Nothing concerns a cyclist more than a broken spoke. This connecting rod is essentially crucial in preventing wheel wobbling and rim wrapping. So, when it breaks, you have to ask, ‘can you ride a bike with a broken spoke?’
You can ride a bike with a broken spoke as long as the wheel can roll. However, you’ll likely wobble and could even damage the other spokes if you ride for long.
So, even if you can ride a bike with a broken spoke, you shouldn’t do it long-distance. Instead, replace it immediately you get home or before your next ride, and I’m going to show you how.
Let’s dig deeper into explaining our post title.
So, Can You Ride A Bike With A Broken Spoke?
As I hinted earlier, yes, you can ride a bike with a broken spoke. The condition, however, is that the wheel should be able to roll freely despite a broken spoke.
The other condition is that you shouldn’t ride over long distances. That’s because you could damage the other spokes or bend the wheel.
So, if you break your spoke in the middle of a trip, you should only ride to complete it, hoping that you won’t damage other spokes or rim.
Remember, since the wheel wobbles due to a broken spoke; you won’t ride comfortably or safely, something you would rather avoid.
But before you can continue riding, remove the broken spoke from the nipple to ensure it doesn’t rub against the others or the wheel.
How About Multiple Broken Bicycle Wheel Spokes?
It’s generally possible to ride a bike with two broken spokes, and that’s about it.
If there are multiple broken spokes, it compromises the stability and trueness of the wheel, making it difficult and unsafe to ride.
So, if you break multiple spokes, just cut your trip short and find a way to take your bike home or to the nearest bike shop.
But What Are Bike Spokes, Exactly?
Spokes are the rods, mostly steel, that connect the rim to the hub. Essentially, their role is to transfer the load or weight between the rim and hub.
By doing so, spokes achieve these goals:
- Support your load above the wheel
- Transfer your leg power to enable the wheels to turn
- Strengthens your bike’s rims
How Can You Know You Have A Broken Bike Spoke?
Broken spokes are not always obvious. So, you’ve to pay special attention to how the wheel looks and rolls.
If the wheel is not straight and it wobbles when rolling, the chances are that the spokes are damaged.
Sometimes, you may even hear the spokes breaking, especially after an aggressive and heavy-impact ride.
Broken Bicycle Spoke Causes
The secret to preventing bike spoke breakage is to know what causes it in the first place. That brings us to these possible explanations:
- Damaged rim – If your bike rim is bent or broken, you compromise the spoke tension, and so some spokes are likely to break.
- Rust – Issues like salty water, humidity, and rain are not friendly to your bike’s spokes. They could lead to rusting, and rust eventually breaks your spokes.
- Heavy load – Bikes have load limits, and the wheel tends to take most of the weight. If you are heavier than what your bike can hold, you could dent the wheel and the spokes, resulting in some spokes breaking.
- Aggressive cycling – If you fearlessly ride on rugged roads at top speed, there’s always the chance that you’ll break something, mainly the spokes.
- Manufacturer defect – If your bike is just new and you experience repetitive spoke breakages, the chances are that the wheel components are low quality. The manufacturer might have used inferior quality materials on the wheel and other parts.
What Are The Dangers Of Riding A Broken Spoke Bike?
Essentially, it’s not dangerous to ride with just one broken spoke. (Or should I say missing spoke, given that you’ll remove it?)
It usually becomes dangerous when there are more broken pieces.
For one, it could result in more spokes breaking and the wheel buckling, posing a danger to you as you may fall off.
Remember, if you continue damaging more spokes, the repairs will continue to become costlier. Also, broken spokes could easily be thrown over or trapped on the wheel, puncturing the tires.
How To Fix Bike Spokes (Quick Fix For Riding A Bike With A Broken Spoke)
Note that fixing a broken spoke is only temporary to either help you complete your bike trip or get home riding it.
If you want a more long-term fix, you have to replace the spokes, as I’ll explain later.
But since we are talking about fixing a broken spoke, you have these two options:
1. Tape up the spoke
If you’ve some tape with you, you can wrap it tightly around the broken spoke to allow you to complete your trip.
2. Get it out of the way
In the absence of a tape, consider getting the spoke out of the way. If the broken spoke is on the front wheel, slide it out and if it’s on the rear wheel, consider bending it around the nearest spoke.
After that, adjust the tension of the other spokes to ensure they are not loose and susceptible to breakage.
Be mindful, nonetheless, that you’ll need a spoke wrench or something more versatile like the Crankbrothers M19 Multi-Tool to adjust the tension of the other spokes.
How To Replace Bike Spokes
Before you can replace a broken spoke, you’ve to ensure you have the right supplies.
Here are the things you need:
- A new spoke or spokes, depending on how many you’ll be replacing
- A screwdriver and wrench or spoke key
Alternatively, you can get an emergency spoke replacement kit like the FIBERFIX Emergency Spoke Replacement Kit that comes with everything you need to replace a broken spoke. That includes a spoke and a spoke wrench.
Now, here’s how to replace a broken spoke:
- Take out the affected wheel to allow you to work easily
- Identify the exact place where the spoke is broken
- If it’s on its elbow, undo the nipple and then pull out the damaged spoke
- If it’s on the threads, twist it around to remove it from the hub
- Now thread the replacement spoke through the bike hub and ensure the head fits well
- Apply some chain lube before crisscrossing it as it was originally
- Lastly, thread the spoke nipple on the other end
After this, ensure you true your bike wheel before you can start riding.
How Much Does Spoke Replacement Cost?
Overall, it costs about $1-$5 to replace a single spoke in most bike repair shops. But still, you can save up by buying a pack of spokes.
A pack like the Bavel 36 PCS Steel Spokes costs less than $15, and you get 36 spokes that you can use for some time.
But given that you’ll also be paying for the labor, you may spend up to $50 extra.
How About Replacing The Wheel? How Much Will It Cost?
Overall, the cost of replacing a wheel depends on these things:
- Are you replacing the rim or the entire wheelset?
- Will you be the one replacing the wheel, or will you be taking the bike to an expert?
If you are replacing the rims alone, a pair of new bike rims will cost you up to $50-$100, depending on the type. However, you may spend up to $350-$400 on some premium wheelsets.
Overall, it’ll cost you an additional $20-$50 to have the wheel replaced if you take the bike to a repair shop.
Find some of the best bike wheelsets and rims here.
How Can You Prevent Spoke Breakage?
Generally, you can prevent a broken spoke bicycle using these tips:
- True the bike wheel – If you are handy, consider truing (or straightening) your bike wheel. You’ll need the right tool like a spoke wrench to do it.
- Take your bike for tune-ups – Tune-ups can help you identify a significant issue with your bike, which could be the foundation of spoke breakage.
- Use spoke wraps – Spoke wraps like the Vevina Unicorn Bicycle Spoke Skins Wraps could protect the spokes from breakage. They hold tightly to the spokes, preventing them from breaking. Additionally, you can use them to add a colorful touch to your rims.
- Keep your bike dry – Doing so prevents rusting, which could weaken the spokes, resulting in their breakage.
- Inspect your wheel before a bike trip – Remember, it often starts with one broken spoke, which leads to breakage of multiples. So, checking your wheel beforehand can help you identify a loose spoke that needs adjusting.
Generally, a broken spoke doesn’t spell a death sentence on your two-wheel. If it happens on a trip, you can continue cycling, albeit for a short while. Remember, however, to replace it before your next trip.
So, the next time someone asks, ‘can you ride a bike with a broken spoke,’ you can confirm it but only say briefly.