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Today I had a spoke break in the middle of a ride. I did notice it had a wobble but I don't have the experience to tell what's passable. Even new bikes can have a slight wobble. so I dismissed it.

I was quoted £30 to replace the spoke and true it - the mechanic said he had to remove the cassette and rotor to replace a drive side spoke.

Is this true or they're having a laugh?

Should I replace myself? if I remember correctly this wheel has had a a spoke break on me before.

  • this wheel has had a a spoke break on me before That's a bad sign - spokes tend to have similar lifetimes as they fatigue from cyclic stress. If a spoke has broken on this wheel before, especially if it's recent, it's time to start thinking about rebuilding or replacing the wheel. If it happens again, IMO it's definitely time to rebuild or replace the wheel. – Andrew Henle May 14 at 16:20
  • out of the rear and front - do rear wheels get punished more when you're riding? – Ageis May 14 at 16:35
  • Rear wheels support a larger share of the rider's weight and have to deal with power transmission as well – Argenti Apparatus May 14 at 16:37
  • It broke closer to the hub so I thought I better remove it just in case it gets caught in the hub then send me over the bars. Is this possible – Ageis May 14 at 16:47
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    Replacing a single spoke costs flat $30US where I live, so £30 (presumably UK) doesn't sound excessive. – Argenti Apparatus May 14 at 16:52
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Yes, usually you have to remove both to get the spokes through, although not every time depending on the specific hub and rotor.

It's typical that wheels that break spokes are going to keep breaking them due to build or material quality issues or both. So which is the least painful between doing it yourself 16 or 32 times versus paying for it versus buying a new wheel or paying to get it rebuilt all at once is up to you.

If the bike/wheel is within a warranty period and it's having this issue, it's an especially good thing to use the warranty for because if they're breaking when still fairly new, it really may not stop until they're all replaced. I've rebuilt or replaced many such wheels.

Replacing spokes is low to moderate difficulty, depending on how messed up the wheel is once you're getting it true, but does have a lot of steps, so shop rates for it unfortunately tend to be something like what you're encountering.

  • oh thanks. I guess am just cheap. I just spent £1000 on a full suspension. Then best part of another grand on a holiday to Florida. Am now unemployed as well so you can't blame me for being cheap. – Ageis May 14 at 17:09
  • @Ageis if you need to save this is potentially something you can do yourself if you have access the necessary tools – Rider_X May 14 at 17:39
  • can I ask how much is the rear wheel + front worth in it's current state. I want to get rid of them. The spokes and rim aren't steel as they aren't magnetic. – Ageis May 15 at 15:48
  • @Ageis Unless you have something like an aluminum-spoked Ksyrium, low or no magnetism means they're stainless steel. We can't say what they're worth in terms of the viability of repair vs replace without knowing what they are. Replacement is often the far more economical solution. – Nathan Knutson May 15 at 15:55
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On hubs which use traditional J-bend spokes, spokes alternately come from each side of the flange, and are therefore threaded through the spoke holes from alternating sides.

If the new spoke needed to be inserted from the non-drive side, it may have been required to remove the both the cassette and rotor to allow that.

It's well within the scope of most riders who do their own bike maintenance to replace a single spoke. There are plenty of resources online that show you how to do it.

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This is just an 'Is it blocking the way' kind of situation. It's up to you if you want to faff around installing spokes with the rotor installed, since it's just a thread-in-the-needle kind of installation (the spoke to flange part, that is).

If you're looking for the best way to do it, then I'd say you remove the rotors first as you don't want to accidentally rub your oily fingers on those surfaces as you thread in your spokes.

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