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  1. #1
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    Big dude new to forums... concerned about LBS

    So, I got a 2008 Trek 6000 last July from the local bike shop. The place seems cool enough. I had some trouble with the bike... broke 4 spokes (I'm 6'4 ish and probably 270-290lbs). I took the wheel in and asked their mechanic about a complete rebuild, since I assumed it was due to metal fatigue and would fail again. He told me that it would probably be okay, and I can buy these shiny new wheels they have out front if they break again. Now I have at least one loose spoke... assuming it's not broken and just not obvious yet.

    I also asked him about rebuilding the whole wheel, and he quoted me $75 for the job.

    To me, it sounds a bit excessive. 75 bucks to replace the spokes? At that point, I'd just as soon do it myself, and the whole new pair of wheels (with hubs) was slightly under 200 bucks...

    I also asked about upgraded spokes. He said that they're all about the same and there wouldn't be much of an advantage to it anyway...

    The guy definitely seems to know what he's doing. My rear wheel is straighter than it's ever been it seems. I'm just worried that they're trying to sell me stuff rather than trying to fix it the right way.

    Am I right in this assumption, or is this pretty much normal? I'm quite fortunate. There are a few shops around town, but only 2 that sell Trek, and I'm afraid the other shop will look at me funny for buying the bike at the other store...

    Anyway, enough rambling... I'll wait to see some opinions and go from there. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

    -Eric

  2. #2
    Fat boy Mod Moderator
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    assuming it's the same wheelset as they use this year you've got a
    shimano M475 disc hubs; Bontrager Ranger, 32-hole rims w/eyelets

    you don't go into where or which wheel broke... i'm going to assume it was likely the rear wheel at the hub side J bend on the drive side?

    75$ is about right to replace the spokes... assuming that price includes the spokes... (figure a buck or so a spoke)... not far off from what my shop charges to build a wheel up....

    as for spokes... quality spokes and DB spokes will go a long way to making a wheel last (along with proper tension which is a big key)...

    I wouldn't hesitate to go and talk to the other shops... my LBS has all sorts of bikes in there to be worked on... a good shop shouldn't care if you bought it there... thats not a good reason to turn down your money

    anyway from what I understand... once you've started snapping that many spokes it's time to replace em all... or get a new wheel...

    if it where me and I was on a budget (and a bit mechanical minded) i'd take a look here http://miketechinfo.com/new-tech-wheels-tires.htm to keep my wheels going till I could afford some new wheels... truing wheels is honestly very simple... I prefer to barrow the stand at my LBS (nice being friends with the LBS guy)... but i've used the method in that web page with out a problem in the past...

    as for a wheelset... i'd consider looking at something along these lines... the'd be better if they had 36h but they should be a pretty good set of a wheels... have your LBS make sure they are properly tensioned and you should have a good set of wheels to ride
    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/120...-Lite-Rims.htm

    good luck man
    mark
    - Surly Disc trucker
    - '82 trek 560 roadie

  3. #3
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    I agree with donalson in that $75 doesn't sound bad for replacing the spokes. But I disagree with the shops comment that spoke quality is about the same. I have a friend that's 6' 4" and is between 280-310 depending on the time of year. When he first got his bike he was breaking a spoke on the rear wheel almost every ride. So he took both wheels to the shop and had them order/install DT Swiss spokes and nipples. Since then he's not broken a single spoke. I'll have to ask him which model spoke was installed but I remember saying he had them order whichever was the strongest that DT Swiss offered.

  4. #4
    Fat boy Mod Moderator
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    strong is a subjective term...

    double butted spokes will make for a longer lasting wheel as they will "stretch" a smidge... but it makes it so the wheel doesn't fail as it takes stress off the nipple and the J side of the spoke

    i've managed to kill a few straight gauge 14g spokes on my 32h 29er wheelset... i've still not managed to do with my DT double butted 36h 29er wheelset that sees A LOT more dirt time then the other wheels... I did kill one spoke but that was from dropping the chain between the cassette and wheel (gouged the spoke)
    - Surly Disc trucker
    - '82 trek 560 roadie

  5. #5
    shh. don't tell the wife
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    +1 for going to a 32H or 36H rime. Even if you're doing road riding a cyclocross oriented build may be better for you.

    I'd also make sure you get brass nipples as it sounds like your wheels are going to spend some time in the trueing stand.
    All you need is love... but Scotch'll do in a pinch.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies!

    assuming it's the same wheelset as they use this year you've got a
    shimano M475 disc hubs; Bontrager Ranger, 32-hole rims w/eyelets
    Yes, that's correct. Sorry I didn't specify, but you guys know what you're doing.

    I'm still pretty much a n00b when it comes to cycling terminology here also. 32H, 36H? I assume it's number of spokes, but what is the "H" for? Heavy? lol.

    double butted spokes will make for a longer lasting wheel as they will "stretch" a smidge... but it makes it so the wheel doesn't fail as it takes stress off the nipple and the J side of the spoke
    What on earth does this mean? LOL

    My first 4 spokes broke at the J (we call it a Z-Bend in r/c airplane land lol), and the one that's now loose I haven't even looked at. I'm going to here in a couple hours before we set off on a ride... Hopefully it's just loose and not broken.

    I really don't know what wheels they were trying to sell me, but I'd be willing to spend 200 bucks if that's what it takes. I'm the type of person who would rather spend $200 once and KNOW it's not going to fail, rather than spend $100-$150 and have it be likely to survive. Y'know what I mean?

    Thanks for the replies guys! Whenever I do anything, I really like to know what I'm doing at some point. Even if I'm not a high performance rider, I would like to be able to fix 100% of everything on my own. I've got the Avid bb5 brakes figured out, and can do my own deurailler adjustments. Apparently the next step is wheels.

    -Eric

  7. #7
    Fat boy Mod Moderator
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    H = hole

    the butted spokes start at 2mm and in the center get narrower to the point of about 1.8mm and then get large again at the outside to 2mm

    wheels are a bit scary to most people it seems... but honestly there isn't a lot to em... one spoke pulls the wheel to one side the other spoke pulls the other direction... thats how they true the wheel... the hard part is getting an even tension between the spokes while keeping the wheel true.
    - Surly Disc trucker
    - '82 trek 560 roadie

  8. #8
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    Basically, right now, we ride a lot on bike paths, roads, and sidewalks where there aren't people. But, I tend to go flying off curbs (8 inches max, nothing crazy lol) and ride through the dirt and jump over the drainage grates when they're there (a max of maybe 4-6 inches off the ground). I really thought the stock wheels would hold up pretty well, but apparently they're not quite perfect. Right now, the bike has ~260 miles on it and I plan to double that at LEAST. I really don't know how much farther I could go. There is talk of an XC-style trail being set up locally, so I will hopefully be doing some trail riding also.

    Am I more likely to have good results with putting good spokes on this wheel (What should I buy exactly?) or to get new wheels and use the spokes that come on them? Or should I buy new wheels, and have the LBS build it with better spokes right off the bat?

    I don't mind spending the money, but I only want to do it once. If it breaks again within 2 years, I'll assume I made the wrong decision.

    ***EDIT: Also, there is obviously extra strength going to 36H compared to 32H right? Should I probably go for some 36H wheels if it's best to buy wheels? Also, is there anything wrong with just buying a rear?

    -Eric

  9. #9
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    Sorry about double posting here, but it's slightly an update.

    I just went and looked the wheel over, and I had 2 spokes with basically zero tension on them. I don't have a spoke wrench but I kinda snugged them up with some needle nose pliers until they had about the same twang sound when you pluck them compared to the others on the same side. It ought to be close enough for a few rides until I can figure out what to do exactly.

    I would have expected the mechanic to tension them when he did the 4 spokes... even I knew there would be some off and I don't know what I'm doing.

    Maybe I'm such a n00b that I am expecting more than I asked for, but it seems like they aren't giving me their best efforts all the time.

    -Eric

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rccardude04
    Maybe I'm such a n00b that I am expecting more than I asked for, but it seems like they aren't giving me their best efforts all the time.
    It sounds that way to me also. Either start looking for another shop or learn to rebuild wheels yourself. It sounds like you've sort of started already by retensioning those loose spokes yourself.

  11. #11
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    Eric,

    You would benefit greatly from a pair of wheels built by someone who does that as a profession only. Yes, they cost more up front..... but what you're going to find is that in the long run, you may be putting more into your current wheels that were never built correct to start with.

    I'm of the belief that a good wheel should "stand". Meaning it should not break spokes, nor go out of true. A professional takes pride in this.

    Factory wheels are basically poor. There is not much help for them. Do yourself a favor and get something built well, by a pro. Someone like Peter White, or Joe Young ... or Gravy Wheels ... etc. They all will get you the wheels for your needs.

    The Pay me know.... or pay me later saying..... is pretty much true for machine built, and many bike shop built wheels. I don't know your wheels in your case..... but if 2 spokes had zero tension..... that's an obvious sign of poor work.

    I would not let that shop build me a set of wheels, ever. You've made a common mistake of thinking factory wheels will be okay. Wheels are arguably the most important component on the bike. People think they got a great frame and great parts, so my bike is set to go.... and the wheels are an afterthought. A great set of wheels transforms any bike .

    Lesson learned.... move on and get yourself a suitable pair!

  12. #12
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    Sounds to me like they are installing one spoke and not checking if the other spokes are properly or evenly tensioned.
    I used to break spokes on my rear wheel, until i rebuilt the wheel with new DT swiss champion spokes. I did it all myself for just the cost of the spokes ($30). I did not have a spoke tension meter at the time but used the "pluck" method and it turned out great.
    I just recently bought a tension meter and checked the wheel over.
    The tensions were very even, but a bit on the high side (175Kgf).

    I could actually see the difference in quality of the new spokes versus the old ones.
    Ask me About O Rings (Check the Classified section)

  13. #13
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    So, let's say I wanted to try and rebuild my wheels with good spokes...

    Assume I have no tools but allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers.

    What specialty tools do I need exactly?

    Chain whip, spoke wrench, tension gauge, what else?

    I'm going to assume the LBS will carry this stuff, but obviously they don't carry the spokes or he would have tried to sell them to me. Where should I go for spokes? I'll try the LBS first. I like to keep the $$ local, but if they just don't have it or want to help me out... screw 'em.

    As a side note, I just got back from a 20 mile ride and one was mighty loose. I doubt this is normal...

    -Eric

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirbster1966
    The tensions were very even, but a bit on the high side (175Kgf).
    Yeah, that is high, perhaps too high. Check for cracking around each rim eyelet

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinB
    Yeah, that is high, perhaps too high. Check for cracking around each rim eyelet
    I retensioned them once i had the tension meter. Now i am about 125Kgf on the drive side.
    Ask me About O Rings (Check the Classified section)

  16. #16
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    You dont really need the tension gauge. You can just compare with known good wheels as a start point.
    I used my bike as the truing stand. And used stacked CD cases on a glass table to get the dish right.
    I had nothng but the chainwhip and my crank brothers multi tool.

    And a very good ebook by Roger Musson.

    Check out the Wheels section here. MIke T is also a great resource and very encouraging.
    Ask me About O Rings (Check the Classified section)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rccardude04
    So, let's say I wanted to try and rebuild my wheels with good spokes...

    Assume I have no tools but allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers.

    What specialty tools do I need exactly?

    Chain whip, spoke wrench, tension gauge, what else?
    In addition to those tools, you need a spoke wrench, cassette lockring removal tool, possibly a Torx wrench (T-25) for removing the disc rotor. A Torx T-25 bit with a 0-60 inch-lb torque wrench is handy for reinstalling the disc rotor bolts. If you do not use a torque wrench, don't over-tighten the disc rotor bolts.

    For a spoke wrench, I like the Spokey due to the fact that it grips all for sides of the spoke nipple, making it virtually impossible to round off the flats. (You may be able to find a better price than at the site that I linked.) If you do use a spoke wrench that engages only three of the flats, make sure you push the spoke wrench all the way onto the nipple so that three sides are actually engaged.

    A truing stand is handy, though you can do it on your bike in a pinch. See Mike T's wheel building page for low cost ideas for truing stands. Another good site is Sheldon Brown's wheelbuilding page. Both sites will discuss tools that you'll need for the actual wheelbuilding.

    You should also know that, most likely, spoke lengths for the drive side and non-drive side will be different. Sheldon Brown says that spoke length is measured from the inside of the elbow to the very end of the threads. It will probably be easiest to measure the spokes that you have, one from each side, and then order appropriately. You can also use one of the many spoke length calculators. The sites noted above will have links to spoke length calculators.

    You can purchase spokes from your LBS or you can order online. You should try to find double-butted spokes; these are thicker at the ends and thinner in the middle. Not only do these weigh a bit less, but they are actually less prone to failure than straight gauge spokes. The point of failure is usually at the bend in the spoke at the hub flange. A double butted spoke will allow some stretching in the thinner center section easing the pressure on the elbow. These will be more expensive, but are worth it. Check reputable online shops such as Universal Cycles and Jenson USA. Check carefully to see if spoke nipples are included with the spokes.

    It is handy to have a spoke tension meter, but you can get by without one by plucking the spokes and listening to the tones. Find some good wheels (on a friend's bike, for example) and listen to the tones on both the drive side and non-drive side. Try to reproduce those tones on your build. The non-drive side spokes will be looser and therefore lower in pitch than the drive side spokes.

  18. #18
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    Kevin, kirbster... Thanks a lot for the advice and links.

    I may actually grab some tools at the LBS if it's not too expensive. I'll see if the mechanic remembers what length spokes he put on the wheel, and see if they have any good ones they can sell me.

    I'm actually also tempted to give Peter White an e-mail and see what kind of $$ I'd be looking at for a 36H rear wheel/hub. At that point, I'd still need a chain whip and the torx bits anyway, so I might as well try to rebuild my wheel myself (it's pretty much true right now) and if it doesn't go so well, I can upgrade.

    I like to tinker with things.

    -Eric

  19. #19
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    You could save the money on the some of the tools by just lacing your own wheels and taking them to another lbs to get trued.

  20. #20
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    I need to go by the bike shop and see if the mechanic remembers what length the spokes he used were. I'll also use a spoke calculator to see if they match up (at least close) that way when I go to order some spokes, I'll know what to get.

    I might also talk to the mechanic up there and see what other options are locally.

    I e-mailed peter white but have yet to get a reply. I can't even find gravy wheels, and will probably send joe young an e-mail tonight.

    I had another one loosen up, so the whole thing is just wrong altogether. I do need to figure this out though. I don't want to spend much money on it, but if I have to spend a couple hundred bucks on a rear wheel that'll last forever, that's what it takes!

    Thanks for the replies guys. Any other help is greatly appreciated!

    -Eric

  21. #21
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    Peter White's email response may take a while, and it may be kind of short, but don't let that put you off. If you can swing it, call him on the phone, it's more his element. Email doesn't seem to be his thing.

    Joe Young responds pretty promptly via email. He really knows his stuff, and is willing to help you out.

    Gravy wheels is really hard to find, yes. It's .... http://www.gravyprowheels.com/index2.html


    -Garth

  22. #22
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    Perfect! Thank you!

    If I don't hear back from Peter before the weekend, I'll probably call up there with pencil and paper ready.

    I'm going by the shop this morning probably to get at least a chain whip, spoke wrench, and whatever else I will need to change my disc/cassette over when/if I order from Peter/Joe/Gravy. I might also see if they can get me some spokes or maybe the other shop carries more stuff... Never know!

    Thanks for all the advice guys. I would have probably just bought the set of machine-built wheels they have hanging from the ceiling if it weren't for the advice. Now there's no chance in heck!

    Thanks again!

    -Eric

  23. #23
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    Well, I talked to the LBS wheel guy today, and it turns out he's actually been doing wheels for about 30 years. I'm not entirely sure why I had spokes loosen up other than just maybe a bit of careless effort on his part? Either way, he sure seems to know what he's doing.

    I got 6 spokes today (3 drive and 3 non-drive). I had him measure them and cut them so they ought to work. I'm going to try and change the broken one and see how it goes. I understand how the truing thing works, but am concerned about getting the right tension without a gauge. Any tips other than the usual feel and strum method?

    -Eric

  24. #24
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    Eric, Do you read many books? If you do, try reading "The Art Of Wheelbuilding" by Gerd Schraner. I really like it, as it's written in a much easier way to understand than the more technical book by Jobst Brandt. Schraner's is practical..... you can tell he's enthusiastic about what he does... and he does it well.

    He said he used to not use a tension gauge.... but after he got one he found his feel method wasn't so accurate! Now he uses one. It should be noted though... his wheels were still terrific without the gauge.....they're just better now.


    As far as the LBS guy...... lots of people have lots of experience, but it doesn't mean they are necessarily really good at it. . . . and you could use some "really good" wheels.... not just adequate or even good. Ask the LBS builder one question...... When he builds wheels for customers..... do they "Stand". .... meaning they won't need anymore truing , tensioning, or work after they are built. They "stand" on their own. If he hesitates or says no......he's not a really good wheelbuilder.

    Hey .... that's just my take on it. My life is too short to be messing with wheels so I pay to have them made to perfection, and I don't think about them any further. That's just to let you know where my slant on wheels is coming from.

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    Good call. I'll wait for an e-mail from white/young/gravy.

    Oh, something else I found odd... see what you guys think... He is of the opinion that double-butted spokes are no go for people over 200lbs (obviously I'm quite over that). Does this sound like Grade-A BS or are his concerns legit?

    As far as my wheelbuilding ability goes, I'm not too concerned about being perfect at it. I just want to make sure whatever I put on there stays put for the next 200 miles or so. Until I can get something high performance. I'm not really big on reading books. I'm not sure why. Maybe because they forced us to read 90840932832 pages a week in elementary school. I got burned out at an early age I guess, and just don't even remotely enjoy it any more.

    Thanks again for the advice! I'm excited.

    -Eric

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