and the ride is impossible. Someone was telling me about some kind of temporary spoke replacement system. It comes with like some kind of nylon thread and some kind of anchors for the wheel and hub. Tie the two together somehow and you are off. Anyone have such a system. Is it any good.

BigRock 07-11-07 07:26 AM

My experience with broken spokes is: I'll break one then get it fixed - soon another one goes and then another - once I get to four spokes broken - I'll either get the wheel rebuilt or replace all the spokes.

The temporary spoke you speak of is called Fibre Spoke and uses a kevlar thread. I've only used it once and it did the job until I could get to a bike shop. I brought my Fibre Spoke through Adventure Cycling - I don't if anyplace else sells it.

flip18436572 07-11-07 07:40 AM

Coming from motorcycle (dirt bike) experience, you can replace one or two spokes without any problems, but if you are having multiple failures, you are best having someone replace all of the spokes and having them true the wheels. Did the spoke break because of something you did or hit, or when did it break?

How many miles do you have on the bike? Did you take it back after the first 100 miles to have them check everything over and make sure the bike was ready to go? My LBS requests that I take it back after the first 100 miles and a minimum of once a year after that for no charge. I just got mine back and they had to work on stretched brake cables and a few spokes were not tight after only 100 miles.

Some LBS's just use the rims that come with the bike and assemble the bike and get it out the door. I am just wondering if your LBS checked the rims out before you started riding and if they checked them after the first 100 miles or not. Just curious.

bdinger 07-11-07 07:51 AM

Broken spokes are commonplace for anyone, but espescially for us bigger guys. It seems on mountain bikes (26inch wheeled ones, particularly) and touring bikes it becomes rare under "normal" conditions. However, others you just have it unless you are a featherweight.

I got sick of busting spokes on the stock wheelset on my Trek 7.3FX so I had the shop build me a new wheel. It's a Sun RhynoLite with a 32h Deore hub and 32 DT spokes. Dang thing is STOUT, but it did bust a spoke at about 500 miles. That was around 100 miles ago, and seemingly it's fine nowadays. Now, that wheel is more of a touring/cross/29er MTB rim so it's wider - I have 700x32 tires on it and I wouldn't go any smaller. And it's heavy. Etc etc.

At your size, a handbuilt Mavic Open Pro or Open Sport with a decent hub and 36 spokes will last forever. And it shouldn't break the bank! Good luck!

Terrierman 07-11-07 09:01 AM

Factory wheels are machine built. One relatively cheap and easy way to maximize wheel life on OEM wheels is to ask the bike shop to stress relieve the spokes and true your wheels. I'm at about 1000 miles on factory Ritchey Aero Tours that came on my Coda Elite. I had them do that for me (no charge by the way) at my one month tune up. So far the wheels are staying true. I'm 6'1" and 250, so no fly weight either. My first bike was a Trek Navigator and I broke one spoke on it, drive side rear. Those are the most common ones to break. Oh and yes, heavy guys do put more stress and strain on wheels, high spoke count hand built wheels are the long term answer if the problem continues. As to not costing an arm and a leg, just what do you think one arm and one leg are worth? You can usually find decent buys on hand built wheels on E-bay for around $300 a set. Or you can spend more than your bike cost for one wheel, depending on what you want.

Tom Stormcrowe 07-11-07 10:21 AM

I was reading over in the touring forum about spoke breakage issues with some of Fuji's wheels. I can't remember the thread, or I'd link you to it.

mkadam68 07-11-07 11:14 AM


Originally Posted by cyclezealot
you are out there and you break a couple spokes and the ride is impossible. Someone was telling me about some kind of temporary spoke replacement system. It comes with like some kind of nylon thread and some kind of anchors for the wheel and hub. Tie the two together somehow and you are off. Anyone have such a system. Is it any good.

Nah...don't do this. Just carry an extra spoke w/you. Carry two: 1 for the rear drive side and one for the rear non-drive side (they have different lengths). They only cost like...what...50 cents each? Tape them to a seat stay or seat tube. Then, just carry a spoke wrench with you ($5) in your seat pack.

Or...just carry the spoke wrench. If one breaks, use the spoke wrench to true the wheel back up and tighten the surrounding spokes so you can at least get home.

Both of these have worked for me (been riding since 1987) over time.

InTheRain 07-11-07 12:09 PM

Carrying extra spokes is a good idea... it's just that it's not a real simple repair. Especially on the drive side. You must realize that to replace a spoke on the drive side, you most likely have to get the cassette off and unless you are carrying a chain whip that's not going to be a simple task. I think you might be able to make the repair with the fibre spoke but that's not a spoke you want to ride a long ways with. I broke a rear spoke on the non-drive side and it was not a simple fix on the road (especially since I had never done a spoke replacement.) I didn't realize that you had to bend the hell out of the replacement spoke to weave it past the cassette, between the other spokes, and to get the little bend at the end properly seated on the hub. Then you most likely have to take off the rim tape, tube, and tire to get the spoke threaded on the nipple.

I have no idea as to why the spoke broke. The wheels are 32 hole Mavic Open Pro's with Ultegra hubs. They had about 1200 miles on the wheels at the time the spoke broke. It still ways heavily on my mind because I have a one-day 204 mile ride this saturday... and I don't want to deal with another broken spoke. I'm actually considering swapping out the rear wheel to my touring wheels which are 36 hole and alot beefier rim.

andrelam 07-11-07 12:34 PM

I just broke a spoke in the last week as well. I've been riding a descent amount, over 700 miles since this spring on my new Gerry Fisher Nirvanna. The other day I was coming back from our new remote office. The ride is a nice 4 miles mostly along a very nice MUP that is mostly used by cyclists and a few runners. It is so much nicer to ride through nature than next to a busy road. The bridges on the MUP have a fairly rough entry and exit, and the beams also bounce around a bit when you ride over them. They are safe, but smooth they are not. The bike definitely takes a bit of a beating if you hit these at the wrong speed. The roads around here aren't the smoothest either and every so often there will be some cracks in the road that are a lot harder on the bike that you'd think from looking. I am alos not small 6'2.5" at 220Lbs and I carry about 15 Lbs worth of gear with me. So the other day I was almost back to my main office after riding on the nice MUP when I heard that Ping sound. It just wasn't the same as a rock being pinched by the tire. I look down and my rear wheel was wobbeling badly. I got my wife to pick me up from work as I didn't want to do any further damage. Luckily the broken spoke on not on the side with the sprocket so I could fish it in there with a little effort. $8 for a new spoke and spoke tool, and I had everything I needed to fix it. It only took about 20 minutes of work (I took my time) to get the spoke installed and the wheel is now nearly perfectly round again. I don't have a dial guage to see how far off I am from perfect, but it is fine.

After getting my bike this spring and riden it for about 150 miles I noticed that the wheel was a little wobbly so I had the bike store straighten it out. I now wonder if they over tightend on spoke and therefore had a greater load on it?

Happy riding,

shog 07-11-07 01:30 PM

For replacing drive side spoke on the road there are a couple of tricks to get you home. Sometimes you can true the wheel using the other spokes. If the spoke broke at the hub take another spoke and bend the end into a Z shape and you can then slip this into the hub and twist it around the broken spoke and true the wheel. If the spoke broke at the nipple then you can thread the new spoke into the nipple and twist it around the remains of the broken wheel and true it that way. These aren't permanent solutions and they aren't pretty but they will get you home.


Cosmoline 07-11-07 07:43 PM


just carry the spoke wrench. If one breaks, use the spoke wrench to true the wheel back up and tighten the surrounding spokes so you can at least get home.
This is the system I've used. A spoke wrench is tiny and you can easily adjust the wheel back into semi-shape with little turns.

I usually have to upgrade rims to at least a Sun in the back with 36 spoke count and 2mm spokes. Otherwise the factory spokes eventually start to pop out. Frankly they're not made very strong to start out with on most bikes.

thestoutdog 07-11-07 09:06 PM

It's funny that you mention this. Just last week, I went to go for an evening ride and found a busted spoke on the rear drive side as well. At 5:40, I took the old Super GP to the bike shop to have the spoke replaced on the Volpe. I show up at Skunk River Cycles at 6:05 and luckily find the door open(they close @ 6pm). I ask for help, expecting to pick up my wheel tomorrow. The mechanic says got 5 minutes? My jaw nearly hit the floor! I just wanted to tell somebody besides my wife how great I think this LBS is. Customer service is NOT dead. Thanks Skunk River Cycles:D

JMaloney 07-11-07 10:39 PM

Thanks for the amazing response! I have rode the hell out of my bike since I purchased it, I've probably rode around 500 miles on the bike in the past 2 months and I make regular stops to the shop, they've adjusted it and tweeked it quite a few times for me. The thing that concerns me about the repaired wheel is that it still has a minute woble, but the impression they gave me was that this might not every get completely straigtened out... is it possible to completely respoke the wheel? Is this an expensive procedure , sounds like it! My wheels came with the bike they are alex rims r500 I'm guessing these are relatively budget wheels? Thanks for the help!

JMaloney 07-11-07 10:42 PM

i watched the guy respoke this wheel and there is no way that I would be able to do that on the road.....i'm thinking carry an extra freakin wheel....:D

JMaloney 07-11-07 10:47 PM

Did your LBS just replace the spoke, or did they rebuild the wheel? replaced the spoke
How many miles did you have on the bike when the spoke popped? around 500
What type of riding do you do? Mainly commute and a weekly long ride (hopefully more of these)
What wheels do you have? Alexisrims R500 What is the spoke count? 32 i think.

Sandwarrior 07-12-07 01:03 AM

I have almost 3000 miles on the stock rims that came with my Agio (HJC, DA-16, 26" (559), 32 hole Formula hubs). I have had 4 spokes break in the last 2 weeks. I am thinking this would be a good sign to get the wheel re-built. Any recommendations? I am just under 6' weighing in at 250. I ride mostly MUPs, but occassionaly hit the streets.

VTRoadie 07-12-07 09:12 PM

What wheels do you have? Alexisrims R500 What is the spoke count? 32 i think.

I just blew 2 spokes on my ~300 mi AlexRims R500 (month old). $2 later I had it fixed! (And a new rim coming under warranty.. )

alloutdoors 07-12-07 10:14 PM

Low end Alex rims just suck. I had the Alex AT400 when I first got my Specialized. The first spoke I broke was around 40 miles. The second one was around 80 miles. I was about 290 at the time and pushing hard to keep up with people. My buddy (the wheel guru) said that box rims flex more than deep-V rims causing more flex in the spokes leading to breakage. Therefore, deep-V rims with 32 or 36 spokes flex less than standard box rims with 32 or 36 spokes. Because they flex less, deep-V's put more power to the ground making you go faster, but you feel the road a little more. Also different spoke patterns will help the spokes from breaking.

The moral after all that: get deep-V's or aero rims and don't worry about it anymore.

JMaloney 07-13-07 08:10 PM

forgive my ignorance but what is an aero rim?

alloutdoors 07-15-07 09:02 PM

Aero rims are pretty much anything other than box rims that come standard on lower end bikes. Box rims are U-shaped in cross section. Aero rims have a V-shape to them. has examples of box and aero rims.

P.S. don't worry about feeling ignorant. If I hadn't broke my spokes I wouldn't have a clue.

fig 07-17-07 11:57 AM

Had a few spokes break at about 200 miles. Replaced them, and went about another 50, then one spoke broke each time I went out (3 more times). All broken spokes were rear drive side. I took the wheel to the local bike shop and they rebuilt the wheel using thicker spokes. The guy did an incredible job, and it's been holding great since. Give that a try before shelling out for new rims and hubs.

pgoat 07-17-07 12:21 PM

Sorry to piggy back on this thread - I was posting else where that i just busted two spokes in as many weeks on my mtb commuter - 32h standard rim. My first spoke breaking experiences ever in about 20+ years of riding. Butted spokes, one went at the hub (non-drive side) whilst i descended a smooth hill (at about 20-22 mph); the other (also non-drive side, but exactly on the opposite side of the wheel) went yesterday while i was cruising (maybe 15 mph) on a bumpy flat.

I'll mention the wheel was about 14 yrs old and I am about 220 pounds; the bike is about 25 pounds and I carry about 20 pounds of bag and lock, so about 250ish pounds on that wheel.

My question:

Sheldon Brown states that more spokes in rear is best, or in other words, having the same spokes f&r means either the front wheel is overbuilt or the rear is under built. IF that is the case (I have 32 on both) would I be best off getting a 36h for the rear (assuming this old wheel is now toast), or can I reliably get the 32h hub rebuilt with new rim and spokes? If so, should I stick with straight gauge or butted spokes for strength (weight isn't really an issue on this bike)?

If I may apply that same question to a my old steel road bike - also not a lightweight at 24 lbs - I have 36h f&r on there, but a nice 32h Campy/Ambrosio front replacement wheel waiting in the wings and want to get a new rear wheel to match. I typically see Ultegra/Open Pro 700c wheels (at Performance, etc.) in 32h drillings. Is this okay for a clydesdale or should I avoid and go with 36h?


Apnu 07-18-07 01:19 PM

The best $80 bucks I spent was having my rear wheel rebuilt. Been solid commuting ever since. I'm riding on a 26" x 2.0" Schwalbe Big Apple tires on aluminum rims.

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