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Broken Spoke Blues

Old 08-02-14, 11:19 AM
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Broken Spoke Blues

I know a rider my size (260) puts strain on wheels, but I'm getting a lot of conflicting info on what is the best wheel for someone my size. I live in moderately hilly area and ride 50 to 100 miles a week in the spring, summer, and fall.

I ran a set of Ksyrium Aksiums for about 4 years until the rear rim cracked two years ago. On the advice of a local bike shop, I bought a Mavic Open Sport 32 spoke rear wheel, and ran it for about a year until spokes started popping. Had it rebuilt, problem continued. Then I bought a Newson Sportec Deep V rim (32 spokes) and Shimano hub and had it built. Worked great for about a year, now it has started popping spokes too. Local bike shop tells me that the wheels are "fatigued" and I need to look at a more durable wheel.

Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what would you recommend? This is getting OLD!
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Old 08-02-14, 01:24 PM
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Wheels for bigger riders

Originally Posted by tthorpe
I know a rider my size (260) puts strain on wheels, but I'm getting a lot of conflicting info on what is the best wheel for someone my size. I live in moderately hilly area and ride 50 to 100 miles a week in the spring, summer, and fall.

I ran a set of Ksyrium Aksiums for about 4 years until the rear rim cracked two years ago. On the advice of a local bike shop, I bought a Mavic Open Sport 32 spoke rear wheel, and ran it for about a year until spokes started popping. Had it rebuilt, problem continued. Then I bought a Newson Sportec Deep V rim (32 spokes) and Shimano hub and had it built. Worked great for about a year, now it has started popping spokes too. Local bike shop tells me that the wheels are "fatigued" and I need to look at a more durable wheel.

Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what would you recommend? This is getting OLD!
My experience with fulcrum 1 and racing zeros has been excellent. No broken spoke or bent rims I started at 280 lbs and have put over 5000 miles on the zeros. I am now using the racing 1 due to fact that I am in the middle of having the hubs overhauled. One note I rode the MS 150 from Houston to Austin I used the racing 1 and when I got to Austin coming down I hill near the university I hit a pot hole doing over 20 mph I thought for sure the rim was toast. I pulled into a parking lot got off the bike spun the rear wheel and to my shock and amazement the wheel was true and no hops. I do prefer the zeros over the ones zeros come with ceramic bearings.
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Old 08-02-14, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tthorpe
Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what would you recommend? This is getting OLD!
Get a better wheelbuilder. I weigh a tad more than you and have had no problems with Open Pro's, as well as 55mm Carbon eBay Clincher rims. When looking for someone, ask other riders, not just the shop personnel. Online & here on BikeForums, Psimet makes awesome wheels.
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Old 08-03-14, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68
Get a better wheelbuilder. I weigh a tad more than you and have had no problems with Open Pro's, as well as 55mm Carbon eBay Clincher rims. When looking for someone, ask other riders, not just the shop personnel. Online & here on BikeForums, Psimet makes awesome wheels.
I cannot emphasize enough the influence the quality of the wheelbuilder has on the durability of the wheel you end up with.

I had a set of 36 spoke back wheel made by a LBS on an Ultegra hub and a Mavic Open Pro rim. Because the shop, despite their claims, had no idea what they were doing, the wheel would *not* stay true for any length of time, and after ~500km all the non-drive-side spokes began breaking at the J-bend one after another on subsequent rides. I became incredibly frustrated at the time and money I wasted on having the wheels trued and spokes replaced.

Ultimately I searched long and hard for a reputable local wheelbuilder and found someone who actually knew what they were doing (pro-tip: Most LBS are absolutely clueless in general, and *especially* at building wheels for clydes). They had useful recommendations on rims (In my case a DT Swiss TK 540) and spokes (double butted, brass nipples, spoke washers), actually had a tensionometer and knew how to balance and stress-relieve a freshly built wheel.

My new wheel has stayed dead true since I started riding it, and I'm finally able to enjoy my bike without being in a bike shop once a week getting my back wheel trued or a spoke replaced.
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Old 08-03-14, 01:07 PM
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+1 that the build is as, if not more, important as the wheel components. Properly built, trued, tensioned, and stress relieved, even mid-level wheels should hold up for a long time without spoke breakage or other problems. Top shelf components can't make up for a bad build and the wheels will fail.

I've got two sets of hand-built wheels and haven't broken a spoke, nor needed more than very minor truing in 1,000s of miles. The touring wheels are Mavic A719 36-hole, laced 4X to Deore LX hubs, with DT Swiss Competition 2.0-1.8-2.0 spokes. My road wheels are Mavic Open Pro 36-hole, laced 4X to 105 hubs, also with the DT Swiss Competition spokes. Never had a speck of trouble with either set. I'm in the 230# range and don't baby my bikes at all. I had a few people warn me about the Open Pros not being the best choice for "a guy my size" but the rims are showing no sign of problems midway into their second season.
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Old 08-05-14, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by tthorpe
Has anyone else experienced this? If so, what would you recommend? This is getting OLD!
The heavier you are, the more maintenance your wheels will require. How often have you had the trueness and spoke tension checked on the wheels that have given you problems? Even a wheel made with great components and laced by a master builder is going to need some maintenance...
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Old 08-05-14, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mkadam68
Get a better wheelbuilder. I weigh a tad more than you and have had no problems with Open Pro's, as well as 55mm Carbon eBay Clincher rims. When looking for someone, ask other riders, not just the shop personnel. Online & here on BikeForums, Psimet makes awesome wheels.

^^this.

I was breaking a lot of spokes (and I'm lighter than the OP) on a set of wheels made by my LBS. I finally had a different set of wheels built with HED Belgium 2 tubular rims in a 28 and 32 spoke set (front back) on DT Swiss 350 hubs. I've ridden them everywhere with zero problems - they just feel tight and I can tell they were built right.

I used ExcelSports (Excel Sports - Online Bicycle Retailer) out of Boulder CO. They've built something like 30,000 pairs of wheels and do it right. I have two pairs from them and highly recommend them. They are bulletproof and it's largely due to their build quality.

My LBS is outstanding but they don't built as many wheels as Excel Sports does. It's a matter of repetition and feedback.

j.
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Old 08-05-14, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel
The heavier you are, the more maintenance your wheels will require. How often have you had the trueness and spoke tension checked on the wheels that have given you problems? Even a wheel made with great components and laced by a master builder is going to need some maintenance...
I will argue this other than maybe very slight truing assuming no major hits or crashes on the wheels.

A well built wheel should never need to be re tensioned and at the most only very minor truing very infrequently. One of the touring cyclists I built a set of wheels for sent me a message thanking me saying he has 3k miles of heavy loaded touring on bad roads and they are still as true as when he got them. This is not an uncommon thing at all.

Last edited by chriskmurray; 08-05-14 at 06:52 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-05-14, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by chriskmurray
I will argue this other than maybe very slight truing assuming no major hits or crashes on the wheels.

A well built wheel should never need to be re tensioned and at the most only very minor truing very infrequently. One of the touring cyclists I built a set of wheels for sent me a message thanking me saying he has 3k miles of heavy loaded touring on bad and they are still as true as when he got them. This is not an uncommon thing at all.
^^ I totally agree.

The best wheels I've had have pretty much needed no maintenance that isn't ordinary (i.e. hub maintenance). The last wheels I had built have 2000 miles on them. They are still dead on true (and I doubt that will change). I have a set that I rode for 5K miles and then gave them to my son - a strapping 6'3" and 218lbs - he's put another 2000 miles on them. No maintenance other than hub maintenance. They have stayed true for years.

On the other hand, I've had a pair of wheels of similar quality (Shimano hubs not DT Swiss) but with Mavic Reflex rims (tubular). That wheel set has been a problem from the day I got them. I've broken 5 spokes in it in less than 1000 miles. It won't stay true. I wasn't happy with the build form the beginning. All of those are high quality components and other rims that we have for others in my family with the exact same construction have not been a problem. It's the build.

So I think the wheel build is everything or at least far, far outweighs other factors. Find someone with a good reputation from a business that builds a LOT of wheels. You'll get a good set.

J.
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Old 08-06-14, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by chriskmurray
I will argue this other than maybe very slight truing assuming no major hits or crashes on the wheels.

A well built wheel should never need to be re tensioned and at the most only very minor truing very infrequently. One of the touring cyclists I built a set of wheels for sent me a message thanking me saying he has 3k miles of heavy loaded touring on bad roads and they are still as true as when he got them. This is not an uncommon thing at all.
It would appear to be a very uncommon thing for the OP. It sounds like he has at least three sets of wheels that could have used more maintenance!

Unless your wheels were built by Jesus himself it's probably not a bad thing to check lateral trueness, by watching the rims spin past the brake calipers, on a regular basis. I check spoke tension every time I true a wheel, and at least once/year for road wheels. Off-road wheels get checked more frequently. The wheels I've built myself rarely need any attention. Every wheel I own that was built by someone else, even well-known "master" wheelsmiths, has needed more attention. Not a lot more, but more.

The point is: with wheels, especially those used by Clydesdales, small problems will turn into big problems (ex: broken spokes) if they're not corrected. The question is: when do you want to catch them? At the workbench? Or out on the road? I check my wheels regularly and so far, knock on wood, I haven't broken any spokes...
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Old 08-06-14, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel
It would appear to be a very uncommon thing for the OP. It sounds like he has at least three sets of wheels that could have used more maintenance!

Unless your wheels were built by Jesus himself it's probably not a bad thing to check lateral trueness, by watching the rims spin past the brake calipers, on a regular basis. I check spoke tension every time I true a wheel, and at least once/year for road wheels. Off-road wheels get checked more frequently. The wheels I've built myself rarely need any attention. Every wheel I own that was built by someone else, even well-known "master" wheelsmiths, has needed more attention. Not a lot more, but more.

The point is: with wheels, especially those used by Clydesdales, small problems will turn into big problems (ex: broken spokes) if they're not corrected. The question is: when do you want to catch them? At the workbench? Or out on the road? I check my wheels regularly and so far, knock on wood, I haven't broken any spokes...
That would mean the OP has been getting bad builds then.

I never said checking things occasionally a bad idea, I do it on my own wheels because I usually clean them in the truing stand so if it is there I might as well double check things. I just said they should not need to be retensioned, a well built wheel WILL hold proper tension throughout the life of the rim if the wheel is built right. Even one of my personal mountain bike wheels was never retensioned over the course of 10k or so miles of pretty aggressive singletrack, only very slight truing until flatting in a rock garden that flat spotted the rim, I am around 210 lbs and that was a relatively light rim with aluminum nipples.

If a wheel needed to be retensioned after being built people like me and Peter White among many other good builders could not make a living selling wheels we will never see again after they leave our shop.
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Old 08-06-14, 09:51 PM
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20+ years ago, I broke road and MTB spokes alike. UNTIL. I built wheels with 36 spokes, heavier gauge spokes, in a 4 cross pattern. I only weighed 230 or so pounds, but still broke chains... *IF* I can get myself back on a bike, I doubt I ever ride hard enough to ever need wheels like those again.
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Old 08-07-14, 08:36 AM
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I have high spoke count Velocity Dyad wheels built by a master builder and they have pretty much ended any problems I've had with broken spokes or going out of true. They have a few thousand miles on them at this point and not a single problem. Previous wheels were getting demolished like it was their job ...
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Old 08-07-14, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by chriskmurray
That would mean the OP has been getting bad builds then.

I never said checking things occasionally a bad idea, I do it on my own wheels because I usually clean them in the truing stand so if it is there I might as well double check things. I just said they should not need to be retensioned, a well built wheel WILL hold proper tension throughout the life of the rim if the wheel is built right. Even one of my personal mountain bike wheels was never retensioned over the course of 10k or so miles of pretty aggressive singletrack, only very slight truing until flatting in a rock garden that flat spotted the rim, I am around 210 lbs and that was a relatively light rim with aluminum nipples.

If a wheel needed to be retensioned after being built people like me and Peter White among many other good builders could not make a living selling wheels we will never see again after they leave our shop.
I asked Frank (Frank's Cyclery ) who built my wheels if I should bring them in for retensioning after about 4k on the rear and 3500 on the front and a few mishaps... I told them there is 0 run out in either wheel for both planes. He said, "They're damn well shouldn't be" and there was no need for retensioning unless an issue showed.

These were airborne with 280lb me and a 50lb pack when I did something rather dumb.
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Old 08-07-14, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Null66
I asked Frank (Frank's Cyclery ) who built my wheels if I should bring them in for retensioning after about 4k on the rear and 3500 on the front and a few mishaps... I told them there is 0 run out in either wheel for both planes. He said, "They're damn well shouldn't be" and there was no need for retensioning unless an issue showed.

These were airborne with 280lb me and a 50lb pack when I did something rather dumb.
Sounds like Frank is a great wheel builder then!
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Old 08-07-14, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by chriskmurray
If a wheel needed to be retensioned after being built people like me and Peter White among many other good builders could not make a living selling wheels we will never see again after they leave our shop.
I never claimed that a properly-built wheel needed to be retensioned. What I said was: you should regularly check to make sure that is the case. Again: I think it's pretty clear the OP would have been better off if he'd checked the trueness or tension of his wheels, as I suggested, rather than adopting your "hands off" policy...
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Old 08-07-14, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by zjrog
20+ years ago, I broke road and MTB spokes alike. UNTIL. I built wheels with 36 spokes, heavier gauge spokes, in a 4 cross pattern. I only weighed 230 or so pounds, but still broke chains... *IF* I can get myself back on a bike, I doubt I ever ride hard enough to ever need wheels like those again.
+1 on 36 spokes in a 4 cross pattern for bombproof clyde wheels

I've got that spoking on both my hybrid/touring/gravel grinder and my road bike. Another tip that I was given early on is to use double butted spokes. I like DT Swiss Comp 2.0-1.8. Butted spokes give a little in the middle (where you rarely break a spoke) reducing some of the stress at the elbow (where spokes usually break). Another advantage of high spoke counts is that the wheel usually remains very ridable even with a broken spoke. The downside is a weight penalty.
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Old 08-08-14, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel
I never claimed that a properly-built wheel needed to be retensioned. What I said was: you should regularly check to make sure that is the case. Again: I think it's pretty clear the OP would have been better off if he'd checked the trueness or tension of his wheels, as I suggested, rather than adopting your "hands off" policy...
I know it does not work for everyone or everything but it is why I subscribe to the "do it once, do it right" policy. You mentioned wheels needing more maintenance as a heavier rider and if they are built properly that is simply not true. In this case the shop who built his wheels failed him because with a set of handbuilt wheels the should have easily been able to throw them on his bike, ride the hell out of them, and never have to think about maintaining anything. This is why good builders generally offer a guarantee against broken spokes, because we know if a spoke breaks we messed up and need to make it right. If his builder cares about his work he would not claim fatigue, he would offer to re-lace the wheel with new spokes after figuring out what went wrong.

I am biased because I am a very picky wheel builder myself but in this case I feel the shop that built his wheel is both not standing behind something they should be and also has not been shown the proper way to build a wheel.
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Old 08-08-14, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by GravelMN
+1 on 36 spokes in a 4 cross pattern for bombproof clyde wheels

I've got that spoking on both my hybrid/touring/gravel grinder and my road bike. Another tip that I was given early on is to use double butted spokes. I like DT Swiss Comp 2.0-1.8. Butted spokes give a little in the middle (where you rarely break a spoke) reducing some of the stress at the elbow (where spokes usually break). Another advantage of high spoke counts is that the wheel usually remains very ridable even with a broken spoke. The downside is a weight penalty.
I always said if I needed to rebuild another wheel back then, I'd do it with double butted spokes. Although I seriously doubt I would ever notice the weight savings. And even with components, it was the better quality I always noticed, not the weight savings.
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Old 08-09-14, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by zjrog
I always said if I needed to rebuild another wheel back then, I'd do it with double butted spokes. Although I seriously doubt I would ever notice the weight savings. And even with components, it was the better quality I always noticed, not the weight savings.
I agree that the weight difference between straight gauge and butted spokes is negligible except maybe in ultra-weight weenie wheels. The benefit appears to be in protecting the elbows and reducing spoke breakage. I can't say personally that it makes a difference as I only have one bike with straight gauge spokes, and I've never broken a spoke on it either. The only spoke failures I have ever had were on stock, entry level wheels back before I knew the importance of tensioning and was just getting them more or less true on the bike.
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