I've never built a wheel and while I'd like to learn one day I'm not going to learn on this one.

On Saturday my rear wheel ate my derailleur (and bent the steel hanger in the process)*. No spokes broke at the time. After straightening the hanger I fitted the RD of my MTB (both are Shimano 9 speed) and it worked quite well. After about 130 km I heard a ping, and shortly afterwards the broken spoke snagged the chain and I came to a sudden stop. 20 km gently home and I go to change the spoke (it's a tourer, came with 3 spares). When I get the cassette off I find another has gone, and all 9 of those that come outwards on the drive side are damaged.

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So clearly 9 spokes need replacing. Is it reasonable to buy 9 new spokes and lace them in and tension them one by one then true the wheel? Or is that a stupid idea? I've got time to spend on the former approach as getting the wheel to a shop is a considerable hassle.

* there are some pictures on Strava for anyone who's interested in that bit.


3 Answers 3


The wheels got two missing spokes already - its not true now. I'd fit the replacement spokes, add a tape flag so you know which ones are new, and roughly tension. Then replace any damaged spokes that look iffy.

Do the worst ones, and keep replacing until you feel the remaining damage is more cosmetic, or till you run out of spare spokes. All spokes is probably a bit drastic, but all on one side is your upper bound, at $2ish each its still $40iish of spokes.

Then once all the damage is removed/mitigated work through the process of truing, or get a LBS to do it. I see its a disk brake, so runout doesn't have to be approaching zero :)

Do shout yourself a good (park or pedro) spoke key if you don't have one.

  • 1
    18 spokes ordered, enough for the whole side. I may only replace the 9 that encountered the chain. I got Sapim spokes for well under £1 each so a bit cheaper than your estimate. Your approach sounds like it should keep the wheel close to correctly dished, which would be nice. I'll have to check my "good" spoke key, bought for light truing
    – Chris H
    May 30, 2019 at 11:59
  • 1
    It was actually very nearly true (the broken spokes were far apart). I actually failed to order them, but replaced all 9 damaged spokes, i.e. all outer drive side spokes taking them from a spare wheel. And it gave me the confidence to build my next new full wheel
    – Chris H
    Aug 12, 2019 at 15:35

If a wheel starts breaking spokes, the general advice is to have the wheel rebuilt with all new spokes, because all the spokes are likely weakened by fatigue and will keep breaking.

In your case, spokes broke because they were damaged. The other spokes are presumably not weakened, so you can just replace the damaged ones.

Of course, if the wheel has a lot of miles on it you may elect to rebuild.

  • 1
    Yes, the damage is pretty clear here. It's only a couple of years old, not quite 16Mm (10k miles), so I'd like to lace in replacements and retrue.
    – Chris H
    May 29, 2019 at 20:12
  • I'm probably pointing out the obvious, but just to be clear, replace the damaged spokes one at a time, keeping the wheel true throughout.
    – DavidW
    May 29, 2019 at 20:35
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    And it should be noted that it's often just as cheap to buy a new wheel as it is to rebuild the old one, if you have to pay someone else to do the job. May 30, 2019 at 1:58
  • @DavidW that's what I was thinking. It's surprisingly true at the moment, considering it's down 2 spokes on the same side (quite far apart), but just as importantly it's still dished properly.
    – Chris H
    Jun 2, 2019 at 11:36

The wheel is repairable and it's a bad but not uncommon incident.

A wheel rebuild should cost around $50 at a LBS. Only a very cheap wheel is worth replacing completely in this instance - I get that it's only a 9-speed, but I also see a disc brake in there.

Spoke replacement one by one is the way to go. Not long to do, but all in all it might take up to half a day to true the wheel. The spokes themselves should cost about a quarter each, give or take.

  • They're slightly better spokes than that, but you're right, it's neither a high end nor a cheap wheel so worth recovering. I've trued wheels before, but tensioning from scratch will be new. Worst case I can replace and pay the lbs to true it
    – Chris H
    Jun 2, 2019 at 12:30

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