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Breaking spokes.

Old 07-10-19, 06:34 PM
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harshbarj
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Breaking spokes.

I thought I'd post this here in case it is a weight issue. Over the last few years, I have had a constant problem with breaking spokes. I weigh around the 108kg (240lbs) mark. I commute daily by bicycle in a rather hilly area. Thing is I break spokes on average every month or two, with my record being around 4 months between breaks. I did have a bike I imported from the Netherlands and in the year and a half I owned it, I never once broke a spoke, despite the bike itself weighing over 70kg and myself being much heavier than I am today. I don't consider myself especially hard on my bike and don't jump kerbs. I do however carry groceries, which can easily double the weight on the bike for 2-4km one day a week.

I just recently had two wheels built and one broke a spoke in the first 2 weeks. The other took a little over 2 months. The second wheel was built using slightly thicker spokes(2mm I believe). I'm just tired of spending over a thousand every year to rebuild wheels.
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Old 07-10-19, 06:53 PM
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If spokes are breaking, you have a bad wheel build. Properly tensioned and stress-relieved spokes will not break.
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Old 07-10-19, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
If spokes are breaking, you have a bad wheel build. Properly tensioned and stress-relieved spokes will not break.
Seconded!

You either have an issue with build components, or build quality, or both. The right wheel built for the right purpose in the right manner should not be breaking spokes so frequently. If the wheels are being built by the same person/shop, then I would highly recommend that you cease giving them your business. Either they are not doing a good enough job, or you are not giving them the full rundown on how you use your wheels so that they can build the right wheels for your purpose. By now, if it has been the same person/shop, they should have clued onto the second circumstance which is why I would still head elsewhere
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Old 07-10-19, 10:56 PM
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How many spokes does your wheel have?
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Old 07-11-19, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
Seconded!

You either have an issue with build components, or build quality, or both. The right wheel built for the right purpose in the right manner should not be breaking spokes so frequently. If the wheels are being built by the same person/shop, then I would highly recommend that you cease giving them your business. Either they are not doing a good enough job, or you are not giving them the full rundown on how you use your wheels so that they can build the right wheels for your purpose. By now, if it has been the same person/shop, they should have clued onto the second circumstance which is why I would still head elsewhere
It's been from 4 separate places and covers about 8 or 9 wheels, all new builds. One I simply will not go to again as I broke a total of 8 spokes in 4 weeks(with the first one happening on the way home from the shop), with them repairing the wheel 3 times in that span. The latest two at another shop I spent almost $700 on the build for a pair and it lasted all of a month. They replaced the spoke for free, but I don't expect it to last. I also inform them it's for a utility bike that regularly hauls over 300lbs (~140kg). But I have had spokes break before having a chance to do any hauling.



Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
How many spokes does your wheel have?



All my wheels are 36 spokes 700c. Think your traditional dutch bicycle and that's what my wheels are.

Last edited by harshbarj; 07-11-19 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 07-11-19, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
It's been from 4 separate places and covers about 8 or 9 wheels, all new builds. One I simply will not go to again as I broke a total of 8 spokes in 4 weeks(with the first one happening on the way home from the shop), with them repairing the wheel 3 times in that span. The latest two at another shop I spent almost $700 on the build for a pair and it lasted all of a month. They replaced the spoke for free, but I don't expect it to last. I also inform them it's for a utility bike that regularly hauls over 300lbs (~140kg). But I have had spokes break before having a chance to do any hauling
That’s a crap run. It takes me back to something the guy who was working in my LBS and built my first custom track wheels told me. He used to work for Zipp. “Lots of people can build a wheel, but not many people can do it really well”

It may be worth your time, and from what you’ve wasted, definitely your money to seriously think about building your own wheels.

As a guy that has floated in between 110-140kg for my cycling life, and likes to ride fast, I got sick of not being able to buy what I wanted or paying way too much for a custom build. The only spoke I’ve broken was when I rolled the dice and replaced a cracked rim and re-used the 3yo spokes. My biggest test came in building my own MTB wheels which are now 6 months old and are yet to run out of true.

TBH I was kind of pooping my pants at my first build, I’ve got a reasonable amount of confidence now. The principles are actually fairly basic and there’s tons of helpful information in posts and YouTube videos.
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Old 07-11-19, 07:16 PM
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36 spoke wheels built by a qualified wheel builder using double butted spokes should not be breaking as you described. I roll on 32 spoke fronts and 36 spoke rears at 135-140kg on a regular basis for years without issue. My guess is either the builder(s) are hacks, or the spokes are junk. You didn’t mention the specifics, but where and/or how a spoke fails can provide a clue as to the source of the problem.

Stick with name brand double butted spokes and talented builders. For the ultimate wheel build you might want to consider triple butted spokes, but I’ve never needed to go that far myself even at the extreme weights I’ve described.

Before I started building my own, I called around to several different shops and asked “other than yourself, who is the best wheel builder around?” A couple of names were mentioned repeatedly and sure enough they delivered. You might wanna try something like this.


-Kedosto
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Old 07-11-19, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto View Post
36 spoke wheels built by a qualified wheel builder using double butted spokes should not be breaking as you described. I roll on 32 spoke fronts and 36 spoke rears at 135-140kg on a regular basis for years without issue. My guess is either the builder(s) are hacks, or the spokes are junk. You didn’t mention the specifics, but where and/or how a spoke fails can provide a clue as to the source of the problem.

Stick with name brand double butted spokes and talented builders. For the ultimate wheel build you might want to consider triple butted spokes, but I’ve never needed to go that far myself even at the extreme weights I’ve described.

Before I started building my own, I called around to several different shops and asked “other than yourself, who is the best wheel builder around?” A couple of names were mentioned repeatedly and sure enough they delivered. You might wanna try something like this.


-Kedosto
normally it's at the bend, but I did have a spat of spokes breaking right at the nipple. As for the spokes used, I'm not 100% sure. I'm think they are wheelsmith spokes. Will have to check later. At this point, I have tried every wheelbuilder I can reach in my area.
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Old 07-11-19, 08:25 PM
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Take a look at this wheelset. I just got these in 29" w/ 36 spokes, after getting a set last year in 26" w/ 32 spokes. Rock-solid Ryno-lite rims, with Swiss DT's, and Shimano XT disc-ready hubs (the rims are both disc and V-brake compatible).
They're built right, and the price is right (with their free shipping and 10% coupon, around $170 delivered).
I never heard a single ping or creak out of either set, right out of the box, and they're both straight as an ice-skate blade. I weigh a solid 200#.
I don't think you'll go through a thousand bucks of these in a year !!!!
Sun Rhyno Lite 29er wheel set with Shimano XT disc

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Old 07-11-19, 08:35 PM
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buy a pair of he'd Ardennes stallion edition mine are 24 front 28 rear I'm 240lbs have not touched them since day one . 2 years later and upwards of 10 thousand miles later still as true as day one a little expensive but to me well worth it not to have to deal with truing the wheels or spokes bein broken
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Old 07-11-19, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
normally it's at the bend, but I did have a spat of spokes breaking right at the nipple. As for the spokes used, I'm not 100% sure. I'm think they are wheelsmith spokes. Will have to check later. At this point, I have tried every wheelbuilder I can reach in my area.
Both of those failure modes point to fatigue. Spokes breaking at the bend is purely fatigue and can be solved by higher tension. Higher tension is a clyde/heavy weight necessity (but staying withing the tension parameters for the rim). One thing to look for is to make sure that butted spokes are being used. Some builders will look at straight gauge spokes as being strong, but what straight gauge spokes do is transfer all the strain to the ends of the spoke. Butted spokes have smaller diameters in the middle part of the spoke. This smaller diameter allows the spoke to stretch and so takes some of that deload stress away from the bend and the nipple. Spokes breaking at the nipple can be due to too much angle coming from the spoke bending at the nipple to go to the hub. This can be assisted/solved by choosing rims that have offset spoke holes that allow the line from the nipple through to the hub to be straightened.

Perhaps put more of your time into searching up the appropriate components and maybe even purchase the parts yourself and get a builder to assemble them for you. Also have a look at what the wheelbuilders are proposing to use for your build and be prepared to advise them that what they want to use may not be appropriate for the weights that your bike is taking.
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Old 07-11-19, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
normally it's at the bend, but I did have a spat of spokes breaking right at the nipple. As for the spokes used, I'm not 100% sure. I'm think they are wheelsmith spokes. Will have to check later. At this point, I have tried every wheelbuilder I can reach in my area.
In the most general terms, breaking at the bend is a loose spoke, breaking at the nipple is a too tight spoke. Depending on your frame of reference, spokes could be considered consumables. The load/unload cycle that occurs with every wheel rotation creates fatigue and fatigue catches up with everything eventually. A well built wheel minimizes fatigue and directs it to that part which can handle it best and longest.

Double butted spokes are thinner in the middle and therefore flex across the long thin middle section. The number of times a double butted spoke can endure this load/unload cycle is unimaginably high. A straight gauge spoke, by design, is subjected to the load evenly across the entire length, bend to nipple, and so the fatigue is experienced at the weakest points at the bend or the nipple threads. Triple butted spokes are even thicker on the ends than double butted and concentrate the fatigue cycles even more into the center section where the fatigue life is virtually unlimited.

A quality wheelset requires quality rims. The spokes are where the real work happens, but a flimsy rim won’t provide a solid foundation for the spokes to work from. Box section rims like the Rhyno or deep V designs like the Velocity Chukker are about as robust as you would ever need to go (IMO). I own a 32/36 set of 29er Rhynos built up with double butted DT Swiss spokes and they are bombproof. No, they’re not light or aero, but that’s not what they’re for. I am not aware of a better touring or utility wheelset at a better price than what Brocephus linked to above. DT Swiss TK540’s and 545D’s are seriously stout rims as well but not always readily available.

If your situation is really as bad as you described, and you don’t have any other local alternatives, an online wheelset purchase is probably your best option.


-Kedosto
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Old 07-11-19, 10:28 PM
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OP still hasn't mentioned how many spokes are in each of their wheels.
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Old 07-11-19, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclist2000 View Post
OP still hasn't mentioned how many spokes are in each of their wheels.
The OP confirmed up thread:
Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
All my wheels are 36 spokes 700c. Think your traditional dutch bicycle and that's what my wheels are.
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Old 07-11-19, 11:16 PM
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We both said pretty much the same thing but you beat me to it. You’ve made an important point here...

Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
...have a look at what the wheelbuilders are proposing to use for your build and be prepared to advise them that what they want to use may not be appropriate for the weights that your bike is taking.
The bicycle world is full of wheel builders who will tell you very convincingly that what they want to build for you “should be plenty strong” or “should be more than you’d ever need.” The problem is that when they’re wrong it’s YOU that’s stranded. They’re comfortable back at their shop while you’re out of cell phone range trying to figure out how you’re gonna make it to wherever you’re going.

I argue; embrace the over built. Before I started building my own I had to argue with a guy to just build me what I wanted regardless of his opinion that it was overkill. And this was after a rear wheel he previously built had failed. It occurred to me one day that some skinny little weight weeny really has no clue about the magnitude of the problem because it’s so far off from his own point of reference. He may build a decent wheel but he’s never pounded the pavement at well over 300lbs, so he doesn’t appreciate the situation. He may mean well, but his good intentions mean nothing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Ask about a wheelset for a tandem and they’re all about the 36 or 40 butted spokes in a stout rim. Well, guess what? I’m a tandem on two legs. Drop the whole “lighter” or “aero” BS and build me something I can rely on — and I really don’t care that you think it’s overkill.

What’s the downside to overkill? Weight. Weight measured in grams. The difference is often less than the weight of ONE of my shoes. Okay, look at me, do I look like I care? Picture a middle linebacker on a bicycle. A guy whose frame of reference is 16 spoke carbon rims shod with 23’s probably won’t get it, no matter how great of a wheel builder he may be.

I just read through this and it’s more than a little rant-y and for that I apologize. Waste enough money on “should be plenty strong” failures and it gets frustrating. Peace.


-Kedosto
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Old 07-12-19, 04:53 AM
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Honestly, straight gauge x36 should be fine for road/gravel riding under 300lbs if built properly. Most wheel problems are caused by small mechanics making wheels for a rider in their image. This is why a lot of us build our own wheels. Double butted spokes are better, but a lot of people here go for the most expensive bombproof wheel after failures without trying a different builder.
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Old 07-12-19, 07:02 PM
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Heavily loaded bicycle

You will get a lot of opinions but like many above I'm for reliability and durability. Your bicycle is hauling groceries which is a very unforgiving load plus you on there pedaling the hole thing down the road. Try to make a list of all the rim brands, number and size of spokes on all the failed wheels and don't buy them again. When hauling dead weight loads you are going to need much stronger wheels than even us Clydes normally run. At minimum I would run 36 spokes. One can get 13/14 gauge spokes. But you have been breaking 14 gauge spokes at the rim so the next realistic size is 12 gauge spokes or more 14 gauge spokes as in 40 or 48 hole wheels. 12 gauge spokes are readily available from electric bicycle shops and will be much stronger than 14 gauge. Worksman Industrial bicycles use 10 gauge spokes. I have a Worksman Cycle Truck that carries the load in a front basket. The wheels have never groaned under even full grocery store runs. Some people would say this is way overkill and thumb their noses at the very idea but I love that bicycle for its everyday reliability and durability for hauling things. If you use 12 gauge spokes the hubs and rims will need to be drilled out a little to fit the bigger spokes. This is not a hard job to do. The rims really need to be strong as in Velocity Chukkars or the like. I see several rims listed in previous reply's as equivalent to the Chukkar. My experience is with the Chukkar. Take your pick. There may be a bicycle garage or co-op in your area that will teach you how to build your wheels. If you have the time that would be a lot of fun learning and your wheel build will be as good as any out there. Good luck
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Old 07-12-19, 08:03 PM
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Heavily loaded bicycle

You will get a lot of opinions but like many above I'm for reliability and durability. Your bicycle is hauling groceries which is a very unforgiving load plus you on there pedaling the hole thing down the road. Try to make a list of all the rim brands, number and size of spokes on all the failed wheels and don't buy them again. When hauling dead weight loads you are going to need much stronger wheels than even us Clydes normally run. At minimum I would run 36 spokes. One can get 13/14 gauge spokes. But you have been breaking 14 gauge spokes at the rim so the next realistic size is 12 gauge spokes or more 14 gauge spokes as in 40 or 48 hole wheels. 12 gauge spokes are readily available from electric bicycle shops and will be much stronger than 14 gauge. Worksman Industrial bicycles use 10 gauge spokes. I have a Worksman Cycle Truck that carries the load in a front basket. The wheels have never groaned under even full grocery store runs. Some people would say this is way overkill and thumb their noses at the very idea but I love that bicycle for its everyday reliability and durability for hauling things. If you use 12 gauge spokes the hubs and rims will need to be drilled out a little to fit the bigger spokes. This is not a hard job to do. The rims really need to be strong as in Velocity Chukkars or the like. I see several rims listed in previous reply's as equivalent to the Chukkar. My experience is with the Chukkar. Take your pick. There may be a bicycle garage or co-op in your area that will teach you how to build your wheels. If you have the time that would be a lot of fun learning and your wheel build will be as good as any out there. Good luck
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Old 07-13-19, 03:34 PM
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See my post.

https://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdal...vy-wheels.html
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Old 07-13-19, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tallbikeman View Post
Your bicycle is hauling groceries which is a very unforgiving load plus you on there pedaling the hole thing down the road........ When hauling dead weight loads you are going to need much stronger wheels than even us Clydes normally run.
This is a really important point. That dead weight is “unsprung” and so every gram of it hits your rear wheel for every bump, pothole and kerb. Those Dutch style bikes also generally put your body back over the rear wheel too. If that is your case, then that is murder on the rear wheel. You can “ride light” and move your body around put a big part of it will still be adding to that unsprung weight.

Most other styles of sporting bikes spread the weight between the wheels as it assists handling. Perhaps you should consider ways to distribute your load better, and for the sake of your wheels, using your bike as more of a cart when heavily laden and just walk and push it along. Fatter tyres and lower pressures should also help you out to cushion the hits and give the wheels some relief
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Old 07-13-19, 06:43 PM
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Turn your attention towards bike shops that deal with bike packing, I’m sure there’s lots of options in the US or one UK shop I’ve dealt with for some hard to find parts is SJS Cycles. Bike packing is all about building parts to cope with heavy unsprung weight and reliability to ride across the country.

Another place to look for parts is the e-MTB area. I know DT Swiss has their parts and wheelbuilds engineered to rate them to 150kg and that is for MTB use with all of their rough terrain, jumps, etc. I’m sure there’s other options out there too.

Also something you need to consider is that your bike may just not be suited to what you are doing with it, so you need to just change what you are doing, or look at a different bike to do the job
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Old 07-18-19, 04:51 PM
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Decades of spoke and rim problems ended for me when I found an expert wheel builder. Nothing super fancy. 36 spokes. 105 hubs. Mavic rims. ~$500. 1000s of trouble-free miles with only a rare truing. And they're lighter and faster than what I have on my touring, "adventure" and "dutch" bikes.
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Old 07-23-19, 12:28 PM
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It sounds like you've had a hard time finding a wheelbuilder familiar with heavily loaded wheels. The rear wheel of a Dutch-style bike carries about 60-65% of the static load with just a cyclist on board. It'll carry roughly 100% of any additional load on the rear rack. Compared to a racing bike, it's also much less likely that the rear wheel gets unloaded for bumps, potholes, and general road roughness.
Does your bike have a rear drum/roller brake? Those options put additional load on the spokes that your casual wheelbuilder might not consider.
On the other hand, your rear hub is most likely symmetric, which helps make a more durable wheel.
That said, it sounds like you need more durable wheels. I build a fair number of wheels for tandems, which see a similar level of abuse. There are some components that work really well: stiff rims, brass nipples, heavy-duty butted spokes. Proper tensioning and relieving is important, too. Which rear hub(s) have you been using? Which rims?
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Old 07-23-19, 01:46 PM
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What hub width?
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Old 07-26-19, 01:13 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by harshbarj View Post
... I never once broke a spoke, despite the bike itself weighing over 70kg and myself being much heavier than I am today.
70 kg X 2.2lbs/kg = 154 lbs
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