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Three broken spokes. Should I give up on the wheel?

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Three broken spokes. Should I give up on the wheel?

Old 06-15-19, 02:33 PM
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gary10509
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Three broken spokes. Should I give up on the wheel?

2014 Trek FX 7.4 hybrid bike with Bontrager Nebula 32-hole rims. The bike has between 3 and 4k miles on it. Broke a spoke on the front wheel last fall. Had it replaced at LBS. Broke a spoke on the same wheel in April. Had it replaced. Broke another spoke on the same wheel about two weeks later. Rather than having the third broken spoke replaced, I replaced the wheel. All three spokes broke while riding on smooth city streets, within a few hundred miles at most.

I'd really like to have the wheel repaired, but should I? I've not had a problem with broken spokes on any other bike. Is this indicative of a wheel problem, or just bad luck? Would you fix it or not?

Thanks.

Last edited by gary10509; 06-15-19 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 06-15-19, 02:38 PM
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wgscott
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If the rim and hub are ok, and worth something, have the wheel rebuilt with new spokes. But if you already replaced it, and the old wheel isn't of any use to you, just keep it for the hub and rim if you have room to store spare parts.
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Old 06-15-19, 03:16 PM
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Bill Kapaun
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It sounds like a bad batch of spokes and/or possibly bad build.
New spokes & a competent build and it would be better than new.
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Old 06-16-19, 06:57 AM
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Moe Zhoost
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It sounds like a bad batch of spokes and/or possibly bad build.
New spokes & a competent build and it would be better than new.
Agree
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Old 06-16-19, 07:52 AM
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I'd compare the cost to rebuild to the cost for a new wheel. LBS labor isn't cheap and you could pay more for a rebuild than a new front wheel of similar quality.
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Old 06-16-19, 09:12 AM
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thousands of miles of wire goes into making spokes some flaws are inevitable ...

ever thought you would like a dynamo hub front wheel, for lights in the dark seasons ?

this might be the time to buy it, now, rather than keep fixing your current front wheel..







...
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Old 06-16-19, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
I'd compare the cost to rebuild to the cost for a new wheel. LBS labor isn't cheap and you could pay more for a rebuild than a new front wheel of similar quality.
My thoughts exactly. A 4th spoke replacement is just good money after bad, (been there), and it's only worth a full re-build if it's a fairly high-end hub and rim (I haven't looked up that bike, but being a hybrid bike, I'm thinking it probably ain't).
A full re-build, with some quality spokes, is probably gonna cost around $80, and you'll still just have a (I assume) low-end wheel.
For around twice that money, you can get a complete (matching) wheelset from someplace like BicycleWheelWarehouse, with better Shimano hubs, and some Sapim or DT spokes, which might be a good idea. If you're popping spokes on the front (kinda unusual), then I wouldn't be surprised if the rear wheel isn't far behind.

Last edited by Brocephus; 06-17-19 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 06-16-19, 04:37 PM
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Unusual on a front wheel so likely it's badly built.
New wheel.
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Old 06-17-19, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
It sounds like a bad batch of spokes and/or possibly bad build.
New spokes & a competent build and it would be better than new.
Agreed.

Material flaw might cause one spoke to break. After the third failure (and an accelerated rate), you've probably got a cheap machine-built wheel with undertensioned spokes. The spokes have cyclic stressed, and many if not all the original spokes are close to failure.

If you want to tackle this yourself, tighten all the spokes a quarter turn (if you're a musician, see if they're now near an A above middle C). Put on some heavy gloves, and squeeze the dickens out of adjacent pairs on each side. If more break, replace and re-squeeze until the wheel is solid. That's not economically viable if you don't do it yourself.

It's worth asking the source of your new wheel if they checked the tension. Probably not, and it would be well to get a competent wheel builder to properly tension and stress-relieve the new wheel. (Once you've found that competent builder, you might get him or her to check on your rear wheel, too.)
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Old 06-17-19, 10:51 AM
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We never did ask where the spokes were breaking, but assumed it was at the elbow.
All of the other spokes have gone through the same number of fatigue cycles, although some probably weren't "over stressed" as much.

Keep in mind, 3-4k miles probably isn't that bad for a machine built wheel.
Before rebuilding with this rim, make sure the brake tracks have enough "meat" to justify.
Lay a straight edge across the brake track and see if it is concave. If you can see daylight.....

The point about having the tension checked on the rear (and new front) is very valid. If the wheels had been properly tensioned when new, you'd probably still be riding them without issue.
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Old 06-17-19, 07:38 PM
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Are you lucky!

This is your big chance to learn to build your own wheels. That's what I would do. Actually, that's how I got started building wheels.
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Old 06-19-19, 11:40 AM
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There are three parts/sub-assemblies that make up a wheel - rim, hub, and spokes. The wheel is not trash, but the spokes are.
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