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I have Trek Marlin 7 that I bought on May 2022. Starting I had a spoke break at the thread in November, then another spoke break in mid-April at the thread and now I have another one break at the end of April.

When I have spoken to the shop they compared my issue to having a puncture. I had another bike for over 10 years and have not had a broken spoke.

I mainly ride on the flat (Canals). All 3 spokes broke while flat and not going over bumps. All broke on my rear wheel.

Could this be a manufacturing fault? Is it something that happens this often?

Thanks Sam

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  • Did you try to lift your bike or put it upside down, let the wheel spin freely and see if it is bent?
    – FluidCode
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 12:57
  • @FluidCode Yes, it is bent this time. I'm sure the first 2 times is wasn't bent. Commented May 11, 2023 at 13:28
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    The wheel might bend with time and use. If the quality is not the best it happens earlier. In this case it is a chicken and egg problem, the tension is not properly distributed and the spokes break and then the tension spreads unevenly making it worse. When spokes break you should ask an expert to check the tension and try to adjust it as much as possible. For someone with the right tools it does not take very long. If you sent it for maintenance and you are not sure they fixed it you can just try and touch them with your finger to feel the tension.
    – FluidCode
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 13:43
  • In the case that not the bike but Your riding style is the problem: spokes don't need to snap immediately. Anything "too bumpy" for the last week or two could have initiated the final crack. Solution: get Your ass off the saddle over potholes or stones and relax the elbows.
    – Vorac
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 19:58

2 Answers 2

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Spokes break because of uneven tensioning, when you break one spoke, if the retensioning is not done properly, it only exacerbates the problem for the remaining spokes, and you may have more broken spokes in the future.

That being said, wheels are often an area where manufacturers cheap out. I have a bike of "similar range" (Trek Dual Sport, using the same hubs, but probably different rims), and had the same issue as the one you mentioned. 3 broken spokes, just at the beginning of thread. Most broke when going uphill on road, when I was pedaling hard.

On my side, I ended up replacing the wheels (with a 250-300€ pair of wheels from a reputable wheels manufacturer). It was for another reason though: the cones of the bearing were worn, and couldn't find replacements. I took that opportunity to replace the wheels. I have now the new wheels for a longer period than the stock ones, no broken spokes, despite having less spokes and being 1kg lighter (for the two wheels). And no squeaking issues with quality tires.

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    But note that much cheaper wheels of a decent quality are available than the example in the answer
    – Chris H
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 12:42
  • @ChrisH I have to admit I may have over-reacted, but after this bad experience, I wanted to have some "features" to ease spokes and bearings repairs, that you don't find in lower price points: straight spokes (to avoid having to unmount cassette and rotors when replacing a spoke), standard sealed bearings (to avoid a hub/wheel replacement because of bearings), more simple spare spoke management (I have only 2 different spoke lengths with the new wheels) - the range up had even better features (only one spoke length, spokes can be replaced without unmounting the wheel, and rim without hole).
    – Rеnаud
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 19:24
  • That all sounds really nice to have especially given some mechanicals I've dealt with. I was just concerned that the price point might be a bit off-putting
    – Chris H
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 20:16
  • I realised the wording may be ambiguous: the price I mentioned was for the pair, not per wheel. It doesn't seem that going under 200€ (for the pair) from reputable brands is doable.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 21:17
  • It might be hard to find with recent price increases; it's a few years since I had to do that as I now build my own wheels. But there are reliably-built wheels from smaller brands or even made to order too. I mainly know of UK suppliers but have heard good things about Rose, as an EU-based example .
    – Chris H
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 7:23
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Spokes also break because of poor quality metal. I have had a wheel that was constantly breaking spokes, but at the bend instead of the thread. It was repaired several times during the warranty period and tuned to equal tension but this didn't help.

On the other hand, for my home built wheels I have used expensive brand name spokes (DT Swiss for 30 cents per piece) and I have never broken any of those even though some of them have worked themselves completely loose and I had to re-tension them. For a bike built to price point even these spokes would be too expensive, and anyway the manufacturer can assume that most of the bikes sold will never be ridden enough that the wheels would need replacement.

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