Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Do I need stronger wheels?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Do I need stronger wheels?

Old 03-03-20, 12:16 PM
  #1  
Tanstaafl
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 140

Bikes: Specialized Crosstrails

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 27 Times in 8 Posts
Do I need stronger wheels?

I have a 2013 Specialized Crosstrails. Most riding up until recently has been roads and paths around the neighborhood and organized rides on the weekends.

I have recently added riding grass pathways along drainage bayous near my home in Houston. The grass in the area can be rather 'clumpy', so the ride is often less than smooth.

This last weekend while riding the clumpy grass I broke a spoke on the rear wheel. This brings up the question if the stock wheels are able to handle the less than smooth terrain of the bayou trails, or if occasional spoke breakage is just a fact of bicycling.

If I do need to upgrade my wheels for this kind of riding, can anyone make a recommendation? I am willing to buy a new wheel set that will accept a larger tire size so I can swap wheels between grass rides and road rides. I currently run a 38 size tire on the stock wheels.

Thanks,
Jeff
Tanstaafl is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 12:31 PM
  #2  
Flip Flop Rider
Senior Member
 
Flip Flop Rider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: South Carolina Upstate
Posts: 1,443

Bikes: 2010 Fuji Absolute 3.0 1994 Trek 850

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 551 Post(s)
Liked 183 Times in 107 Posts
how many spokes on that tire?
Flip Flop Rider is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 01:23 PM
  #3  
Retro Grouch 
Senior Member
 
Retro Grouch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Posts: 29,776

Bikes: Catrike 559 I own some others but they don't get ridden very much.

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1396 Post(s)
Liked 264 Times in 166 Posts
More important than the number of spokes is how much tension they have and how even the tension is. My bet is the spoke broke right at the nipple bend. If the spokes flex easily when you try to squeeze two parallel spokes together, you might benefit from an extra turn on each nipple.
__________________
My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.
Retro Grouch is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 01:46 PM
  #4  
Tanstaafl
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 140

Bikes: Specialized Crosstrails

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 27 Times in 8 Posts
The wheel has 32 spokes. Well, 31 now...

As to the break point, it appears the flared head sheared off at the hub.
Tanstaafl is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 01:53 PM
  #5  
base2 
Random Internet Person.
 
base2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 1,246

Bikes: 5 good ones, and the occasional project.

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 659 Post(s)
Liked 202 Times in 125 Posts
I've never had a spoke break at the J-bend. I have, however, had one break at the nipple. (Deep section wheel with a high flange hub)

Broken spokes are part of cycling, but it should be a rare, rare occurance. Like on the verge of almost never.

A single broken spoke is one thing. Go ahead & get it trued or even better retensioned by a wheel builder with some reputation. A second or 3rd broken spoke, especially in a short span of time like a season or two means it's time for another wheel.

While you're at it inspect the spoke bed very closely. Cracks & pull through tend to start small & start subtle. It would suck to get rebuild a wheel only to find that the reason it went out was because a crack developed & started propogating...ZIPP 404's in my case had to get retired.

Cracks & pull through are long term symptoms of either too high of tension or over loading. Either means your wheel isn't up to the job & should be upgraded to a higher spoke count to better spread the load to a larger area.

Over loading in the short term may also cause an otherwise properly tensioned wheel to loosen up as each time the spoke passes under the axle there isn't enough tension to keep friction on the threads at the nipple. A good wheel should never have this problem. If this occures, fire the builder & find a better one.
__________________
My lights are obscenly bright because drivers are dim.

I shouldn't have to "make myself more visible;" Drivers should just stop running people over.
base2 is offline  
Likes For base2:
Old 03-03-20, 02:41 PM
  #6  
Wilfred Laurier
Señor Member
 
Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5,027
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 627 Post(s)
Liked 257 Times in 189 Posts
Most bikes come from the factory with machine built wheels, and most machine built wheels have unevenly or inadequately tensioned spokes, which generally leads to broken spokes after some time. If you've had the bike since new than I would say seven years is a pretty decent lifespan for machine built wheels.

Replacement wheels are available at any LBS, and the deficiency in spoke tension can be addressed by the shop, or find a competent wheelbuilder (not all LBSs have someone who knows what they are doing wrt. wheels and spokes). Or you can look up what steps are necessary on the web, but wheel truing/building/tensioning is considered a more advanced area of bike mechanics - I don't think it's all that complicated, but you can get in over your head if you don't know what you are doing and try to go too fast.
Wilfred Laurier is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 03:02 PM
  #7  
pdlamb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: northern Deep South
Posts: 5,778

Bikes: Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1153 Post(s)
Liked 209 Times in 147 Posts
Agree that 7 years isn't bad for the typical machine-built wheel. What to do now?

Jobst Brandt told the story of replacing a broken spoke, re-tensioning it, and then, enraged, squeezing the he** out of all the spokes -- after which he had no problems for the remaining life of the wheel. It turns out that's not a bad approach. If any more spokes are near failure, there's a good chance you'll pop them during the squeezing operation, replace them while you've got the wheel on the bench or stand, and then fuggedaboutit. Replace one, and there's a chance more are near their fatigue limit. That's why you'll often see a recommendation to replace one or two spokes, but at the third broken spoke, it's time to rebuild the wheel.

If you do buy a new, machine-built wheel, it's worth taking some time to prepare it for a long life. First make sure the wheel's adequately tensioned; either the plucking-tone method or a tensiometer will work. Then make sure all the spokes are stress relieved. Check true one more time, adjust if it's shifted, re-tension, and re-stress relieve until nothing changes. If you don't want to do all that yourself, find a good wheel builder to do it for you -- ask around for recommendations, but keep in mind not all recommended mechanics really know what they're doing. Then go ride.
pdlamb is offline  
Likes For pdlamb:
Old 03-03-20, 03:30 PM
  #8  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Panhandle WV
Posts: 1,338

Bikes: The growing fleet: Scott Sub Cross 30, Specialized Crosstrail Sport, Scott Scale 970

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 295 Post(s)
Liked 45 Times in 31 Posts
The original wheels that come with the Crosstrails are nice on pavement, but had noticed they are harsh and not long lasting on gravel. I popped many spokes and have heard others having this issue as well.

Plus the wheels are narrow and a real pain to get tires on and removed. Was told by my LBS the wheels can handle tires as small as 28mm. Well, I used the bike far more rough than what the wheels could handle.

I ended up getting larger mountain bike wheels, had the spokes tensioned properly and haven't had any issues. You could easily get a new decent rear wheel for $100.

I got a set of Weinman wheels dirt cheap from the now bankrupt Performance Bikes. Had my LBS check out spoke tension and haven't had any issues on gravel with them. It has wheelmaster hubs and this past fall, I repacked the bearings. It didn't seem to me that the manufacturer put much grease at all in the hub. I really greased the heck out of it and wow, it rode so much better once complete.

But also bought a nice set of Sun Ringle mountain bike wheels that in my opinion have much higher quality hubs, front and rear wheels for less than $200.

Last edited by travbikeman; 03-03-20 at 03:34 PM.
travbikeman is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 04:39 PM
  #9  
Rajflyboy
Banned.
 
Rajflyboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Carolinas
Posts: 1,293

Bikes: Orbea

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 917 Post(s)
Liked 202 Times in 168 Posts
Double wall rims

Double a Wall Rims

Double wall rims
Rajflyboy is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 05:07 PM
  #10  
Tanstaafl
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 140

Bikes: Specialized Crosstrails

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 59 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 27 Times in 8 Posts
Thanks for all the great responses.

I went down to the LBS and the mechanic there put a new spoke in and checked the tension. I am hoping he is one of the good ones. He did tell me the rims are double walled and that broken spokes are going to happen now and then.

Still, I think I will look for a second set of wheels with a wider tire/rim. So glad right now I got disc brakes! I probably can't get a mountain bike wheel in there, but I think I can fit a 45-48 or so running around 50 psi. Any recommendations on a decent brand. I don't need the top-of-the-line stuff, but I want to avoid the bottom of the barrel for sure.

Thanks again,
Jeff
Tanstaafl is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 07:47 PM
  #11  
travbikeman
Senior Member
 
travbikeman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Panhandle WV
Posts: 1,338

Bikes: The growing fleet: Scott Sub Cross 30, Specialized Crosstrail Sport, Scott Scale 970

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 295 Post(s)
Liked 45 Times in 31 Posts
Originally Posted by Tanstaafl View Post
Thanks for all the great responses.

I went down to the LBS and the mechanic there put a new spoke in and checked the tension. I am hoping he is one of the good ones. He did tell me the rims are double walled and that broken spokes are going to happen now and then.

Still, I think I will look for a second set of wheels with a wider tire/rim. So glad right now I got disc brakes! I probably can't get a mountain bike wheel in there, but I think I can fit a 45-48 or so running around 50 psi. Any recommendations on a decent brand. I don't need the top-of-the-line stuff, but I want to avoid the bottom of the barrel for sure.

Thanks again,
Jeff
Actually you can fit mountain bike wheels with quick release on these bikes, You will not be able to fit a mountain bike tire greater than 29x2" on it for clearance issues. But you should be able to fit a 45-48 gravel type of tire easily on a mountain bike wheel. I have a 42 on my Crosstrail with mountain bike wheelset, although when I measure it, it shows up as a 39.4.

travbikeman is offline  
Old 03-03-20, 09:28 PM
  #12  
Badzilla
Senior Member
 
Badzilla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 68
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm not a guru, but... One of the first bike tools I bought was a Park Tool tension meter. It's cool even though little used. Made a truing stand out of wood, for sure. I just bought a new bike, truing (and of course proper tensioning) the wheels is a first priority.
Badzilla is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.