A Spoke Too Soon Forgotten


This spoke break location is atypical. It usually breaks at the bend.

If you ride enough miles, you will break a spoke. Now if your wheel has 32 or 36 spokes, it’s no big deal. If you have one of those wheels with just 16 radial spokes, there is a greater chance of major wheel misalignment or sudden failure.

Recently I broke a rear spoke on the freewheel side, the location where spokes are more likely to break. They are under more tension to account for extra dish to accommodate a freewheel.

I didn’t realize it, but a freewheel puller for a standard freewheel works just fine, assuming you have the proper puller. There are many different pullers. This spoke broke on a modern freewheel , which is built into the hub. My freewheel puller was made for old hubs with detachable freewheels. It happens to have the same notch pattern as the new freewheel lock ring. The other tool you need is a chain whip.

Shimano Tiagra 32-spoke hubs have a lock ring that keeps the 10 sprockets in place.  Be sure to keep these sprockets in exactly the same alignment when removing them. Preferably, remove all the sprockets at once to keep their alignment.

Lock rings have a right-hand thread. The bad news: that’s the direction of freewheel movement, so you need a chain whip to counteract movement. Use a wrench to engage the freewheel puller. Once the lock ring is unthreaded, remove the sprockets. Shimano shows how it’s done.

Next, remove the broken spoke. If you are replacing a similar gauge spoke you can unthread the spoke from the nipple without having to let air out of the tire. If you use a different gauge of spoke, you have to replace the nipple as well, otherwise the spoke will not thread onto the nipple. Replace the sprockets and then thread the lock ring and tighten.

I have a ton of spokes, so it was easy to find one that fit. A bike shop will have spares and can size the spoke so you get the right length. Insert the new spoke and follow the same cross pattern. Make sure the spoke end is flush with the hub. Rethread the spoke into the nipple and tighten with a spoke wrench. True the wheel.


Shimano drawing showing freewheel removal procedure

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