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issue with spokes My hybrid bike

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issue with spokes My hybrid bike

Old 10-03-22, 07:47 PM
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issue with spokes My hybrid bike

Hi all, first post.

I have been riding for about two years. I got into it for some exercise. I'm 42 yo 120 kg guy. Last year I bought a Roam 2 from Giant. Its a nice Hybrid. I mainly ride it along the M7 bike track in Sydney Australia. I normally ride three times a week. Two shorter 20 km rides, and a longer 60 km ride on the weekends.

Two weeks while riding I broke a few spokes while trying to power up a hill. I took it back to Giant where I bought it and the replaced 4 spokes. Yesterday after completing 40 km of one of my longer rides, while going up a hill, I hear a noise (twang) and stopped and looked at the wheel and found two more spokes snapped. I have spoken to Giant, and they are say i need to get a new wheel and the priced me from A$600 to A$2000. The bike only cost me $900 to start with.

My questions are,

1) is there a way for me to stop breaking spokes?

2) can i upgrade the spokes to a better material?

3) Do i upgrade the wheel or get a new bike?

4) If I need to upgrade my bike, do i sell it and buy a better bike?

5) If i need upgrade the wheel, what wheel do i need?

Thank you in advanced,
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Old 10-03-22, 08:07 PM
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Welcome to Bike Forums, and congrats on taking up cycling. Sounds like you have developed a nice fitness routine.

Assuming you like the bike overall (aside from the wheel), no need to buy a new bike. A $900 (Aus) bike doesn't come with great wheels, I'm afraid....and at 120kg, you're obviously pretty heavy for cheap stock wheels. Your solutions could include having the rear wheel re-tensioned and trued or perhaps rebuilt with better (e.g., double-butted and stronger) spokes, buying a new rear wheel, or buying a whole new wheelset (front and rear). A good bike shop will be able to give you advice and perform the work for you for less than A$600-A$2000.

You say that you got the bike from Giant...Did you buy it from a dealer? If so, they should work with you on fixing the wheel issue...If the bike is under a year old, they might even give you some credit (under warranty), but a good shop might even work with you financially if it's been over a year. (Again, assuming the shop sold you the bike.) Accent on the word "might."

If you somehow bought the bike direct from Giant, contact their CS and explain the problem - they might help. Otherwise find a good bike shop and explain the problem -- they'll know what to do.

Let us know what happens!
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Old 10-03-22, 08:20 PM
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For heavier riders, I recommend double wall rims. Better resistance to sag under load. Without double walls, sag leads to broken spokes, nipples, hubs and eventually the rims themselves.

You can buy a machine-built set of double-wall wheels (cheapest option) or have a wheelbuilder build a set to your specs (more expensive). I like the wheelbuilder option better, as someone who does this for a living has a much better working knowledge of what works, and is more likely to tension the wheel properly - a big factor in keeping the wheel healthy for years and years.
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Old 10-05-22, 03:56 PM
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As a member of the Eighth-Ton Club, I can understand the issues.

My take on it is "maintenance."

Spokes loosen, particularly on freshly-built wheels after the first few rides (sort of the way cables stretch.) Some wheels weren't "stress-tested" so the spokes were twisted like torsion bars, and when you sit on them are hit a few bumps they suddenly untwist a little ... and loose spokes are weak and either break, or cause other spokes to loosen, and once you get a broken spoke, it over-stresses the rest, and if some of them are not properly tensioned, you get a cascade effect ... one becomes two becomes five and suddenly you think you need a new wheel.

Get the wheel respoked and re-tensioned, and then make checking the spoke tension part of your weekly routine.

it is pretty easy to hold up tone end of the bike and spin the wheel while looking down over it---you should see minimal (few millimeters) side-to-side motion and it should never change from week to week. If the wheel looks like it is waving more than usual, you need to tighten some spokes, likely. It is easier still to do a tap test---Ping each spoke like you were playing a guitar---you can use a fingernail or a tool to tap each spoke and listen to the sound. None should be really high or low compared to the others---but whatever. Mostly listen to each spoke, and if your bike works and the sounds don't change, you are okay.

You can buy a spoke wrench for not a lot of money---some come in multiple sizes, some are single-sized. As the shop what gauge nipples your spokes use. I am a lousy wheel-builder but I can keep a mostly straight and round wheel pretty straight and round by just a little judicious tightening. The key is to stay on top of it. Generally, once your wheel is right and sort of takes a set, you won't need to worry about it for quite a while---just check it a couple times a week before riding.

I generally do a little safety check before any ride---I bounce each end of the bike and listen for rattles, lift the front and shake the headset, try to wiggle to cranks, a test the brakes, squeeze the tires, and spin the wheels. Takes 30 seconds but has on occasion saved my from going out with a problem which might have left me walking.
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Old 10-05-22, 04:56 PM
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This is a common issue for folks in the 250lbs range. I am 235 and cannot expect factory wheels to last more than a season. I worked in bike shops for 40 years and have seen this over and over again. The only real long term solution is to have a wheel built with high quality name brand hub, rim and spokes. It ain't cheap, but does result in a wheel that will go the distance. Please do yourself a favor and bite the bullet now on a quality custom built wheel.
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Old 10-05-22, 05:44 PM
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Once a wheel starts breaking spokes it's better to replace them all, if you're keeping that wheel. Try to find a good wheel builder. Just because someone builds wheels at a shop doesn't mean they know what they are doing.
The rim and hub you have may be ok if a good builder assembles the wheel. I've broken lots of rims and spokes and I'm happy if I can get 10K trouble free miles from a rear wheel on my road bike.
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Old 10-06-22, 05:02 PM
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What Big John said, with an emphasis on the "good wheel builder." I'm not in your weight neighborhood, but my 30 year old loaded tourer is still on the original wheels. Many of its miles have been on trails and dirt roads and carrying a load.
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Old 10-07-22, 09:49 AM
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I'd just pursue any warranty you might have and see about getting the wheel replaced under that. Even if it's the same model wheel. After all your warranty period is over then you can explore getting stuff on your own dollar. If their wheel person at that shop doesn't impress you, then find another shop that can do Giant warranty work if that's still applicable and see if their wheel person is any better.

Rear wheel? 28 spoke count? While that might be too little for some, I see no issues with that. Sure more spokes might be better if you do consider a different wheel. But for your issue I think the key thing is to just make certain a good wheel person goes over your wheels regularly and checks them. Maybe eve twice a year since you are continually having issues. It's usually very inexpensive here to have wheels gone over and spoke tensions checked.

Perhaps you weren't or still aren't checking your spokes regularly yourself. You really should be doing that if you are having such issues. I'll just pinch a pair and see how much they give and move to the next pair giving more individual attention if one seems amiss. How often? Anytime you are cleaning on your bike might be a good time. But if you are having problems, it should be often. You decide.

Even with a brand new and most expensive wheel you can buy, you still need to check the spokes regularly until the wheel has proven itself to you. And whether or not it was showing you issues, I'd still have it looked at by a wheel person after the first 200-300 miles.

Last edited by Iride01; 10-07-22 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 10-07-22, 06:02 PM
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Dadbodrider, having the wheel replaced under warranty is a stop-gap measure as it will have the same issues as the original wheel since it is built from the same components.

A few things for you to chew on may help. OEM wheels of mid-grade bikes are good enough for most folks, however for us clydesdale riders, they have limited reliability. My experience in the shop as well as personally is that restringing the wheel with new spokes and tensioning them to the manufacturer specs for the rim and spokes is likely to produce limited satisfaction. You will hear from those who have restrung an existing wheel and had a happy outcome, but you are hearing from me that it ain't my experience on my own bikes as well with customer's bikes. Us heavier guys don't get no breaks.
There is one caveat, however, and it has to do with the quality of the hub and rim. If the hub is of excellent quality such as Shimano Ultegra, Campagnolo, DT Swiss, etc. then the results I have experienced are very good, and it is due to the hub. The holes in the hub are tighter to the spokes and cradle the spokes with more support. Lower quality hubs tend to have spoke holes that are looser fitting to the spokes, and don't cradle the spokes as tightly. The hole also has reliefs and these make a difference as well. Thickness of the flange is one more factor in the equation.
This difference results in less movement of the spoke when under stress and it is spoke movement that causes fatigue and failure. From what i know about Giant rims, they are robust and made with a lot of material. The shop I worked in is a Giant dealer and I have a fairly good feel for them, and can be plenty stiff laterally.
Again, a real solution is to build a rear wheel from good quality hub, rim, spoke. Reuse the old stuff if you must, but don't expect long term service life from it as the problem will repeat itself.
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Old 10-07-22, 07:50 PM
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I am assuming that you are only having trouble with the rear wheel. I say this because back around 1980, when I was a young fellow of about 25, I started riding a couple hundred miles a week year round. At that time I was right around 105kg.

I was getting maybe a couple of months out of a rear wheel. The failure was always due to metal fatigue of the spokes. I was running a 28mm tire in back. I ran a 19 in front and the front wheel only failed once when I crashed into something immobile; my riding buddy when he fell in front of me.

The guy at the shop I patronized suggested that the main issue was that I was pedaling too slow. I increased my cadence to never go below 80 RPM, and wheels started lasting longer. But I still broke spokes. So he built me a 40 spoke gem that lasted for about 50,000 miles. In 1982, that wheel was state of the art.

I now hit the scales at about 110 kg and I only ride about 100-150 miles a week. Additionally, the road bike only comes out in the spring and goes away when it gets below freezing, so maybe I ride it 3000 to 4000 miles a year. Most of those miles are on Light Bicycle 24 spoke 46mm deep carbon rims laced to Carbon Ti hubs. They are two seasons old with no perceptible run-out.

If your cadence is well below 80, try spinning faster, maybe 80-90. That may help some. If you really want to never see a broken spoke again you are also going to have to get some better wheels. I have Spinergy PBO spoke wheels on the tandem, and while we have broken a rim by hitting a rock on a gravel farm trail, we have not broken a spoke on the tandem. With all our gear we tap out at around 200 kg.

My commute to work is only about 25 miles a week, and I commute on a gravel bike that has 40 mm tires and Roval Terra CL wheels. Yes, they are carbon. Yes, they cost about double what your bike cost. They were the most expensive part of the bike. But they are rated for up to 125 kg. I have found that carbon rim wheels require less maintenance than aluminum. It took me a while to come over to the dark side, but I will probably only buy carbon wheels going forward.

Do follow the suggestion to check your spoke tension and keep them tight, but not too tight. I run tubeless at a lower pressure than I would if I had tubes. I believe that helps some as well. But you also should get some good wheels and spin faster.
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Old 10-07-22, 10:32 PM
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lesson learned is don't go back to that shop, if 4 spokes are broken just replace the wheel and don't try to sell a fancy race wheel when the fat guy (no offense, im heavier) is complaining about broken spokes... they are ripping you off man. Broken spokes suck but its part of being heavy, also the wheel was probably cheap and tensioned improperly in the first place if failed so quickly after one spoke went.
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Old 10-07-22, 10:55 PM
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The advice you get is going to be “get better rims”. The problem with that advice is it addresses the wrong problem. The rims aren’t the part that are breaking. The spokes are so address that problem. You need to rebuild your wheels with not double butted spokes but triple butted spokes. There are a few different versions around but my favorite is DT Swiss Alpine III. 2.3mm at the head, 1.8mm in the middle, and 2.0mm at the thread. The increased diameter of the head increases strength by a bit over 50%. It’s the equivalent of adding 4 to 6 spokes to the wheel. This article does a pretty good job of explaining why it’s a good idea to use them for us heavier riders.
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