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Back wheel question

Snita's picture

By Snita - Posted on 17 February 2015

HI all

I noticed my back wheel has a bit of a wobble in it, then a couple of days later a spoke has come loose, or at least thats the order I think it happened in. Coincidence?

What should I do, new wheel or should it be fixable?

How do I know if the wheel is buckled, I've taken off the wheel, tire and tube, and when i spin the rim it has a little wobble in it.. Rim is a bontrager x lite..

also, any opinions on these guys?

Bike is Trek Fuel 9.5

Thanks all!


jackthelad's picture

Just tighten your spoke with a spoke key
sounds like your wheels need a bit of tension after a few rides
unless you need excuse to spend money

Snita's picture

sorry meant to say spoke has come off the hub end and I have just removed it completely.

hawkeye's picture

The busted spoke is likely causing the wobble.

This is quite common with machine built wheels. They're not properly stress relieved before you ride them, and with a bit of use the spokes eventually do stress relieve by themselves in use, except this will have caused them to lose a little tension.

That causes them to unload excessively as they go in and out of tension as they spin while you ride, causing them to flex and eventually results in spoke fatigue failure. This is why yours has failed at the spoke head bend.

Machine built wheels should be taken to a shop that specialises in wheels (eg Belrose Bikes or Ride In Workshop) and get the wheels stress relieved and retensioned after a few weeks riding.

In the absence of abuse they should then be reliable for the rest of their service life.

moggio's picture

Easy enough to replace the spoke yourself if you are hands on and depending on how expensive your wheels are. Take old spoke to a bike shop and get a new one of the same length. Depending on which side of the wheel you may need to remove cassette and/or rotor and then put in new spoke following the weave of the other spokes. Then tension it till its of a matching pitch when you pluck it compared to the other spokes, then check wobble... trickier part, some good youtube vids on how to fine adjust it.

Good to know how to do this if you ever go on all day rides or trips away not near a bike shop.

Still as it is pretty simple, a bike shop will do it easily and get the wheel perfectly straight.

pharmaboy's picture

Hi Ben, without someone showing you or reading a book on wheels and having a tensiometer, I'd just take it to your friendly bike shop and pay the $25 to get it trued. Save you money in the long run and if you want to learn buy a park tool tension meter sometime .

obmal's picture

Some words on attacking a wheel with a tension meter.

1> Know your spokes and your wheel, there are big variations in settings depending on the spoke type and rim type, wheel type (front or back).

2> Don't be surprised if after you spend a hundred bucks on the tools and half the day learning how to correctly tension your spokes without destroying other important settings (dish, lateral, vertical) that the wheel still is not laterally spot on (it's got a wobble in it..), some say that a wheel with all the spokes set with the correct tension but with a slight wobble is stronger than a wheel set up for appearances at the expense of correct tension, disk brakes negate the need to be spot on here.

3> $25 bucks at ye olde bike shoppe to replace a spoke, tension and true a wheel seems like a bargain? no?

hawkeye's picture

I have a tension meter, and a pro level wheel building stand is en route.

My recent experience relacing my rear wheel with a new rim with the same ERD using the rear triangle of my bike and cable tie "feelers" was successful ... but very time consuming. A proper stand should make relacing the front much faster.

The tension meter is a vital piece of kit in my view if you want to look after your wheels yourself. No need for the full dial indicator type. The cheapo Park one is good enough for occasional home use.

fairy1's picture

A spoked wheel is a pretty simple thing, if you shorten the spoke(wind the nipple down) the rim pulls to that side. If you have snapped a spoke you can usually replace it, tension that spoke and one either side and you will be good to go. However if they are all loosening they may all need attention, normally the drive side requires more tension as it has less dish so make sure you adjust the tensions differently for each side.

I re-spoked a rime today and after buying the spokes realised that the factory ahd spec'd the wrong length spoke which was what caused numerous spokes to go pop as they were bottomed in the nipple and couldn't be adjusted.

Don't worry about truing stands, a cable tie around the chainstay will let you get close enough, if it's centred in your frame that's all that matters.

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