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2013-01-22 4:55 PM


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Subject: Breaking spokes

This past September I broke a spoke on my rode bike when I was just cruising along.    I went to my local bike shop; they informed me that the wheel sets that come stock on bikes are usually pretty crummy.  I asked for something that would not brake my bank, but at the same point not brake while I was riding.   They set me up with shimono 105 wheel sets.  4 months later I broke another spoke.  I am a heavier guy(260).  Now the bike shop is recommending that I order a set of custom built rims, with a higher spoke count.  What is the best thing to do?  



2013-01-22 6:59 PM
in reply to: #4590014

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Subject: RE: Breaking spokes
I too am heavy- 285lbs. Wheels that came stock with my Specialized sectaur kept going out of tru and i broke about 4 spokes in 3 weeks. Finally went to carbon fiber wheel built by a local builder and rode the rest of the year with no problems. I did have him beef up the spoke count.  I rode about 2k miles last year so I was pretty happy about not having to have spokes replaced and to have the wheels trued 2x's a month.
2013-01-23 6:35 AM
in reply to: #4590014

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Subject: RE: Breaking spokes
It's not as simple as just weight... the type of rider you are plays a major factor as well. A punchier rider will torque the wheels more, hence fatigue the spokes and break them more often.

The biggest problem with factory built wheels is the uneven spoke tension. You can build a perfectly true wheel with a few under tensioned spokes, but them tend to break quite quickly. Same thing goes for a wheel where you broke a spoke and then the shop just replaced it and trued it without checking the spoke tension all the way around.

For a heavier rider, going with hand built wheels with good quality rims (Mavic Open Pro is the probably the most common and recommended), a good hub (Shimano makes good hubs), laced 3x 32 rear and 2x 28 front (or even 36 rear 32 front) with good quality spokes (Sapim or DT Swiss) would be my recommendation. The good news is that those wheels are not overly expensive.
2013-01-23 7:47 AM
in reply to: #4590612

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Subject: RE: Breaking spokes
audiojan - 2013-01-23 7:35 AM

It's not as simple as just weight... the type of rider you are plays a major factor as well. A punchier rider will torque the wheels more, hence fatigue the spokes and break them more often.

The biggest problem with factory built wheels is the uneven spoke tension. You can build a perfectly true wheel with a few under tensioned spokes, but them tend to break quite quickly. Same thing goes for a wheel where you broke a spoke and then the shop just replaced it and trued it without checking the spoke tension all the way around.

For a heavier rider, going with hand built wheels with good quality rims (Mavic Open Pro is the probably the most common and recommended), a good hub (Shimano makes good hubs), laced 3x 32 rear and 2x 28 front (or even 36 rear 32 front) with good quality spokes (Sapim or DT Swiss) would be my recommendation. The good news is that those wheels are not overly expensive.


Exactly right. A hand built wheel tensions each spoke in a balanced fashion while it's being construected. Think about it; when you turn the spoke nipple to tighten, you also twist the spoke a little bit as they're pretty flexible (by design). While you hand build a wheel, you relieve that winding as you work so that each spoke won't unwind later and has an even tension with respect to the others.

Factory wheels are tensioned by machine with each spoke to a known torque, then a tech trim trues each wheel and slaps it on the bike. Much faster, but nowhere near the quality.

I like Velocity Aerohead rims and simple Shimano hubs (105 or Ultegra are perfectly good). I go 250lbs and race cyclocross on mine; they take an absolute beating and remain true and perfect for years.
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