Author Topic: Bike Wheel Issues  (Read 4055 times)

Ichabod

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Bike Wheel Issues
« on: July 13, 2015, 09:34:23 PM »
I bought an early '90s Giant Perigee off Craigslist last month. Today on my commute home, I hit a pothole a block from home, breaking a spoke and bending the wheel. I took it to the shop, and he said he could fix the wheel for $20 and the cost of the spoke, but he said it appeared the wheel had had several spokes replaced already and that I should consider replacing the wheel altogether, which he said would cost around $80. If he had been able to fix the wheel on the spot, I would've had him do it, but he didn't have time until Friday, so I'll be arranging for alternate transportation anyway.

Do I have the shop repair the wheel? Or shop for a new wheel altogether? If so, any suggestions on where to look?

Ocelot

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2015, 01:36:18 AM »
The shop guy is correct - multiple spokes breaking is a sign of tension issues on the wheel as a whole, and generally spokes will keep breaking unless the wheel is completely retensioned (quite labour intensive, and usually not economical on a cheap wheel) or replaced. How bad it is really comes down to luck, you could replace that one spoke and not have another one go for ages, but the fact you've broken one so quickly is a bad sign.

the lorax

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2015, 01:54:12 AM »
Ocelot is 100% correct. I couldn't agree more.

Rosbif

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 02:29:12 AM »
Alternatively, a spoke key is about 3 bucks. Google Sheldon brown wheel truing and you could do it yourself! It's really easy (honestly it is!).

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 05:11:05 AM »
Keep the rim/hub but rebuild with new spokes yourself (assuming they are both still worth keeping).

The old spokes cannot be reused and should be discarded. The LBS is trying to sell you a new wheel rather than rebuilding what you already have. Obviously it would be in their interests to sell you a new wheel (and probably offer to discard your old one...)

Actually, the most mustachian thing to do would be to rebuild the wheel at home with new spokes yourself. It's pretty easy once you have gotten your head around it. You only need a few inexpensive tools (but then you can replace your own spokes for life). If you really need to keep moving while you learn to rebuild, just buy a new wheel and keep the old one for a learning project. You'll then have a handy spare wheel.

The LBS will happily take your old wheel and sell the parts or rebuild the wheel and sell on as a used item, increasing their profits.

While I'm not advocating all LBS are out to rip you off, just replacing the wheel and chucking out the old one isn't very environmentally/financially savvy.

Spokes need to go no question as above, there's nothing wrong with your rims, its just the technique which is common in factory built wheels means that spokes don't last long, but by now your bike retailer already has your money. Hand built wheels/spokes last as long as the rims and hubs. Rebuilding with new spokes should be a lot cheaper than a new wheel if you are not paying the LBS for labour.

Remember, insource not outsource your bike repairs and learn a valuable skill in the process!

Highly recommended:
http://www.wheelpro.co.uk/wheelbuilding/book.php
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 05:22:48 AM by poorboyrichman »

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2015, 05:25:45 AM »
Alternatively, a spoke key is about 3 bucks. Google Sheldon brown wheel truing and you could do it yourself! It's really easy (honestly it is!).

All the spokes will need to be replaced now, or forever suffer with pinging spokes and buckling rims! The damage is done and the metal has fatigued, it's just a matter of time before the next one goes. A well built wheel will never suffer spoke breakage (unless you stick a twig in there and pedal).

fullpampers

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2015, 05:52:49 AM »
If the wheel is bent beyond just a little kink, i would change it. If you have a quality hub and want to keep it, buy a rim and spokes and do it yourself.

Poorboyrichman's book sugestion is a good one.

Cheapest and quickest way in my opinion is buying a wheel off of kijiji or craigslist. You can get one cheap and true it yourself if need be.

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2015, 06:02:28 AM »
If the LBS say they can fix it, it's probably just buckled due to over-tensioning of the counteracting spoke. Damage to the rim means you'll need to replace rim, now your getting into grounds where it would be more cost effective to buy a new wheel. But your hub will still be ok for a future (re)build
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 06:04:31 AM by poorboyrichman »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 07:34:55 AM »
I don't think wheel trueing is easy at all. If someone you know or a community bike shop can teach you in person, go that route, but I found it really hard to try and learn from the Internet.

After struggling with an old wheel set for many months, I ended up replacing them. If your bike is 700C, I can wholeheartedly recommend Corsa Velta HD wheels from Nashbar. One of the best biking purchases I've made.

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 07:39:50 AM »
Truing is a simple process if you have the right tools, if you apply all the nipples using a nipple driver, they should be all equally tensioned and therefore the truing process only requires fine tuning and you avoid going down the route of wild guess work where you tighten one spoke and it deforms at another part of the rim!

Youtube will help you understand the truing technique.

Bakari

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 07:54:42 AM »
The LBS is trying to sell you a new wheel rather than rebuilding what you already have. Obviously it would be in their interests to sell you a new wheel (and probably offer to discard your old one...)


No, with a sale you just get the mark-up on the part (remember, we have to BUY the parts).  Rebuilding a wheel is a lot more profit because of all the labor time that goes into it.
We always suggest replacing in that scenario - even though we are all about reuse and efficiency in general - precisely because unless it was an extremely fancy wheel to begin with, it just isn't cost effective for the customer.


Damage to the rim means you'll need to replace rim


A good a relevant point, this is usually the reason a wheel can't be trued.  Retensioning isn't really that much more work than a tension balance true, and is certainly a lot less work than relacing a wheel from scratch, but if the rim itself is physically bent then it won't even be possible to tension balance, because you are trying to force the bent rim straight using spoke tension. 
TL;DR - if you have a nice hub and want to try to build a wheel around it, don't try to reuse the rim.


Golbin and poorboy are both right, but at different times.  It is very hard to get the feel for it at first, but fairly trivial once you have it down.  A lot like learning to ride a bike in the first place.
Its a fun project to learn if you have spare time and a 2nd bike to ride, but I wouldn't recommend learning on a wheel you actually want to use anytime soon - I ended up damaging my first DIY wheel true so bad that the LBS couldn't fix it!

poorboyrichman

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 08:16:41 AM »
No, with a sale you just get the mark-up on the part (remember, we have to BUY the parts).

Ah yes, fair point. Obviously not all LBS are dishonest, but the advice given to the typical customer wouldn't be, "you could rebuild this yourself" (most people are not mustachian, or skilled in bike repair) so the LBS would tend to offer their services, after all why did you take your bike to them in the first place?

The option of DIY rebuild wouldn't appeal to non-mustachian types so you would be unlikely to hear about it from your typical mechanic (who is out to make a profit, after all). The first time I had a broken spoke the mechanic at my LBS took 20 to replace a spoke true the wheel. At the time I had no idea how simple a process it was to replace the spoke. 4 weeks later I had another broken spoke, so 20 down the pan! I bought a cheap replacement wheel to save me taking the bus, I did my homework and rebuilt my wheel when I had time and have a nice spare waiting for the next time something goes wrong.

Economical and ecological motivations for DIY repair are very different beasts, so yes it may not be good financial sense to spend 10 hours rebuilding a cheapo wheel, but mother earth will thank you for not throwing away a perfectly good hub (and possibly a rim too).

AS MMM covers pretty well in a number of posts, benefits to the DIY/insourcing approach go beyond good financial sense. You learnt fix your bike yourself, so if you have a problem, you need not worry about hauling your bike to the LBS.  The second time you build a set of wheels you can do it in 2 hours, not 10. You can build a set of wheels for your friends for a tidy profit. You can upgrade your cheapo tyres with fancy pants custom build bombproof wheels at component cost price etc etc.

Of course, if you get zero pleasure out of doing this kind of repair, maybe outsourcing is for you. Personally, I prefer the feeling of "I fixed this, it may well have cost me more in time and tools than another cheap wheel, but the next time it goes wrong, I'll know what to do and still have the tools". Only last week did I stop to help a fellow cyclist who had a broken spoke, I told them exactly what was wrong and what would happen if they got their spoke replaced. I gave them my e-mail and offered to rebuild their wheel. Side hustle story in the making, lets see if they get in touch...
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 08:36:27 AM by poorboyrichman »

spokey doke

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 08:53:12 AM »
Just to chime in...the principles and process involved in truing wheels is pretty simple, but can be pretty frustrating in practice, and might be impossible if you are trying to use spoke tension to overcome damaged rims.

I would second the recommendations to look for a cheap, used replacement on craigslist etc., or look at second hand shops, or just ask around at bike shops, as they sometimes have used ones available for cheap.

The next, as suggested above, is to look at Nashbar or Performance Bike for their house brand discount wheels.

But in any case, do check out Sheldon Brown's website and take advantage of the learning opportunity to get a feel for how spokes work and do pick up a spoke wrench and use the old wheel to fiddle around and get comfortable with the basic principles of truing, along with hub types/function/repair...it will certainly help your eye in picking through used wheels for a replacement.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2015, 08:56:22 AM by spokey doke »

frugaliknowit

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 09:10:24 AM »
Learning to true a wheel is pretty involved.  I doubt it would be worth your time, unless you plan to blow out of a lot of rims.

If you have a fair amount of time on your hands, you can research buying a used one, such as on Craigslist, then having the shop true it.

Otherwise, just have the bike shop take care of both rim and trueing.

Ichabod

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2015, 06:37:14 PM »
Thanks for all the help!

I've decided to go with a new (or at least new to me) wheel. What do I look for in a wheel? It's the rear wheel and its size is 700c. Is that all that matters? In terms of compatibility. I know I want more spokes to avoid this in the future. Would wider tires help too? Also, it appears I need special tools for switching the cassette? I'm a total newbie to this.

Bakari

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Re: Bike Wheel Issues
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2015, 06:54:40 PM »
Thanks for all the help!

I've decided to go with a new (or at least new to me) wheel. What do I look for in a wheel? It's the rear wheel and its size is 700c. Is that all that matters? In terms of compatibility. I know I want more spokes to avoid this in the future. Would wider tires help too? Also, it appears I need special tools for switching the cassette? I'm a total newbie to this.


Look for a rim made of alloy or aluminum (i.e. NOT steel - if you go used bring a magnet).
If you want to reuse your cassette make sure you get one with a cassette hub!!  Older/cheaper ones often have a freewheel hub, and the two are NOT interchangeable.
Also, shopping used be careful to avoid a 27" wheel, they look identical to the naked eye, but will not fit the same tires or line up with your brakes.


Ideally, for strength and quality look for a double wall rim - you will not be able to see the spoke nipples sticking out of the inside of the rim (with the tire and tube off, and the rim strip pushed aside), you should just see holes (the nipples will be down in the holes). 
More spokes makes for more strength to a point, but after about 36 you aren't likely to see much difference (some may disagree here)


Wider tires make for a more comfortable ride, and (theoretically) fewer flats, also preform better on rough/unpaved roads, but shouldn't make a difference either way as far as breaking spokes. 


Yes, you need special tools to change the cassette.  If you do everything else yourself, in my shop we only charge $5 to switch a cassette or freewheel from one wheel to another.  Or buy the mini bike tool kit from Nashbar for $50, and have most of the common special bike tools at home.