14 Dec 2015

I Broke A Spoke

I was riding my older bike the other day, and suddenly found the wheels really hard to turn.
I stopped to have a look, at a part of the Canning River I had never stopped at before.

A spoke had broken and the rear wheel went out of true and was rubbing against a brake block, adding unwanted friction to my ride.
Can you spot the broken spoke?

This wheel must have been badly built, as this is the fourth broken spoke in about three years.  One of my other bikes is twenty years old and has never broken a spoke.

The last time this happened, I didn't feel like getting my hands dirty, and inquired at the local bike shop.  Believe it or not, they quoted $40 to replace the spoke.

And that was on the easy side of the wheel (ie, not the sprocket side.)

It certainly made me miss my favourite old bike shop in Joo Chiat Road, which sadly closed last year.

They would do a puncture for about 20 cents, and I'm sure a broken spoke wouldn't cost much more in those days.

After getting the $40 quote, I decided to buy the necessary tools for future use, a chain whip and a sprocket lock ring remover.  Both were bought online from the UK for $28.  As I had bought some other stuff as well, I qualified for free postage.
As the broken spoke this time was on the sprocket side, these tools would get their first use.

Incidentally, spokes now cost $2 each - in the 80's, you could get one for 20 cents.
The required nipple wrench (above) I already have in my bicycle tool collection.

In the 70's, before the internet, Google and YouTube, my main source of info re bicycle maintenance and repair came from this really good book.  (Regretfully, the author died last year.)
I still refer to it, even though it's slightly out of date as bicycle design has changed quite a bit in the last 40 years,  rendering many a tool of mine obsolete for my newest bike which I got a few months ago.
Above - removing the sprocket.  The chain whip stops the sprocket from rotating whilst its lock ring is unscrewed.
Above, the wheel with sprocket removed.

Once the new spoke has been laced in, it was time to consult my book as to which spokes have to be tightened or loosened,  and in which direction, in order to true the wheel.
The theory is simple, but in practice, it's very easy to get confused and get into a terrible mess.

Below, me with my truing stand, bought many years ago, at my kitchen table.
Once finished, the bike's ready for riding again.


  1. Arthur, you earned the honours of Grandpa DIY, Grandpa Bak Kwa. Now you have just added another one to your credit: Grandpa Spokes-man/Grandpa Spokey, ha,ha. Cycling is fun, but cyclist-watching is funnier, :}

    1. "Funnier" or "Fun-ner"?

    2. Thanks for the correction, Teacher. It should be "fun-ner". You may have also noticed a wrong punctuation mark at the end. As it stands, it is not listed in the emoticon dictionary, therefore meaningless. The correct punctuation mark should be ")". Apologies.

    3. Wow Arthur, never knew you were such a handy man ! Good for you !


    4. Poo Chin, wait till you see my dark side!

    5. Prof, re the wrong punctuation mark, I did notice it, but not being au fait with emoticons, I thought you were making an extra wide grin!

    6. Some of these emoticons are crazy :-{ is moustache, but :-{} is mouth with lipstick. But I rarely see :} meaning big grin though :)) means very happy.

    7. I see you are quite interested in emoticons. For some reason I have never paid them much attention. I suppose they do help in portraying the intention behind your words; maybe I should start using them. :-J

  2. Wowwwwww!!!! You can do anything and everything! Impressive! I guess we here are rather spoilt, tyre puncture, car battery flat...anything, just call and somebody will come to fix.

    I remember when I was young, I cycled everywhere - any problem, I just pushed it to the bicycle shop. I guess it would cost a bomb getting somebody to come to fix over there.

    1. Bicycles are easy to repair, because unlike cars, everything is open and readily accessible. The mechanism is also very simple. Just have to learn the basics. Yes, over here everything, especially labour, is very expensive.

  3. I shall stick to the stationary bikes in the gym. But nothing beats having the scenery flying by though.

    1. I use the stationary bikes whenever we go on a cruise. It's an attempt to work off some of the excess food I eat whilst on the ship.