Spoke advice needed

[Update: Thanks for all the advice! We will be calling round some wheel rebuilders today, in the hope that they have the right kind of spokes, and a bit of spare time!]

You may have read about our spoke issues on the back wheel. They’re still breaking, unfortunately… three in one go about a week ago, and one yesterday. They’ve been breaking up at the threaded end.

So, we’re wondering about a few questions:

  1. Where might we find a bike shop near Zurich that stocks 236mm/2mm spokes?
  2. Should we get the wheel rebuilt in case any other spokes are getting ‘tired’?
  3. Have we loaded up our back rack too heavily?

We have two very full Ortlieb 40l bags, plus a 4kg tent, plus two sleeping bags in a separate drybag (say another 3kg or so). So I’m guessing around 40kg for the luggage, and Rachel, who is stoking, is a fairly featherweight 70-75kg.

With luck we should find a helpful (and well-spoked) bike shop ourselves tomorrow, but in the meantime, we thought we’d see if any of you out there have any brain waves!


About johnfitzgerald

philosopher, husband, designer, photographer, quaker, cyclist, canal-boat dweller
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7 Responses to Spoke advice needed

  1. Dick says:

    Hi Guys!

    We’re on the cruise near Springfeild. It’s raining so we’re all on Chris’s boat.

    The collective advice of Miles, Karen, Chris, Lucy, Brian, Justin and Danial is find the best wheel builder that money can buy and ask him to make it slack enough to take the wieght. Not tight – thats for raceing!

    Also ask him to cut you a spare set of spokes
    Good luck!

  2. Mike says:

    I’m sure you will get lots of excellent technical advice. From a logistical point of view a big city with lots of bike shops, cafes and the company of friends is an ideal place to have an engineering problem and to make sure it’s resolved to your satisfaction

  3. Matt says:

    Hi Rachel and John,

    Hope you’re both well – I’ve been following your adventures with interest. Glad to be able to offer some advice, for what it’s worth: I don’t think that the three broken spokes following the impact is unusual, especially with the weight of two people plus the pannier bags. But if the spokes you replaced weren’t tensioned properly they will have thrown the tension out on the other spokes, and so I’m not all that surprised you’re getting more breakages. It’d be well worth your while finding a half decent bike shop with a professional wheel builder to spend some time on it. Ask them whether they use a spoke tension meter – if not, go find someone else.

    Viel Glück!

  4. Martyn Breeze says:

    I am not an expert but I wonder if it isn’t just the weight – is it an option to move more to the front? Alternatively is it realistic to find a stronger wheel??? The roads are probably going to get worse as you go south and that will only further weaken tired spokes. Hope you find a resolution to this. You are doing a great job with the blog – I am following every episode with interest!

    Best wishes and I hope the snow doesn’t prove a problem. It is no warmer here with frost in the garden this mornng!

  5. Liz Gates says:

    John – Many years ago my husband Tom and I were cycling with a lot of weight in the north of England for a month and had exactly the same problem. We found that we were able to predict with great accuracy which spoke would be the next to go and started to replace them before they even had a chance to break. Tom’s advice – get the whole wheel rebuilt using the most heavy-duty spokes you can find. Good luck! Great fun to follow your travels. Blessings!

  6. Giles says:

    Don’t forget to visit James Joyce’s grave – a much-0verlooked landmark in Zurich.

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