Quick Fixes for Cyclists: Wrap a Broken Spoke

Broken spokes, dropped chains, soggy shoes—a lot can go wrong when you're on the road. Learn these simple tips and nothing can slow you down.

    Photo: phatcontroller via Flickr

The situation: You’re mashing uphill when a spoke on your wheel gives way with a sickening pop. It’s miles to the nearest bike shop and you need to get home. How do you ride on? 

The fix: The best bet is to unscrew the spoke from the nipple on the rim. But if you can’t get the spoke to budge, twist it around a neighbor to prevent it from catching on anything else. Give the wheel a spin. If it touches your brake pads, simply flip up the little lever on top of the brake caliper for some wobble room.

Just remember: The wheel is a delicate object. Riding on broken or missing spokes can deform the rim or threaten to do more damage. This trick will get you home, but don’t go riding any centuries on the wheel until it’s been to the shop, Kreidl warns.

Instead of limping home on a broken wheel, strum the spokes before you ride to check for mismatched tension. If any spoke feels looser than its neighbor, head over to the shop or your truing stand.

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