keeping my 36" wheel true

I’ve been riding a UDC Titan 36 for almost 4 years now. I occasionally check the spokes to see if any are loose and snug them. I know nothing about wheel building or truing wheels - but would like to learn. Two spokes broke while I was road riding yesterday. I was just cruising smoothly along and heard a poing. I finished my ride and inspected - finding two broken spokes.
I ordered some replacement spokes from UDC.
Bike shops around my area seem to know nothing about big unis and never have any parts I need.
Any suggestions for what is next? Lace in the spokes, tighten them and check trueness? The wheel is just slightly out right now - maybe 1/4" deviation and the two spokes that broke are separated by 8 spokes.
I’m in the Santa Cruz area in CA

You can certainly take the spokes and wheel to a local bike shop and have them true up/tension up the wheel. Some bike shops will shy away from doing it, others won’t. Most will not accept responsibility if something breaks, because it’s not something they’re used to. (in my experience)

36ers don’t fit into a truing stand, so you’ll have to use the frame (or the bike shop will) also, tension on the longer spokes means you can’t check tension as easily by feel if you’re used to a smaller wheel size, so if you hand it off to the bike shop, let them know to use the spoke tension meter instead of sound/feel.

You can definitely install the new spokes yourself. I made a rig at home that I just bolt my seatpost to upside down so I can strap tools to the frame to check trueness.

fwiw all the spokes I’ve broken on my 36 have broken in the middle of the spoke, and always on flat ground… I’ve had some nasty discussions about spoke quality. Where a spoke breaks can tell you a lot about a wheel build. I may be the exception here, but 2 spokes in 4 years really isn’t bad. I had to rebuild my wheel after 4 years, but I ride it quite a lot.

if you do install the spokes, be sure to bring them up to tension slowly, and stress relieve them as you go (you can look up tons of wheel building tips online, you don’t need all that, but you should properly stress relieve any new spokes so they don’t break again or bring the wheel out of true as they settle.

Best of luck!

To prevent my spokes from loosening I put a blob of blue loctite on the threads and it really helps. I use my 36er for riding hills and trails and I’ve never had a broken spoke.

Over tensioning your spokes will weaken them. 36" spokes should still have some flexibility after they’re fully tightened.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the advice.
Both of the spokes broke at the hub.
Should I buy a tension meter? I was looking at the Park TM-1 for around $70.

I ride a 6 mile loop as many days a week as I have time - usually 4 or 5 days.

When you are replacing spokes you can bring them up to tension without much worry as long as the rest of the spokes are at the right tension already. You should take some care to put “set” into the spokes so that they are running straight from hub to rim.

A tension meter is helpful for 36er wheels, but again if the rest of the spokes are fairly even in tension you can compare deflection from the new spokes to the existing spokes with good results.

In my experience spokes only break in the middle due to either poor quality spokes, or from some sort of trauma to the spoke. Breaking at the elbow is usually due to fatigue from movement due to low tension. With that in mind you may want to get a tension meter to verify the correct tension for the whole wheel.

Jtrops nailed it :smiley:

and yea, if you ride that much (about what I was doing when my 36er was my only wheel) expect to break some spokes every few years. : / though I think I’ve had a bad go of it with luck.

If you have a reference, you can check tension by their sound. Lift your uni and let the wheel spin freely. Hold something into the spokes (e.g. a zip tie) and listen to the spokes. All should sound nearly the same. When you hear a higher sound, there is a spoke with more tension, when you hear a deeper noise, there’s one with less.

A few weeks ago, I trued my 20" freestyle (wheel is 17 years old, with all original spokes). There were up to 3mm displacement and I trued it to max 0.1mm. My Suggestion allways is: true the wheel, then ride is smoothly. You’ll hear some noise from the spokes, this is normal. When there is no noise anymore, true it again, then it should be fine.

Love my parktool, not cheap but much better than pinging the spokes and hoping that they sound the same. And if your wheel is dished (internal disc brake), it makes life easier as there isn’t the same tension on both sides.

One word of caution when you adjust the spokes: when you start tightening them (or un-tightening), they might twist before the nipple moves on the thread. Beware of that by either keeping one or two fingers on the spoke to feel when the nipple starts to move on the thread (therefore turning the wrench more than you would need, and then backing off a bit to un-twist the spoke), or use a plier to prevent the spoke from twisting (close to the nipple).

That’s especially true (no pun intended) with 36" spokes as they are long and happy to twist as you tighten them. If they twist, they become more fragile and might snap, or they will slowly untwist, making the wheel untrue again.

This is good advice. I suggest that you learn to correct for spoke twist by feel rather than using pliers. You learn to feel the twist with your idle hand as you go, and it takes no extra time.

Pliers work, but unless you have a set that is made for the task you risk scoring the spoke which can weaken it. I have spoke pliers with really long handles to apply great force, but the jaws a very short, polished smooth and wide for more surface area on the spoke. I generally only use them on very high tension carbon fiber wheels with aluminum nipples, and Lazer or other very light spokes.

Thanks for all the advice.

I installed my new spokes yesterday and learned how to true my wheel after watching a video on youtube. It was much easier than I had imagined.

I forgot to mention in my original post that I had just received a new tire a couple days before the two spokes broke. After getting the wheel true, I installed the new tube and tire. The wear on my old V Rubber tire had evidently made me a bit complacent.
I had an interesting ride today. I got up and going on the second try but after being off for 10 days and riding a brand new tire, it was tricky and challenging. Evidently I had been riding a much flatter profile tire - since the two middle rows of knobs were almost gone on my old tire. The new rubber at full inflation has a much rounder profile, so riding the apex is way more balancy and the handling is completely different. Cornering went from a full on lean (old, worn tire) to barely thinking about it (new tire). I remember last time I put on new rubber it took about a week to get the feel for it.
The good news is - the wheel stayed true and no spokes broke.
A little extra core workout adjusting to the new balance and squirrely handling won’t hurt me :slight_smile:

Just wanted to mention since you live in Santa Cruz, that one of the best 36r builders anywhere is right in your back yard, so if you need hands-on assistance or advice, Bronson would be your go-to guy. Just a suggestion.

Cheers, and nice to see that you are now good at truing your wheel. The interweb is a great thing!

This guy knows how to build and true a wheel, probably the go to guy for wheel building.

His website is what I used when I built my trails wheel.