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  1. #1
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    SUNringlé Mulefüt Rims Breaking Spokes

    Hey guys. So I bought a Trek Farley 7 last fall and have been riding it all winter so far. It's great, love it. Except for I've broken 3 spokes now in the drive side of the rear wheel. My LBS that I purchased the bike from has been fantastic in replacing them so far, but its a major annoyance. We are going to start a warranty claim this time around with Trek and see what happens I guess, maybe try a new wheel.

    Has anyone else had or heard of issues with the Mulefut rims? The are without a doubt the most popular wheel out there so hopefully hear from some of you guys on it.

    Little more info, just for reference. I'm 6'1" 245lbs riding a Large frame Farley 7. 2 spokes have snapped in colder weather (-20C or lower), and this one around the -10C mark. The wheel was trued and tension set after each spoke replacement, even dropped the tension after the 2nd break to see if that made a difference. There hasn't been anything on the trails that has gotten into the wheels to break the spokes, and they are all snapping off at the nipple.

    Any help would be appreciated guys. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BennyTRD View Post
    and the are all snapping off flush right at the tensioner that sits in the wheel.

    Any help would be appreciated guys. Thanks in advance.
    This is important since you seem to be unfamiliar with the terms and parts: Is the spoke actually breaking, or the nipple? The nipple is the thing you are referring to as "the tensioner". This is usually the weak link. And, are these alloy or brass nipples? You are a heavy guy, so you'll put more stress on wheels, but I doubt it has anything to do with temperature, they use metal in airplanes that see far colder (-40 on my last flight) temps and we were riding bikes yesterday at -24° for 8hrs.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    "The tensioner that sits in the wheel". Do you mean the nipple?

    FYI, you're not that heavy.

    These are factory wheels.

    I'd request a replacement wheel or have the shop rebuild the wheel with new spokes, otherwise you may end up replacing all the spokes.

    It's not the rim and it's not the hub, definitey the spokes and or the build.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the replies guys. Editing my original post with the correct terminology so we're all on the same page. Thought I'd throw a picture up while I'm at it.




    There's plenty of guys running similar setups around here, but I seem to be the only one having issues with spokes. I am the heaviest one of the group by about 30lbs. We ride in all sorts of temperatures (down to -30C at times) for hours as well. So, I thought maybe the steel became more susceptible to shock in colder temps and thats why they were breaking, which was when this had happened previously. This time being fairly mild out is a little it different.

  5. #5
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    The breakage has nothing to do with temps.

    Most likely the tension wasn't balanced out properly to begin with, and maybe not since.

    Also very possible that the spokes are too short, thus the threaded portion is failing because it doesn't have complete insertion into the nip.

    Your weight is a factor, but it's not the main thing -- many heavy (and heavier) guys out there riding these rims with no issues.

    I don't think a new (replacement) wheel from Trek will necessarily solve this. Ensuring that the spokes are the right length and then balancing out the tension is the most likely fix.

    And I'm not pointing fingers at your LBS, but it's a rare shop these days (still, and surprisingly) that actually knows how to balance spoke tension. Rarer still that they take the time to do it.

  6. #6
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    I'm 350 on the same wheel with no problems yet, knock on wood

  7. #7
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    I'm at least 225 in my winter gear and have two years and 5,000 miles on my bike and never lost a spoke. MN winters down to -10f.
    "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

    16' Trek 8.4 DS
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    16' Sturgis

    Minneapolis MN

  8. #8
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    Perhaps I got rims with a bad set of spokes, who knows. I'll see what my LBS says when they contact Trek tomorrow.

  9. #9
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    Well, if the spoke tension is out of wack, but the wheel is true, that means a bent rim and the spokes and nipples have been tensioned to bring it back to true or as close as possible. This can result in some spokes being way above the max tension, and some below the required tension, which is a recipe for breaking spokes. Even after a mild truing or minor issue of wheel truing your spoke tension may not be equal anymore to maintain a true rim, usually it's within the "range" of what will work without breaking spokes, unless the damage was fairly significant. I find this is less common with carbon rims, because they simply can't flex or bend in this direction (NOT suggesting carbon rims), but aluminum rims are traditionally more susceptible to this, having had, bent, and trued many of them over the years. You might just have to "start out fresh", new rim, new spokes, new nipples. If this is an OEM setup, it'd be rare for it to be speced incorrectly to start with, so all I can think of is damage or loose spokes or a combination thereof. If it was speced incorrectly, you need to get it warrantied. Again, it's not about your weight or the temps. If the rim was damaged and "made true", then your weight might be enough to push it over the edge and cause more breakages than if you were lighter, but that'd be because something was already screwed up.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  10. #10
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    I can't remember the last time I broke a spoke; tandem, unicycle, and bike.

    A good build is what you need.

  11. #11
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    Yep. Build sucks.
    I like turtles

  12. #12
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    Just to echo what others have said, the tension is likely imbalanced. I'd also bet as Mike mentioned, that were you to look into the nipples from the tire side, the spokes would be too short.

    Too bad that it sounds like the shop will likely get an entire wheel warrantied out when the cost of spokes and a competent builder could remedy the situation.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    The breakage has nothing to do with temps.

    Most likely the tension wasn't balanced out properly to begin with, and maybe not since.
    Agreed. I've found in 25 years of riding that once you break more than two spokes, it indicates that the wheel wasn't properly built to begin with. The best bet is often to respoke the wheel, which isn't that expensive. the OP's weight and riding temperatures shouldn't be an issue here.

    And I'm not pointing fingers at your LBS, but it's a rare shop these days (still, and surprisingly) that actually knows how to balance spoke tension. Rarer still that they take the time to do it.
    Yeah, wheel building or retensioning is somewhat tricky but it's not really that difficult and yet I've had two different LBSs completely screw up two different wheels on me in the past few years. Wheel building and truing seems like increasingly a lost art. I should really buy a truing stand and learn to do it myself.

  14. #14
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    The shop I buy from and ride with has a couple of excellent wheel builders.

    I know of a few more that do not. Kinda why I started building wheels.
    I like turtles

  15. #15
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    I am not certain, but I think Trek is using streight gauge 1.8 mm spokes on those. Replacing with 2.0 spokes would be the answer. I have run into a couple wheels Trek has built this way.

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  16. #16
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    The reason I'm not sure is that I only have experience with the mulefut rims on the stashe.

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  17. #17
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    Like everyone else said new spokes properly tensioned and you're set. Good luck with the warranty

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  18. #18
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    At 245 geared up, I've had several of broken spokes on road bikes but never on the same rim you're riding with MN temps. The spokes I've lost have all been low quality ones from cheap wheelsets and they broke up by the hub. I've never broken one at the nipple. In some cases replacing one might fix the problem but generally rebuilding the wheel with high quality spokes is the answer. I've done that 3 times and none of the rebuilt wheels have ever had a problem.

  19. #19
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    I'd think a bad batch of spokes. Not like these wheelsets haven't been used by bigger. New spokes and nipples. Make Trek pay for them.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  20. #20
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    spokes happen

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Well, if the spoke tension is out of wack, but the wheel is true, that means a bent rim and the spokes and nipples have been tensioned to bring it back to true or as close as possible.
    Out of the box, my fat bike had surprisingly whacked spoke tensions with true rims.

    I have worked on a couple of 32H 29 Treks that continued breaking spokes,
    mostly at outer cross, even after equalizing tensions.
    No problems with replacement spokes; Trek presumably got a bad batch.

  21. #21
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    Food for thought.. If said bike shop adjusted the spokes as part of new bike assembly, possible the over tightened them?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by wreckster View Post
    Food for thought.. If said bike shop adjusted the spokes as part of new bike assembly, possible the over tightened them?
    This is exactly what I was thinking as well. The new guy at the shop messed with the wheel!
    Jason
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by BennyTRD View Post
    Thanks for the replies guys. Editing my original post with the correct terminology so we're all on the same page. Thought I'd throw a picture up while I'm at it.




    There's plenty of guys running similar setups around here, but I seem to be the only one having issues with spokes. I am the heaviest one of the group by about 30lbs. We ride in all sorts of temperatures (down to -30C at times) for hours as well. So, I thought maybe the steel became more susceptible to shock in colder temps and thats why they were breaking, which was when this had happened previously. This time being fairly mild out is a little it different.
    Looking at that picture, it looks like the entire threaded part of the spoke broke off. Correct?
    Get out your magnifying glass...
    Look at the broken part to see if it wasn't twisted off. That might suggest the spokes are actually too long (this would still be unusual) and the nips are bottoming out at the base of the thread - but the wheel tech is still cranking on it.
    I doubt an alloy nip could score/scratch a steel spoke, but stranger things have happened. In that case, the break would be clean through, without an appearance of twisting.

    For that stuff to get brittle at low temperatures, you'd need some cryogenic type cooling.


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  24. #24
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    If the threads on the spokes were cut vs rolled, that would make them significantly weaker.

  25. #25
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    I'll have a look and get back to you guys on that. Thanks for all the good info here.

  26. #26
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    Just stumbled on this page after posting in the Trek Farley 2018 topic. Have same issue with the wheels on my new Farley 5 (Mulefüt rims too). Broke three spokes at a 6-day interval, all on the drive side and broken where the threaded portion of the spoke meets the threaded portion on the nipple (also broke with a slight angle). Just broke one on the front wheel (same place as the others). Seeing your post now, I realise it must indeed be bad batches of spokes or badly mounted wheels. A new rear wheel was sent on warranty replacement, hopefully I don't have to fighth with Trek to have the wheels rebuilt with quality spokes...

  27. #27
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    I would have a competent wheel builder check spoke tension on that replacement wheel. All of these failures are certainly to do with bad wheel build. The reason the rims are staying true is because they are giant and most likely not affected by spoke length and tension as a standard width wheel would be.

    If the wheel builder has to make a lot of adjustment to spokes on your new wheel, have it checked again after a few rides.

    Good luck.

    I am riding Pivot Les Fat for almost 3 years on stock mulefuts and I'm currently 275lbs. geared up riding tech terrain with drops and roots and no problems. I have not ahd to touch these wheels.
    Hunt Hard, Kill Swiftly, Waste Nothing, Offer No Apologies...

  28. #28
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    Going back to the store today... Will be bringing in my son's rear wheel for the first broken spoke on his bike (drive side, same place than the four others on my bike, all in the nipple). Will ask them to properly check the new wheel just in case, but my hopes are getting lower and lower...

  29. #29
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    Ummm, the fact that a wheel is built with Mulefut rims has nothing to do with spokes breaking. I agree with many here that identify the likely culprit as uneven spoke tension (poor build). Some, including the title of the thread, mention that the wheel has Mulefut rims as if that rim could have something to do with it. Hog wash. I noticed the OP and another have had this problem on wheels made with Mulefuts by Trek (or their supplier). Quality control on the assembly of the wheel by Trek needs to be improved.

    I am not a wheel builder, but I did build up my wheelset with Mulefuts, Hadley hubs, Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples. (Thanks LarsD for the video). Checking the tension with a Park TM-1 tension meter showed tension to be even (if not necessarily precise). The wheels have been rock solid. (I go about 225# in gear)

    If you like to wrench on your bike, a tension meter is not a bad thing to have in your tool box. The TM-1 is a bit crude, but I have found readings to be repeatable. I think it's fine for the home wrench. I did see this one that looks interesting, especially given the price:

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Parktool-TM-1-Spoke-Tension-Meter-Gauge-Bicycle-Wheel-Spoke-Pro-Bike-Checker-Chart/32442087895.html?src=google&albslr=221486789&isdl= y&aff_short_key=UneMJZVf&source=%7Bifdyn:dyn%7D%7B ifplala%7D%7BifdbmBM&albch=DID%7D&src=google&albch=shopping&acnt=70 8-803-3821&isdl=y&albcp=653478879&albag=34653160498&slnk =&trgt=226109072641&plac=&crea=en32442087895&netw= g&device=c&mtctp=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsqjs2Jrf2AIVD6 ppCh0CSwulEAYYCSABEgJ12vD_BwE

  30. #30
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    Yes, the title may be misleading. We seem to be both users of Trek bikes with spoke issues and it's probably our common issue. Don't think the rim has anything to do with that.

  31. #31
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    The Mulefut is a solid rim. It definitely has nothing to do with the rim.

    On a similar note, I was recommending Raceface Arcs to someone on here and some other dude kept chiming in saying they were junk. I've built a whole bunch of em and guess how many came back? Zero. The build is a huge part of a reliable wheel.
    I like turtles

  32. #32
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    Im 275lbs, built my own wheels, 2 years of being beat on and no issues.

    Isnt the wheel at all. Its either bad build or bad spokes.

    This is why I either build my own wheels or at the very least re-tension OEM wheels. Backing off all the nipples and basically doing the final steps (dish, true, tension) over again myself. Never had an OEM wheel that didnt have wildly varying spoke tensions.

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