5

From reading another thread I'm pretty sure a spoke snapped on my way home.

The bicycle was fine and then right after turning left the rear tire came un-centred and started rubbing against the frame so much that I couldn't pedal home.

Anyway I'm wondering what causes spokes to break.

  • 2
    Can't you see if a spoke has broken? – Holloway Sep 10 '14 at 11:02
15

Spokes break for the same reason any other material does: they are subject to stresses they are unable to withstand.

In the case of a wheel, it can be overloaded by rider weight, cargo, or forceful impacts. Additionally, the presence of loose spokes results in other, properly tensioned spokes bearing more of the wheel's load. Spokes are under tension, so loose spokes are subject to larger swings in stress as they are loaded and unloaded as the wheel rotates. This cycling fatigues the spoke material and can lead to failure.

All of these can be compounded when the spokes are materially compromised from corrosion or other forms of damage.

  • 4
    Fatigue can also be a cause if all the spokes are loose or th wheel very old. A common form of damage is the chain dropping between the spokes and the cluster (those unfashionable spoke guards really do work to stop this kind of damage) – mattnz Sep 10 '14 at 3:21
  • @mattnz excellent point. i'll add a bit about fatique and try to keep it sufficiently high-level. let me know if i miss the mark. – Paul H Sep 10 '14 at 3:50

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