Author Topic: replacing spokes on bike wheel  (Read 7206 times)

frugalnacho

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replacing spokes on bike wheel
« on: July 12, 2014, 06:12:47 PM »
Back story:  Purchased bike several months ago.  After about 300 miles the spokes were loose and the wheels slightly untrue, so I tightened them and spent a few hours truing both wheels as per instructions found on the internet.  All spokes seemed tight, and appoximately the same tension.  I don't have a tension meter but they all felt the same to me and the wheel spun very straight (within a millimeter).  Rode for another couple hundred miles, all was well.  Friday I pulled my bike out after a week of not riding and noticed several back spokes were very very loose and making noise if I tried to ride.  I usually inspect the tires and the spokes once a week and never noticed any spokes going loose, but now all of a sudden 6 or 7 were extremely loose.  So I started the tedious process of tightening all the spokes up a quarter turn at a time.  Once of the super loose spokes snapped off as I was tightening it (it was definitely not from being over tightened - it never got that far).

It looks like I am going to have to remove the cassette to be able to feed the spoke through.  I watched a bunch of youtube videos to see other people doing it.  I think I am going to need a special tool to remove the cassette, but I can't tell exactly which one will fit my specific bike.

So I stopped at the local bike shop with the wheel.  I asked if they sold spokes, and also if they had the tools I could buy to do it myself.  I explained that I want the tools and the know how to do it myself for the next time it happens.  He kept urging me to just leave it with him and have him take care of it even though I thought I adequately explained that I don't want to continue to rely on someone for my simple repairs.  He didn't have the tool in stock.  All the cassette removal tools on the wall were labeled "FR-7", and "FR-5" and so on.  He pulled one from behind the counter that his shop uses and it fit, and when I asked what size it was he said "oh it's just a standard shimano cassette remover".  So I said "um, so what differentiates it from these other 7 (approximately) differently sized tools on the shelf", and he didn't really have an answer, just said it was a standard shimano cassette remover.  He just gave me some string of numbers (that I don't remember) from the part, so I left without knowing what size will fit my cassette.  He also tried to sell me a $28 chain whip and said it's needed in addition to the cassette removal tool (which he didn't have so I don't know why he thought I would just purchase a chain whip).  From the videos i've seen on youtube it appears you can just wedge the wheel against a wall and spin the tool counter clockwise to remove the cassette with no chain whip needed.  Not sure if those were on a different cassette mechanism than I have, or what.

So how do I tell what size cassette removal tool I will need for my wheel?  All I can see on the cassette is "Epoch Hyperwave System DnP 40N.m" and it has 12 teeth

Is a chain whip really necessary or can I simply wedge the wheel against the ground/wall to stabilize it like I witnessed multiple people on youtube doing?

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2014, 06:33:51 PM »
Here is a picture of it:


plustax

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kendallf

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2014, 07:59:51 PM »
The link given above is a good overview; your cassette looks like a standard Shimano freehub compatible model (FR-5 for the Park tool), like the shop guy told you.  The vast majority of modern, decent quality multi-speed bicycles will use this same tool.  They make versions with a handle built in, cheaper ones are available from Nashbar, etc.

You will need a chain whip; it's not the wheel that will turn on you, but the freehub will turn counterclockwise when you try to loosen the lockring.  The chain whip lets you hold the cogs (and thus the freehub) still so that the lockring will loosen.  You don't need a chain whip to reinstall the cassette as the freehub will lock when you try to spin it clockwise.

Nashbar tools link:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/SearchDisplay?catalogId=10052&storeId=10053&langId=-1&categoryId=204831&metaData=&pageSize=&orderBy=&searchTerm=tool


sol

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2014, 08:21:39 PM »
A chain whip is just a piece of bicycle chain with a handle.  Do not spend $28 on one.  It's just to keep the gears from spinning when you use the sprocket tool, since it unscrews in the same direction the freewheel spins so you need to have some way to immobilize the gears.  I've never seen anyone jam their cassette against a wall to immobilize it, but it doesn't sound especially good for it.

Worst case scenario, if you don't have an old chain and a piece of scrap lumber, is you have to buy the crappiest chain you can find and the smallest piece of lumber (or large stick) you can find and figure out how to attach them.  Still maybe $10 total.

Better yet, go to your local bike co-op and tip them $10 to rent a bike stand and have a knowledgeable mechanic point out the right tools and how to use them.  They're usually helpful, and they exist solely for the purpose of helping people like you who genuinely want to learn how to fix their own rides without investing a fortune in tools. 

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2014, 11:08:39 PM »
http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/cassette-and-freewheel-removal

The video I saw the guy was removing a freewheel and not a cassette.  Thank you.

The link given above is a good overview; your cassette looks like a standard Shimano freehub compatible model (FR-5 for the Park tool), like the shop guy told you.  The vast majority of modern, decent quality multi-speed bicycles will use this same tool.  They make versions with a handle built in, cheaper ones are available from Nashbar, etc.

You will need a chain whip; it's not the wheel that will turn on you, but the freehub will turn counterclockwise when you try to loosen the lockring.  The chain whip lets you hold the cogs (and thus the freehub) still so that the lockring will loosen.  You don't need a chain whip to reinstall the cassette as the freehub will lock when you try to spin it clockwise.

Nashbar tools link:
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/SearchDisplay?catalogId=10052&storeId=10053&langId=-1&categoryId=204831&metaData=&pageSize=&orderBy=&searchTerm=tool

I'm fairly certain I saw an "FR-5" in a package on the wall.    When he read the part number of the shop's tool it was not FR-5, it was something like SP HG-16 (I don't remember exactly).   Was that maybe a different brands equivalent to an FR-5, or a specific part number?


A chain whip is just a piece of bicycle chain with a handle.  Do not spend $28 on one.  It's just to keep the gears from spinning when you use the sprocket tool, since it unscrews in the same direction the freewheel spins so you need to have some way to immobilize the gears.  I've never seen anyone jam their cassette against a wall to immobilize it, but it doesn't sound especially good for it.

Worst case scenario, if you don't have an old chain and a piece of scrap lumber, is you have to buy the crappiest chain you can find and the smallest piece of lumber (or large stick) you can find and figure out how to attach them.  Still maybe $10 total.

Better yet, go to your local bike co-op and tip them $10 to rent a bike stand and have a knowledgeable mechanic point out the right tools and how to use them.  They're usually helpful, and they exist solely for the purpose of helping people like you who genuinely want to learn how to fix their own rides without investing a fortune in tools.

He didn't jam the cassette, he just wedged the tire against the wall so it wouldn't turn, but he was removing a freewheel.  I don't see why I couldn't rig something up with an old chain that will function for way less than $28. 

I just noticed I am also going to have to remove the disk brake in order to feed the spoke through.  Looks like a torx bit.

GuitarStv

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2014, 08:02:35 AM »
You can DIY your own chain whip pretty easily.  I just used an old chain, some screws of the right size, and a piece of wood.  In a pinch you can use a rag tightly wrapped around the cassette instead, but having some kind of chain whip just makes everything much easier.  As has been said, it's not the wheel that turns but the cassette.  You can tighten down the cassette without the chain whip though, maybe this is what you saw?

Is that rust on your cassette after less than 300 miles?

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2014, 09:40:02 AM »
Yes that is a small amount of rust.  I have been riding rain or shine and I wasn't properly drying and lubing my chain after the first few storms I rode through.  That rust was actually there after less than 100 miles.  Learning proper bike repair and maintenance is an on going experience.

Here is the video I saw of the guy not using a chain whip to remove his freewheel (skip to the 4:00 mark):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCH8V62q_oM

EDIT: 300 miles was the mileage when I first trued the wheel.  It's actually closer to 600 miles now.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 09:57:19 AM by frugalnacho »

Goldielocks

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2014, 09:54:26 AM »
This is definitely a skill..  once you master it, you could like likely get others to pay you to do theirs.  That may pay for the extra tools.

Good luck!

frugaliknowit

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2014, 10:18:45 AM »
Opinion only:  If you have a busy life, this is a pretty steep learning curve to learn.  Your time might be better spent doing other things and hand it over to the shop.

I had a similar problem several years ago on a bike that was gifted to me where I kept replacing spokes and replacing spokes at $30 per pop (by more than one shop).  It turned out that I needed a heavier rim, even though I weigh about 180 pounds.  Since I replaced the rim, there have been no problems. 

I've ridden my high speed bike about 10,000 miles over 4 years and only once had a problem with a spoke because I ran over a branch.  $30 parts and labor took care of it.

Russ

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2014, 10:43:07 AM »
I get that you want to learn how to do this by yourself, but your spokes are breaking because you messed up the build the first time and they will keep breaking until you get someone who knows how to do it to rebuild the wheel for you. The spoke that broke was heavily fatigued because the wheel was improperly tensioned, and it's very likely that the rest of them are as well i.e. you have to replace all your spokes now if you don't want to keep replacing them at increasingly short intervals. If you want to learn the skill, have someone else do it who will explain the process to you and let you watch. The bike shop may do this for a little extra $$$ or some cookies (since this is above the regular level of service), or you could go to a co-op.

Wheels should need service on the scale of (tens of?) thousands of miles (depending on the quality), not the hundreds.

IIRC this is also not the first time you've had trouble with the bike shop. Since it's unlikely that every single one of their employees is an unqualified idiot, maybe it's time to work on your communication skills?

This is not a skill you should be selling until you've built hundreds of wheels. The liability risk is far too great.

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2014, 11:44:46 AM »
I get that you want to learn how to do this by yourself, but your spokes are breaking because you messed up the build the first time and they will keep breaking until you get someone who knows how to do it to rebuild the wheel for you. The spoke that broke was heavily fatigued because the wheel was improperly tensioned, and it's very likely that the rest of them are as well i.e. you have to replace all your spokes now if you don't want to keep replacing them at increasingly short intervals. If you want to learn the skill, have someone else do it who will explain the process to you and let you watch. The bike shop may do this for a little extra $$$ or some cookies (since this is above the regular level of service), or you could go to a co-op.

Wheels should need service on the scale of (tens of?) thousands of miles (depending on the quality), not the hundreds.

IIRC this is also not the first time you've had trouble with the bike shop. Since it's unlikely that every single one of their employees is an unqualified idiot, maybe it's time to work on your communication skills?

This is not a skill you should be selling until you've built hundreds of wheels. The liability risk is far too great.

It was the same bike shop and the same employee as last time.  I don't want to go to that bike shop, but it is right by my house and was on my way to where I was going.  It was either stop in that one yesterday, or don't stop in one at all.

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2014, 03:36:07 PM »
I went to a trek bike shop and spoke with the head mechanic.  He didn't think one broken spoke was much of an issue, and didn't try to pressure me into having him service it - he seemed very encouraging of me attempting to learn how to maintain it on my own.   I got a new spoke for $1.59 and an F5 cassette removal tool for $10.  I used an old chain, a rag, and a set of vice grips instead of a chain whip.  Slightly cumbersome to set up but it worked fine.  If I was doing it on a regular basis I might invest in a chain whip or try to rig one up myself, but my chain and vice grips worked fine.

After I got it in and put it all back together I spent about 40 minutes truing the wheel and tightening spokes.   The disc brake was slightly rubbing against one pad so I had to recenter that and all seems to be well.  I took it for a 3/4 mile bike ride around my neighborhood and everything seems fine.  No spoke noise.  No noise at all, my bike is making no noise other than the rubber on the cement.

I am hoping I won't have any more issues with the spokes, but I am nervous about actually riding the 6 miles to work on it tomorrow.  If I break another spoke and all my time today was wasted and I wasted $12 on parts and tools I didn't need - well that's a risk I am willing to take, however it will totally suck if I get stranded several miles from work and home and have to call a coworker to come pick me up (I am under the impression if I break a spoke I should immediately stop riding and assess the situation and fix it before I ride again).

Russ

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2014, 05:11:09 PM »
I am hoping I won't have any more issues with the spokes, but I am nervous about actually riding the 6 miles to work on it tomorrow.  If I break another spoke and all my time today was wasted and I wasted $12 on parts and tools I didn't need - well that's a risk I am willing to take, however it will totally suck if I get stranded several miles from work and home and have to call a coworker to come pick me up (I am under the impression if I break a spoke I should immediately stop riding and assess the situation and fix it before I ride again).

Don't be too nervous about it. If you break a spoke within 6 miles you may as well keep riding the wheel the rest of the way to where you're going, since that would mean the rest of the spokes are already fatigued and you will have to replace them all anyway. Nothing riding with a broken spoke will make any worse. And since you have disc brakes, the untrue wheel shouldn't get in the way of anything else.

You will use the cassette tool again when you replace the cassette in 1000 miles or so, so no loss there

GuitarStv

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 05:42:24 AM »
The bike you have uses a 32 spokes wheel, and you weigh 230 (more weight if you're regularly carrying anything).  The spoke issue may be just due to this, especially if you ride hard with lots of potholes on the road, jumping curbs, etc. there's going to be much more fatigue on a wheel than a lighter guy.  That's one of the disadvantages of getting a bike with a front suspension . . . it's softer on the hands, but because of this you tend to go over more bumps . . . then the rear wheel (which takes the brunt of every bump) has to eat all that force regularly.

I don't want to freak you out, but when my bike started popping spokes on the rear it became a regular occurrence until the wheel was replaced.  Look for a 36 or higher spoke count replacement in your next one.

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2014, 07:47:42 AM »
The bike you have uses a 32 spokes wheel, and you weigh 230 (more weight if you're regularly carrying anything).  The spoke issue may be just due to this, especially if you ride hard with lots of potholes on the road, jumping curbs, etc. there's going to be much more fatigue on a wheel than a lighter guy.  That's one of the disadvantages of getting a bike with a front suspension . . . it's softer on the hands, but because of this you tend to go over more bumps . . . then the rear wheel (which takes the brunt of every bump) has to eat all that force regularly.

I don't want to freak you out, but when my bike started popping spokes on the rear it became a regular occurrence until the wheel was replaced.  Look for a 36 or higher spoke count replacement in your next one.

I am 230 naked and I always carry my back pack with me.  I am probably 250+ on the bike 90% of the time.   I don't intentionally ram curbs or jump off steps or anything, but the roads in michigan are terrible and I smash pot holes on a regular basis as they are unavoidable. 

I made it 6 miles into work with no issues so far.

Should I immediately look into purchasing a new 36 spoke wheel if I start popping spokes, or will a fresh (proper) rebuild on my current wheel suffice? I would hate to spend the time and money getting my current wheel completely relaced with new spokes only to have to turn around buy a wheel with 36 spokes.

Also will I be able to just get a new rim and spokes and use the tire and cassette I currently have? Or will I have to replace everything on the back wheel?

sol

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2014, 08:28:25 AM »
You can probably score a used bike with a 36 spoke rear wheel from craigslist cheaper than you can buy a new 36 spoke wheel.  Just think of all the other spare parts you'd be getting for "free" with that deal!

Careful though, this way lies madness.  Pretty soon you end up with a garage full of partial bikes and your significant other starts organizing a bike intervention.

GuitarStv

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2014, 09:35:04 AM »
The bike you have uses a 32 spokes wheel, and you weigh 230 (more weight if you're regularly carrying anything).  The spoke issue may be just due to this, especially if you ride hard with lots of potholes on the road, jumping curbs, etc. there's going to be much more fatigue on a wheel than a lighter guy.  That's one of the disadvantages of getting a bike with a front suspension . . . it's softer on the hands, but because of this you tend to go over more bumps . . . then the rear wheel (which takes the brunt of every bump) has to eat all that force regularly.

I don't want to freak you out, but when my bike started popping spokes on the rear it became a regular occurrence until the wheel was replaced.  Look for a 36 or higher spoke count replacement in your next one.

I am 230 naked and I always carry my back pack with me.  I am probably 250+ on the bike 90% of the time.   I don't intentionally ram curbs or jump off steps or anything, but the roads in michigan are terrible and I smash pot holes on a regular basis as they are unavoidable. 

I made it 6 miles into work with no issues so far.

Should I immediately look into purchasing a new 36 spoke wheel if I start popping spokes, or will a fresh (proper) rebuild on my current wheel suffice? I would hate to spend the time and money getting my current wheel completely relaced with new spokes only to have to turn around buy a wheel with 36 spokes.

Also will I be able to just get a new rim and spokes and use the tire and cassette I currently have? Or will I have to replace everything on the back wheel?


You could probably just keep replacing spokes every few weeks as they pop on the wheel you've got for a while.  I lost four spokes one at a time over a period of about a month and a half before deciding it was time to go with a new wheel.

The tire and tube can come over.  The new wheel will need a compatible hub with your current cassette if you want to use it again.  If you get a brand new wheel remember to get some rim tape as well (prevents the spoke heads from popping your tubes and costs about 2$.)  Look for a double walled rim (stronger).  FWIW I ended up with a Suntour CR18 as a cheap, decent quality replacement rear wheel and it has been working pretty well so far.

frugalnacho

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2014, 01:17:12 PM »
It's been almost 4 weeks and about 200 miles and no issues so far.  Everything still seems tight and true.

GuitarStv

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2014, 06:53:17 AM »
Cool, maybe it was just a bad spoke that got overstressed that died on you.  You'll know when it's time to replace the wheel because they'll start going one after the other in pretty quick succession.

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: replacing spokes on bike wheel
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2014, 06:04:00 PM »
Ya that was my thought as well. Still early for the wheel to go bad, but once spokes start going left and right - the wheel may be majorly bent (which sometimes can be fixed, but less of a DIY project).