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Help - Spokes Breaking every 2 weeks

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Help - Spokes Breaking every 2 weeks

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Old 12-23-04, 01:10 AM
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motorhommmer
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Help - Spokes Breaking every 2 weeks

I am regular commuter 100 miles a weeks and changed my wheels about 2,300 miles ago as old ones had worn out. Mavic Open Pro rims, ultegra hub.
Each 2 weeks for the past 6 weeks I have had a spoke break on the back wheel freewheel side, this is costing me time and money.
Is this normal, how does this normally work. I have been commuting now for 8 years but have gradually upped my bike and spec. Perhaps one of the more experienced amongst you can help.

Brian
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Old 12-23-04, 01:22 AM
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cryogenic
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How much do you weigh? How is the wheel built? What gauge are the spokes and how many cross lacing on the drive side? Chances are, this is your issue as that's where your torque is going. I'm guessing you're running 32hole rims/hubs.
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Old 12-23-04, 01:30 AM
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Weigh 180 lbs, 32 spokes. Need to go to internet to check about cross lacings.
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Old 12-23-04, 01:36 AM
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are they butted or straight gauge spokes? A lot of people don't like to use butted spokes for that very reason... however, it could either be weak spokes or improper tensioning. I've never really heard anyone complaining about that particular combination of hub/rim, so my guess is that the spokes aren't tensioned right or they're just not strong enough.
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Old 12-23-04, 03:21 AM
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Ed Holland
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Interesting problem, and similar to what I have experienced this year. New set of wheels bought in March (Mavic CXP21 rims, Ultegra hubs, unknown stainless double butted spokes). These were priced very reasonably, purchased in the US for around $190. After a run-in period of "some hundreds of miles" I broke a spoke on the rear wheel then another etc. etc. All spokes broke at the hub, on the freewheel side (except for one) and in no particular order around the wheel. I'm up to a total of 8 breakages & replacements now. None of the new spokes has broken and this leads me to suspect the originals are not of high quality. The spoke tension seems comparable with other trouble free wheels (good quality DT double butted spokes) that I use regularly, though I have no accurate measure of this.

Could I ask a strange question to compare our spokes - do your spokes have a brushed metal finish, as if the thinner part of the butted had been sanded around with medium grade sandpaper? Perhaps we can establish a pattern...

My solution to the problem was to buy a handful of good quality replacement spokes and replace breakages at home as necessary. This is a good technique to learn, and is very straightforward once practiced a couple of times. It also saves a lot of time and money (especially after 8 breakages). Usually the offending spoke can be replaced and tensioned and the wheel will be fairly true so long as the breakage was not caused by an impact to the wheel. Tools needed are a freewheel remover, chainwhip and spoke key. I don't even need to remove the tyre and tube, so the job takes only about 15-30 mins.

Please excuse the long post,

Cheers,

Ed
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Old 12-23-04, 04:09 AM
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180's not huge for a 32-spoke wheel. I tip the scales at 225 and blew spoke after spoke in a 32, replaced it with a 36 and everything is sweet. So I'd suspect spoke tension. Get yourself a wheelbuilding kit and a copy of Jobst Brandt's _The Bicycle Wheel_ for Christmas and retension that wheel nice and tight!
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Old 12-23-04, 05:42 AM
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Sounds like a problem with the build quality.
Is the tension on the spokes even? Ping them and listen for any off-tune spokes.
If you have a bike shop with a good wheel-builder nearby, suggest you take it for a tuneup. You can do it yourself, but it takes experience which is best develped on junk wheels.
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Old 12-23-04, 06:01 AM
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exactly what I figured... either poor spoke quality or poor build quality.. or both. Depending on the source of the built wheel, it may very well have been machine-built with cheap spokes. In my opinion, it's better to spend the extra money on a handbuilt wheel with DT spokes. They tend to last longer with less problems. Just my $0.02
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Old 12-23-04, 06:30 AM
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Do not notice any brushed metal finish, but definitely I think there may be a pattern here, its not like I am hitting any holes or anything. I will keep an eye on it. Many thanks for all the detailed replies.

Brian
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Old 12-23-04, 06:41 AM
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What they said.
Check spoke tension. Most likely culprit.
Back when I was stupid, I ignored my spoke tension.
I learned you can't quite wrap your rear derailleur completely around your hub.
But you can also take out a spoke or two.
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Old 12-23-04, 07:05 AM
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My touring bike originally had that problem..It was new and broke like crazy..Mechanic who put bike together felt for my problem...Original spokes not double butted heavier spokes...Soon after I got the bike he gave me a real deal on replacing the spokes...Double butted, heavier gauge..
Breaking like crazy..Might be just as economical to change them out...Particularily a touring bike/commuter....
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Old 12-23-04, 07:53 AM
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i have heard that once you break a spoke sometimes it "shocks?" the other spokes and will lead to a wheel you have nothing but problems with... this could be coupled with a bad wheel build. or maybe just one or the other?

i had a similar problem a year or so back. and after replacing the third or fourth spoke the shop gave me this wisdom. i replaced the wheel and haven't broken a spoke since.

your cheapest bet might just be to get a whole new wheel, go to a shop and spend some dough on a nice handbuilt wheel and you definitely shouldn't have that problem...

learning to fix spokes yourself is also very good skill to have and i am just starting to do it myself. saves you some money. especially with a wheel like THAT.
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Old 12-23-04, 08:58 AM
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This is not normal. Presuming that the spokes are breaking at the elbows or nipples, then your spokes are suffering fatigue failures. At less than 3000 miles, you should not be having this problem. A quality 32 spoke wheel should certainly last a lot longer than that.

Your wheel was almost cetainly built with defective spokes. The drive side spokes are breaking now because they are at higher tension and see more stress than the non-drive side. If you continue to ride htis wheel as is, you can expect to continue to break spokes until you have replaced them all.

A better approach is to get all new spokes (DT or Wheelsmith) and relace the wheel. You hub and rim are not the problem so you can reuse those. In the long run it will be cheaper and less trouble to just get it done all at once.
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Old 12-23-04, 09:35 AM
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I'm also breaking a lot of spokes, but I have cheap rims, non-butted spokes, and ride on very poor roads. The breakage has abated to some extent now that the roads are snow-covered and smoother.

Anyway, I did a bunch of research, and here's what I found out. YMMV.
- butted spokes are better. If you're breaking spokes always at the elbow, then butted spokes will alleviate this problem; the thinner sections will stretch elastically (like springs) so the stress isn't all taken at the elbow. I am still running non-butted, but my next rebuild will be with butted spokes. Every single spoke I've broken (about 18) has broken at the elbow.
- If you're breaking mostly trailing spokes, your tension is probably too low. If the tension is too low, every time you push on the pedals, you're taking all or nearly all the tension off the trailing spokes, then the tension slams back on again when your pressure subsides; this shocks the spokes.
- I have cheap rims, the stock ones from Giant. You have Mavic's so I assume that's not your problem. With my cheap single-wall rims, a lot of force of potholes/washboards transfer directly onto only one or two spokes. The strength of spoked wheels is that they spread the load out.

I'm planning on getting a new, double-wall (probably Mavic) rim and a handful of double-butted spokes and rebuilding the wheel sometime soon (probably about the time I use up the last of that 20-pack of 14-gauge spokes I bought a couple of months back (6 left)).
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Old 12-23-04, 02:34 PM
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SUPCOM>.....Yes, IF you replace it spoke by spoke as they break, you will be nickel and dimed until you are crazy...My original touring spokes were of poor quality..ONce changed out things got better...
Mechanic who built the bike, usually did not change out spokes..Recommended buying a whole new wheel, unless the wheel is new..
SInce my bike/wheel was new and I had a spoke problem..he changed out the spokes and rebuilt the wheel. Did a great job and under the circumstances gave me a real deal.
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Old 12-23-04, 02:57 PM
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My father had this. It didn't go away until the bike shop finally sent the bike in, and replaced all the spokes, and not just the broken one. It'll cost around 50 dollars, but its worth it,.
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Old 12-23-04, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cryogenic
exactly what I figured... either poor spoke quality or poor build quality.. or both. Depending on the source of the built wheel, it may very well have been machine-built with cheap spokes. In my opinion, it's better to spend the extra money on a handbuilt wheel with DT spokes.
I have never seen (in fifteen years as a bike mechanic) a bad BUILD breaking spokes. A bad build results in rim buckles.

Spokes break because the can't handle the load or have fatigued.

I reckon they are just cheapo spokes. Get them replaced (at least on the rear wheel). I recommend SAPIM, they are the best. Go double butted.
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Old 12-23-04, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by supcom
This is not normal. Presuming that the spokes are breaking at the elbows or nipples, then your spokes are suffering fatigue failures. At less than 3000 miles, you should not be having this problem. A quality 32 spoke wheel should certainly last a lot longer than that.

Your wheel was almost cetainly built with defective spokes. The drive side spokes are breaking now because they are at higher tension and see more stress than the non-drive side. If you continue to ride htis wheel as is, you can expect to continue to break spokes until you have replaced them all.

A better approach is to get all new spokes (DT or Wheelsmith) and relace the wheel. You hub and rim are not the problem so you can reuse those. In the long run it will be cheaper and less trouble to just get it done all at once.
Follow this advice exactly, this is 100% correct. I second this. It happens from time to time and this is the cause and this is how you fix it. Sometimes batches of spokes are no good. It happens.
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Old 12-23-04, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike_13
I have never seen (in fifteen years as a bike mechanic) a bad BUILD breaking spokes. A bad build results in rim buckles.

Spokes break because the can't handle the load or have fatigued.

I reckon they are just cheapo spokes. Get them replaced (at least on the rear wheel). I recommend SAPIM, they are the best. Go double butted.
Wouldn't a bad build with improperly tensioned spokes cause breakage? Needless to say, I do believe the best option would be to have the wheel rebuilt with DT or Wheelsmith double butted spokes. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Ultegra hubs and Mavic Open Pro rims. Both are of pretty good quality. The issue is most definitely the spokes. Go ahead and have the wheel rebuilt now before you end up replacing all the spokes anyway due to breakage.
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Old 12-23-04, 08:12 PM
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I had a rash of broken spokes commuting on a road bike with a rear 32 spoke rim. I changed to a 36 spoke Sun-something (CR-36?) rim and never had any more problems. I'm ~200 lbs.
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Old 12-23-04, 10:38 PM
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it's a bad build. re-build the wheel with a different shop, where they know how to do such things. or learn to do it urself...

i'm very skeptical it has anything to do with a bad batch of spokes. they're just aluminum sticks.

ur weight is not an issue either. i'm 220+luggage on my very old wolber rims/shimano hubs, 32 spoke. neither does double-butted/straight gauge matter, in my experience, as long as you're doing the 14/15 gauge spokes.

sd
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Old 12-23-04, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by shaq-d
it's a bad build. re-build the wheel with a different shop, where they know how to do such things. or learn to do it urself...

i'm very skeptical it has anything to do with a bad batch of spokes. they're just aluminum sticks.

ur weight is not an issue either. i'm 220+luggage on my very old wolber rims/shimano hubs, 32 spoke. neither does double-butted/straight gauge matter, in my experience, as long as you're doing the 14/15 gauge spokes.

sd
First of all, the spokes are steel, not aluminum. Second, they are not 'just sticks'. If the steel is poor, it can have defects in the material that will lead to premature fatigue. If the surface of the spoke is not properly manufactured it can have microscopic cracks out of the box that will become stress concentrations for fatigue.

Spoke breakage is all about spoke quality. Badly built wheels tend to go out of true soon after being built. They don't wait 2000 miles before showing problems. I have 2000 miles on the first wheels I built and have yet to bust a spoke. Bad spokes fatigue prematurely. They might break in a week, or they may with 2000 miles. It depends on the spokes.

This wheel just needs new spokes.
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Old 12-23-04, 11:34 PM
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I've broken lots of spokes, too, and also learned a few things along the way. You may want to try these two things which made a big difference for me.

If you don't "set" the replaced spokes, they will break for sure. The part of the spoke near the bend needs to rest against the hub. So after threading the spoke through the hub, deform it so that the bend angle is slightly less than 90 degrees. That should do it.

After truing the wheel, stress relieve the spokes. Grab two parallel spokes in the middle and squeeze as hard as you can. They won't break! Wear gloves if you want. Continue around the wheel until all spokes have been stress relieved.

Tom
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Old 12-23-04, 11:48 PM
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Very good advice, JavaMan. Both of these are essential to building a wheel.
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Old 12-24-04, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Very good advice, JavaMan. Both of these are essential to building a wheel.
I used to have "The Bicycle Wheel" book, which was a great resource. It taught me a lot, but I was still never brave enough to build a wheel from scratch.

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