I bought a nice e-bike. Unfortunately, it has only 28 spokes front and rear. The spokes seem to be 2mm straight gauge. The double wall aluminum rims do not have double eyelets / sockets. The hubs are not Shimano. The rear freehub is very noisy when coasting.

After less than 100km, both front and rear wheels had lost spoke tension in many spokes. The bicycle became so wobbly that it's practically unrideable.

What now?

  • 2
    Have you tried tightening the spokes? Jul 12 '20 at 13:04
  • 1
    There are chances that it is actually not a nice bike, or that the bike does not exist but serves an excuse for a long, detailed and wrong self-answer.
    – ojs
    Jul 12 '20 at 13:54

Replace the stupid low spoke count wheels built with cheap straight gauge spokes and cheap non-Shimano hubs with proper handbuilt wheels. There is no excuse for having less than 36 spoke per wheel, or for using straight gauge spokes, non-Shimano hubs or non double eyelet rims for that matter.

Those wheels that the e-bike came with are a major design fault. There is no way the spokes can be tightened enough to make the low spoke count wheels having non double eyelet rims last. The straight gauge spokes are less flexible than triple butted spokes, and therefore, the load is distributed to far fewer spokes than on triple butted spokes.

In principle, it might be a good idea to have the shop where you bought the bike from to tighten the spokes and true the wheels so that you have the original wheels for warranty purposes, but there's no way that 28-spoked straight gauge spoked wheels can last. The spokes cannot be made tight or else the non double eyelet rims will be damaged.

When hand-building the replacement wheels, select Shimano hubs. They have proper angular contact cup and cone bearings that are adjustable and the freewheel side bearing is near the end of the axle, thus making the axle last longer. Unlike non-Shimano hubs that have noisy freewheels, Shimano freewheels are very silent.

The replacement rims should be 36 spoke holed double wall aluminum rims with double eyelets / sockets. Do not select anodized rims or else they'll start to crack.

The replacement spokes could be either DT Swiss Competition 1.8/1.6/1.8mm spokes or DT Swiss Alpine III 2.34/1.8/2.0mm spokes. The Alpine III spokes have slightly better seat at the hub spoke holes, but the Competition 1.6mm spokes are slightly more flexible, thus distributing the spoke load over a larger number of spokes.

The nipples should be brass, naturally, and not aluminum.

  • 4
    This is weirdly detailed from a person who apparently has never seen a bicycle in real life and the last time they read about them was when Usenet still was a thing.
    – ojs
    Jul 12 '20 at 13:52
  • 3
    Surprised you never ended the answer with put some GP5000 tires on. Honestly every time @juhists answers a question I feel he is reading from autocue.
    – Dan K
    Jul 13 '20 at 7:37
  • 2
    Can @juhist tell us why 28 is a 'stupid low spoke count'? My front wheels all have 18 spokes and I would not consider that stupid low because in all those years none has ever failed.
    – Carel
    Jul 14 '20 at 12:01

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