Q:

What’s the best way to fix busted mountain-bike spokes?

I ride my old mountain bike to and from work (eight miles each way on concrete and asphalt trails). A few weeks ago I popped a few spokes. I got them fixed, but last week I blew another spoke. What's the best and cheapest way to fix this? I save about $3 per day in fuel by not driving, so that's the economic ruler that I’ll apply to the solution. Gus Montrose, Colorado

Jun 1, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Shimano Deore hubs/Sun Rhyno Lite rims

Shimano Deore hubs/Sun Rhyno Lite rims

A: You mean, you were just riding along and some spokes popped? Or did you hit something, and then they popped? Also, how old are the wheels? More than five years? Original to the bike, so by inference maybe ten years? If so, then maybe the sidewalls of the rim have gotten so thin from braking that they’re torquing under your weight, stressing the spokes and breaking them. In that case, there’s no real fix—and replacing all the spokes is an expensive proposition in any event.

I’d start shopping for new wheels—the whole set of rims, spokes, and hubs. My guess is you’ve got some sort of Shimano setup, probably eight-speed. You can get a set of Shimano Deore hubs laced to Sun Rhyno Lite wheels for $100 at Pricepoint.com. Performancebike.com also has good buys on complete wheelsets, like Shimano XT 9-speed hubs (I bet you could use these) on Mavic XC717 rims for about $225 for the set. That’s a nice wheelset. And while you’re at it, it’s probably time to get a new cassette—they run about $30.

Either way, payback is pretty quick. Six weeks or so for the inexpensive rims; 12 to 15 weeks for those at the higher end. But they’ll last you for years, so you’ll well amortize them before it’s time for a new set.

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest mountain bike.

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