A broken spoke can cause a bike to become unstable and dangerous to ride. However, there are ways to fix a broken spoke without having to replace the entire wheel. Some riders use a spoke wrench to tighten or loosen the spokes, while others use a spoke key to remove and replace individual spokes. Whichever method is used, it is important to be careful not to damage the wheel rim or the bicycle frame.
What is Broken Spoke?
The spokes are light wires found in the bicycles’ wheels, in charge of doing a job of great importance because they carry out the locomotion of the bicycle. They support the weight and allow power transfer from the mass to the wheel, adding the duty to fully maintain the rim’s shape.
These types of rims have to be resistant and, at the same time, have a fraction of the weight because the ideal is for the bicycle to be as light as possible. It is essential to minimize the weight of a bicycle wheel so that it performs well and does not affect the effort made when driving.
So having a bike with a broken spoke means it doesn’t have good pedal energy transfer or weight support, which can significantly complicate your overall weight support.
Can You Ride a Bike With a Broken Spoke?
The moment a spoke breaks, the balance of a wheel is broken, and this immediately complicates handling, even becoming a dangerous task that is not recommended to be carried out. That is why it is impossible to confirm if it is convenient to continue driving because the ideal is to wait until the spoke is changed. The wheel is balanced again, but there are some cases in which it is not impossible to continue driving.
To know if it is possible, the wheel offset must be assessed; if it has been off-center, it is best not to mount it. However, suppose the wheel is still centered. In that case, it can be ensured that the tire’s stiffness compensates for the lack of radius, which makes it possible to maintain balance, something familiar in Enduro, DH, or some fiberglass models.
If you decide to keep riding, remember that you don’t have to keep the bike like this for a long time because the rest of the spokes will gradually break. Although it is not visible to the naked eye, a broken spoke can trigger others to break and damage other elements of the bicycle, such as the chain or the brakes.
What to Do if Bike Spoke Breaks?
In most cases, the spokes break where the head of the radius catches on the stem, but it can happen anywhere else in the structure. When it occurs in the innermost part of the wheel, it is because the curved head of the spoke is the weakest part and yet can support much of the weight and force exerted to transfer power.
Should this happen, it is essential to stop and inspect the wheel. It is vital to ensure that the broken spoke does not land where it can become entangled with the frame or chain when the wheel is spinning. For added security, it can be taped to a neighboring spoke or unscrewed from the nipple and removed completely to avoid hazards.
In some cases, it is possible to pedal a section, even with a broken spoke, but it is not recommended to do so because it creates additional stress on the rest of the spokes. Thus, those that are in good condition can break progressively at one point along the way, which unbalances the wheel.
So, knowing that the wheel’s strength is found in its number of spokes, the greater the number of spokes it has, the more strength it will have. In addition, the tension and weight load are distributed among a more significant number of spokes that make up the circumference, which makes it stronger.
On the other hand, when there are fewer spokes, the tension will be higher so that the load distributed between them can be supported. This is why when a spoke breaks, the wheel usually becomes unstable and immediate repair is necessary, but some exceptions may wait a little longer for the change.
This is only possible when the wheel has more than 30 spokes because the rest can withstand the breakage of one without significant damage until the change is made. However, when the wheel has less than 30 spokes, each broken spoke will cause a problem that requires a change as soon as possible.
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How to Identify If You Have a Broken Spoke?
When the break is in a wheel with more than 30 spokes, it can be challenging to identify which spoke has broken. However, after riding, it is always important to check the essential elements of the bicycle; among them, the wheels stand out.
Breaking from the base, it may protrude a bit more from the rest, and when you touch it, you will immediately see that it moves and has detached itself from the head. Other times it splits in half, but it usually happens when the bicycles have less than 30 spokes or have been placed with more weight than they can support.
Always remember that bicycles have maximum weight support, which is associated with the number of rims they have, which will help you know how likely it is that a spoke will break. There are times when the break is more easily noticeable because the bike gets heavier, and if it’s not a problem with the brakes or the chain, it’s most likely a broken spoke that created a rough ride. The wheel was disfigured, so it is necessary to change it immediately.
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How to Fix Broken Spokes on a Bike?
If a spoke has already broken, it is best to have it replaced because trying to repair it can be counterproductive. To do this, it is necessary to follow the following procedures:
- Remove the wheel, the inner tube, and the bottom of the rim
Before completely removing the spoke, it is necessary to remove the tire from the bicycle, the inner tube, and the rim’s bottom. In this way, you can work with more precision and comfort, avoiding accidents in the process.
- Remove the broken spoke
Once the above process is complete, the broken spoke is accessible and can be safely removed. If it has broken in two, under normal circumstances, one part of the rim and the other part of the hub hole can be extracted.
It is essential that in this disassembly, there is not too strong a force that can damage other spokes that are nearby.
- Remove the freewheel cassette or sprocket (if on the rear wheel)
If the spoke change is on the rear wheel, removing the freewheel cassette, sprocket, or sprockets is necessary. These can prevent the extraction of the part of the broken spoke attached to the hub. If you do not know how to do this disassembly, it is recommended that you go to a specialist who does it without problems or dangers.
- Measure the broken spoke and buy the same one
You have to choose a spoke the same as the one you disassembled, but measuring the length of a broken spoke can be tricky. The recommended thing for this is that you remove another spoke on the same side of the wheel and measure it so that you know the length of the spoke that you need.
The measurements you need are:
- The length of the radius from the inside of the elbow to the end that is screwed on.
- The diameter of the radius, using a gauge to achieve it.
- Mount the new spoke
This process is divided into 3 phases:
- Insert the spoke through the hub in the correct direction
Take the new spoke and slide it into the hub wing hole, but you must oversee the wheel for damage. The spoke is placed from the outside to the inside. This leaves the stop to the outside so it can be adequately secured.
The next one has to be placed from the inside to the outside. Thus leaving the stop towards the inside, it is always important to check the mounting direction to fit well.
- Cross the radius and place the head of the radius
You must respect the type of intersection that the spokes of your wheel have because spokes usually intersect with 2 or 3 other spokes, passing above or below the other spokes. You can look at the next spoke on the same side of the cube and now do the same type of crossing, and for this, you need to bend the spoke slightly to place it at the correct intersection.
So, finally, you must put the spoke in the rim and screw it in to make it tight. You can use a spoke wrench and tighten the new spoke to the same tension as the other spokes, so they all have good weight suspension.
How Do you Avoid Broken Spokes?
The first thing you must remember is that bicycles need maintenance and must be used according to their capabilities. A touring bicycle, for example, is not functional on rocky roads, which can cause the spokes to break, so care must be taken so that they do not break.
It is also important that the bicycle is not loaned to people who are taller than the bicycle can carry or who weigh more because the rims can bend, and this can break the spokes.
What Causes Broken Spokes?
Crack fracture is usually related to material degradation, which increases the probability of spoke breakage when subjected to cyclic loads of lower values.
Each spoke on the bike is subjected to the compressive load directly below the mass, and for a fraction of a second, that spoke compresses before the pressure decreases, and it returns to its average length. This repetition of the cycle can seriously damage any bicycle because, after many repetitions, it can begin to fatigue the material of the wheel’s spokes.
Although it is a slow process that does not progress as quickly, it will cause the spokes to break in the long term.
- Improper tension
When the wheel assembly process takes place, all the spokes have to be tightened to a higher tension than that generated by a person’s weight. This tension preloads the entire rim with compressive tension to prevent the area below the mass from bending.
However, when the tension is inadequate, it can be due to too little or too much tension, which can both cause spokes to fail and break. Although it seems contradictory when applying torque to the wheel, the spokes that point towards the bicycle’s rear are tightened, and those that go towards the front are loosened.
This causes the tension to prove inadequate, making the spokes susceptible and breaking.
- Excessive Load
Any material has a type of pressure that yields, mainly due to excessive pressure and weight loads. In the case of spokes, overloading their resistance is what will inevitably cause you to break at any point.
The wheels’ spokes work so that one part pulls the raisin to prevent those below from being vulnerable due to weight and pressure. Therefore, the wheels must meet the spokes located properly because it depends on the correct weight distribution and the workload is correctly balanced
If the wheel’s tension is unequal, a wobble is generated that will give a more significant amount of movement for each spoke in each revolution that the wheel makes. Thus, the spokes receive beyond the force for which they are designed, causing them to break instantly.
This can be tricky to get through because spokes always work in groups, but the spoke can give way underweight beyond its point of fatigue. However, it can be solved by changing the reinforced spokes that are made to withstand higher weight and tension loads.
- Chain or Derailleur
The derailleur tends to go over the wheel’s spokes when the drive chain derails. Although this can be difficult to break, it can bend the ones that have received the blow, which causes the material to fatigue later, creating a future rupture of the radius.
Can You Ride a Mountain Bike with a Broken Spoke?
Any bicycle is affected by having a broken spoke, so it is not recommended that a delay in the change be made. If the spoke breaks on tour, it is advisable to take the bicycle to a repair site later so that they can make the corresponding changes.
Bikes with wheels that have more than 30 spokes can handle that ride, but those with fewer can have more damage. For this reason, it is best not to mount it until the needed change is made.
What Does the Spoke Replacement Cost?
These types of spokes are sold in packages and do not cost more than 30 dollars, so they are affordable for each type of wheel. If you prefer not to incur this expense, you can go to a store where they fix bicycles because you can make the change without problems for a lower cost.
Is Riding with one Broken Spoke Severely?
Broken spokes can damage the rest of the wheel and the surrounding spokes, so it is not recommended that you delay changing any of them instantly. It is easier to change only one spoke before the rest of the wheel due to failures that can harm the rest of the bicycle and cause accidents.
Bicycles require, from time to time, maintenance that allows strengthening all its elements and avoiding damage that can worsen in the future. In the case of spokes, it is recommended that they be changed as soon as they break, thus eliminating any additional risk that could harm the rest of their operation.
If your bicycle has a deterioration in a spoke, you should replace it in time so that the rest does not deteriorate, and thus the investment is less and more effective over time.