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How far would you/ did you travel with a broken spoke?

Old 04-26-15, 06:46 PM
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How far would you/ did you travel with a broken spoke?

A search of this topic turned up nothing specific. Here is the question: have you ever broken a spoke on tour, not had a replacement and had to ride any distance before you either found one, reached your destination or stopped for some other reason (rim failure due to multiple spokes breaking?) How far did you go in any case?
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Old 04-26-15, 06:57 PM
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I venture I did at least 30 miles, possibly much more, with a broken rear spoke - unknowingly. I was riding my old (Circa 1984) 32Lb touring bike complete with front and rear racks, on a gravel group ride. However with a 40-spoke rear, it stayed true and at the last mile, a friend fought up to me and said, ya'know you have a broken spoke?

How it happened - Sick of the carbon fiber roads bike blasting past me, I decide to teach some of them a lesson down a dirt hill where they were tip-toeing unnecessarily, so I thought. As I bombed down the hill, I felt something sharp hit my ankle and thought broken spoke, but I did not feel it, nor hear it again. I guess it got tucked up among the other spokes and I was going way to fast to look down, or stop, at that moment. Shorlty, later I was climbing and forgot all about it....as all the carbon cross bikes passed me again
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Old 04-26-15, 07:01 PM
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Never had that situation on a tour, but did ride with a broken spoke on one of our regular club rides. The ride started some distance from home so I carpooled with another rider and I think the spoke was broken due to our bikes bumping against each other on the drive to the start. In any event, I noticed the broken spoke when the ride started but the wheel was still close enough to true to not rub the brake pad. Rode the 30 miles to the lunch stop and tweeked the adjacent spokes to improve the trueness before heading back. Total ride distance was about 55 - 60 miles and I replaced the spoke the next day. The wheel has seen over ten thousand miles since with no further issues.

Edit: should add that as soon as I discovered the broken spoke I stopped briefly to wrap it around another spoke so it couldn't flop around and cause a problem. At the lunch stop I removed the broken one in addition to adjusting the ones nearby to improve the wheel's trueness.

Last edited by prathmann; 04-26-15 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 04-26-15, 07:18 PM
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Not sure this has ever happened to me but if it did I'd remove the broken spoke, true the wheel up the best I could and continue on indefinitely until convenient to fix it. Just tolerate a slight bump in the wheel and not worry about mechanical perfection for a while as long as it's not hitting a brake block. Only one of 32,36 or 40.
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Old 04-26-15, 07:20 PM
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Have broken three or four spokes on tours where I didn't fix them on side of the road. Cycled until I got to nearest bike shop. Longest distance involved was ~30 miles. One of those occasions was about 1/2 mile.
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Old 04-26-15, 08:00 PM
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Why risk it at all? Too easy to replace. Fiberfix spokes make it even easier. Replace it as soon as you see it is broken.
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Old 04-26-15, 08:07 PM
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A few miles once, no more than ten, with a drive-side spoke and I had to find a shop with a wrench to fit my cassette tool. Other spokes get fixed immediately.
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Old 04-26-15, 08:16 PM
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I wouldn't want to ride it more than a few feet once I knew about it. Maybe if I was riding 44+ spokes or a 36-40 deep deep dish I might change my tune a little but I don't like broken spokes. I would be paranoid others would break, I feel.

Maybe if it actually happened I might not mind so much but knowing me I probably would. Broken stuff bothers me.

I occasionally get the customers who have had multiple broken spokes and just keep trying to get it fixed. Generally they are low spoke wheels or those craptastic modern Schwinn (wally-mart) wheels that have odd Campy style spoke pattern and it doesn't make any sense. You keep having issues so that says something there yet you still have faith you can bring the thing back?
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Old 04-26-15, 08:50 PM
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I have gone about 5 miles with 1 rear spoke clicking away kind of worrying me all the while, and about 3 miles with a front spoke broken and the wheel wobbling... Was not fun...
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Old 04-26-15, 08:52 PM
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180km. Rode 60km on Xmas Day so no shop was open to repair it. Boxing Day, same thing so carried on 120km to next town with a bike shop. Didn't have the tools to repair a spoke at that time. Now I do and repair it straight away.

Riding with a broken spoke puts a greater strain on the spokes immediately around it and makes it more likely for them to break. Truing the wheel also puts greater strain on the spokes next to the broken one since they must be tensioned higher. So even if you have 36 spokes, one broken spoke may lead to more if you carry on riding it. On two occasions, I have had a second spoke break before I could get the first broken spoke replaced.
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Old 04-26-15, 10:25 PM
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I really prefer 40 spoke rears. Popped a spoke on one while on a day trip, and it was only because I heard it go that I knew. Finished the ride(about 25ish miles)and replaced it when I got home.

My first long tour was with a set of really cheap 26 inch wheels. REALLY cheap. Started breaking spokes at about 500 miles, drive side with a freewheel Luckily I had a tool, and found garages and the like that let me use a vice to get it off. Got eight spares at a shop, and used them all before it was done. longest riding with a broken one was about 15 miles. These wheels were so cheap that when I got done at about a thousand miles, the rims were concave from brake rub, though to be fair it rained every day and a lot of riding was on dirt roads, or filthy pavements. I still don't have a new touring wheelset, but good older wheels that I have re-spoked. I also now carry a fiber fix spare as well as some regular replacements.

I did ride at least two hundred miles or so on a broken axle, on a cassette hub. Stopped to change a flat and noticed it. Luckily it was a lightweight trip on a road bike with barely any extra weight other than a hammock and some bug spray.
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Old 04-26-15, 10:38 PM
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On a 32 or 36 spoke wheel a broken spoke is no big deal. People have ridden with broken spokes for god know how long. When I used to lead tours, my bike was fine but some riders were forced to ride over 100 miles on a broken spoke until we could find a replacement (back in the sixties and seventies).

I only broke one spoke in my riding career. It had been sawn part way through by an overshifted chain, and let go. I trued the wheel around the break and rode it another few hundred miles to finish the trip. I later replaced it and the wheel lasted until retired for other reasons.
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Old 04-26-15, 11:36 PM
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48 hole rear wheel , just a bit of wheel re-truing and I was good to go for days ..

(Freewheel Hub , had the spare spoke & the freewheel remover , just took a connection to a Big Adjustable wrench...

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-26-15 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 04-26-15, 11:45 PM
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During the Velo Cheapo contest this spring. I was cranking out a few miles.

Snapped a front spoke on an older wheel, 36h, (yeah, it happens) about 20 miles into my planned 100+ mile ride.

I could have just turned around and ridden home. But, I decided to just true up the wheel, and I headed on (I had a spoke wrench with me, but no spokes). So, I ended up that day with about 80 to 100 miles on a broken spoke (with a re-trued spoke-less wheel).

It turns out that undoing my roadside truing was a big pain, but overall I don't think the wheel was any worse for the wear.

I was reading about people using a cork in the seatpost to hold spare spokes. Perhaps I'll consider bringing a few front spokes, and NDS spokes with me sometime. I don't think I'd bring cassette tools, at least not for a short trip, so perhaps Z-Bend drive-side spokes.
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Old 04-27-15, 05:39 AM
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A couple of thousand kilometres on a front wheel with a broken spoke. Several hundred kilometres on various rear wheels. All were 36H, of course. Having a spoke key along for the ride helps.
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Old 04-27-15, 06:01 AM
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My answer depends on whether you mean while touring or in general.

For touring it was maybe 100 miles but with several broken spokes. A screw that holds the cogs together had backed out and scored the bends on all the drive side spokes. They were popping like crazy. I had to re true the wheel a few times.

In general use much longer, I am guessing it was thousands of miles. That was back when I was a kid in the late 50s and early 60s. I had a bike with permanently broken spokes that I never bothered to replace. I just twisted what was left of the broken ones around an adjacent spoke and trued it up the best I could.
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Old 04-27-15, 07:20 AM
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Had new wheel built. 2000 kms into the tour one spoke snapped. I decided to check the tension of the other spokes and 6 were really loose. I've heard that new wheels can settle, but I never bothered to check. Could've been a disaster.

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Old 04-27-15, 07:30 AM
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you often don't have a choice. I'd get her home & replace the spoke. one bad spoke can mean more bad spokes. One less spoke means more stress on the rest
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Old 04-27-15, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Blue Belly
you often don't have a choice. I'd get her home & replace the spoke. one bad spoke can mean more bad spokes. One less spoke means more stress on the rest
The only time you don't have a choice is when you are not prepared or are in a situation where stopping to fix it could be dangerous (and it can't be that far to a safe location).

A few spokes and a couple of fiberfix spokes should be a part of every tookkit for touring They weigh next to nothing.
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Old 04-27-15, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
That was back when I was a kid in the late 50s and early 60s. I had a bike with permanently broken spokes that I never bothered to replace. I just twisted what was left of the broken ones around an adjacent spoke and trued it up the best I could.
Sounds like me, but in 2002. I had an old MTB that I rode to and from school, and then used for Ride the Rockies the summer after I graduated. Someone else noticed how badly out of true my rear wheel was (but it wasn't hitting the brakes, so I hadn't noticed) and I took it to one of the support mechanics, who pointed out three broken spokes. I have no idea how long they had been broken.
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Old 04-27-15, 07:58 PM
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I rode an entire summer with a broken spoke on a 32 spoke wheel. It didn't bother me much. Fixed it last year, and broke another two away from the new one this year already. I've fixed that one already. Strange. I have 3 spares already on my touring bike for my upcoming tour-but I don't think I'll need them.
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Old 04-27-15, 08:04 PM
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Broke a spoke in my rear wheel 30 miles into a 400k brevet (250 miles) no problem!
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Old 04-27-15, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
The only time you don't have a choice is when you are not prepared or are in a situation where stopping to fix it could be dangerous (and it can't be that far to a safe location).

A few spokes and a couple of fiberfix spokes should be a part of every tookkit for touring They weigh next to nothing.
One reason I asked was because this summer I lost a drive-side spoke when a small section of the rim detached which was holding the ferrule for that spoke. No ferrule = no seat for the spoke nipple = no anchor for the fiberfix (which I was carrying). I was 178 km away from the end of my tour. I just kept going. I broke no other spokes and the rim held up (32 hole) and over some surprisingly bad surfaces too.
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Old 04-27-15, 10:20 PM
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500 miles or so.
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Old 04-28-15, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by hilltowner
One reason I asked was because this summer I lost a drive-side spoke when a small section of the rim detached which was holding the ferrule for that spoke. No ferrule = no seat for the spoke nipple = no anchor for the fiberfix (which I was carrying). I was 178 km away from the end of my tour. I just kept going. I broke no other spokes and the rim held up (32 hole) and over some surprisingly bad surfaces too.
You might have mentioned elsewhere what rims you are running. Nevertheless, if they are reasonably modern, the likely fit with my observation that the extrusions on touring-type rims are pretty heavy duty and even with 32H are not likely to run out of true badly as a lightweight racing rim might. It's reasonable to expect that with 32 or 36H rims, you will find out-of-true to be relatively minimal.
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