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Broken Spokes
Hi All,

I have Huffy 26" mountain bike I bought about 8-9 years ago. For the last several months I've been riding it about 10 miles a day and am really enjoying it. Shortly after getting back into it, I started breaking spokes on the rear wheel drive side. My LBS replaced a couple and they kept breaking so they sold me a new Weinmann wheel assembly. About a week later I started breaking the drive side spokes again. This time they re-laced the wheel with larger diameter (.077") stainless spokes. Well, with about 150 miles on it I've started breaking spokes again. I'm a big guy and weigh about 250 lbs and I imagine that adds to the problem, but I only ride on the street. Its not like I'm riding on trails and jumping over things.

My question is: what are my options with this rear wheel? Can I go with larger or different spokes? A different wheel assembly? A different bike? The bike is in good overall shape and suits my needs, but I don't really want to start throwing good money after bad.

I appreciate any advice you guys can offer. Thanks in advance.

Hi Dan;

I have similar issues, and am much heavier than you.

Cheap solution; which I did on one of my bikes; a wheel with 12 ga. spokes like this one:

downside is the hub is not very good, and now is giving me problems after 1¼ year, which is resulting in a scary wheel wooble. But no broken spokes.

For my other bike, I have a full set of Wheelsmith DH13 spokes on order for the rear wheel. The DH13 spokes are 13 ga by the hub, and 14 ga for most of their length, including to the rim. The DH13 spokes are cold forged 304 stainless steel, which is three to four times as strong as the "standard" zinc plated steel spokes on inexpensive wheels, and the 13 ga in the bend area is another 1¾ times as strong as the 14 ga. (strength of circular cross section is proportional to diameter the the fourth power).

According to Peter White http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/index.html broken spokes are often caused by insufficient tension in the spokes. There needs to be sufficient tension so that the spokes are always in tension, and never go into compression. If the spokes do go into compression, they will have fatigue failure very quickly.

My 20-20 hindsight; it is worth spending $200- or more on a premium wheel from a custom builder. He/She will make sure that the wheel will hold out and offer a long (often lifetime) warranty. Broken spokes will get you $15 - $40 each time, which quickly adds up.
Well, larger diameter does not help too much. What is important: good, double butted spokes and a good wheel build. If the wheel has not been built properly, it will not stay true etc. (as remarked by the previous poster.
Also: Did you overshift and the chain fell between sprockets and spokes? If so, then all outer spokes on the drive side need to be replaced.

Where did those spokes break? At the elbow?
Thanks guys.

nfmisso, I like the idea of the forged spokes. Lacing my own wheel seems a bit daunting but I found a nice tutorial from Sheldon Brown on the Harris Cycle website. I suppose I could do it and have my LBS true it for me. A $200 custom wheel on a $100 bike makes me wonder if I should just replace the bike. Or figure out how to replace the fork on my old Peugeot and ride it for another 30 years. Never broke a spoke on that Smile

Joe_W, no I didn't overshift. I broke one spoke on Sunday, which I had replaced, and then another on Monday. These are the heavier 0.077" (~2.0 mm) gauge spokes that I had installed about a month ago. The one on Sunday was at the nipple end, but all of the others have been at the elbow end, drive side of the wheel.

I appreciate any additional suggestions or advice you guys can offer.

Fix the Peugeot or get a new bike. Putting a mid or high end wheel on a 9 year old huffy probably doesn't make sense.

That said, even at 250, you shouldn't be breaking spokes on any half way decent new wheel. Maybe start with the LBS you've been working with and see if they'll give you a deal on something. Sounds like they're trying to help you out if they rebuilt that wheel. But something isn't right. I'm +1 on a well built wheel being more important than spoke thickness. But they supposedly hand built the replacement, so what gives?
Thanks Dave. I was going to bring the wheel back to my LBS tomorrow and see what they say.

Maybe I should start another thread asking what to do about a new fork and headset for the Peugeot.

Hi Guys

Went back to my LBS on Friday and he sold me a new double walled rim at a discount. Before I left, he put a full turn on each spoke to tighten them up. I have about 30 miles on it and it seems fine. If and when I start breaking spokes again, I'll let you know.

Thanks everyone for your help with this problem.


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