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  1. #1
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    Spoke nipple breaking off at the head.

    I had this happen to me for the first time last Saturday as I was climbing up a steep section of a hill, I had just got up off the saddle and was torquing hard of the pedals, this is a wheel that I had built with 4200 miles on it, it was a nds spoke nipple that broke, My question is this very common, being it was on the nds, an it was a Sapim alum nipple, I use brass on the driveside.

  2. #2
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Yes, it is quite common. Comes with the territory when you build with aluminum nipples.
    That said, I have wheels I built with aluminum nipples that are still going strong after 20 years...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Yes, it is quite common. Comes with the territory when you build with aluminum nipples.
    That said, I have wheels I built with aluminum nipples that are still going strong after 20 years...
    Well ok, it was a first for me, with over 11 years of riding an 38000 plus miles of riding, seeing it was a 32 spoke wheel, I just tighten the nearest spokes beside it and loosen the ds pair a little, was 35 miles from my truck, an over a hour from home. So could have been a big headache.

  4. #4
    changingleaf
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    To avoid this it's important to make sure the spoke is long enough to thread into the head of the nipple so that the nipple head is not in pure tension.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by changingleaf View Post
    To avoid this it's important to make sure the spoke is long enough to thread into the head of the nipple so that the nipple head is not in pure tension.
    I think it was, that was one of the points Musson stress in his e-book that I used to build the wheel with, but it has been a while since i check it might have been off a little.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by changingleaf View Post
    To avoid this it's important to make sure the spoke is long enough to thread into the head of the nipple so that the nipple head is not in pure tension.
    Short spoke is Usually the case when you see it rip the head off

  7. #7
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    I've had it happen three times.
    Two of them (one front one rear same wheelset) the wheelbuilder claimed he got some defective nipples and it was happening to a lot of his customers. No idea if that's true. I can't recall if they were threaded into the head all the way or not.

    The third time I attribute to riding in the winter where roads get a lot of salt so corrosion but that's just a guess. This one definitely was threaded all the way in.

  8. #8
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    I live in coastal West FL, near the Gulf of Mexico. Some of my rides take me out to the barrier islands nearby so my wheels are exposed to salt all the time. The only time I have ever had a nipple break was on pre-built wheels with AL nipples. In 2007, I started buying custom built wheels and specified Brass nipples and since have begun building my own wheels, using only brass nipples. No failures in 11 years. I’ve rebuilt Zipps, both mine and for friends where the AL nipples literally disintegrated as I took them apart to rebuild with Brass. I wouldn’t use anything but Brass if your wheels are exposed to salt on the roads or, in my case, the air and puddles, etc on the islands.

  9. #9
    a real member's member
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    i saw a broken nipple for the first time recently when i was truing an old tubular front wheel. i noticed some green-colored corrosion, which probably caused it to break.
    Yossarian: don't worry. nothing's going to happen to you that won't happen to the rest of us.

  10. #10
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    I'm confused, is the head down at the wheel hub or at the nipple? I don't see any way a nipple could make the head pop, except that if it corrodes the tension drops causing head failure.
    BANNED

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    It was the nipple head, the spoke was totally intact

  12. #12
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    This drawing shows why a nipple with a short spoke can break. (from this page on wheel building.)



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