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-   -   Do I need stronger wheels? (https://www.bikeforums.net/general-cycling-discussion/1195091-do-i-need-stronger-wheels.html)

Tanstaafl 03-03-20 12:16 PM

Do I need stronger wheels?
 
I have a 2013 Specialized Crosstrails. Most riding up until recently has been roads and paths around the neighborhood and organized rides on the weekends.

I have recently added riding grass pathways along drainage bayous near my home in Houston. The grass in the area can be rather 'clumpy', so the ride is often less than smooth.

This last weekend while riding the clumpy grass I broke a spoke on the rear wheel. This brings up the question if the stock wheels are able to handle the less than smooth terrain of the bayou trails, or if occasional spoke breakage is just a fact of bicycling.

If I do need to upgrade my wheels for this kind of riding, can anyone make a recommendation? I am willing to buy a new wheel set that will accept a larger tire size so I can swap wheels between grass rides and road rides. I currently run a 38 size tire on the stock wheels.

Thanks,
Jeff

Flip Flop Rider 03-03-20 12:31 PM

how many spokes on that tire?

Retro Grouch 03-03-20 01:23 PM

More important than the number of spokes is how much tension they have and how even the tension is. My bet is the spoke broke right at the nipple bend. If the spokes flex easily when you try to squeeze two parallel spokes together, you might benefit from an extra turn on each nipple.

Tanstaafl 03-03-20 01:46 PM

The wheel has 32 spokes. Well, 31 now...

As to the break point, it appears the flared head sheared off at the hub.

base2 03-03-20 01:53 PM

I've never had a spoke break at the J-bend. I have, however, had one break at the nipple. (Deep section wheel with a high flange hub)

Broken spokes are part of cycling, but it should be a rare, rare occurance. Like on the verge of almost never.

A single broken spoke is one thing. Go ahead & get it trued or even better retensioned by a wheel builder with some reputation. A second or 3rd broken spoke, especially in a short span of time like a season or two means it's time for another wheel.

While you're at it inspect the spoke bed very closely. Cracks & pull through tend to start small & start subtle. It would suck to get rebuild a wheel only to find that the reason it went out was because a crack developed & started propogating...ZIPP 404's in my case had to get retired.

Cracks & pull through are long term symptoms of either too high of tension or over loading. Either means your wheel isn't up to the job & should be upgraded to a higher spoke count to better spread the load to a larger area.

Over loading in the short term may also cause an otherwise properly tensioned wheel to loosen up as each time the spoke passes under the axle there isn't enough tension to keep friction on the threads at the nipple. A good wheel should never have this problem. If this occures, fire the builder & find a better one.

Wilfred Laurier 03-03-20 02:41 PM

Most bikes come from the factory with machine built wheels, and most machine built wheels have unevenly or inadequately tensioned spokes, which generally leads to broken spokes after some time. If you've had the bike since new than I would say seven years is a pretty decent lifespan for machine built wheels.

Replacement wheels are available at any LBS, and the deficiency in spoke tension can be addressed by the shop, or find a competent wheelbuilder (not all LBSs have someone who knows what they are doing wrt. wheels and spokes). Or you can look up what steps are necessary on the web, but wheel truing/building/tensioning is considered a more advanced area of bike mechanics - I don't think it's all that complicated, but you can get in over your head if you don't know what you are doing and try to go too fast.

pdlamb 03-03-20 03:02 PM

Agree that 7 years isn't bad for the typical machine-built wheel. What to do now?

Jobst Brandt told the story of replacing a broken spoke, re-tensioning it, and then, enraged, squeezing the he** out of all the spokes -- after which he had no problems for the remaining life of the wheel. It turns out that's not a bad approach. If any more spokes are near failure, there's a good chance you'll pop them during the squeezing operation, replace them while you've got the wheel on the bench or stand, and then fuggedaboutit. Replace one, and there's a chance more are near their fatigue limit. That's why you'll often see a recommendation to replace one or two spokes, but at the third broken spoke, it's time to rebuild the wheel.

If you do buy a new, machine-built wheel, it's worth taking some time to prepare it for a long life. First make sure the wheel's adequately tensioned; either the plucking-tone method or a tensiometer will work. Then make sure all the spokes are stress relieved. Check true one more time, adjust if it's shifted, re-tension, and re-stress relieve until nothing changes. If you don't want to do all that yourself, find a good wheel builder to do it for you -- ask around for recommendations, but keep in mind not all recommended mechanics really know what they're doing. Then go ride.

travbikeman 03-03-20 03:30 PM

The original wheels that come with the Crosstrails are nice on pavement, but had noticed they are harsh and not long lasting on gravel. I popped many spokes and have heard others having this issue as well.

Plus the wheels are narrow and a real pain to get tires on and removed. Was told by my LBS the wheels can handle tires as small as 28mm. Well, I used the bike far more rough than what the wheels could handle.

I ended up getting larger mountain bike wheels, had the spokes tensioned properly and haven't had any issues. You could easily get a new decent rear wheel for $100.

I got a set of Weinman wheels dirt cheap from the now bankrupt Performance Bikes. Had my LBS check out spoke tension and haven't had any issues on gravel with them. It has wheelmaster hubs and this past fall, I repacked the bearings. It didn't seem to me that the manufacturer put much grease at all in the hub. I really greased the heck out of it and wow, it rode so much better once complete.

But also bought a nice set of Sun Ringle mountain bike wheels that in my opinion have much higher quality hubs, front and rear wheels for less than $200.

Rajflyboy 03-03-20 04:39 PM

Double wall rims

Double a Wall Rims

Double wall rims

Tanstaafl 03-03-20 05:07 PM

Thanks for all the great responses.

I went down to the LBS and the mechanic there put a new spoke in and checked the tension. I am hoping he is one of the good ones. He did tell me the rims are double walled and that broken spokes are going to happen now and then.

Still, I think I will look for a second set of wheels with a wider tire/rim. So glad right now I got disc brakes! I probably can't get a mountain bike wheel in there, but I think I can fit a 45-48 or so running around 50 psi. Any recommendations on a decent brand. I don't need the top-of-the-line stuff, but I want to avoid the bottom of the barrel for sure.

Thanks again,
Jeff

travbikeman 03-03-20 07:47 PM


Originally Posted by Tanstaafl (Post 21352140)
Thanks for all the great responses.

I went down to the LBS and the mechanic there put a new spoke in and checked the tension. I am hoping he is one of the good ones. He did tell me the rims are double walled and that broken spokes are going to happen now and then.

Still, I think I will look for a second set of wheels with a wider tire/rim. So glad right now I got disc brakes! I probably can't get a mountain bike wheel in there, but I think I can fit a 45-48 or so running around 50 psi. Any recommendations on a decent brand. I don't need the top-of-the-line stuff, but I want to avoid the bottom of the barrel for sure.

Thanks again,
Jeff

Actually you can fit mountain bike wheels with quick release on these bikes, You will not be able to fit a mountain bike tire greater than 29x2" on it for clearance issues. But you should be able to fit a 45-48 gravel type of tire easily on a mountain bike wheel. I have a 42 on my Crosstrail with mountain bike wheelset, although when I measure it, it shows up as a 39.4.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/2u...g=w690-h920-no

Badzilla 03-03-20 09:28 PM

I'm not a guru, but... One of the first bike tools I bought was a Park Tool tension meter. It's cool even though little used. Made a truing stand out of wood, for sure. I just bought a new bike, truing (and of course proper tensioning) the wheels is a first priority.


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