A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Arlberg
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A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby Arlberg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:57 pm

Hi, just wondering if it's normal for a road wheel (a Pro Lite Bracciano A27) to go completely out of true when a single spoke breaks? I broke a single spoke on my rear wheel and the wheel went so far out of true (like 2-3 cm) that it jammed hard up against the chain stay making the bike totally unrideable. Very inconvenient when your a long way from home! (I have had broken spokes in the past on other wheels, as I have my cycling mates, and I/they have been able to ride home quite OK with a bit of wheel wobble and by loosening the brake calipers).

Anyway I have had the wheel repaired (the shop just replaced the broken spoke) but I'm worried now that if another spoke goes then the same thing will happen again.

Why is it that this wheel went so far out out of true whereas other wheels just get a bit of a wobble, and what can I do about it?

uart
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby uart » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:27 pm

Arlberg wrote:Hi, just wondering if it's normal for a road wheel (a Pro Lite Bracciano A27) to go completely out of true when a single spoke breaks?


How many spokes on that rear wheel Arlberg?

I can't say for certain that I know all of the reasons, but yes this is something that I've noticed too. For some reason different wheels have different tendencies to go out of true with a single broken spoke. Some by just a few mm, others by a few cm.

From my observations it seems to be related to three main things.

1. The inherent strength and rigidity of the rim itself. All rims of course rely on the spokes for their real strength, but some rims more so than others. Some rims themselves are inherently stronger and more rigid than others.

2.
The spoke count. Wheels with fewer spokes may be more affected.

3.
The spoke tension. This is quite an important one, as when you lose a spoke there is nothing to balance the tension from the opposing spokes. The higher the spoke tension then the greater the imbalance when one breaks.

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MelodyWheels
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby MelodyWheels » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:45 pm

I agree with pretty much everything uart has said.

The rims ability to resist lateral deformation is a combination of the number of spokes and the inherent strength of the rim... tension... yes not maybe... except lower spoke count wheels tend to run higher tensions. Wider and taller rims are better at resisting torsional stresses after a spoke brake from their internal rigidity. The wall thickness or the rim and manufacturing material also are important. At an extreme level I have seen a front wheel (with 16 spokes) not only lock up in the frame but crack at the rim join, after breaking a spoke. It broke near the rim join/sleave, and this sudden loss of spoke tension caused rim to crack open like a tin can at the join.

One important factor not mentioned however is tyre size and frame clearance. As riders have moved to wider tyres and rims, it doesn't tale much for a wheel to lock up in the frame. Frame clearances of 5mm are very common on road bikes.

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ColinOldnCranky
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:50 pm

On those old fashioned wheels with spokes crossing others on the same side and a set on both the left and the right side then, yes, it is to be expected.

A bit of a physicts explanation:

Those wheels store energy in the form of tension in the spokes. To move the wheel out of true it needs an input of energy from outside (say, running over it with a car). But because it normally does not get that energy it stay in that tensioned state.

However, if one spoke let's go, then the energy can be released without any input of extra and will take the shape that stores the least energy, much like a ball will roll until it finds the lowest point (ie least Potential Energy).

That shape with the least stored energy is part way to a sort of three dimensional figure eight.
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Arlberg
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby Arlberg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:59 pm

Thanks for the advice, the wheel (it was the rear) has 24 spokes.

Here's a link:

http://www.pro-lite.net/road-wheels/bracciano-a27

Would getting the wheel re-tensioned help stop this from happening again? I'm off to Europe next week and if it happens again over there it's gonna be extremely not good.There must be a helluva lot of strain on that one replaced spoke that pulled the wheel back to true now...

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ColinOldnCranky
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:34 pm

No. The laws of physics make no concessions to riders.

The more highly tensioned the wheel and the thinner the rim the worse the problem. And these modern wheels with no crossing in the lacing pattern (as per yours) will be tensioned very highly indeed.

It is one of the few repairs that is hard to do on the road - you need a spoke and you need a truing stand. And a great deal of patience. If you lose a spoke again then you will have the same problem very shortly after the break. My best advice is to have in your kit some non-cleat shoes that you can walk in and a fully charged mobile phone. Or chant a few hail marys. And maybe carry one spare spoke to Europe taped to the down tube somewhere.

If the repairer did a slack job and the spokes are not evenly tensioned then I would think that that would have manifested itself already in some degree of distortion but in the circumstances it would be wise to have the bike given a full service anyway, mentioning the previous spoke replacement.

Odds are it will be a long time before you break another. If you get another one soon then you need to find out why as broken spokes should be extremely rare.
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queequeg
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby queequeg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:59 pm

Arlberg wrote:Hi, just wondering if it's normal for a road wheel (a Pro Lite Bracciano A27) to go completely out of true when a single spoke breaks? I broke a single spoke on my rear wheel and the wheel went so far out of true (like 2-3 cm) that it jammed hard up against the chain stay making the bike totally unrideable. Very inconvenient when your a long way from home! (I have had broken spokes in the past on other wheels, as I have my cycling mates, and I/they have been able to ride home quite OK with a bit of wheel wobble and by loosening the brake calipers).

Anyway I have had the wheel repaired (the shop just replaced the broken spoke) but I'm worried now that if another spoke goes then the same thing will happen again.

Why is it that this wheel went so far out out of true whereas other wheels just get a bit of a wobble, and what can I do about it?


Yep, it can happen. I lost one spoke while doing the Alpine Ultimate 320km ride. I was 200km into the ride, and nearing Back of Falls when I heard a "ping", and the wheel immediately jammed against the chainstay. 24 spoke rear wheel, one spoke completely gone = very wonky wheel. What was worse, it was a drive side spoke. I tired to compensate for the broken spoke, but the spoke wrench on my multitool was only a two sided one, and it was slightly too big. Combined with the alloy nipples, I couldn't adjust the tension without rounding off the nipples. So, I had to hitch a lift back to the previous checkpoint and call for a rescue. Ruined my whole day.

I got the wheel repaired under warranty, because spokes really shouldn't just break after a couple of months use, but by the same token, riding a long ride like that and not being able to repair on the fly is a massive issue. Solution: I built myself a new wheelset with 32 spokes on the rear. The first effect is that losing a spoke should now only result in a wonky, but still usable wheel. Secondly, I used brass nipples that won't round off, and thirdly, I added a correctly sized spoke wrench to my toolkit.
There is also an emergency kit you can get that has a kevlar cord to use as a replacement spoke to get you home. I wish I had one in my toolkit at the time!
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queequeg
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby queequeg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:01 pm

Arlberg wrote:Thanks for the advice, the wheel (it was the rear) has 24 spokes.

Here's a link:

http://www.pro-lite.net/road-wheels/bracciano-a27

Would getting the wheel re-tensioned help stop this from happening again? I'm off to Europe next week and if it happens again over there it's gonna be extremely not good.There must be a helluva lot of strain on that one replaced spoke that pulled the wheel back to true now...


Take spare spokes and nipples with you
'11 Lynskey Cooper CX, '00 Hillbrick Steel Racing (Total Rebuild '10), '15 Cervelo S5

uart
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby uart » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:14 pm

queequeg wrote:Take spare spokes and nipples with you

Yep this. But depending on the design of the rear wheel, you may not be able to replace a drive side spoke without also having tools to remove the cassette. So unfortunately it can be a hassle to do on the road.

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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby uart » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:25 pm

Arlberg wrote:Would getting the wheel re-tensioned help stop this from happening again?

I'm not sure, it really depends on what is the minimum acceptable spoke tension for those wheels.

MelodyWheels would know a lot more about this than me, but this is something that I test when building a wheel. I'm just a "hack" self taught - build the occasional wheel - type of guy. No fancy tools or even spoke tension meter. I do it all just by "feel", pinging spokes with my finger and comparing the sound etc.

But yeah, one thing that I like to do when building a wheel is to test the effect of the loss of a single spoke. So just at the point where I'm almost finished, spoke tension is where I want it and it's just about ready for the final "fine tune" truing, I start backing one spoke right off and test the effect. If it's too bad then I will consider if I can get away with a little less spoke tension all around (which alleviates the problem, but may make the wheel less rigid and not as strong).

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queequeg
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby queequeg » Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:30 pm

uart wrote:
queequeg wrote:Take spare spokes and nipples with you

Yep this. But depending on the design of the rear wheel, you may not be able to replace a drive side spoke without also having tools to remove the cassette. So unfortunately it can be a hassle to do on the road.


It's more that if you find yourself at a little bike shop in France, and they don't have the right length or type of spoke/nipple, you are up the creek. If you have the parts, at least you can get it fixed quickly.
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby ironhanglider » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:55 am

Hi Arlberg,

Spokes typically break due to fatigue. whilst it could be a one off, if one spoke has broken there is a good chance that others will have fatigued to the point where they are about to break too.

In this case why would you take the chance of dampening the experience of a holiday which presumably cost $$$$? You can't get that back again. Spend some money on a new wheel and get peace of mind, and then at least you'll have a spare wheel when you need it when you come home. There are lots of new wheels around that will do the job just as well for not a lot of money. Heck even the wheel that came on my Aldi bike lasted for 2,000km before the first spoke broke and that was provided by the lowest bidder, a better wheel would give you more confidence for an untroubled trip.

The existing wheel might be ok as is, but I'd be inclined to re-lace it with new spokes. You can roll the dice and use it until the next spoke breaks and do it then. It may be a short time or a long time. A spare wheel is very handy to have.


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madmacca
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby madmacca » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:11 am

uart wrote:
queequeg wrote:Take spare spokes and nipples with you

Yep this. But depending on the design of the rear wheel, you may not be able to replace a drive side spoke without also having tools to remove the cassette. So unfortunately it can be a hassle to do on the road.


After reading of Queequeg's experience on these forums, I now carry a FiberFix emergency spoke (basically a length of cord with a tensioning key) - will get home without removing the cassette, or fiddling with nipples.

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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby uart » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:49 am

madmacca wrote:After reading of Queequeg's experience on these forums, I now carry a FiberFix emergency spoke (basically a length of cord with a tensioning key) - will get home without removing the cassette, or fiddling with nipples.


Yeah I've seen those, they look interesting. One thing I was wondering though, how exactly does it solve the rear drive side replacement issue. Do you just thread it through from the inside of the flange and then try to fish it out (like with a stick or something) from the narrow gap between the flange and the cluster?

The other issue of course is that although 95% of the time a spoke will break right at the flange (so you can easily get the old spoke out of the hole), if the spoke does break anywhere else then you may not be able to get the old spoke out without removing the cluster.

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queequeg
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby queequeg » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:55 am

uart wrote:
madmacca wrote:After reading of Queequeg's experience on these forums, I now carry a FiberFix emergency spoke (basically a length of cord with a tensioning key) - will get home without removing the cassette, or fiddling with nipples.


Yeah I've seen those, they look interesting. One thing I was wondering though, how exactly does it solve the rear drive side replacement issue. Do you just thread it through from the inside of the flange and then try to fish it out (like with a stick or something) from the narrow gap between the flange and the cluster?

The other issue of course is that although 95% of the time a spoke will break right at the flange (so you can easily get the old spoke out of the hole), if the spoke does break anywhere else then you may not be able to get the old spoke out without removing the cluster.


The instructions are on the link I posted up a bit earlier, but if you can't get the old spoke out, you simply wrap the FiberFix around the spoke on the opposite side of the flange to the broken one, tie off the broken spoke as best you can, and do the same process.
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Thoglette
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby Thoglette » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:12 pm

ironhanglider wrote:Spokes typically break due to fatigue. whilst it could be a one off, if one spoke has broken there is a good chance that others will have fatigued to the point where they are about to break too.

+1 A machine made, 24 spoke rear wheel is likely to fail early. Yours are supposed to be hand made so they shouldn't have the early failures typical of MM wheels.

Just buy another set - they're inexpensive compared to the cost of your holiday. Or get a builder to respoke that wheel.
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uart
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby uart » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:54 pm

I've got one really old wheelset here that I built in about 1990. Old Shimano 600 high flange hubs and a big dinner plate 6/7 speed cluster.

With the high flange hubs and wide spaced gears, you can simply poke a new spoke right through the cutaway gaps that the larger cogs have! It was a great set up for touring or anywhere that you were a long way from a bike shop etc.

I used to just tape a few spares to a seat stay, and could literally pop in a new spoke and be back underway in a matter of minutes. One limitation was the you could only poke them through from the outside (so the spoke head had to be on the outside of the flange whether or not it was supposed to go that way around), but that was never a problem for a "get you home" fix. :)

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Thoglette
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby Thoglette » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:16 pm

For those touring with freehubs (rather than freewheels) the Stein mini cassette tool is pretty neat (and pretty light). Haven't had to use mine in anger (yet).Mine's an older version but it looks a bit like this. You still need to have a spoke, nipple and spoke wrench.
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human909
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby human909 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:13 pm

FiberFix Emergency Spoke Replacement

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jillybean
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby jillybean » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:24 am

Did the spoke break, or did the nipple? I replaced all the nipples on my bracciano wheels with brass. I live in a coastal area and discovered that the nipples had corroded very quickly to the point where just putting a spoke key on them caused many to have pieces break away.
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Re: A single broken spoke put my wheel so far out of true the bike was unrideable.

Postby antigee » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:23 pm

human909 wrote:FiberFix Emergency Spoke Replacement


have one of these and pop in pannier when touring....got it after one of mrs antigee's companions broke a spoke on a multiday ride and i was summoned to take to a bike shop

not used it and guess my question is if the rim goes so far out of true that bike can't be ridden would the fiberfix survive trying to true the wheel?

I view it more as "i've broken one spoke and this will hopefully stop a 2nd and buy me some time" ?

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