Last summer I wore through my trusty and dependable set of Deore LX/Mavic T224 wheels, handbuilt by a good friend and former bike shop colleague back in 2001. They never went out of true and I never suffered broken spokes, despite a total lack of tweaking and all manner of abuse and overloading.
However, the rims eventually wore through and I replaced them with a cheap set of factory built 36 hole hybrid/touring wheels. On paper they looked OK – machined sidewalls, wear indicators, a nice width, 36 spokes and decent hubs. Nothing fancy but good enough for commuting duties…
Or so I thought until I heard a twang from the rear wheel the other night on my way home from work. A wobble ensued and upon inspection, a spoke had broken at the bend on the non-drive side.
Now a broken spoke is no biggie – easily replaced if you know what you’re doing. But, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll also know that a broken spoke is a portent of nasty things to come. Normally, the sound of one’s first spoke breakage is the beginning of a sad symphony of pinging and twanging, accompanied on percussion by brake-rub and the sounds of a penny-pincher beating his own chest in anger.
I’ve got a new set of wheels lined up – at least in a virtual sense – Spa Cycles of Harrogate have their own master wheelbuilder who can make up a set of quality touring wheels from Rigida or Exal rims on Shimano Deore hubs for around £140 – handbuilt with double butted spokes with plain gauge on the rear drive side – the preferred setup for touring wheels the world over.