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Question about spokes

Old 09-05-22, 03:27 PM
  #1  
skinz0506
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Question about spokes

I have never rebuilt a wheel before. I purchased a Trek 7000 that was a secondary bike to the one I went to purchase. My guess was the seller wanted it out of his garage. It cost $10. The sellers said it had a bent wheel. The reason it had a bent rim was 4 spokes were broken. So, I purchased the bike thinking I could find a used wheel. I took it to the LBS and the mechanic said he would not replace the broken spokes. I said so no problem, "How much is it for the same wheel?" He could not find the original wheel but a differnt new wheel was $80. I truly wanted it to be the same wheel as the back. He suggested purchasing one used or rebuilt it myself. While there were not any used in the area or from my search online, I decided to rebuild the wheel. It would be a learning experience. The original wheel is a Matrix 550. The spokes are 14g and 295mm long. I know nothing about spokes and looking for help purchasing the fore mentioned size spokes.Something not to expensive but quality. Do any of you know of brands that would fit the above and places where they can be purchased? I am having problems uploading pictures of the 7000, sorry. Thank you in advance for any information.
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Old 09-05-22, 03:53 PM
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I had that same bike years ago, a 1992 Trek 7000. Once you get it road worthy, you will like riding it. As long as the new wheel is the correct size (26", ISO 559) matching the other one's appearance shouldn't be important on a $10 bike.

Anyway, before you try to rebuild the old wheel be sure the rim isn't actually bent.. If it is replacing the broken spokes will be exercise in futility as you won't be able get it both true and evenly tensioned. I expect the reason your shop's mechanic refused to just replace the spokes was he concluded the rim itself was really bent.

If the only problem is truly broken spokes, look for DT, Saipem or Wheelsmith brand spokes in the correct length. There are several on-line shops that sell spokes or your LBS may have them or can cut and thread a few to the right length.
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Old 09-05-22, 03:54 PM
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Spoke specifications are very simple and limited to three main ones: length, gauge, material, plus type, ie. double butted or straight gauge.

Assuming you removed and measured one spoke from the INSIDE OF THE ELBOW to the end you have two specs already, the length and gauge. The material is simple for you, in that anyone doing the labor should invest in stainless steel spokes. You also have a choice of plane gauge or double butted. I'm a big fan of butted spokes but they are pricier, though they build a more resilient wheel. Your call.

As to brand, the major brands are of comparable quality so I would seek out a reputable source and go ahead and place the order.

One last suggestion, look at wheel and no how far down from the top of the nipples the spokes end. Ideally they should end about 1 mm shy of the top. Compare this to your wheel and you'll know whether you may want to increase or decrease the length from your measured spoke. Also note that rear wheels generally you spokes of two lengths about a millimeter or two apart. So if this is a rear measure spokes from both sides.

Last edited by FBinNY; 09-05-22 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I had that same bike years ago, a 1992 Trek 7000. Once you get it road worthy, you will like riding it. As long as the new wheel is the correct size (26", ISO 559) matching the other one's appearance shouldn't be important on a $10 bike.

Anyway, before you try to rebuild the old wheel be sure the rim isn't actually bent.. If it is replacing the broken spokes will be exercise in futility as you won't be able get it both true and evenly tensioned. I expect the reason your shop's mechanic refused to just replace the spokes was he concluded the rim itself was really bent.

If the only problem is truly broken spokes, look for DT, Saipem or Wheelsmith brand spokes in the correct length. There are several on-line shops that sell spokes or your LBS may have them or can cut and thread a few to the right length.
The mechanic stated that he could replace the broken spokes only to have them (or others) break within a few months. From reading other google posts, others recommended the same as the LBS mechanic (more than 4 spokes replace the wheel). The mechanic looked and stated I could rebuild it myself. I am guessing he felt it was not damaged that bad. I am gifting the bike to someone I know. I will ride it before I give it away. Thank you for the information.

Last edited by skinz0506; 09-05-22 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:37 PM
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Understanding wheel spoke failures may help here. If you break one spoke, maybe two, due to a specific event like a crash, itís easy enough to replace them if the rim isnít damaged. Itís not common to break more than one or two spokes before the rim is damaged enough that a replacement costs less than the labor to repair it.

On the other hand, if spokes are breaking due to fatigue, thatís a warning the wheel wasnít built right and though you canít see it, every other spoke in the wheel is getting ready to break as well. Iím this case you could replace the 4 broken ones, but no matter what you do another 4, maybe more, will be broken in 500 to 1000 miles. This will keep repeating, at best, until all of the spokes have been replaced. The mechanic knows that if he replaces one or two, but they keep breaking like this, that the customer will constantly be returning with newly broken spokes and the labor cost will quickly pass that of a new wheel. I had a friend in college not believe me about this. He ended up replacing something like 15 or 20 spokes in a ?28? spoke wheel over a couple months in the summer before he finally just got a new wheel.

In that case you can probably reuse the hub and rim, but should replace all of the spokes if you want to guarantee long term durability. Youíll want to make sure they are oriented the same way in the hub, and relative to each other. Thereís plenty more to proper wheel building elsewhere on this site.

If you want to go this route, or any other that involves replacing spokes, I would remove a good spoke and have the shop measure it to confirm the length. Nothing worse than ordering a batch of spokes and not being able to use or return them.

Last edited by jccaclimber; 09-05-22 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Spoke specifications are very simple and limited to three main ones: length, gauge, material, plus type, ie. double butted or straight gauge.

Assuming you removed and measured one spoke from the INSIDE OF THE ELBOW to the end you have two specs already, the length and gauge. The material is simple for you, in that anyone doing the labor should invest in stainless steel spokes. You also have a choice of plane gauge or double butted. I'm a big fan of butted spokes but they are pricier, though they build a more resilient wheel. Your call.

As to brand, the major brands are of comparable quality so I would seek out a reputable source and go ahead and place the order.

One last suggestion, look at wheel and no how far down from the top of the nipples the spokes end. Ideally they should end about 1 mm shy of the top. Compare this to your wheel and you'll know whether you may want to increase or decrease the length from your measured spoke. Also note that rear wheels generally you spokes of two lengths about a millimeter or two apart. So if this is a rear measure spokes from both sides.
I purchased a spoke ruler from Park ($11). I measured a good spoke, remeasured again, and remeasured. Old school measure twice cut once. This time measured 3x's. I should have mentioned that this is a front wheel. I have trued wheels decades ago. So I feel, I got this. I just semi-retired for the second time. Last place of employment was as a middle school math remediation teacher. Loved that job. I always told my students my objective everyday, was to learn something new. That should also be their objective. This is my something new. Thank you for the information.

Last edited by skinz0506; 09-05-22 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:46 PM
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Are the broken spokes all in one area as if they were taken out with a stick?
OR
A random distribution, possibly all one one side, likely the NDS (left)?
IF the latter, that would suggest fatigue breakage and replacing all the spokes would be the prudent move. The rest of the spokes are on their way out.
Get new brass nipples too. Trying to use old corroded nipples is a total pain vs new.
They give an inconsistent "feel" when trying to tension up a wheel. If you are inexperienced, it makes the job exceedingly more difficult to learn.

Since you will be dealing with a used rim, I'd probably shop by price for spokes, assuming it's a rim brake bike with some wear on the brake track.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jccaclimber View Post
Understanding wheel spoke failures may help here. If you break one spoke, maybe two, due to a specific event like a crash, it’s easy enough to replace them if the rim isn’t damaged. It’s not common to break more than one or two spokes before the rim is damaged enough that a replacement costs less than the labor to repair it.

On the other hand, if spokes are breaking due to fatigue, that’s a warning the wheel wasn’t built right and though you can’t see it, every other spoke in the wheel is getting ready to break as well. I’m this case you could replace the 4 broken ones, but no matter what you do another 4, maybe more, will be broken in 500 to 1000 miles. This will keep repeating, at best, until all of the spokes have been replaced. The mechanic knows that if he replaces one or two, but they keep breaking like this, that the customer will constantly be returning with newly broken spokes and the labor cost will quickly pass that of a new wheel. I had a friend in college not believe me about this. He ended up replacing something like 15 or 20 spokes in a ?28? spoke wheel over a couple months in the summer before he finally just got a new wheel.

In that case you can probably reuse the hub and rim, but should replace all of the spokes if you want to guarantee long term durability. You’ll want to make sure they are oriented the same way in the hub, and relative to each other. There’s plenty more to proper wheel building elsewhere on this site.

If you want to go this route, or any other that involves replacing spokes, I would remove a good spoke and have the shop measure it to confirm the length. Nothing worse than ordering a batch of spokes and not being able to use or return them.
I plan on replacing one spoke at a time. This way I know where each specific spoke was positioned. The LBS mechanic was very helpful. They are 5 minutes from my home. It will be worth the ride. Thanks for the input.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Are the broken spokes all in one area as if they were taken out with a stick?
OR
A random distribution, possibly all one one side, likely the NDS (left)?
IF the latter, that would suggest fatigue breakage and replacing all the spokes would be the prudent move. The rest of the spokes are on their way out.
Get new brass nipples too. Trying to use old corroded nipples is a total pain vs new.
They give an inconsistent "feel" when trying to tension up a wheel. If you are inexperienced, it makes the job exceedingly more difficult to learn.

Since you will be dealing with a used rim, I'd probably shop by price for spokes, assuming it's a rim brake bike with some wear on the brake track.
All spokes broke in one area. Both spokes and nipples will be new. Thank you.
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Old 09-05-22, 06:24 PM
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Iíd probably replace the whole wheel. If you have a bike co-op in your area, this will be super easy and cheap.

If you insist on keeping the wheel, take all the tension off the remaining spokes and confirm the wheel is straight (enough) before doing anything else.

Any bland straight gauge spoke of the proper length will work great.
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Old 09-05-22, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by skinz0506 View Post
All spokes broke in one area. Both spokes and nipples will be new. Thank you.
That could have been an accident, where I'd just replace the 4. IF you break another, order the rest.
I'd closely examine the rim in that area.
You can use an adjustable wrench as a gauge to check width consistency.
Run it around the rim to find loose/tight spots (damage).
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Old 09-05-22, 07:43 PM
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Regarding spoke length. On a rear wheel the DS and NDS are not necessarily the same length due to hub flanges and wheel dish.
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Old 09-06-22, 05:16 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
Regarding spoke length. On a rear wheel the DS and NDS are not necessarily the same length due to hub flanges and wheel dish.
OP said the wheel in question is a front wheel.

However, if bike in question has disc brakes the OP may still need to measure a spoke from both sides. While rim brake front wheels are generally symmetric, the same often is not true for disc brake front wheels due to the disc mount boss causing one spoke flange to be offset inwards. It's not as pronounced as it is for rear wheels, but it could possibly be an issue.

Disclaimer: my bikes don't have disc brakes, so I have zero personal experience here.
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Old 09-10-22, 11:17 PM
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"that’s a warning the wheel wasn’t built right"

Yes and no. Most "average" bikes come with OEM wheels that are machine built with parts "just good enough." With today's ubiquitous disc brakes, many shops don't even bother to touch up the wheels, as a bit of wobble won't be rubbing any brake pads. Probably won't even notice it. Additionally, since no bike shop takes tires off their sub $8,000 bikes and radially trues and even out the spoke tensions, pretty much every bicycle wheel on the bike shop sales floor has wheels that will suffer this same mode of spoke failure in the future. This is simply the reality of the bicycle business.

It would be better to say, "This is an example of how non-hand-built wheels by an experienced builder fail prematurely."
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