Spokes broke AGAIN!! Very angry. Advice needed.



sergen

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Jul 28, 2003
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Out on a club ride 2 weeks ago one of my rear-wheel spokes broke for no obvious reason. There I was just riding along when it snapped. At the time all the guys in my club commented how rare it was to break a spoke, which made me even more annoyed since the bike is only 4 months old. In relation to the wheels - the rims are Alexrims AT400 with Shimano 105 hubs. I have no idea what spokes are on the bike but there are 32 of them. I had to call my wife to rescue me because even when I opened the quick-release mechanism on the rear brake caliper, the rear wheel was still hitting the brake pads hard.

I took the wheels into my LBS looking for an explanation given that they only have about 600 miles on them. The guy at my LBS changed the spoke free of charge for me and said that it was just one of those things that happened and couldn't be helped. He also checked the tension in all the spokes on both back and front wheels.

So...... I was extremely angry yesterday when a different spoke on the same rear wheel broke!!!!! Again I was on a club ride but I was stuck a long way from home and had to call my wife to rescue me. Same thing happening - couldn't get the wheel to turn cleanly through the brake pads.

I'm really angry about this because the same thing has now happened twice in a fortnight and it surely cannot be coincidence? I'm wondering what the best course of action is. I don't want my LBS to simply repair the broken spoke because I'm sure exactly the same thing will happen to me again within a few more weeks. Do I need to replace all my spokes with better ones like DT Swiss? Or could it be more serious? Do I need a new wheel?

Many thanks
 

531Aussie

Well-Known Member
Apr 11, 2004
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If it were me I'd put straight gauge DTs (2mm Champions) in there. Nothing more frustrating than popping spoke int he middle of a hammer-fest that you're enjoying

I'm a 195lb masher and thrasher, and I haven't broken a straight DT in over 10 years, and I hop curbs, hit potholes, etc. :)

Is an "affordable" bike?
Are you heavy?

Some of those less than expensive bikes have really **** spokes. Two of my mates had spoke problems with their cheap Alex/Shimano (hubs) wheels.

If he "checked" the tension, that might not mean much, because as far as I understand, if the tension isn't uniform, it's preferable to loosen all the spokes and effectively rebuild the wheel
 

ScienceIsCool

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Jun 25, 2006
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sergen said:
Out on a club ride 2 weeks ago one of my rear-wheel spokes broke for no obvious reason. There I was just riding along when it snapped. At the time all the guys in my club commented how rare it was to break a spoke, which made me even more annoyed since the bike is only 4 months old. In relation to the wheels - the rims are Alexrims AT400 with Shimano 105 hubs. I have no idea what spokes are on the bike but there are 32 of them. I had to call my wife to rescue me because even when I opened the quick-release mechanism on the rear brake caliper, the rear wheel was still hitting the brake pads hard.

I took the wheels into my LBS looking for an explanation given that they only have about 600 miles on them. The guy at my LBS changed the spoke free of charge for me and said that it was just one of those things that happened and couldn't be helped. He also checked the tension in all the spokes on both back and front wheels.

So...... I was extremely angry yesterday when a different spoke on the same rear wheel broke!!!!! Again I was on a club ride but I was stuck a long way from home and had to call my wife to rescue me. Same thing happening - couldn't get the wheel to turn cleanly through the brake pads.

I'm really angry about this because the same thing has now happened twice in a fortnight and it surely cannot be coincidence? I'm wondering what the best course of action is. I don't want my LBS to simply repair the broken spoke because I'm sure exactly the same thing will happen to me again within a few more weeks. Do I need to replace all my spokes with better ones like DT Swiss? Or could it be more serious? Do I need a new wheel?

Many thanks
Here's my take on it. It sounds like the first spoke broke due to a (premature) fatigue failure. That is, the cyclical stress of loading and unloading the spoke as the wheel goes around caused the spoke to eventualy break. This type of fatigue failure gets all spokes eventually.

The question is why yours broke prematurely? One possible cause is insufficient spoke tension, but your bike store checked that right away so good on them. Another possible cause is higher than normal loading due to construction or rider weight. Looking at the components and number of spokes, the construction doesn't seem to be an issue. You didn't mention that you weigh much more than the guys in your club, so I don't think that's an issue.

The last possible cause I can think of is that the spokes themselves are prone to premature fatigue failures. This can be due to material defects such as voids and impurities. Or it can be due to higher than normal stresses induced in the making of the wire or the spoke.

Since you had more than one spoke break, I would suggest it is the spokes themselves that are at fault. It is either a substandard manufacturer or a bad batch of spokes. Rebuilding the wheel with new, high quality spokes should take care of the problem.

John Swanson
www.bikephysics.com
 

sergen

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Jul 28, 2003
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Thank you both for your replies.

In reference to my weight I'm not exactly a 'big boy'. I'm 78 kilos (approx 173 pounds) so I do not think this is a weight issue at all.

The bike itself is a cheap winter training frame with a 105 groupset.
 

Retro Grouch

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Dec 29, 2005
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sergen said:
Out on a club ride 2 weeks ago one of my rear-wheel spokes broke for no obvious reason. There I was just riding along when it snapped. At the time all the guys in my club commented how rare it was to break a spoke, which made me even more annoyed since the bike is only 4 months old. In relation to the wheels - the rims are Alexrims AT400 with Shimano 105 hubs. I have no idea what spokes are on the bike but there are 32 of them. I had to call my wife to rescue me because even when I opened the quick-release mechanism on the rear brake caliper, the rear wheel was still hitting the brake pads hard.

I took the wheels into my LBS looking for an explanation given that they only have about 600 miles on them. The guy at my LBS changed the spoke free of charge for me and said that it was just one of those things that happened and couldn't be helped. He also checked the tension in all the spokes on both back and front wheels.

So...... I was extremely angry yesterday when a different spoke on the same rear wheel broke!!!!! Again I was on a club ride but I was stuck a long way from home and had to call my wife to rescue me. Same thing happening - couldn't get the wheel to turn cleanly through the brake pads.

I'm really angry about this because the same thing has now happened twice in a fortnight and it surely cannot be coincidence? I'm wondering what the best course of action is. I don't want my LBS to simply repair the broken spoke because I'm sure exactly the same thing will happen to me again within a few more weeks. Do I need to replace all my spokes with better ones like DT Swiss? Or could it be more serious? Do I need a new wheel?

Many thanks
Which spokes broke? I'm betting they are on the rear wheel, non-drive side.

Rear wheels with 8-speed and up cassettes are dished over pretty severly. The drive side spokes are almost straight up and down. That forces the wheelbuilder to leave the non-drive side spokes with relatively little tension. As you ride, with every revolution of the wheel every spoke gets loaded and unloaded. The spokes with inadequate tension eventually fatigue and break at the elbow.

When your bike shop guy replaced the forst broken spoke, what he did was to return your wheel to the state that it was in before the spoke broke. Unfortunately that happened to be a wheel that was about to break a spoke.

If you brought that wheel to me, I would replace the broken spoke. Then I would check the tension on every single spoke with a tensiometer, bring them all to as equal tension as possible, and retrue the wheel. I would probably have to increase the tension on all of the spokes to give the left side spokes adequate tension.

That'll fix it.
 

daveornee

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Sep 18, 2003
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sergen said:
Out on a club ride 2 weeks ago one of my rear-wheel spokes broke for no obvious reason. There I was just riding along when it snapped. At the time all the guys in my club commented how rare it was to break a spoke, which made me even more annoyed since the bike is only 4 months old. In relation to the wheels - the rims are Alexrims AT400 with Shimano 105 hubs. I have no idea what spokes are on the bike but there are 32 of them. I had to call my wife to rescue me because even when I opened the quick-release mechanism on the rear brake caliper, the rear wheel was still hitting the brake pads hard.

I took the wheels into my LBS looking for an explanation given that they only have about 600 miles on them. The guy at my LBS changed the spoke free of charge for me and said that it was just one of those things that happened and couldn't be helped. He also checked the tension in all the spokes on both back and front wheels.

So...... I was extremely angry yesterday when a different spoke on the same rear wheel broke!!!!! Again I was on a club ride but I was stuck a long way from home and had to call my wife to rescue me. Same thing happening - couldn't get the wheel to turn cleanly through the brake pads.

I'm really angry about this because the same thing has now happened twice in a fortnight and it surely cannot be coincidence? I'm wondering what the best course of action is. I don't want my LBS to simply repair the broken spoke because I'm sure exactly the same thing will happen to me again within a few more weeks. Do I need to replace all my spokes with better ones like DT Swiss? Or could it be more serious? Do I need a new wheel?

Many thanks
Reasonable rim and hubs.
I suspect the build quality. The result of early fatigue failure is not extremely rare.
Fatigue of the spokes can come from many sources, but it is not reverseable.
I would replace all spokes with ones of known quality and have it done by a wheel builder who is also know for quality and reliability in his/her work.
I have a similar situation happen years ago with a top line Trek. It turned out to be a quality of build issue, but by the time I discovered what was going on I had learned how to build my own wheels ( I replaced all the spokes) . Since then, no broken spokes. I have also built over 1,000 wheels now.
Proper and balanced spoke tension are two important elements of a quality build. Spoke alignment and wheel stabilization are two other important elements that are often overlooked.
dave at ornee dot net
 

alanmcc

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Jan 13, 2007
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Rebuild is the only option. Make sure you take your bike to a LBS where they cycle!!! No cycle no idea just profit!!
 

FriendlyFred

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Jul 19, 2006
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I had a very similar experience with these same rims. I went through 6 episodes of spokes breaking, always on the rear rim. This all began with about 600 miles on the rims. After the 6th incident, the LBS contacted the manufactuer, who admitted there might be issues with these rims and upgraded me to the next level of rims, no charge. I had no further issues after that.

I highly recommend having your bike shop get in touch with the manufactuer, to see what can be done. I suspect you're going to have more spoke adventuers otherwise. It's not fun walking home.....six times, trust me.
 

dhk2

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Aug 8, 2006
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FriendlyFred said:
I had a very similar experience with these same rims. I went through 6 episodes of spokes breaking, always on the rear rim. This all began with about 600 miles on the rims. After the 6th incident, the LBS contacted the manufactuer, who admitted there might be issues with these rims and upgraded me to the next level of rims, no charge. I had no further issues after that.

I highly recommend having your bike shop get in touch with the manufactuer, to see what can be done. I suspect you're going to have more spoke adventuers otherwise. It's not fun walking home.....six times, trust me.
+1. The OEM wheels should be replaced by the manufacturer with something better, under warranty. The OP shouldn't have to spend more money to get serviceable wheels put on his new bike.
 

jerryz

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Dec 7, 2004
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The odds are extremely good that the wheel just has a bad build or was improperly tensioned. If you have any experience trueing wheels you can loosen and then retension all of the spokes. I suspect that will take care of the problem.
 

thomas_cho

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Jan 4, 2005
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I am sorry for your bad luck with the wheels, but like others have mentioned it could just be a poor batch of spokes. Re-lacing them should give you a trouble free wheelset.

There was also the mention about the dishing of the rear wheel causing unequal spoke tension. I built my rear wheel about 6 mths ago using DT Swiss 14G spokes, and they have remained true after more than 500km of riding, and I am no light weight at 95kg. I re-checked the spoke tensions after reading this thread and checked that the drive side is tensioned to 120kgf, and the non-drive to 85kgf. Are these typical tensions?

Cheers
 

sergen

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Jul 28, 2003
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Just to let you know that I spoke with my LBS today and they have agreed to replace all of the existing spokes on my rear wheel with DT Swiss spokes. They will do this free of charge.

Hopefully this means the end of my spoke troubles. Thinking about it I should probably ask him to change the front wheel spokes too. After all, the front wheel spokes are the same as the ones on the rear wheel so it could be a short amount of time before they go too.
 

531Aussie

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Apr 11, 2004
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sergen said:
Just to let you know that I spoke with my LBS today and they have agreed to replace all of the existing spokes on my rear wheel with DT Swiss spokes. They will do this free of charge..
jee, that's a fair deal!

The front wheel is under heaps less load than the rear, so it wouldn't be urgent, but you might as well cash in on the offer from your local shop :)
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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sergen said:
.. the front wheel spokes are the same as the ones on the rear wheel so it could be a short amount of time before they go too.

Not necessarily so. The front wheel is symmetrically dished, so the conditions that's usually responsible for spokes breaking isn't there. There'd have to be something seriously wrong with either build or spoke quality for that to happen.
 

Retro Grouch

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Dec 29, 2005
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thomas_cho said:
I re-checked the spoke tensions after reading this thread and checked that the drive side is tensioned to 120kgf, and the non-drive to 85kgf. Are these typical tensions?
Define typical.

I think that if you contact rim manufacturers, they will suggest using tensions similar to what you have indicated. If you were to take your tensiometer into an LBS and check the spoke tensions on new bike wheels, I'm thinking they will be significantly lower. That's why I think that I could fix the OP's spoke breaking problem with a new spoke and retensioning the whole wheel.
 

daveornee

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Sep 18, 2003
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thomas_cho said:
I am sorry for your bad luck with the wheels, but like others have mentioned it could just be a poor batch of spokes. Re-lacing them should give you a trouble free wheelset.

There was also the mention about the dishing of the rear wheel causing unequal spoke tension. I built my rear wheel about 6 mths ago using DT Swiss 14G spokes, and they have remained true after more than 500km of riding, and I am no light weight at 95kg. I re-checked the spoke tensions after reading this thread and checked that the drive side is tensioned to 120kgf, and the non-drive to 85kgf. Are these typical tensions?

Cheers
You should check with the rim manufacturer about your model of rim.

100 kgf right side rear and all front are more "typical". The left rear tension will be considerably less than the 100 kgf and is dependent on the hub and rim geometries.
You won't likely break spokes due to the higher tension, but you can crack the rim around the spoke holes with "too high" tension.