Spoke too soon

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I use my mountain bike when I want to go off-road, reserving my road bike for cycling on the road (as the name suggests) in order to preserve its relatively delicate mechanism which would not last long under the strain of off-road riding.

I was on my road bike again today, and carefully avoided the off-road cycle path despite being held up in traffic queues right at the point where the path diverged on both the outward and homeward journeys.  Still, despite my care in using the bike only in conditions that it’s designed for, I suffered a mechanical fail on my way home.

As I was cycling up the final steep hill, I suddenly noticed the back wheel beginning to rub quite badly (to the point that it not only sounded quite alarming but also put up a noticeable amount of resistance).  I stopped and had a quick look over the back end of the bike but couldn’t see anything that was causing the problem, so I rode the rest of the way home relatively slowly and carefully.

On reaching home I gave the back wheel a more thorough inspection and discovered that one of the spokes had snapped.  Presumably this was enough to throw the wheel out of true sufficiently to rub against the mudguard (the tolerances are fairly tight, so it wouldn’t have to slip far out to start rubbing).

The good news is that I have a spare spoke for this bike (I think I actually bought it for my mountain bike but accidentally got one that’s too long for that but fits the slightly bigger wheels of my road bike; I’ve had the spoke for years but never needed to use it until now).  Unfortunately the broken spoke is on the sprocket side of the back wheel and I’m not sure whether it will be possible to fit the new spoke without taking off the sprockets (for which I might have to borrow a suitable tool from a friendly neighbour, as I don’t think I have the necessary bits in my toolbox).

As I’m due to be going out in a few minutes’ time and will be out for most of the evening, and as I have another bike I can use tomorrow, I’ve decided to put off working on the wheel until Saturday, when I should be able to do it at much greater leisure and hopefully get the job finished properly (including giving the transmission system a good clean while the bike is dismantled).  In the meantime, I’ll also take a bit of  time to read up about wheel maintenance in my trusty copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance (which, together with its companion for mountain bikes, is the best bike maintenance manual I’ve found).

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