Most modern bicycle wheels made up of spokes, a rim, and a hub. The spokes are all under tension and this is what gives wheel its strength. All new wheels will lose some tension after a short amount of time and routinely checking and adjusting tension, is part of bike ownership. Spokes are wear items that will break over time or through high stress applications. Fortunately replacing them is an easy three step process! 

 

Step 1- Source the Spoke:
The first step in getting this issue resolved is going to to be to order the correct spoke. They come in different lengths, thickness (also called spoke gauge), and also different colors. Most bicycle wheels use one length on one side and a second length on the other side. The right/ left designations below refer to the side of the bike with the rider on it. In other words, the right side will be the side with the gears on it, left will be the side with the brake rotors. After the chart there are a couple links to online retailers which sell spokes. 


*PLEASE remove and measure your spoke to confirm the length & gauge before placing an order. Some have changed over time.*



Model Name
Spoke
Length
Gauge
Suggested Tension
Roadster V2 GEN 1
Front-Left/Right
286/286mm
13G
130-160kgf

Rear-Left/Right
243/245mm
13G
130-160kgf
Roadster V2 GEN 2
Front-Left/Right
286/286mm
13G
130-160kgf

Rear-Left/Right 
247/249mm
13G
130-160kgf
Gravel
Front-Left/Right
285/287mm
13G

110-150kgf

Rear-Left/Right 
252/254mm12G150-190kgf
Core-5
Front-Left/Right
257/258mm
13G
130-160kgf

Rear-Left/Right
215/216mm
13G
130-160kgf
500 Series
Front-Left/Right
267/269mm
13G
130-160kgf

Rear-Left/Right
226/228mm
12G
190kgf +/- 20
Cafe Cruiser
Front-Left/Right
256/258mm
13G

110-150kgf

Rear-Left/Right 
212/214mm12G150-190kgf
700 Series GEN 1
Front-Left/Right
269/271mm
13G
130-160kgf

Rear-Left/Right 
228/230mm
12G
190kgf +/- 20
700 Series GEN 2
Front-Left/Right
269/271mm13G110-150kgf

Rear-Left/Right 
225/227mm12G150-190kgf
LMT'D
Front-Left/Right
257/258mm
13G
130-160kgf
LMT'D MXUS Hub
Rear-Left/Right 
188/189mm
13G
130-160kgf
LMT'D AKM Hub
Rear-Left/Right 

217/219mm13G140-160kgf
Prodigy XR/STLeft/Right270/272mm
13G
110-150kgf
Prodigy XCLeft/Right269/271mm
13G
110-150kgf



Link for 12G spokes, select the correct length on the ordering page- https://www.prowheelbuilder.com/sapim-leader-j-bend-black-12g-or-2-6mm-spokes.html


Link for 13g spokes, select the length needed and the desired color. Also select "reduction nipple" option when ordering https://wheelbuilder.com/sapim-e-leader-straight-gauge-13g-spoke/



Step 2- Install The Spoke


Often times this is the most time consuming step. The spokes are first fitted into the wheels center, the hub, and then attach to the threaded nipple in the rim. In addition to holding the spokes the hub also holds the disc brake rotors, and the cassette (gears in back). In some cases you will have to remove the cassette or rotors in order to get access to the holes to install a new spoke. Many riders who do their own mainatince will have the tools to do so already, however if you have not reached this point in your cycling journey yet, we have some links below to the tools and info you need. Just click on the word "LINK" to navigate to the info you need. 


The following link goes over how to install a spoke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5loHKZilm4

This LINK is for a cassette tool, this LINK shows how to remove the cassette if your repair requires this step.

This LINK shows how to remove the disc rotor if your repair requires this step. 
This LINK shows how to remove your rear wheel if this if your first time. 




Step 3- True The Wheel


The final step to replacing the spoke is to true the wheel. The term truing a wheel refers to systematically tightening or loosening spokes in order to get the wheel rolling straight. As you most likely noticed on the install, half the spokes come from the right side of the hub, the other half come from the left. By tightening a spoke the mechanic (you!) can pull the rim to one side or another. By carefully balancing the tensions one can achieve a straight rolling and in true wheel. The following links can assist with this if it is your first time or it has been awhile. 


LINK to spoke wrench needed for turning the nipples to manipulate the wheel 

LINK on how to true wheel



Bonus Step- Tension Meter


This bonus step is not necessary to get you riding again however it can help the wheel last longer and will help optimize the results you get. 


While it is possible to true a wheel purely by feeling, wheels assembled by hand or at a factory have all the spokes tested with a tension meter. This tool pushes on the spoke and measures how much it bends, the amount of bend shows how tight the spoke is. Using a tension meter not only ensures that all the spokes are tight enough, but it helps make sure they are all close to the same tension. This can help a wheel last longer as the load is more spread out over all the spokes; rather than some doing more work than others. A spoke is more prone to breaking when it is under load, so by spreading the work out over all the spokes, we can ensure they will last as long as possible. 


In our chart above we covered all the columns except one, the "suggested tension" column. Those values are the recommended tension for the right side OR on a front wheel the side with the disc. Setting all the spokes on that side at the correct tension and then tightening/ loosening the spokes on the opposing side to true; is a great way to ensure a robust wheel. In other words, since the disc side (or cassette side on rear wheel) is going to be at a higher tension than the other side, we want to ensure that it is tensioned correctly and the looser side can compensate for true. 


LINK to inexpensive tension meter