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  1. #1
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    How long do spokes last?

    I bought a 2016 BH G6 Pro Ultegra about 25 months ago. I've ridden it a bit, but I've only gone through 3 chains, which equates to 5000 or 6000 miles. I've been riding the stock wheels since I got it and a few days ago I broke a spoke on my rear wheel. I was somewhat shocked, but I went home and called Mavic the next day. I got told that that was around the average mileage as to when a spoke breaks. So my question is, how long is the actual average before a spoke breaks?

    As a reference, I went through 4 chains on Ksyrium wheels within about 8 or 9 months and never had any problems.

  2. #2
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    Depends on a variety of factors, such as your weight, mileage, road surface, etc.

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    i think i've had only one spoke break in all my years of riding, and i ride mostly vintage road bikes.

    but i ensure my wheels are trued and dished properly. and i don't curb hop.
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    I should have noted that I ride on fairly flat roads (there are occasional potholes that I hit) and that I'm 5"5.5 and around 129 lbs with a lot of the weight being in my legs. I got my front wheel trued recently and it wasn't that out of true so I'm presuming that the rear wasn't that out of true to cause a spoke to break (I recognize that the rear wheel has more weight on it, but I never noticed it being that out of true when I spun it a few weeks ago.

  5. #5
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    If the wheel is built right to start with for the rider and load, and doesn't have something freak happen to it (accident/crash or oddball corrosion)...they'll least the life of the wheel.

    Spokes are strong because they are kept under tension....spokes break when that tension is compromised. It should be noted that lots of factory wheels are not tensioned properly, heck probably not even spoke prep'd, from Day 0....which leads to spoke breakage in short order.
    Last edited by Marc; 06-08-2018 at 09:33 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Spokes can last a long, long time. Years and many more miles than what you have on that wheelset. I think the Mavic rep was either nuts or you misunderstood what he was implying. You may break a spoke with these wheels every 5 or 6000 miles, but that's not because the spokes wear out. And that seems fairly frequent to breaking spokes on average, especially for a rider of your weight. There would have to be something going on with the spoke or wheel to cause it to break. The spoke could be too loose causing excessive flexing or too tight. Possibly due to the rim being out of true or taking a big hit of some sort. Or there was a defect in the actual spoke that broke.

    Replace the broken spoke and true the wheelset up. You don't need to replace all the spokes or the wheels at this time (unless the rim is damaged). 5-6k miles is not a lot of wear on a wheel.
    Last edited by flattire; 06-08-2018 at 09:43 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brongo View Post
    I bought a 2016 BH G6 Pro Ultegra about 25 months ago. I've ridden it a bit, but I've only gone through 3 chains, which equates to 5000 or 6000 miles. I've been riding the stock wheels since I got it and a few days ago I broke a spoke on my rear wheel. I was somewhat shocked, but I went home and called Mavic the next day. I got told that that was around the average mileage as to when a spoke breaks. So my question is, how long is the actual average before a spoke breaks?

    As a reference, I went through 4 chains on Ksyrium wheels within about 8 or 9 months and never had any problems.
    Please don't post every question you will end up having in 'General'...take some time and find the proper section of the forum. In this case it would have been 'Wheels/Tires'.

    As Marc posted the spokes should last the life of the wheel. How long that will be depends on lots of things, but spokes shouldn't 'wear out'. The Mavic rep you spoke to is massively uninformed, but then again he works for Mavic. Despite their product being spec'd on endless numbers of bikes they're really not that great. Very (read: completely) proprietary and they have some very questionable engineering. I've built wheels that have lasted 10 times what yours have w/o every breaking anything before the braking surface of the rim was finally worn enough to rebuild them.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brongo View Post
    I got told that that was around the average mileage as to when a spoke breaks.
    That's utter B.S. Although Mavic Ksyrium's aren't known to be the greatest wheels. So maybe he meant them specifically.

    I've only every broke one spoke in my life. That includes road bikes, cross bikes and MTB's. I ride over curbs, bunny hop pot holes, and occasionally run over pot holes. In my experience, spokes last virtually forever. And I've got 30lbs on you.

    Of course there's too many variables to say "how long do spokes last". A low spoke count poorly built wheel with a heavy rider is going to go through spokes much quicker than a high spoke count quality built wheel with a regular sized rider.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Please don't post every question you will end up having in 'General'...take some time and find the proper section of the forum. In this case it would have been 'Wheels/Tires'.

    As Marc posted the spokes should last the life of the wheel. How long that will be depends on lots of things, but spokes shouldn't 'wear out'. The Mavic rep you spoke to is massively uninformed, but then again he works for Mavic. Despite their product being spec'd on endless numbers of bikes they're really not that great. Very (read: completely) proprietary and they have some very questionable engineering. I've built wheels that have lasted 10 times what yours have w/o every breaking anything before the braking surface of the rim was finally worn enough to rebuild them.
    There was a great exchange on a cycling reddit recently...where a poster was just certain broken spokes can/do happen all the time...so much so he (and recommends others) does a spoke-tension check on both wheels before every ride lest you end up riding on slack spokes and breaking them. As such, broken spokes aren't a wheel-building failure, as much a user-maintenance failure.
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  10. #10
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    I had a set of Mavic Cosmic Pro wheels a while back that I bought used....and then put at least 50,000 miles on them. And that's a conservative estimate....probably had more miles than that on them. Never had a spoke break. I eventually had to get rid of them because the rims were failing, but that's a pretty long life IMO.

    I LOVED those wheels...virtually indestructible. I never had to get them trued either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc View Post
    he ... does a spoke-tension check on both wheels before every ride...
    :facepalm:
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    Quote Originally Posted by azpeterb View Post
    ... never had to get them trued either.
    because you know how to turn a nipple.

    one myth of the cycling world is that it's hard to true or dish a wheel. it's not. if you can turn a nut on a bolt and read english, you can true a wheel or even build one from scratch. i wish someone had adamantly told me this when i started.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackfrancois View Post
    because you know how to turn a nipple.

    one myth of the cycling world is that it's hard to true or dish a wheel. it's not. if you can turn a nut on a bolt and read english, you can true a wheel or even build one from scratch. i wish someone had adamantly told me this when i started.
    Very true. As long as you can visualize what's going to happen when you increase or decrease tension on a spoke, and read basic directions...it's not really all that hard. Obvously there are some tricks that make things easier/more consistent, but it's not hard to learn.
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  14. #14
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    I've had my road bike spoke nipple break. It was aluminum nipple. Then I replaced it with brass and no problem so far.
    I've had my beach cruiser spoke break within about 300 miles. It was one of 36 spokes which is strange. I replaced it, then another one broke, then another. Total 4 broke. I think the wheel that came with the cruiser was just a $#!t wheel. I'm in a process of getting a new rim, spokes and nipples of my cruiser.

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    I have a set of wheels with Sapim CX-Ray spokes that I built up in 2010 or 2011. They have about 35,000 miles on them. That's about 27 million load/unload cycles. No broken spokes.

    The real question is, why are you going through chains so quickly? You've worn out three chains in 6000 miles?? And four chains in nine months on another bike? Are you Nelson Vails?? Do you live in the Iraqi Desert??

    The chain on my current every day bike (same one that has the wheels mentioned above) has just under 20,000 miles on it. I'm not in the pro peloton or anything but I do the 'A' group rides and did race Cat3 for a few years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Please don't post every question you will end up having in 'General'...take some time and find the proper section of the forum. In this case it would have been 'Wheels/Tires'.

    As Marc posted the spokes should last the life of the wheel. How long that will be depends on lots of things, but spokes shouldn't 'wear out'. The Mavic rep you spoke to is massively uninformed, but then again he works for Mavic. Despite their product being spec'd on endless numbers of bikes they're really not that great. Very (read: completely) proprietary and they have some very questionable engineering. I've built wheels that have lasted 10 times what yours have w/o every breaking anything before the braking surface of the rim was finally worn enough to rebuild them.
    So much this! I fundamentally hate proprietary wheels, especially proprietary spokes. The worst is having a Mavic spoke break which is quite normal for Mavic, and since its a couple years old finding replacement spokes is a huge pain in the ass not to mention being reamed cost wise for said replacement.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brongo View Post
    ....but I've only gone through 3 chains, which equates to 5000 or 6000 miles.....
    Wow. Why do your chains crap-out so fast???
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimV View Post
    I have a set of wheels with Sapim CX-Ray spokes that I built up in 2010 or 2011. They have about 35,000 miles on them. That's about 27 million load/unload cycles. No broken spokes.

    The real question is, why are you going through chains so quickly? You've worn out three chains in 6000 miles?? And four chains in nine months on another bike? Are you Nelson Vails?? Do you live in the Iraqi Desert??

    The chain on my current every day bike (same one that has the wheels mentioned above) has just under 20,000 miles on it. I'm not in the pro peloton or anything but I do the 'A' group rides and did race Cat3 for a few years.
    2K miles...not abnormal. I'd consider it par.

    I've seen crazy mileage stories before from people who I otherwise trust and believe. But 20K miles on one chain is way beyond ordinary. IME IMHO. I'll take you at your word, but your number is firmly in the "I don't know what unicorn-based lube they use applied by Merlin the Magician" camp.

    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Wow. Why do your chains crap-out so fast???

    That isn't that fast...unless I suppose you ride in a hermetic environment with no dust in the air.
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  19. #19
    jkc
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    Never broken a spoke even when I taco a wheel in a crash. My '14 Ksyrium Equipe has over 15k miles and still going. The race wheels I build in 1990 was still going and probably had over 30k before I donated them. (Had a 23 year hiatus from the sport. Got new equipment after my old bike got damaged and my DA 7400 had seen better days.) When I wrenched in college, over a four year span at school and in LBS summers, I only replaced a hand full and they were from badly under tension wheels from equally badly maintained bikes. Did a lot of wheel rehabilitating each fall, just about every bike in for a tune-up. While working in LBS, I have to check/adjust for tension, round, and true on every bike out of the box. Did the same on '14 wheels since the bike was bought via mail order (was pretty good actually and much better than the 90s bikes I build; just a minor true and round). At minimum, this is also part of my yearly maintenance. (Never actually have to re-tension except when I decide to ride again, was lazy, and farmed it out to a LBS. For some reason they decreased the tension on every spoke, front and rear. They also return the bike with my lock nut on the headset hand tight and had no ideal how to deal with the needle bearings. Glad I didn't paid for the premium and had to redo the BB and hubs. I do my own maintenance now.)

  20. #20
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    approx 90+K miles life-time miles ridden, have broken one spoke.

    was a Mavic Open Pro 32h wheel with butted spokes. normally a pretty bullet-proof setup...

    otoh, have put ~30K miles on DA C24s with low-count proprietary bladed spokes, had zero failures.
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  21. #21
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    Wheels can get out of round from a significant impact, which can contribute to the spokes demise.
    I have wheels that I have built that have lasted 25 years, and a few (maybe 5 or so) that gave up the ghost in a few years or less.
    (I am talking about road wheels...I have built around 600 wheels in thirty years)
    Last edited by rideit; 06-08-2018 at 08:59 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Wow. Why do your chains crap-out so fast???
    Hey, no joke!

    Met more than one guy who mashed hard gears all the time and they broke rear wheel spokes from the repeated lateral loading, on badly tensioned spokes for sure. Also knew a guy who wore out his chains in less than 2000 miles, from the same problem, always churning along full blast in the big ring. Could these be related phenomena?

    Can't remember the last time I had to true the 36 spoke wheels on two bikes. Been at least 10 years, probably 20,000 miles on each. Got a replacement rim for the rear on the commuter bent in a fall on leaves about 6 years ago. There's a tight spoke in there that will probably break at some inopportune moment.

    One old rule would be if rider starts breaking spokes, time to rebuild the wheel with all new spokes. When they get loose, they wear out at the bends. When one breaks, the adjacent spokes take up the slack. Then one good bump pops one of them.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 06-08-2018 at 08:34 PM.

  23. #23
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    "J" bend spokes can last a long time, but they will eventually start to break at the "J"..Straight pull spokes can last much longer. I've never broken a straight pull spoke (front or rear)..I've got an aluminum front Mavic Cosmic that I bought in 2001 that must have over 80,000 miles on it. No broken spokes and the rim is still in good shape.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR_GRUMPY View Post
    "J" bend spokes can last a long time, but they will eventually start to break at the "J"..Straight pull spokes can last much longer. I've never broken a straight pull spoke (front or rear)..I've got an aluminum front Mavic Cosmic that I bought in 2001 that must have over 80,000 miles on it. No broken spokes and the rim is still in good shape.
    They shouldn't.
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  25. #25
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    According to Jobst Brandt in The Wheel Book, he says spokes break because they were not properly stress relieved during the wheel build and when your rim wears out, you should just replace the rim and not the spokes.

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