Broke first spoke today... when this happens are you pretty much screwed?

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by JoelTGM, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    I broke one today and it sucked! I didn't bang the wheel or do anything out of the ordinary. The wheel was so potato chipped that it rubbed up against the frame and couldn't turn, so instead of walking the bike which would skid the tire, I carried the bike home. That took a long time and now my wrists are all shaky if I try to lift something like a glass of milk. So when this happens is there nothing at all I can do? Anyone got any tips on how to make sure this doesn't happen again? I don't remember the spokes being too tight, the wheel is maybe a year old.
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    How 'screwed' you are depends a lot on the design of the wheel. If it's a very low spoke count build then breaking one spoke can be problematic. On more traditional wheels breaking a single spoke usually doesn't end the ride. You want to stop and remove or twist off the broken spoke to other nearby spokes so it doesn't flap around and thrash your frame or get caught up in your drivetrain. If you carry a spoke wrench (and the adjustment nipples aren't buried in an aero rim) then you can often compensate for the broken spoke with a temporary adjustment of neighboring spokes if you know what you're doing but that's just to get home. Then you almost always have to back off the brake cable tension to give your brakes more clearance to allow for the extra wobble.

    I've definitely ridden home on 24 and 28 hole rims after breaking a spoke but haven't had to try it with low spoke count racing wheels or paired spoke designs. Back in the day it was fairly standard to carry a spoke wrench in your seat kit and to carry a single spare spoke shoved inside your handlebars for just such emergencies. I haven't done that in years but once upon a time it was common.

    BTW, you probably didn't do anything wrong and the wheel was probably well tensioned when new. Spokes break if you ride enough on them and a break after a year isn't unusual. But if you're training on really low spoke count wheels you might want to consider a sturdier set for day to day use and saving your good wheels for more important days.


    -Dave
     
  3. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    thanks for the response. These wheels are kind of low spoke count. That's a good idea to carry a spoke wrench though. I'm not sure if there are enough spokes on the wheel to compensate for a broken spoke, but still it could help just enough for the tire to clear the frame. I'm definitely going to buy my own spoke wrench today to keep with me on future rides. Not sure about keeping an extra spoke with me. I'd have to like tape it to the frame somewhere :S ... not a bad idea to have that though. Thanks.
     
  4. h2otaco

    h2otaco New Member

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    I know I'm new here, and I'm more of a MTB guy than a road guy, but I might be able to help a bit. Typically when I break a spoke I replace the broken spoke and the 2 nearest spokes. When a spoke pops the ones around it become overly stressed... making them likely to fail next.

    First bring the tension on the wheel down maybe 2 full turns on each spoke. Replace the spoke that popped, bring it up in tension to equal the other spokes... then replace the 2 around it one at a time... now bring the wheel back up to tension and true it, making sure that you check dish along the way. Replacing one spoke won't bring you out of dish, but check it anyway since you will bring the tension down around the whole wheel.
     
  5. JoelTGM

    JoelTGM New Member

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    hmm, that's true maybe. but I think when a spoke breaks and the wheel potato chips, that means the wheel sort of re-balanced itself out. So the spokes surrounding the one that broke maybe aren't really stressed that much more because the wheel changed shape in their favor, to relieve the new tension that was created from that spoke breaking. I hope that makes sense but that's just my theory. or maybe that's just me hoping that's right so I only have to carry one extra spoke with me instead of three lol.

    anyway I got myself a spoke wrench and those tire prying things now so I can actually deal with this problem out on the road.
     
  6. ambal

    ambal Active Member

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    Exactly, if you're training on a wheel with 16-20 spokes, make sure you carry a cell phone or don't venture further than walking distance from your house.
     
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  7. Frankgt2

    Frankgt2 New Member

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    You could get really screwed depending on the wheel you have... I do break lots of spokes, in the LBS they call me the ''spoke breaker''... i just weight 158 and im 6'1 and I do lot of sprintings and uphills and do lots of pressure to my bike. I used to break spokes maybe each 3 months or so and maybe some months ago my back wheel rim misteriously had a crack so I stop using it and bought an old wheel and took out the hub and spokes to use it in another rim the shop had around so the spokes are a few years old. The wheel has lots of spokes and I have broke 2 in less than 2 months, what do I do? I just take the broken spoke away and keep riding and later I take the wheel to the shop to install a black spoke to the silver wheel because I want to see how much left are about to be broken with the time. Broken spokes doesnt bothers me in this wheel because it doesnt really affect much having a spoke left, the wheel doesnt goes out of true because of the lots of spokes it still have, maybe around 24 or 26 spokes. The front wheel only have 20 and in pairs, so lets say it has 10... There is a lot of space between a spoke and the next one so when one breaks there is no way I could continue riding because the wheel goes out of true completley rubbing the fork and the brakes.
     
  8. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes a Cell Phone is your best tool in your kit./img/vbsmilies/smilies/icon14.gif
     
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