Need expert frame help, breaking spokes. (long)
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  1. #1
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    Need expert frame help, breaking spokes. (long)

    I have a beautiful custom steel frame from a highly-respected frame builder, (to remain unnamed). I race and have been for quite a few years, various frames, but always went back to steel. I've had steel frames from another custom builder as well, so this isn't exactly unknown territory.

    I'm a cat 3, all around type of rider. Not a huge sprinter or tiny climber. About 6'1", 170+ lbs. I'm including this as it may come up.

    The reason I am writing is I hope to tap into the minds of the experts. I had the frame built to be fast, stiff in the right places, etc. And fast it is, very quick handling and stiff out of the saddle. Pretty amazing, in my opinion.

    Finally, the problem. As stated above, I break spokes in every wheel I ride. This is getting expensive, as it's been 5 wheels now, 3 of which are rebuilds. This always happens when accelerating out of the saddle, but not always a hard effort. I'm not laying the bike sideways to sprint, just a little movement within the norm. Wheels have been well built wheels, 3x 32 hole - clincher and tubies, 3x 28 hole, Dura Ace wheels and a high end pair of Velocities. This is getting expensive, as the last one, in a race over the weekend, will cost me race entry, getting the wheel fixed and a new Record derailleur, as it ended up in my rear wheel.

    I've had the frame alignment checked, and it's spot on. I also have talked with the builder about this in the past, and they said to ride high quality wheels, which I always have. I've reached out to them again as I need to resolve this.

    I've also chatted with various mechanics, pro team and otherwise, and this seems to be a stumper.

    If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know. I'd be very greatful.

    Cheers!

  2. #2

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    Who builds your wheels

    Who is building your wheels?
    It does not sound like you are. Where are the spokes breaking off at, the spoke head @ the hub?
    There are charts that spec recommended spoke tension for rims and lacing patterns (ie. Mavic).
    Do your wheels stay true right up until they break? It sounds like your rear wheel is always being affected.

    Having built my own wheels for quite some time, I think a 3x-32 lace-up and tensioning
    is not very hard.

  3. #3
    100% torqued
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    Yeah, your parts should be resulting in solid wheels. It is either the builder, accidents, or gremlins.

  4. #4
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    It's not the frame

    It's extremely unlikely that this problem is caused by the frame. It sounds like wheel build problems, most likely uneven spoke tension.

  5. #5
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    Interesting. Well, as I said, it's been 5 different wheels from different wheel sets. The one that's holding is a heavier 32 spoke wheel that has been tied and soldered in one of the rebuilds.

    As for who's building, mechanics who know what they are doing. Obviously, the Dura Ace wheels and Velocities were factory built. The others were built locally by a couple different guys (good mechanics) that I trust.

    I have built wheels in the past, so I do undstand the build and how it's done. Time is just the issue for me.

    Do the wheels stay true? For the most part. Once in a while I'll have one that needs a bit more attention. For instance, the tuby that went this weekend has always been a good wheel. A very occasional tweak, but nothing out of the ordinary by any means.

    As for the breaks, always drive side. I'm afraid I haven't kept track of where the breaks happened, though I should have. Latest one was at the nipple.

    Also note that I do stay off the ground, for the most part. Crashes are not the problem here.

    Thanks a lot folks. I'll keep checking in here.

  6. #6

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    I would pose your question to Mike Garcia of Odds and Endos. He is probabably the best wheel builder in the country and if anyone has seen your problem, he would have. My thought is the wheels are not being tensioned properly. Is the mechanic that is building them actually using a tension meter or is he doing it by "feel". Even experienced builders will often times be off by up to 50% from what is right when doing it by "feel." Also are you using new components? What spokes are you using?

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the thoughts. I am using Campy Record, for the most part. Campy Record hubs and Campy rims, Barcelona, I believe. I love the Campy rims.

    Can't speak to the tensioning, but I'd guess they do it without a meter. However, I was just given a name of a local gent, someone I know, who is actually quite the astute wheel builder. Very anal and detailed. Didn't know this was his thing.

    I've been reaching out to different people and just heard from another friend who said the Campy hubs can have problems due to the offset of the non-drive flange. I guess they moved it towards the dropout to increase stiffness, but thereby, increasing the dish also. Thing is, these weren't all Campy wheels.

    It's been recommended on a couple occasions that I get a pair of Ksyriums. I may have to take the plunge. On that note, I may also swap out my FSA carbon cranks for my Record cranks with the square spindled BB. I've read that the Record stuff isn't quite to the level of stiffness as the FSA or even Shimano. While I'm sure the difference is quite minimal, I have to wonder if it would help.

    Thanks for all the thoughts. Feel free to share anything further.

  8. #8

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    I have absolutely no background in Road Cycling, but I have BMX/Freestyle wheel experience at what could be called a professional level. (although in bmx/freestyle our main concern if the wheel passes through the chainstays.) Relaced and retrued many sets. I have failed many wheelsets and have seen others fail. I have only seen nipples break off when there is a significant lateral force applied from the side of the wheel that the failed spoke supported.

    Although you say you don't lay your bike sideways when you sprint, you need to have someone verify that for you. Remember you only have about 4 spokes holding the tension of the wheel when you lay the bike out during sprinting. When you are concentrating on sprinting, you may not realize you are laying the bike out.

    I caught myself doing it last week.

    I hope I helped and more importantly that you solve your problem.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Drive side breakage usually means way too much tension. Breaking at the nips usually means bad(defective) spokes.
    Usually non-drive spokes are the ones to break. This is because the wheel was built with too little tension in the spokes.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  10. #10
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    Thanks for the thoughts. Only thing I see here is that two of the wheels were not hand built. I can't imaging the same problem with all 5 sets of wheels. Then again, I can't verify that either.

    EOC, thanks to you as well. Any thoughts are welcome.

    Cheers!

  11. #11
    Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_speed
    About 6'1", 170+ lbs. I'm including this as it may come up.
    The plus sign after 170 makes me nervous. Plus how much? If it's 70 pounds or something, well, then no wonder!
    "jazz gives you large testicles"--aliensporebomb

  12. #12
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    Sounds very odd. Gotta be either the wheels or your weight combined with your riding style.

  13. #13
    What the Hell is going on
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    I'd say it's the wheel builders fault

    I'm 6'2" and 230lbs. (and losing). I build all my wheels and the most dependable, solid, and durable (albeit heavist) set of wheels I have are 32 hole Velocity Deep V rims on Ultegra hubs laced 3x using 14g DT spokes. I don't race as much as I should but I go on weekly club rides. In the past 5 years this wheelset has seen a lot of hard riding and it still spins straight and true.
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  14. #14
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    Gents, the plus is simply because I my weight varies from about 170 - 175, that's all.

    JaeP, I've ridden the deep Vs as well and like them. Have a set up on my fixy like that as well. Pretty solid wheels. However, I've actually been told by a couple builders that double butted spoked often hold up better than straight guage, simply because they give just a hair more. Not sure what that means.

    Thanks again.

  15. #15
    Incredibly slow
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    Have you had someone ride behind you to see if there is something you are doing and aren't aware of? Even better, someone in a car with a camcorder.

  16. #16

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    I've read this thread and pondered things. Logic says it's not the wheel. Since you have broken spokes on both factory and hand-built wheels and stumped some experts it can't be the wheels themselves. It has to be you; something you do that breaks the spoke. A wheel factory should hire you to ride their wheels, man ( being humerous here).

    You have to draw the correct conclusion. You gave us enough information. You can rule out a problem with wheels. It could be a combination of frame and rider. It could be just rider. It is NOT the wheels.

  17. #17
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    Interesting bits. In my years of doing this, no one has every commented on any particular riding characteristic that seems any different or stands out. Something I may have to consider trying to get an opinion on, get recorded, etc. When I first started, I worked a lot on form, cadence, etc. But who knows what happens in the heat of things.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by one_speed
    Interesting bits. In my years of doing this, no one has every commented on any particular riding characteristic that seems any different or stands out. Something I may have to consider trying to get an opinion on, get recorded, etc. When I first started, I worked a lot on form, cadence, etc. But who knows what happens in the heat of things.

    Thanks for the thoughts.
    Have you looked to see if you have a 666 tattooed behind your ear? I hear that demon spawn can really tear up bike wheels.

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  19. #19
    Fini les ecrase-"manets"!
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    Quote Originally Posted by one_speed
    Gents, the plus is simply because I my weight varies from about 170 - 175, that's all.

    JaeP, I've ridden the deep Vs as well and like them. Have a set up on my fixy like that as well. Pretty solid wheels. However, I've actually been told by a couple builders that double butted spoked often hold up better than straight guage, simply because they give just a hair more. Not sure what that means.

    Thanks again.
    Yeah, I know. Plus, I actually DO weigh almost 70 lbs more than you, and I don't break spokes on my 32 hole 3x Open Pros.

    My wheelbuilding book says that butted hold up better, but I don't remember the logic for it.
    "jazz gives you large testicles"--aliensporebomb

  20. #20

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    Like I an others stated, verify your technique. I think that is where it is at.

    The other thing I was thinking is you said you have collected a derailure (SP) from a spoke failure. Are you sure it didn't cause the failure. Make sure your derailure (SP) is not coming over too far when you shift in to the gear closest to spokes. If it shifts over fast enough it may go further inward than you think causing bad things to happen. If it has spring tension and you can push it over into the spoke area, see if you can put a stiffer spring in it.

    Double butted spokes will not help when you are snapping nipples.

    Fun useless fact: In bicycle freestyle we often use 14 gage spokes for strength 48 per wheel. Talk about strength and weight.

  21. #21
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    EOC - the deraileur was in part, my fault. I was in the big ring and middle of the cassette, so wasn't near the spokes. After the spoke went, I slid over to let the group by and downshifted a gear or so. I didn't go onto the largest cog, but must have gotten close enough that the spoke came around and grabbed the deraileur before I had the chance to pull over and remove it. Dumb error, I know better, but the frustration got the better of me.

    In any event, I'll check the deraileur when I get the new one on for the weekend. Thanks again.

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