When do I cut my losses on broken spokes?
June 28, 2012 9:57 AM Subscribe
I keep breaking spokes on my rear wheel! My bike is only a few years old (more than 2, less than 5), and I've broken 3 spokes so far this season. Help!
posted by Kyol to health & fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Last summer I discovered a nice section of unpaved trail that linked two normal paved trails so I started riding it as a change of pace. However, at the end of the year my rear wheel was pretty far out of true. It's a hardtail bike, so it's not too surprising. The local wrench expressed doubt that he would be able to get it true and round, and to my surprise, he did. (mostly. Within reason, anyway. It's more true than round, but not enough to be uncomfortable.)
But this summer, I'm going through a spoke a month. They're all breaking at the head, two on the freewheel side, the latest one on the left side. I don't have a spoke tension gauge, so I can't tell if the spokes are just pulled too tight to bring the wheel in to true. They don't feel too asymmetric when I manually squeeze the spokes to let them reseat (ping! ping! plink!) after getting the wheel back from the shop, though. The two on the drivetrain side broke under torque, but this most recent one just went ping as I crossed the road.
When do I cut my losses and just buy a new rim and have it built up? Or is the rim probably alright (assuming they're checking the spoke tension, I'll ask) since it can be pulled into true, and I'm just experimentally discovering the wear life of my spokes? Having the rim rebuilt with all new spokes instead of onesy-twosy spoke replacement at ~$18/pop seems like it would be cheaper, but it might be a case of diminishing returns.
The bike is a relatively cheap clunker of a Trek hybrid, so the wheels aren't particularly exotic. Anything but! But since the bike is cheap, I hesitate to spend a couple hundred on a new wheel (labor and local price, estimating) when I could buy a new shiny for a few hundred more.
I checked Sheldon Brown, and I couldn't find any guidance there. Do I just keep replacing spokes as they break, replace all the spokes (keeping my hub and rim), buy a new rim, or buy a new wheel? I think I'm already behind the curve for buying a truing stand and a box of spokes, but I never was all that good at truing wheels myself, which is why I let someone more experienced than myself handle it.