Why Do Spokes Break On Bikes? 3 Reasons Behind a Broken Spoke

Are you looking for an answer to why do spokes break on bikes? There can be many reasons for that. Read on to know more.

What is the most annoying problem for bikers when they are riding their bikes? Spokes on the brakes on their bikes snapping, especially when they are changing trails and terrains. A friend of mine reported that he broke three spokes on his Genesis Tour de Fer 20

When his first spoke broke, he immediately took his bike for a repair. It was then that the local bike shop found the second spoke break. 

Unfortunately, his third spoke broke after riding for thirty miles. He is now confused about what causes these spokes to break on bikes and how one can avoid them. Well, let us get an insight into the matter in detail.

Why Do Spokes Break On Bikes

Can You Ride a Bike With a Broken Spoke?

Yes, if a spoke of your bike gets broken, then also you will be able to ride a bike without causing any kind of harm to yourself. The bike and its wheels will also not get damaged due to a broken spoke in the wheel. 

However, it would help if you tried to remove it soon after the breakage. Not removing the spoke from the nipple might damage several other parts of the bike. 

One or two broken spokes may be okay, but in the case of multiple spokes, damage may 

lead to severe damage to your bike. 

Front Wheel vs. Back Wheel

Also, broken spokes in the front wheel may prove dangerous as you may get thrown over if you are riding really fast. 

In case of broken spokes in the back wheels, they may simply cause the bike to stop or skid. Broken spokes may also lead to a puncture or may entangle with other spokes causing your fall. 

The main point is to tackle the issue as soon as possible to avoid any further damage to the bike. Some professionals can help you in this regard.

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Reasons Behind Spoke Damage

Before you know how to fix a broken spoke or how you can prevent that from happening, you need to know the reasons that might have caused the broken spoke. All the possible causes are listed below.

Broken or damaged rim

The rim of the wheel distributes the tension throughout the wheel. In case of a damaged rim, the tension will not distribute correctly, and as a rider, you will lose the balance. 

Other than that, if the tension is not distributed correctly, it will increase the wheel’s revolutions per minute (RPM), which will, in turn, cause the spoke fatigue. 

Riding on rough terrains

As we have mentioned about fatigue in the previous point, there is a high chance that your rim will get badly affected or spokes will get loose while driving on rough surfaces, and it may also happen if a lot of gears are present in your bike. 

Cheap bike/tires

Buying a cheap bike means that spokes will also be made up of poor-quality materials. There is a high chance that the bike’s wheel will get damaged due to a manufacturing defect.

Why Do Spokes Break On Bikes

How Do You Prevent Broken Spokes?

In most cases, it has been seen that spokes break due to fatigue rather than getting damaged in an accident. So, you must be wondering how this spoke fatigue could be avoided. 

Increase Rim Weight

Well, the simplest way to do that is to increase the rim weight, and along with that, it is better to buy a bike where more spokes are present in the wheel. 

More Spokes = Better Weight Distribution.

More spokes will distribute the tension all around the spoke and minimize the chances of breakage caused by the fatigue. 

So, it is better to buy a cycle where the spoke number is somewhere between 28 and 36. 

Regular Checkups

But as we all know, prevention is better than cure, so you should get your bike checked at least twice a year. A bike specialist will quickly identify whether the rim weight is accurate, adequate amount of spoke tension, and they will also inform you about any loose spokes. 

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How Often Do Bike Spokes Break?

Many people ask this question on our comments board. The answer to this question is that several factors ultimately lead to a broken spoke in your wheel. 

The weight of the rider, the roads on which you are riding your bike, and other factors can damage your spoke. 

Studies have shown on an average five spokes break after riding an approximate distance of 6000 miles. 

What Happens if a Bike Spoke Breaks?

In general, it is dangerous to ride a bike when a spoke in the wheel is broken or missing. But this is not true if only one spoke is broken. 

Multiple breakages may prove to be dangerous while cycling. In case of broken spokes in the front wheel of your bike, you could easily trip while riding the bike. 

The bike may skid or come to a sudden stop if more than two spokes get damaged in the back wheel of your bike. In the worst-case scenario, if the broken spokes get caught in the outer wheel structure, it will puncture the tire. 

The damage might also be irreversible, and you also need to spend a lot more money to repair that. A broken spoke can also get entangled with other spokes, which will make you fall from your bike. 

According to most bike maintenance specialists globally, replace them immediately if more than five spokes are broken. If the spokes continue to hurt, then it indicates the poor condition of the wheel. So, it is better to replace the wheel instead of changing spokes.

Why Do Spokes Break On Bikes

Answers To More Questions About Broken Bike Spokes

How many spokes are present in a bike?

Naturally, in a bike, 28 to 36 spokes are present. Other than that, approximately 45 spokes can be seen in the case of tandem bike wheels. In case you are riding a lowrider cycle, you can see a total of 144 spokes in both wheels. 

You might be wondering how the number of spokes impacts the performance of the bike. The drag effect of the bike will get reduced if fewer spokes are present. 

But like any other thing, there is a disadvantage as fewer spokes leave a huge rim area without any kind of support. 

In that case, the necessity of a deeper section rim arises. So to have a proper balance, you need to have an adequate amount of spoke tension. 

How much do you need to spend to repair a broken spoke?

You will be glad to know that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to repair a broken spoke. One can quickly get the repair done from a bike shop near them. 

Usually, a bike spoke costs somewhere between $1 to $2. If you plan to buy a combo of wheels, you will get it at a much cheaper rate. Nipples will come along with the spikes. 

With the increase in quality of the spoke, the price will also increase. If you are not willing to repair your wheel on your own, you can give it to a repairman who will fix the broken spokes at the cost of between $10 and $50, depending on the number of broken spokes. 

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How will you know that you have a broken spoke in the bike’s wheel?

There is a high possibility that the wheels of your bike will wobble in case of broken spokes. When this happens, you will be able to know that something is wrong with the spokes and in most cases, the reason behind this is broken spokes. 

But as many riders claim they have heard the sound of a spoke breaking on the go, the sound it will make is highly audible. According to the experts, it is always better to inspect the wheel from time to time to check the spokes’ condition and the rim. 

Why Do Spokes Break On Bikes

Why Do Spokes Break on Bikes? Broken Rim, Rough Terrains, and Cheap Tires Are the Usual Reasons

As we have concluded the article, you must have understood how essential spokes are to a bike. The job of spikes is very similar to the foundations of a building. 

They make things happen, and you should take proper care of the spokes to prevent them from breaking. Both reasons and preventive measures have been discussed in the article to keep you out of any kind of trouble caused by the broken spokes. 

Most cyclists around the world have experienced broken spokes at least once in their life, and leaving this without repairing may cause severe damage to you and as well as to your bike. 

So, the bottom line is that yes, spokes do break and in case of breakage, repair it as soon as possible because it is not a great idea to ride a bike with broken spokes. And more importantly, make sure to keep your bike spokes well looked after because prevention is better than cure.

Happy Riding!