SS 14g 36er Spokes breaking

Is anyone else breaking way more spokes than they should on their Coker?
I’ve hardly broken any spokes until I got a 36" built with 14g spokes (the heavy steel ones are still going strong). Firstly the bike shop said the nipples are crap and they got decent brand name nipples instead.

After riding my wheel for only maybe 1000km (which isn’t that long for a 36") I started breaking spokes. I only had 4 extra ones and within another 1000km I’ve been through 6 and had to buy another set of spokes to replace them with (because it is a custom length that the bike shop can’t get). I’m not doing anything too strenuous on it- like riding slowly with a bit of shopping and accellerating slightly and “Ping”. The guy at the bike shop says the reason is not his wheelbuilding but he blames the cheap no name spokes, since they are breaking near the hub end. I imagine the forces on the wheel are massive compared to smaller wheels but I don’t think they should be breaking so much.

I’m planning to build another wheel sometime soon and I was just wondering if anyone else is going through spokes like there is no tomorrow. I guess it isn’t a big deal as spokes are as replacable as seats tires and pedals.

Prolly your builder built a soft wheel. That’s where spokes break if they are moving around. However, what rim are you running, because most of them won’t take much tension.

It definitely wasn’t a soft wheel. I felt the spokes myself and they barely moved.

The same guy built Will Sklennars 36" wheel before he built mine. We both have the old Airfoils and wide hub and Will hasn’t had any trouble with his- although I suspect he hasn’t ridden as far as me yet.

I took it to a different cycle expert and he thought that the spokes were done up to the right tension and that it was likely to be just low quality spokes due to where they were breaking. I read a thread somewhere about geared 36" spokes breaking. I’ve gotta get one of those one day…

I’ve hocked off the Airfoil to my brother and I will build a Stealth Pro wheel once I’m sure there is black ones in stock. Maybe the eyelets will help to keep the spokes from breaking/moving.

I busted about 5 spokes on my Nightrider before getting the whole wheel rebuilt with better quality spokes, new nipples and spoke bindings. Haven’t broken any spokes since and the wheel feels a lot more solid. Mine broke at the hub as well. Maybe there was a bad batch of spokes going around?

Isn’t the Airfoil drilled for 12g spokes, and so you have to use special nipples that fit into 12g holes but take 14g spokes?

If so then that would probably be the problem.

If the spoke break it is a loose wheelbuild, if the nipple break it is wrong spoke length. But you will not break spoke after only 1000km on a loose wheelbuild.

If spokes are breaking at the hub, could it be that the hooked end (I think it’s called an elbow) is too long for the thickness of the flange, and it’s sticking out a bit, putting more stress on the bend?

Roger at UDCUK built my Stealth Pro wheel with SS spokes and he put washers in to bring the spoke tight against the flange, which should be better.

I haven’t done enough miles on my new wheel yet to say whether I’ll get any spoke breakage problems though. One of the nipple heads sheared off after less than 20 miles, but I think that was just a bad nipple as I’ve had no problems since I replaced it. I’ve probably done about 100 miles on that wheel now, with a fair amount of quite rough xc and steep climbs, so hopefully that was just a one-off problem.


Or it could be too short a spoke length. The spokes need to be long enough to thread up through the body of the nipple (the thin part) and up into the head (thick part) or else the nipples will fail at the junction between the head and body.

Pull the tire and rim tape and look at a few. Ideally, the spokes should come up through the nipple and stop flush with the bottom of the screwdriver slot in the head of the nipple. A millimeter or so either way of that shouldn’t be a problem.


Well, I just noticed today that I had been riding around on my fairly new N36 with a broken spoke for quite a while :astonished: . It broke right at the hub too.

So I just tried to find some replacement spokes online, but no luck so far. I figured they would have to be 371mm long for my super wide hub, or 361mm if I were going to do a new Wheelbuild with a Schlumpf hub.

Does anybody know where to find these? I’m in the Netherlands by the way.
Any help would be much apreciated!

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Make sure they use brass washers on the elbow end. I had a coker wheel build without them, and broke a lot of spokes.


hmm, there’s no washers on mine… maybe I should get a new wheelbuild then. Although it might be OK to always take some spare spokes along and keep replacing them until I decide to put a Schlumpf in there…

I’ve talked to quite a few people who build really good wheels, and they feel that you really need the brass washers to get a good strong wheel build.

Also, make sure they use a tension gauge, and that they don’t just do it by “feel”.


PS: YES! Get a Schlumpf. But, you’ll need a new frame too…(the KH36)

I’ve talked to quite a few people who build really good wheels, and they feel that you really need the brass washers to get a good strong wheel build.

Does this go for the Schlumpf hub, should it be built using the brass washers? Also if so, I’m wondering if the Schlumpf flange may be too wide for std spokes with a washer?


Yes; my last two wheel builds have been 36’ers + Schlumpf hub. The first didn’t have the washers, and I broke a lot of spokes. The second did, and I haven’t broken any. However, I had to disassemble it last night, as I need to get new bearings for my hub.

You need to use the stainless steel spokes in the schlumpf hub. They fit perfectly. Note that the holes in the hub have a direction; one side has a slight detent for the butt end to sit in. I also didn’t realize this the first time I built the wheel.


[QUOTE=ChrashingDoes this go for the Schlumpf hub, should it be built using the brass washers? Also if so, I’m wondering if the Schlumpf flange may be too wide for std spokes with a washer?[/QUOTE]

The purpose of the washers is to take up slack where the spoke elbow is wider than the thickness of the flange. This makes sure the main part of the spoke is against the flange, which puts less force on the elbow bend. If the flange is thicker, or the spoke elbow is shorter, and there is no room for a washer, then you don’t need the washer (as all it does is takes up slack, which isn’t there).


Thanks Corbin and Rob for answering my questions.

Finding spoke washers in the US via the web is difficult. The only place I’ve found with them in stock is Bike Tools Etc. My LBS doesn’t have them.

Lucky you in the UK, since Roger has them listed at there.

They’re not heavy - I’m sure it wouldn’t cost much to get Roger to send you some over if you can’t find any (seems odd though - I thought most places that do wheel building would have some (try touring bike specialists if the normal bike shops can’t help))


I finally got my replacement spokes + washers from Roger Davies. He cut them down to 171mm for me. So I put brass washers on all the spokes now, and did a 90km tour yesterday. No further problems yet, so I guess that solved the problem.
They should really put the washers on the N36 by default!

I’ve not had any more problems with my wheel either. Looks like that nipple that broke soon after I had the wheel was a dodgy one.


I am looking at ordering some brass washers too for my KH/Schlumpf wheelbuild based on Corbin’s recommendation. My LBS didn’t seem to have them either, or other ones in the area. Is UDC UK the best place to get these washers, or does anyone know of a better resource for the US?