I had an accident and now have 2 broken spokes on the rear wheel of my mountain bike. No bike tools, and no bike shops in the country with 29 inch spokes or rims.

Anyway I have removed the two broken spokes and have a badly warped back wheel. The two spokes are both from the same side, there is 3 intact spokes between them.

Given that there is no way to replace these spokes at the moment, if I took a spoke from the other side and replaced one of the broken ones would it help true the wheel? I need this bike, so I'm going to have to use it until I can order spokes from overseas but it's unrideable at the moment.

Would it be better to try and replace both with spokes from the front wheel perhaps?

I've read about spoke tools, but I don't have anything like that, is it possible to do this with normal tools?

Update:- Got the back rim unwarped, just a bit wobbly now, and managed to get into town with a replacement front rim off my girls bike. Couldn't find a 26, so hopefully will do better on Monday when more places are open. Temporary solution

  • 2
    Judging from your profile you seem pretty handy, you may be able to make a spoke wrench of some sort, essentially their just a notch cut into a piece of metal. it obviously won't be as good as a real one but should get the job done. As for the spokes i would probably remove two from the front wheel, opposite sides, 180º from each other.
    – Nate W
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 16:37
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    As a temporary measure, simply loosen the spokes on the opposite side. And you can, in a pinch, make a longer spoke out of two shorter spokes by cutting off the ends and making interlocking loops in them. Better is to get yourself some extra-long straight-butted spokes and a spoke cutter/threader tool so you can make whatever you need. Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:22
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    What about 700c parts?
    – Chris H
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 18:14
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    Chris makes a point, in that 29" wheels are really just 700c wheels, by far the most common size for "road" bikes. The only problem would be if the spokes in question are super heavy duty ones that use a larger hole in rim and hub. Otherwise, road bike spokes should fit just fine. Commented May 27, 2016 at 20:27
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    If parts are that hard to get, you should be ordering in a supply from an international source like wiggle or ebay shows them for as little as $10 USD for a pack. Don't ride the bike with missing spokes, you have to over-stress other ones to take up the load, leading to potentially more failures.
    – Criggie
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


Can you? Sure!

Should you? Well...

You say it's a mountain bike - what kind of riding do you do? If you're mostly doing commuting on smooth roads, you should be able to get away with it through careful riding, avoiding curbs, pot-holes and other harsh knocks. If you're riding off-road on even moderately bumpy terrain, I'd say that's a prescription for a wheel failure which will end up in another accident, and this time it may not be just the wheel that ends up broken.

As far as spoke wrenches go, when I last really worked on a wheel, the top of the nipple had a small slot in it where you could use a slotted screwdriver. It appears that they still do:

Shamelessly stolen from Bike Parts Place.com

You can remove the tire, tube and rim tape then use your screwdriver in this slot. I'd suggest that when you order your spokes you would want to order either a multi-size spoke wrench or a set of single-size wrenches (I just picked up a Parke Tools multi-size one last night for $10, the set was about $15) as that will make quick tweaks to truing much easier in the future. I'd also suggest ordering a few extra spokes, just to have them on hand should this ever happen to you again.

Since it's your rear wheel and that takes the majority of your weight, I'd suggest that you'd want to temporarily replace both of them with spokes from the front. Where from the front you'd want to pull them, I'm not certain - I'd hope someone else will chime in on that. Pulling them from right next to each other increases the weakness at that spot, but makes it easier to maintain true, while pulling from 180° from each other spreads the weakness, but makes it more difficult to true up.

As a side note, I'm curious where you are that you've got a bike with 29" wheels - I certainly don't know all there is to know about bikes, but that's a diameter I've not heard of before.

  • I got it at Christmas at the local hardware store, it was the only one that size, and my last bike was over a decade ago (10 speed road bike). The 26 ones look too small to me, and I hate riding them the few I've tried. No road bikes here at all. I just use it for commute. I've already seen the screwdriver slot when I removed the spokes.
    – Kilisi
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 16:20
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    Thanks for the accept @Kilisi ! I'd suggest removing it for now, though, as questions with accepted answers tend to not get other answers. You do want someone else looking at this - at the very least to ensure my suggestion on pulling spokes makes sense.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 16:59
  • I have the right answer I reckon, two spokes from the front, then replace the front wheel with a 26, leaves me a bunch of spare spokes, and with a bit of welding I'll have front brakes sorted, looks like just a couple of steel plates will do it. So the front minus two spokes just need to get me into town in one piece tomorrow, about an hour taking it easy.
    – Kilisi
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:03
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    So long as you're happy with it!
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 17:11
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    If you can find a shop that can weld or braise a brake boss to fit a 26 wheel, it would be easier and cheaper to braise or weld a couple of 26" spokes together to make a few longer ones as a temporary solution, and order some correct length spokes off the internet?
    – mattnz
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 4:48

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