As any bike rider knows, broken spokes can be a common bicycle annoyance – however, hopefully you can continue your ride home before stopping. Often the good news is that short trips should allow sufficient time for repairs to take place before ending your ride with less than optimal performance.
However, it’s essential that any broken spoke is promptly fixed once noticed as otherwise, the wheel could become misalign and damage both your tyres and brakes over time.
What Causes a Spoke to Break?
Lacking proper maintenance, spokes will eventually wear down and break. This is particularly prevalent on mountain bikes that regularly ride through rough terrain that puts undue stress on wheels and spokes.
Spoke breakage is typically caused by metal fatigue. This occurs when a spoke is put under extreme tension for extended periods, or misalignments in its wheels, poor quality spokes, or lack of maintenance are neglected.
To successfully repair a broken spoke, it’s essential that the wheel be removed from its bike. To do this, release the brake and then take steps such as unscrewing quick-release skewer or axle nuts (depending on which type of wheel it is). After the wheel has been taken off, tire, tube, rim tape must also be removed in order to access its nipple where broken spoke is situated – you will then unscrew threaded ends from this area using your wrenches or vice.
How to Fix a Broken Spoke
Unavoidably, spokes will break from time to time when riding rough terrain, but fixing one should be fairly straightforward.
To address a broken spoke, first loosen and remove the cassette (if working on a rear wheel). This gives you access to the hub or center of the wheel for repairs.
Once the broken spoke is removed, carefully inspect its nipple flats for wear and replace them if they look worn-down; otherwise it may remain; simply twist it tightly around a nearby spoke.
Thread your new spoke into place using chain lube as you thread. Check that it follows the spoke pattern (head in/head out), sitting flush against the hub flange. Jiggling or flexing may help when tightening it using a dedicated spoke key rather than multi-tool; once done, reinstall cassette and fine-tune wheel as required.
Can You Ride With a Broken Spoke?
If your bike ride suddenly seems unstable, and its wheel suddenly feels loose or wobbly, this could be caused by a broken spoke. Spokes help distribute weight evenly over your wheel’s surface – so if your wheel seems more wobbly than usual it would be wise to check whether any spokes have become broken or loose.
As long as a broken spoke isn’t catching on other spokes or parts of your bike, it should be fine to continue riding it. Just be sure that any bumpy or uneven surfaces don’t cause it to come loose and damage other spokes and parts of your wheel; doing this may prevent further damages by ripping it loose and damaging other spokes. Otherwise, it could even worsen and require expensive repairs down the line if further spokes break; though breaking spokes may seem easy enough at first, breaking spokes actually requires time and patience compared with what some think – though breaking spokes is usually quite difficult due to being held captive between wheels rims – which would require additional spoke breaks as rim buckled over or buckled over-inframplement; breaking spokes is generally not so straightforward.
Can You Ride With More Than One Broken Spoke?
As a frequent bike rider, especially one who takes risks or charges down technical trails, broken spokes can sometimes occur. Even casual bike riders should know that curbs, potholes or bumps can put additional stress on their wheels and spokes; so as soon as you notice one broken spoke it would be wise to get professional help to evaluate your wheel immediately.
As long as a broken spoke is secured in place by twisting it around another spoke or taped/tied securely – such as using standard or duct tape that all riders should carry – so it does not cause further damage, it should be okay to ride with one in place. However, if it begins flailing around or flailing loose in any other way then this would likely do further harm to both your rim and brakes so removing it trailside might be best as this gives you time to inspect your entire wheel for potential repairs needed if necessary.
Chris is a passionate learner and writer. When he’s not working on his blog or learning something new, he’s a full-time systems administrator and father of two beautiful girls. Chris loves spending time with his family, reading, writing, and playing hockey.