Getting the better of broken spokes

Getting the better of broken spokes

On the way home from my recce ride yesterday something awful happened.

I rode down a flight of steps. It’s a flight of steps I’ve ridden down loads of time before with no ill effects. Not this time. No, this time there was an awful noise from the back wheel. A nasty, nasty noise told me that something was amiss.

I stopped and looked at the offending wheel. It was pretty clear I’d sheared off a spoke at the nipple. No bother really. It’s irksome but nothing more than that, so I carried on riding. As I carried on I realised that the back wheel was all over the show.

I stopped and looked down. The sight that confronted me was downright upsetting. I hadn’t snapped a spoke, I’d snapped four. A quick bit of mental arithmetic told me I was missing one eighth of my total spoke count at the back. That’s a real loss of structural integrity.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more nervous ride (with the possible exception of my old daily commute and the odd rocky descent in Scotland) as I expected my back wheel to fall apart at any moment. Fortunately, I made it home in one piece.

Riding home with broken spokes was just the start of my bother.

No, repairing it would be the real pain in the backside. As you’ll remember from a similar situation last week. I really love re-seating tubeless tyres.

So, with a handful of new nipples in hand I set about it this morning. It turns out that the original broken spoke count was wrong: I actually had five spokes sheared off. Oh well.

Having got through that, and chased a dropped nipple round the inside of the rim, everything went smoothly. In fact….[goes to check]…it’s still up.



Posted by BackPedalling Andy in kit, Rides, 0 comments
Wear and tearing my hair out.

Wear and tearing my hair out.

If you ride a mountain bike for long enough, there are two certainties:

  1. You will get muddy
  2. Parts of the bike will wear out

Mud is part and parcel of the fun. If I’m honest, it’s part of the attraction. Riding in the mud is a lot of fun and there’s something about coming home covered in mud that puts me in touch with the child in me.

QE Park mud covered

QE Park mud covered

I’m fine with mud (but don’t quote me on that in February)

Wear and tear is another matter entirely

Things wearing out means that the bike spends more time on a workstand and less time out on the trails.

Some mountain bikers are tinkerers and fettlers. Some people really enjoy “optimising” their bike with new bits and pieces. I’m not one of them: repairs are a necessary evil that cuts down my riding time. I’ve got better at fixing things because it means I can spend more time riding. Simple.

So the inevitability of things wearing out is something I could live without. The problem is that, seen over a long enough time frame, everything on the bike is consumable. Chains & brake pads: easy fix and not really a problem. Cables: fair enough. Rear cassettes: OK, I suppose. Even chainrings: eventually, and it’s not that much of a faff.

There is, however, one piece of breakage that really does my nut in. And that is spokes.

Why so bad?

In the old days, a broken spoke was an embuggerance but nothing more. You whip off the tyre, lift out the tube and stick a new one in. No biggie.

However, I run my wheels with the new-fangled tubeless setup. It means exactly what it says: there are no inner tubes. The tyre fits on the rim like a car tyre and is held tight with latex sealant. There are some really good reasons for tubeless: it virtually eliminates pinch-flats (where the rim hits the ground and pinches the inner tube), it virtually eliminates punctures too and you can run tyres at lower pressures for more grip. Everyone’s a winner.

The downside is that fitting them and setting them up can be a bit of a pain. There are a whole lot of potential leaky spots to be eliminated. That latex can go anywhere if you’re not careful.

So once they’re on and up I tend to leave them alone as much as possible. Changing them for winter ones in October and back again in about March is about all I can stand.

Which is why I hate snapped spokes.

That means taking the whole careful set up completely to pieces and beginning again from scratch.

Why tearing your hair out?

I went out for a ride on Monday. At one point I hit a lip slightly wrong. At another I put too much side load through the rear wheel. Result: one snapped spoke on each wheel.

That translates to taking both wheels apart before I can go out and ride again.

That’ll be fun.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments