My daily coomuter bike is an SE Lager, to which I have added a rear rack and milk crate.
The bike is not necessarily heavy (spec says 21.5 pounds) and I have added a few other
things to add a little weight (front fender, pump, etc.).
Over the course of the last 6 months (the bike is less than 2 years old btw) I have broken
at least 8-10 spokes (all on the rear) and frankly I am getting tired of replacing them and having the keep trueing the wheel.
The bike has the stock rims (Alex R500, 32 hole, double wall 14gauge spokes))
One shop suggested a wider tire - so I replaced the rear tire with a 700X32; and
that seemed to work well for a while; but I guess transporting grocieries (and beer, etc)
in the milk crate is too much weight combines with chicago's famous potholes; so I
am constantly breaking spokes.
I am looking for advice on what course of action is recommended -
get a new (stronger) wheel ? Find a (good/used) wheel or hub/rim combination and
buid it up (maybe lace the spokes so it will be stronger) ? lose the mik crate ? quit buying groceries or beer ? HELP.
thanks in advance
Replace the wheel.
I've had the same situation on the stock rims of both my summer and winter commuter. The reality is that on low priced bikes like yours, wheels are one place where manufacturers can save money, so they might end up as the weak point of your bike.
Whether you need a new wheel or a good used one depends (among other things) on the amount of money you want to spend. A new (handbuilt) wheel with good components will cost $200 or more. For me, reliability in my commute counts more than saving a few bucks, so I ordered some new wheels.
I picked some well known components and had one built for me while I built the other one in Alex Wilson's wheel building class. Both seem to be holding up great (although the one I built myself was for my winter commuter and hasn't seen too much use since I built it earlier this spring)
Replace the wheel.
If you have broken 3-4 spokes in a wheel it is DONE.
These broken spokes have most likely been caused by incorrect spoke tension from the manufacturer rather than any added weight or your riding habits. I'll disagree with the other esteemed posters here as the current wheel can most likely be salvaged. Take the wheel to a trusted LBS and have them true it up and bring the spokes up or down to correct tension.
However, this is an excuse to get a cool new wheelset but then again, have the spoke tension checked. I ordered a set of Wheelsmith wheels and suffered the same rash of broken spokes years ago. Incorrect spoke tension and the LBS I used to frequent fixed it right up.
Whatever the reason for the broken spokes and there could be a few reasons ( go to sheldon brown ), if you have a hand built wheel you wont have broken spokes.
I have hand built wheels with 32, 36, 40 and 48 spoke counts and I've never broke a spoke on a hand built wheel. The reason I mention the spoke counts is that I used to think it was the larger spoke counts that helped. I now believe it's mostly the hand built thing that matters the most. With your size you could probably get away with having a 36 hole hand built rear wheel and never break a spoke again.
Broken spokes are usually from 3 different reasons:
At this point with breaking this many spokes I would assume that you have a combination of #'s 1 & 3. Time to rebuild the wheel or replace it with a new one. Cheap wheels are built on machines with crap spokes and often the cheapest ones have steel rims. Stay away from anything from WheelMaster. They make bottom-end replacement wheels that make Walmart bike wheels seem like something Lance would ride.
Paying someone to hand-build wheels isn't cheap. Buying nice hand-built wheels isn't cheap. Buying nice factory/machine-built wheels still isn't cheap. The wheels are often one of the most expensive parts of the bike (if you have good ones.)
Yeah, sounds like you need a good builder to replace all spokes and nipples. I have recycled very old rims and hubs into new wheel builds that have worked out great. No reason to junk your wheels, typical American answer, "buy a new one!".
I find any wheel with regular use the spokes tend to become brittle within just a couple winters. I also am one of those types that cleans and lubricates my wheels and spoke nipples every couple months...so I get some great life out my wheels. But I still have to rebuild or update parts every several years....just like those crap ass oil burning devices!
Hey, what happen to out Hazardous Race Team jerseys...
Having a wheel built isnt expensive. You'll probably pay $70 plus parts.
also....From Sheldon Brown-
"...When spokes are bent into place, they yield locally and addition of tension guarantees that these places remain at yield. Because metal at or near the yield stress has a short fatigue life, these stresses must be relieved to make spokes durable.
"...These peak stresses can be relieved by momentarily increasing spoke tension (and stress), so that the high stress points of the spoke yield and plastically deform with a permanent set. When the stress-relief force is relaxed, these areas cannot spring back, having, in effect, lost their memory, and drop to the average stress of the spoke."
If he has a good bike shop replace the spokes they should have checked the tension on the wheel in general. I know that when I replace a spoke or just true a wheel I check the whole wheel to see if there is a tension issue as an underlying cause. Replacing a spoke without looking into the cause is not doing it properly.
Long story short; unless the spoke replacements were done half ass you need a new wheel. Yeah, you could have the wheel detensioned, spoke prep put on all the nipples (lack of good spoke prep is probably causing a tension issue) and brought back up to tension is still going to leave you with a wheel built of mid quality parts after a decent labor charge that may still not be a super reliable wheel. You should be able to get a good rear track wheel that has been properly checked at a shop for $100 +/- twenty bucks or so.
thanks everyone for taking the time to respond with ideas. I know what I need to do now.
happy friday !
Check the wheel regularly, I've had a couple loose which puts more stress on the others. Just a little tightening, adjusting helps.
The load in a crate is strictly over that wheel the load on a back back is spread out more to both wheels via pedals. I'm sure I'll end up with a compressed spine or something later in life but my wheel will be in good shape.