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I noticed a wobble in my back wheel while commuting in this morning. Broken spoke. Is this a problem that I should take care of before my 7 mile commute home, or can I pick up a spoke and repair it at home?

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lol, when I first read the title of this question, I read "Can I ride home with a broken spine?" –  Richard Rodriguez Aug 18 '11 at 0:33
    
If you have any sort of toolkit at all it's a good idea to carry an appropriate-sized spoke wrench (don't use one of those one-size-fits all circle things). Then, when a spoke breaks, you can loosen the spoke on the opposite side to reduce the wobble in the wheel. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 7 at 15:42

7 Answers 7

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Yes you can ride home with a broken spoke. I'd probably unscrew the spoke from the nipple before doing so, so that it doesn't wobble around and get caught in other bits of the bike. Bike wheels are wonderful things that can easily put up with having a few spokes missing.

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Thanks for the fast answer! I'm about to try it an will tell you how it goes. I suspect the worst will be that it occasionally drags on my brakes. Will loosen those up. –  Precipitous Oct 6 '10 at 23:37
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No problems. If it's a road bike you can usually try flicking up the little lever on the brake caliper that makes taking the tyre out a bit easier. This gives the brakes more clearance and can avoid the drag. Just make sure you check that you can still lock up the brakes with the amount of movement you have left in the lever. –  deemar Oct 7 '10 at 0:46
    
totally agree, did it for 20km last Saturday. Take the spoke out and be a bit gentle. –  curtismchale Oct 7 '10 at 1:07
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If you can't unscrew, you can bend/wrap it around an adjacent spoke to keep it from getting caught in something else. If you have a spoke wrench, you can loosen the two spokes on either side to get the wheel closer to true. –  Gary.Ray Oct 7 '10 at 5:26
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@Precipitous: You should replace it though. It's not like you'll have trouble riding, but since the load distribution becomes worse, a broken spoke can lead to more spokes breaking. You'd be surprised how much more unstable a wheel with three broken spokes is. Anyway, you'll have to replace it eventually, and doing it sooner rather than later will mean less hassle in the end. –  Joren Oct 11 '10 at 3:19

You can even ride home with several broken spokes ; )

It's not exactly great for your wheels but if you take it easy (no jumps!) they'll be fine. I have done this many times without any permanent damage to my wheels. But do take Deemar's advice about unscrewing the spoke.

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without any VISIBLE permanent damage. The effort that a broken spoke no longer handles is distributed on the other spokes which get weaker. –  mouviciel Oct 7 '10 at 8:46
    
@mouviciel Fair call. Like I said, it's not great to do it, but it beats walking all the way home ; ) –  David HAust Oct 7 '10 at 22:22

I'm doing bicycle touring, and we do end up with broken spokes, with sometimes no place to fix it. I think the longest stretch was 120km in the South of Chile, on bad roads (gravel and dirt) with one and then two broken spokes. Even with the bicycle load (due to the luggage) the wheel handled that, although I've just been straightening it a bit from time to time.

So sure, you should be fine on a commuting bicycle with almost no load. Just take care of the bumps on the road (esp. when going on a sidewalk, if it's a shared one) as you might put pressure on the wheel which could bend a bit ==> the wheel could then touch the brakes if you don't have disks ones.

But don't wait too long. It's not because it's possible that it doesn't harm the rim to have broken spokes, eventhough I saw bikes in the Netherlands with quite a few broken spokes, still cycling and sometimes with 2 people on it! Crazy Dutch ;-)

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I rode a whole summer of commuting with a broken spoke. You'll be alright. :)

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While riding with broken spokes is possible, I have started to keep a pair of spare spokes taped down low on the seat tube mostly out of view. I typically only seems break spokes on the rear wheel and then on side away from the gears. So it's a quick fix to pull out the broken spoke and thread in a spare. The wheel is far truer that with the broken spoke. I only need this trick every two years or so and I feel a lot better riding on and then home.

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You've just been lucky, I suspect. The sprocket-side spokes are under more tension and are more apt to break than the other side. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 7 at 15:40

You should be fine as long as you can secure that broken spoke to the nearest spoke either by twisting it around the good spoke, or securing it with a piece of duct tape or bandaid which all bikers should carry. As long as you're sure it won't get loose and get into the derailleur or brake. You can losen it up to make the twisting job easier, but that usually isn't necessary. Just take it easy on the ride home.

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I would say yes but your chancing running it through you liner and into your tube. If it's just one broken spoke and you don't have far to go, you can bend/wrap it around the spoke next to it. Just don't bounce around a lot.

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protected by freiheit Apr 9 '12 at 20:16

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