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I am the proud owner of a Commencal FCB 2016 and I haven't had to do much maintenance since I've bought it a few months ago. But that was until two weeks ago. I decided to change tyres to better fit the current weather, and in the middle of the process, I noticed that a spoke was broken. I had it repaired and I think it may have been caused by fixing the tool to extract the tyre to a spoke the wrong way, but no way to be sure. Yesterday, when I arrived home, I noticed a noise coming from my rear wheel, and here it was, another spoke broken. The first time, I brought the wheel to a shop and they changed the spoke and took a quick look at the other spokes, which seemed okay for them.

I haven't changed my bike riding style lately, but the road I ride on is under maintenance, so my ride contains a few spots where the quality is very low. But I try to avoid most of the holes and that's pretty much it for the recent changes. Is it just bad luck or is something possibly wrong with my wheel ?

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    My rule is that three broken spokes is a trend. Sometimes you get one or two just through bad luck. And from the images I see online that looks like a vanilla bike with no particular reason to break spokes excessively. (Normally you start breaking spokes due to fatigue after tens of thousands of miles. I doubt that your bike has that much wear on it. Hitting a few rough spots is not apt to be a problem, though a bone-jarring pothole might be.) – Daniel R Hicks Nov 16 '16 at 12:54
  • (This is one disadvantage of disk brakes. With rim brakes you notice a broken spoke right away.) – Daniel R Hicks Nov 16 '16 at 12:57
  • Yeah the bike has only 1000kms and the holes I have on my ride are not really out of the ordinary. – Loufylouf Nov 16 '16 at 13:10
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In general - even if you will hit a few "small" holes it shouldn't damage your wheel.

For road bike wheels - when one spoke is broken you should braid all the spokes again as tension in road wheels is much bigger.

For the "not professional" bikes - you can replace one spoke as tension isn't so big and as important as in racing wheels.

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One broken spoke is bad luck, but increases the stress on the rest, which may have caused the second to go (especially as you only have 24 per wheel). I suggest you get the second replaced and the wheel trued rather than just looked over. If spokes continue to break it's often cheaper to replace the wheel than have it rebuilt with new spokes, assuming it's nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Yeah, it's a good point that if he rode with the first broken spoke for some time then he may have caused excessive strain on the adjacent ones. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 16 '16 at 12:56
  • Yes that's something I forgot to mention, I'm not sure the first spoke did break during the change of tyre, I only noticed it during the operation. I guess it's a wait and see situation now, and if something breaks again, I'll have my wheel carefully checked. – Loufylouf Nov 16 '16 at 13:06
  • Having thought "I'll true that wheel when I change the tyre at the weekend" and found that a spoke had died only as I fitted the new tyre, I could well believe that it broke earlier than you thought – Chris H Nov 16 '16 at 13:12
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I have a racing-style bike from 1998 with 36-spoke wheels. My weight has fluctuated quite a bit since I bought the bike. Ever since my weight has gone above 95 kg / 209 lbs / 15 stone, I've been breaking spokes fairly frequently; perhaps five spokes over the last 800 km (500 miles). On a long ride, it's not uncommon for me to discover two broken spokes at the end of the ride, rather than one. The spokes always break on the freehub side of the rear wheel, of course. Because I rarely broke spokes when my weight was less than 90 kg / 200 lb / 14 stone, it seems as though my weight is the problem. If you're heavier than the average rider, weight might be your problem also. You could get sturdier wheels, or just learn to live with it. I've found that riding over large bumps like railroad tracks is a bad idea, so I try to walk the bike over large bumps now.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, replacing a spoke is a fairly simple repair. You'll need a chain whip, cassette tool, crescent wrench (an adjustable wrench big enough for the cassette tool), and a spoke wrench. I recommend keeping several spare spokes on hand; it seems I always discover the broken spokes when I want to ride on Sunday, when the bike shops are closed. I can replace a broken spoke and re-true the wheel in ten or fifteen minutes, now that I've had plenty of practice.

  • I have rarely in my cycling career weighed less than 210 lbs (peaked out around 250), and I've rarely had broken spokes. Of course I ride touring bikes with slightly heavier wheels, but still 36 spoke, and fairly narrow rims. As to crossing railroad tracks you need to know how to "levitate" over them. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 16 '16 at 19:00
  • Either there's something wrong with your wheel or the spokes are extremely low quality. They usually don't snap like that. – ojs Nov 16 '16 at 20:52
  • Frequently breaking spokes on a 36-spoke wheel is not a normal situation even at 95kg. Even 18front/24rear wheels in the lower price range are certified for 110kg system weight. Frequent breaking could mean incorrectly built wheels with too low spoke tension. – Carel Nov 17 '16 at 13:15

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