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I have a road bike with road tires. I commute on a paved trail that is fairly bumpy through a couple places due to roots pushing the asphalt up.

My problem is that about once every week or two, I have a poke nipple completely loosen and fall inside the wheel. I've had them replaced with brass nipples, but even those will fall out.

Is the bumpiness the cause of this? Should I expect the wheel hold up to this seemingly normal amount of wear and tear? Should I ditch the wheel and buy a new one? What's my best and hopefully most economical choice here?

  • Maybe something to do with the wheel design. I break more spokes than come loose. – paparazzo Mar 26 '17 at 14:25
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    It sounds to me like the wheel is improperly built. Plus no "spoke prep" compound was used on the spokes. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 26 '17 at 14:31
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    Do you simply smash into the roots or do you try and unweight the bike to go over them? Most economical is to go around the roots rather than through or over, or learn to bunny hop them. Your wheel is probably out of true, and would benefit from a shop tweak. You might benefit from backing the nipples off and drip some spoke prep in, or at last resort some cyanoacrylate (super glue) as a thread locker. – Criggie Mar 27 '17 at 2:26
  • I try to unweight the bike, basically get out of the saddle and try to let the bike bounce more freely. but they are numerous in place and there's not much else I can do. Bunny hopping one would mean landing directly on top of another. – Jody Mar 27 '17 at 13:40
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This is a strange problem you're describing. Having them chronically come loose to the point of falling off is not a common problem, and even so the obvious solution is more/proper tension, but if the wheel was essentially rebuilt already (all new nipples?) then one would hope it's in the reasonable ballpark, 100-120kgf drive side depending on the parts used. If you only mean to say you've had the lost ones replaced with brass, then getting the whole wheel tensioned up would hopefully fix it.

The other thing to do is apply a no-disassembly-required spoke prep such as DT Spoke Freeze or a wicking oil-resistant low/medium-strength threadlocker such as those made by Loctite or ND Industries. A small drop is applied at the spoke/nipple interface on each nipple, and it wicks in. It only takes a minute to do the whole wheel so it's a cheap solution if it works. Many but not all bike shops have this in the shop.

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  • Thanks. Gonna take it to my LBS and have them take care of it. Will try to remember to report back. The rear wheel has never had an issue, so what you're saying makes a lot of sense. Thanks! – Jody Mar 27 '17 at 0:46
  • Also, I did mean that I had only had the ones that fell out replaced, never redid the whole wheel. – Jody Mar 27 '17 at 13:38
  • LBS said it wasn't worth fixing the wheel. It only has 20 spokes and they thought for commuting (specifically on that trail) that I should be up around 32 or maybe more depending on my weight (~155lb). Starting the shopping process now.... – Jody Mar 28 '17 at 11:58
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About six months ago I thought somebody (unknown) had maliciously loosened some of my spokes. A week later it "happened" again. I now believe that the spokes were loosening by themselves during riding because they were too loose to begin with. I re-tensioned the entire wheel, and the problem has gone away completely. Good luck, hope it is that simple for you.

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