I have a commuting bike I've had for a few years, and as long as I've had it it's frequently broken spokes on the front wheel. Eventually I got sick of replacing them, put it down to a bad wheel, and replaced it with another wheel I had lying around. This second wheel is a decent Mavic touring rim on a Shimano Deore hub, and it's done a couple of years of trouble free service on a previous bike. Anyway, within a couple of months I got my first broken spoke and now it's the same pattern as before. Each time I replace I true the wheel up carefully and then check it again after a couple of days.

Over the last 20 odd years on several bikes I remember very few broken spokes- once on a loaded tourer, and maybe one or two MTBing.

So my question is this: Is there anything about a particular bike that might cause a lot of broken spokes- maybe forks slightly out of true or something? It's a single speed with a reasonably high gear (45x16) and I am frequently out of the saddle but I can't think this would be any more or an issue than climbing hills on my road bike.


So a month or so ago I broke 3 spokes in 3 rides, and ran out of patience. After letting the bike sit in a corner for a bit I found a cheap replacement fork and swapped it over. A couple of weeks later and everything is good, so at the moment it looks like that was the problem- early days yet though I suppose, as it took a while for the original setup to start popping spokes and now the wheel might have a few dodgy ones in it.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • Perhaps your fork is crooked, putting uneven stress or strain on the wheel? Without a wheel in it, do both arms of the fork match up?
    – SQB
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 10:33
  • Here's a Sheldon Brown page with instructions for checking fork alignment sheldonbrown.com/forkend-alignment.html Is the frame an MTB? Do you know if the fork is original? Where are the spokes breaking? I'm wondering if the fork rake or length could be mismatched with the frame.
    – vlieg
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 11:44
  • Fork is original, I'll have to have a closer look at the fork alignment. They spokes always go at the hub, doesn't seem to be a pattern for which side.
    – user814425
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 16:14
  • Another thing to check is the trueness of the wheel and the tension of the spokes. Are they all uniformly under the proper tension? Are some so loose that you could, with fingers only, turn the spoke nipples enough to loosen them? The last step in wheelbuilding is a strain-relief step where you squeeze pairs of spokes with your hand-- if any are loose again after that, they need to be re-adjusted.
    – Angelo
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 20:05
  • Is there a rack or fenders on the front of the bike? Dyno? Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 19:08

1 Answer 1

  • Are your brakes properly aligned? If they're off-center, every time you brake you'll generate a lateral force on the wheel that spokes absolutely hate.
  • How do you store your bicycles? Do they live in the garage or in the living room? If you live near the beach, the salt can cause corrosion and weaken the components.
  • Like the comments said, check the fork alignment. Since you stated that you had a wheel lying around that had never been a problem before mounting it on this particular bike, it leads me to think that there is something wrong with the current bike.
  • Brakes are OK, bike lives in flat, and I'm nowhere near the sea! Like you, it was the problems with the second wheel that started me wondering if it could be something about the bike.
    – user814425
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 16:15
  • I wonder if there is something on your commute route that is causing the rims to get slightly bent. (Train tracks ?). Repeated broken spokes almost always means a bent rim. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 17:54

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